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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
Monday, January 26 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Defense of marriage - 3 (a riff)

Having grown up in a liberal denomination, I can understand where Dr. Howard Dean was coming from when he said recently that it was his commitment to Jesus Christ that led him to sign a civil unions law for homosexual couples when he was the governor of Vermont. Many consider civil unions a step short of gay marriage, and many (even possibly President Bush) think it may be a culturally acceptable alternative. It would keep homosexuals from being discriminated against when a partner is hospitalized, or when estates are being settled. Others, to the right of the President, think that this step toward legitimizing homosexual civil rights is socially dangerous and something Christians shouldn't endorse. I have to admit some ambivalence on civil unions myself, but am leaning toward their acceptance.

The Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, John Quinn (now retired), promulgated a position for the archdiocese encouraging people whose orientation was to members of their own sex (homosexuals, but to put a fine point on what is meant by it here) to pair up in long-term relationships, as a way to curtail promiscuity and discourage behavior contributing to epidemics of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases (and of course, if the couple wanted to be in communion with the church, they would be expected to support each other's commitment to sexual abstinence—celibacy—and to confess and repent of any shortcomings in that commitment). I think any Christian can support the proposition that a dying AIDS patient should be able to choose who can be allowed to be at his bedside in his medical crises, a right that was denied in many of the early cases of AIDS and that possibly still is the practice in many communities, where visits to such patients are limited to "immediate family" only, even if the immediate family aren't even willing to visit.

The position of Dr. Dean (and presumably the position of the New Hampshire Episcopal Church diocese in electing and installing the first openly gay bishop in Anglican history last year) that "Jesus made me do it" is based on some of Jesus' teachings, especially the Golden Rule: "Do unto others what you would have them do unto you." Such interpretations of the golden rule as requiring Christian acceptance of homosexual relationships in the name of "fairness," usually fail to include in their sermonizing some of Jesus' other teachings, which say he hasn't set aside the law of God, but came to fulfill it and that none of it will be set aside until all is fulfilled (Matthew 5:17-18), which in the words of Moses (quoting God himself), in Leviticus 18:22, declares: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination."

If Jesus hasn't set aside such moral declarations of the law (He has set aside the ceremonial dietary aspects of the law, specifically, in the New Testament [Acts 11]) how can the Golden Rule be applied to anyone who wants to "live in sin," that is, a sexual relationship of any kind except within Holy Matrimony? The traditional answer to that from Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox church dogmatics is that telling the truth about sin is doing your neighbor, especially one professing to be Christian, a favor, because showing the "straight (difficult) and narrow" passage into the Kingdom—the only passage there is, again in the words of Jesus*—is the most loving thing you can do in the life of one you hold dear.

This is what is generally understood as explaining Jesus' statements like, "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me," (Matthew 10:37) that anyone who professes to love Him but doesn't obey His teachings, even when they apply to closest members of their families, does not truly love Him. If you love me, He is saying in effect, you will model the holiness of the Father to all who are dear to you.

Having said all this, I must stress that the principle held up for professing Christians may not apply (or be applied by force) to those who don't claim membership in Christ and His church. But the larger question of this series of articles is, can and should Christians and others sharing traditional cultural values (like conservative or orthodox Jews, Mormons, Muslims) try to control the society's definition of "marriage"? To that I have no ambivalence; my answer, "yes." More anon....

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

*Matthew 7:13 (Jesus' words): "Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. 14 Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it."

One Liners On Life

A husband is someone who, after taking the trash out, gives the impression that he just cleaned the whole house.

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

I lay in the bed at the hospital and said, "letís see what I have left." And I could see, I could speak, I could think, I could read. I simply tabulated my blessings, and that gave me a start.

— Dale Evans Rogers

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