It's nice to hear someone from the clergy AND from Kansas not echo Rev. Fred Phelps!
From The Topeka Capital-Journal:
The driving forces to amend the Kansas Constitution to prohibit gay
marriages -- and, gratuitously, gay civil unions -- are Christian
pastors and many of their followers.
For example, Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, found his House vote
"It is the right thing to do on the truth that was spoken (in the Bible)," he said.
Consistent with the times in which we live, Bible interpretation must
be addressed first.
Recognizing I am no more (or less) qualified to deal with this subject
than any Christian layman, I am turning to the opinions of the Rev.
Craig Sweeney, an Episcopal priest (also husband of our eldest daughter
and father of three of Jane's and my grandchildren) that were published
in an open forum in the Winfield Courier.
"People refer to homosexuality as being against God's will, based on
seven disconnected verses in the Bible. As a seminary trained priest I
know that each of those seven verses can be honestly challenged, based
on the modern interpretation of ancient languages, cultural knowledge of
the times when they were written, and the personal backgrounds of the
inspired, but fully human authors.
"The real issue is that many Christians are quick to seize on an
obscure verse in Leviticus about same-gender sex, while they are content
to ignore Jesus' own words on divorce. Even the most conservative
Christians ignore many of the 612 rules and a myriad other teachings in
the Old Testament each day.
"This picking and choosing is what I call 'selective literalism' and I
don't understand it. Each person is free to make choices about biblical
authority, but I don't understand why their choice of what is sin and
what isn't should bind me or anyone else. What gives them that right and
authority? Paul tells us that if we want to be under the law, we have to
be 100 percent -- I doubt if any of us want to live that way today."
Father Craig continues, "Since I revere Scripture even though it is
confusing and contradictory, I look to the overall message there from
God, especially from Jesus.
"That message is the great commandment: love God with all you've got
and love your neighbor as yourself. On the night before he died, Jesus
did not warn his disciples to follow the rules of the Old Testament. He
gave them a new commandment: break bread together in his memory, and
love each other.
"Since Jesus is God in human flesh, all Scripture is to be judged by
this. Jesus reached out to welcome all people that the Hebrew society
had cast out. Today Jesus would reach out to love and include gays and
lesbians. The only people Jesus criticized were those 'rule-sticklers'
-- the Scribes and the Pharisees. He calls them hypocrites."
Father Craig also discusses that many people believe gays and lesbians
choose that lifestyle and refutes it with accepted medical and
scientific evidence. And then he turns to the critical question, "What
is marriage anyway?"
He praises the modern concept of marriage and deplores its shattered
status among heterosexual couples today. He points out marriage is a
contract between two people to share their lives and assets. And, that
in the Episcopal Church, "we do not create marriage -- we believe God
has done that before the couple shows up. What we do is pronounce God's
blessing on the marriage."
And then something I hadn't even thought about. "Marriage is not a
'God-given' institution; the church didn't get involved in marriage at
all until the Middle Ages." And then "solely to protect the distribution
of property through the male lineage. It did women no good, since they
were property being sold off to men and had no property rights."
He concludes, "Allowing gays to contract together for a shared life and
shared assets has nothing whatsoever to do with our country's shameful
divorce rate, the broken homes of heterosexual families and the anguish
of single motherhood.
"If some churches do not want to pronounce God's blessings on these
relationships -- fine. But passing a constitutional amendment to enforce
the religious beliefs of some conservative Christians is a terrible
thing to do."
Bill Roy, a retired physician, is a former member of the U.S. House of
Representatives. He lives in Topeka.
Copyright 2005 CJOnline / The Topeka Capital-Journal / Morris Communications