Two letters to Theophilus

[Pastors oppose benefits for domestic partners] [Appreciated 'fresh' view of catechism]

Pastors oppose benefits for domestic partners


At its February meeting, the San Jose Unified School District board voted 3-2 to offer family benefits to "domestic partners" of its employees. Hearing of this with only hours to spare, we requested a delay to allow public debate.

The school board refused. Somehow, the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community has managed a media blackout of this information. We are writing to urge concerned parents to make their views known to the board.

A daily newspaper reported (recently) that the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors will consider registering live-in lovers, including gay, lesbian, and bisexual partners. This is another step toward full equivalence with the biological family. We in the churches will join with all concerned citizens opposing any such attempts to further undermine the distinctiveness of marriage and the biological family.

Since the 'sixties, our society has seen a systematic tearing down of the walls that protected marriage and the biological family. This was done in order to pursue individual sexual gratification.

Our obsession with sex has exploded the divorce rate and damaged the lives of millions of children, consigning many into poverty and suffering. It destroys the innocence of childhood and corrupts their morals early in life.

Now those who aim to destroy the battered biological family have prepared one more attack upon its distinctiveness. They want to redefine "family" so that any sexual liaison—homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual live-in arrangement—is equivalent to marriage.

If it succeeds, this will undermine the distinctive commitment that is the foundation of the biological family. God has ordained that only a man and a woman can create children. And only an exclusive long-term commitment between them is adequate to protect their children's future.

This biological reality is the reason why the state (and also private companies) should reserve the distinctiveness of true marriage, protect the biological family and reject benefits for "domestic partners." This madness that has afflicted us since the 'sixties has to stop.

We are not motivated in this protest by any hostility to gays, lesbians, or bisexuals, nor do we advocate any punitive laws against those who follow these lifestyles. We wish them no harm, for we serve the God who loves everyone alike. In fact, it is concern for the damage that people do to themselves and to one another when they disobey His laws, that compels us to speak out.

God's character, not changing human opinion, is the only basis for public morals. And God stands for marriage. He made the biological family. We oppose all efforts to undermine it.

(Signed) Doug Weiss, Christ the King Church; Doug Shiplett, Crossroads Bible Church; Peter Wilkes, South Hills Community Church; Dick Bernal, Jubilee Christian Church; Dave Sawkins, South Valley Christian Church; Kenny and Ken Foreman, Cathedral of Faith; John Worley, Valley Church; Mike Kiley, Home Church; Richard Kennedy, Los Gatos Christian Church; Dan Griffiths, North Valley Christian Fellowship; Kenneth Dobson; Bethel Church; Stephen Wong, San Jose Chinese Alliance Church; Kevin Kompelien, Hillside Evangelical Free Church; Bill Buchholz, Family Community Church; John Isaacs, South Bay Covenant; Don McClure, Calvary Chapel; Dewey Squyers, Oak Grove Baptist Church; Greg Babish, Celebration Community Church; Rich Marshall, Springs of Life Fellowship; Cesar Buitrago, City Team Ministry, and Bryce Jessup, San Jose Christian College.

Reader appreciated Theophilus' 'fresh' view of catechism.

Dear Theophilus,

I enjoyed reading your commentary in the [February] Times on the new [Roman Catholic] Catechism. It is interesting to see how others view Catholic documents—and often how close those views are to those of members of the Catholic Church.

I'm a "cradle Catholic" with a lot of background in ministry and religious education and a keen interest in ecclesiology, the study of the Church and the churches, how we relate within and between, the history of, and so on. When I saw the coming of the new Catechism, I did not have your fresh and open perspective. Instead, I felt leery that this was a big club that Rome was somehow going to use to whack the flock (back) into line. So it was enjoyable to read a review of it taken out of the political context in which I believe it is often viewed in Catholic circles.

You hit the nail on the head when you said that the Roman church appears reluctant to admit to any wrongdoing. This, truly, is not something Catholics themselves appreciate. It is our human experience that God's grace can be experienced even when we make a miserable mess of things by our sinfulness.

The Church can be, and often is, a channel of God's loving grace despite our imperfections and those of particular leaders in our past whom we would like to forget. But some (and I do not mean all ordained priests or bishops!) in the hierarchy (1) have a strong desire to control and (2) are fearful that if they appear "soft," unknowing, or ever wrong in the present or past, they will suffer a crisis of credibility and "confuse the faithful."

Ironically, I think, the opposite is the case. When Church leaders mess up, and then deny doing so, then we have a crisis. And then Catholics are faced with a difficult dilemma: make the round peg fit into the square hole. This task is easier for Catholics who have a sense of history and realize that we must take the long view of things—corrections will be made eventually, even if admissions of guilt are not.

I look forward to reading more interesting pieces from you in the future!

                                                      —Mary Pope-Handy

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© 1996 Jon Kennedy