The Episcopal Church as Voyeur

--A Response to the Commission on Health and Human Affairs--

Appeared in The Witness 71.6 (1988): 14-16.

© 1988 by The Witness. © 2004 by Louie Crew

by Louie Crew

"You will study marriage," the Commission said to the Church three years ago. With homes broken on almost every other pew, who could oppose so rational an injunction? Most dioceses balked, the Commission now reports. Perhaps they doubted the efficacy of the talk which the Commission enjoined?

Undaunted, in this new round the Commission again bandies words as if magic. Women considering abortions should consult their parish priests, the Commission now stresses. Does anyone seriously believe that many of them will? Or even should? How many priests could we certify to have the empathy required? Perhaps it is not an accident that most Christians heed talk-show hosts sooner?

"Homosexual persons are Children of God and entitled to the full love, care, and pastoral concern of the Church," proclaimed General Convention in 1976. I rejoiced until an atheist friend reminded me that when India forbade people to call others "the untouchables," the touchables merely called them "Children of God."

A dozen years after the Episcopal Church affirmed us as Children of God, lesbians and gay males are still too untouchable to be members of the Commission charged to address matters of our spiritual life and death! So much for the faith with which the Church acts on its resolutions.

Now a Hetero Commission tells the Church to start listening to gay males and lesbians. Beware. If gay bishops speak, they will be defrocked. The Church has already fired several Gay priests who have spoken out. It has excoriated and shunned many Gay lay persons. Some dioceses deny us places to meet for worship. At most parishes its easier to gossip about us than talk with us. The Commission does not name these when it identifies bashers.

The Commission does not ask heterosexual persons to reciprocate the intimate candor it expects of us. Tell us why almost half of all hetero couples, even with the supports denied us, divorce. Let hetero parents speak freely about the threats to their own identity if they even imagine parenting a gay son or a lesbian.

The Commission asks the Church to eavesdrop on lesbians and gay males, not as a prelude to embrace, but as a way to make another pronouncement in the future.

And to what does the Commission ask the eavesdroppers to attend most closely? Listen when they talk about how they got that way, the Commission urges.

Imagine the uproar if gay males and lesbians counseled, Listen closely when heteros talk about how they got that way!

The major issue for lesbians and gay males is not sex, but justice. It takes only an ounce of imagination to fathom our sexual experience: it takes compassion to understand our spiritual experience.

For compassion, the Commission substitutes prurience.

Practice monogamy, the Commission counsels. Mono by itself is a disease, as every teen-ager knows. Gamos is Greek for `marriage.' Yet the Commission says that it cannot address blessings of gay male and lesbian relationships. Why? Not because they are wrong, but because the homosexual community can't take another rejection right now.

Lesbians and gay males are not wimps. The Church will not crush us if it documents its unlove one more time. Why preempt debate? Give to those who repent a chance to support us publicly.

Gay males and lesbians are integral to the body of Christ. God has already accepted us. Our movement is not about the Church's accepting us, but about our accepting God's love, always indiscriminate, always extending to those whom the Church wants to cast out.

Heterosexual persons will not likely alter gay relationships radically when they bless our unions, but they might alter themselves: they will rid themselves of the idolatry of requiring others to live in their own image.

In its obsession with sex, the Commission ignores several ways gays link with other issues in the report. For example, regarding racism, the Commission might have asked, "With your experience in dealing with the epidemic, can you teach us how to address the major group of Episcopalians affected with AIDS, namely, our African sisters and brothers?"

The Commission might have addressed wealthy, closeted Episcopalians, "Must you always gentrify neighborhoods? We can show you how to use your wealth to reconcile them." Gays have bought miles of organ pipe and tons of stained glass, often because the Church has made us feel guilty. If the Church gives us a vision that God loves us as God loves the poor and other oppressed peoples, we will give out of love.

By this point, someone surely recognizes that I have willfully misrepresented one major part of the Commission's report. In no place do the commissioners ever mention lesbians and gay males, but pride themselves on calling us "homosexual persons." I know hundreds of gay males and lesbians, none of whom use the phrase "homosexual persons" to name themselves. In all liberation movements, each group asserts the right to do its own naming.


The Commission does not welcome. For hospitality, it substitutes patronization. In doing so, it fails to provide the spiritual leadership that everyone needs.

------------------------------------

Please sign my guestbook and view it.


My site has been accessed times since February 14, 1996.

Statistics courtesy of WebCounter.