Tag Archives: lgbt equality, inclusion

Catholic Columnist Urges Church to Rethink Homosexuality Teaching

Michael Sean Winters, a columnist at National Catholic Reporter, recently wrote on the failing nature of Catholic teaching on homosexuality in light of the University of Notre Dame’s decision to approve a comprehensive plan for LGBTQ students. You can read an earlier Bondings 2.0 post on the decision here.

Winters notes the decision garnered a positive statement by Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, the diocese in which the University is located, before divulging his personal commentary. His commentary takes up several points relevant to the Notre Dame decision, the first of which is the theology surrounding homosexuality:

“Here is the bottom line for me on these issues. The Church’s theological reflection on homosexuality is inadequate at the moment, usually crammed into the worldview that existed for a very long time that assumed that the sexual activities of gay people were the perverse acts of straight people.”

Winters acknowledges that advancements of the past decades allow a deeper understanding of homosexuality as something “constitutional” and “it is not an aberrant choice.” This leads him to conclude:

“The language about ‘intrinsically disordered’ should be dropped entirely because it ran the danger of creating a new category of sin, not a vice like the seven deadly to which we are all prone, nor a specific act like stealing a car, but a disposition that was itself flawed and unique to certain persons.”

Finally, Winters directly addresses the decision at Notre Dame, which he calls “courageous” because the University recognizes the human dignity of LGBTQ students beyond a theology of human sexuality that is outdated:

“We also have a Christian obligation to ‘create a community where all may flourish and feel welcome, where we aspire to an even deeper understanding and appreciation of Catholic teaching, and where the human dignity of each Notre Dame student is valued.’ That, too, is part of our Catholic moral tradition. Notre Dame is right, and even courageous…”

Winters has named the essential struggle for LGBTQ and Ally students at Catholic colleges and universities, and indeed for the entire church:  how to protect human dignity .

Only emphasizing Catholic sexual ethics that classifies homosexuality as a sin set apart when addressing LGBTQ campus needs is dehumanizing. Students fade from being persons who deserve pastoral and educational care into partisan activists that are to be battled for nothing more than their sexual orientation. Worse, these anti-inclusive institutions miss some legitimate issues at stake: a student’s safety, well-being, and success in higher education.

New Ways Ministry joins Michael Sean Winters in applauding the University of Notre Dame and over a third of Catholic colleges that defend their student’s dignity foremost by providing resources for LGBT persons. You can view our listing of gay-friendly Catholic schools here.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

 Bondings 2.0.

Pope’s Peace Day Statement Is Countered by Catholic Parents

As we reported at the end of last month, Pope Benedict’s statement for the World Day of Prayer for Peace, January 1st, contained a reference that same-gender married couples are a threat to world peace.  But on January 1, 2013,  the pope’s message was countered by a pair of married heterosexual Catholic parents who have a long history of working for LGBT justice and equality.

In his statement the pope said that allowing gay and lesbian people to marry is

“. . . an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace.”

Mary Ellen and Casey Lopata

In a Washington Post “On Faith” essay, Casey and Mary Ellen Lopata,  who are the founders of Fortunate Families, a national network of Catholic parents of LGBT people, countered the pope’s rhetoric by describing the lives of  lesbian and gay friends of theirs:

“We are fortunate enough to be able to contrast the pope’s rhetoric with the reality of Bob’s life, and those of many other gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people whom we know. They don’t seem like threats to world peace or the future of humanity. They are men and women trying to earn a living, love their spouses, raise their children and contribute a little something to their churches and their communities.”

Additionally, they contrast the pope’s point of view with that of the majority of U.S. Catholics:

“The pope is losing the fight against marriage equality because Catholics weigh his abstract definitions of what it means to be human, what it means to be male and what it means to be female, against the evidence of their own experience. They understand instinctively that human beings are too complex to be captured in such arid taxonomies, that categories devised by celibate philosophers no longer make much sense in a world in which traditional gender roles were abandoned long ago. Rather, what they know, what they believe, is the evidence of their own experience. Like John the Evangelist, they testify to what they have seen and heard.”

more at « Bondings 2.0.

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Lesbian answers bishop’s call for dialogue on gay marriage

What do you do when your spouse of 10 years — the person you’ve spent a decade sharing spiritual, intimate and intellectual moments with — is suddenly lying unconscious on her deathbed?

If you’re Catholic, you make sure her body is anointed with oil. You kiss her goodbye, even if you have to force the doctors to remove the breathing tube, and you slide the wedding ring gently off her finger and whisper a promise to take care of it forever.

That’s what Charlene Strong did on Dec. 14, 2006, after torrential rains flooded the Seattle home she shared with Kate Fleming, leaving her partner trapped and dying in her basement studio. But first, hospital administrators had to call a relative of Fleming’s to get permission for Strong to bid farewell the way the couple would have wanted.

‘’They were willing to take the word of someone on the phone, 300 miles away,” Strong said. “Who knew her allergies? I did. Her knew what her wishes were? I did.”

With the family’s blessing, Strong was able to see her partner one last time. But the battle continued, she said, when the funeral director refused to allow her to make final arrangements.

That’s when Strong decided that she would do whatever she could to make sure other same-sex couples would have equal rights in Washington state.

It is an emotionally powerful story, and one that brought tears to the eyes of many of the 200 or so students, faculty and community members at Gonzaga University Law School where Strong recounted it on Monday (Oct. 29).

more at  – The Washington Post.

 

Anglican stance on same-sex marriage 'morally contemptible', says gay cleric

Jeffrey John, the dean of St Albans, accuses Rowan Williams of hardening the Church of England’s attitude to gay marriage

Rev Jeffrey John, dean of St Albans

The most senior openly gay cleric in Britain has accused the Church of England of pursuing a “morally contemptible” policy on same-sex marriage, denouncing it for moving “in the opposite direction” to society and criticising Rowan Williams for changing his “public position” on the issue as soon as he was made Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a new preface to his 1990 booklet on gay relationships, Jeffrey John, the Dean of St Albans, writes that, by setting themselves against same-sex marriage, the bishops of the Church have prioritised the union of the Anglican communion over the rights of gay Christians.

“This policy may be institutionally expedient, but it is morally contemptible,” he writes in an abridged extract of the preface published in the Guardian. “Worst of all, by appeasing their persecutors it betrays the truly heroic gay Christians of Africa who stand up for justice and truth at risk of their lives. For the mission of the Church of England the present policy is a disaster.”

John writes that, contrary to the expectations of those who had expected Williams to introduce a new tone in the Church’s stance on homosexuality, the Church’s line has in fact “continued to harden” during his near-decade as Archbishop of Canterbury.

John – who was forced to withdraw his appointment as bishop of Reading in 2003 due to fury from conservative evangelicals – says that as Archbishop of Wales Williams had made the case for an ethical framework for gay relationships. “Tragically, he changed his public position as soon as he reached the throne of St Augustine,” he adds. “Since then the Church’s line has continued to harden.”

In Permanent, Faithful, Stable, republished this week as Anglicans prepare for a stormy autumn of debate over same sex marriage, John outlines the theological case for gay people in stable and faithful relationships to be offered the same recognition as heterosexual couples. While superficially there is “little difference”, he writes, between civil partnership and marriage, the official distinction “helps perpetuate a distinction in status”.

via The Guardian.

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Gay, Christian, and Proud in Love Free or Die.

Winning a Special Jury Prize at Sundance, Love Free or Die has already become a pivotal film this year as President Obama has embraced its subject matter: gay marriage. Even more timely, the Episcopal Church has just approved a same sex blessing service.

The documentary follows Gene Robinson, the first openly gay ordained Bishop who becomes a symbol of both LGBT pioneering and exemplary Christian values of compassion, forgiveness and tolerance.

From Robinson’s chronicles of discrimination abroad to his relationship with his partner Mark, the film takes a personal look at the role faith plays in his and others’ lives, brushing aside the notion that Christianity is only for fundamentalists and evangelicals. Compelling for secular audiences and non-LGBT viewers, the film finds that the greater love that guides people must be shared.

Robinson has faced so much open hatred for his lifestyle that he wore a bullet proof vest to his own consecration. The film shows Robinson discovering another plot on his life, prompting deep questioning and thanks to above. Bishop Robinson was invited by Barack Obama to give the invocation at the opening inaugural ceremonies at the Lincoln Memorial on January 18, 2009.

This scene of Bishop Robinson speaking before serving cups of water at the Gay Pride Parade is riveting, and a rallying cry that should be seen in its entirety and taken to heart.

–  full report by John Wellington Ellis, at Huffington Post.

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United Reformed Church to enable civil partnerships in its churches

This afternoon the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church turned its attention to same-sex relationships, specifically whether or not to allow civil partnerships to be registered in United Reformed Church premises. During an hour-long debate both sides of the argument were heard, but the Assembly agreed the resolution (that local churches were able to take a decision on whether to allow registrations to take place in there buildings) and in so doing has become the first mainstream Christian denomination to allow same-sex partners to register their civil partnership in church.

This resolution takes effect immediately and enables local United Reformed Churches in England and Wales to consider whether they wish to allow civil partnerships to be registered on their premises (i.e. for the legal formalities, as well as the religious ceremony, to take place in church).  Once a church has decided to take this step, it will need to ask its trustees to apply to the superintendent registrar of the relevant local authority to become registered as an approved venue.

The decision about applying to register as a legal place for civil partnerships will be in the hands of each local church meeting; the denomination cannot estimate how many of its churches will take advantage of this resolution. However, several of its churches have made it known that they will be seeking registration and are expected to be amongst the first wave of early adopters.

One such is City United Reformed Church in Cardiff; its minister, The Revd Adrian Bulley said: “For many years this church has been hosting services of blessing for those who have entered a civil partnership.  How sad that these couples have had to go through two ceremonies to enable their union to be blessed by God in the context of prayer and worship.  How wonderful that General Assembly has now opened the door and enabled those local churches that wish to do so, to register their premises in order that same-sex couples may have a single ceremony – both religious and legal – to mark their commitment to each other. This is a very welcome decision, finally enabling the Church to offer to same sex-couples what heterosexual couples have for so long taken for granted.”

– more at  United Reformed Church.

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The Idol of Heteronormativity (Daniel 3:16-18)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego replied to Nebuchadnezzar, “Great Ruler, we do not need to defend ourselves before you. If you throw us into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to overcome the blaze and rescue us from your hand. But even if God does not rescue us, we want you to know, Great Ruler, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold that you set up.”
Daniel 3:16-18

 

“Captian Moroni”
illustration from the Book of Mormon

My image of the Sacred does not fear sex and sensuality. The Holy does not consider it shameful to express a love that cries out to be celebrated. This sense of God and what God is about in creation, needless to say, gets me in trouble.

I consider myself steeped in the long and rich spiritual traditions of judeo-christianity. Yet, I freely admit that the god concepts that inform my relationship to the Sacred are different. Straight god images have only served to block access to the Holy as they are often used as instruments of spiritual bullying.

In one incident it was suggested that I should be immediately fired – not because I’m gay, but because I publicly joked about being a gay man married to a straight woman. On another occasion I was vehemently told that I was setting “the cause” back because a retreat team I was a part of named our event “QueerSpirit.”
– read the full reflection at “The Bible in Drag

Gene Robinson: Gay Marriage is God's Work

The Episcopal Church’s first openly gay bishop on Saturday told several hundred Presbyterians committed to advancing gay equality issues that their work soon could pay off.

“This is hard work, but we can do it because it is worthy work and it is Godly work,” Bishop Gene Robinson, 65, of New Hampshire told those attending a dinner hosted by More Light Presbyterians, a pro-gay rights group of the Presbyterian Church (USA), in the Westin Convention Center Hotel, Downtown. “We will live to see the day that the church of Jesus Christ, in whatever form it is, will repent from what it has done to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people the way it has repented for slavery.”

The Presbyterian Church (USA), the country’s largest Presbyterian group with 1.95 million members, is holding its 220th General Assembly in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown, through Saturday.

Various proposals concerning gay marriage could lead to contentious debate within the Louisville-based Protestant denomination.

Robinson, who plans to retire next year, said he finds inspiration from the civil rights movement of the 1960s. He called what is happening now in the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches “holy chaos.” Gay equality work in both denominations has caused a sense of confusion, which he called a step forward from the certainty that most Christians felt when it came to what God and churches thought of homosexuals.

Christian history teaches that standing for the right thing often comes with a price, Robinson said.

“So the real question for your church and mine is this,” he said, “If you’re not in trouble for the gospel you preach, is it really the gospel?”

TribLIV£

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Christians and LGBTQ Equality: There Is No Middle Ground

In response to my post “‘It’s no sin to be gay.’ See how easy that is, Andrew Marin?” folks have made the point that Andrew’s work is valuable, because he is “building bridges” — because he is, as one reader put it, “creating stepping stones from one end of the spectrum to the other.” They appreciate Marin establishing a neutral, non-judgmental, values-free middle ground where parties on either side of the gay-Christian debate can meet to together discuss and explore the issue.

The problem, though, is that when it comes to the issue of LGBT equality, there is no such thing as a values-free middle ground. There can’t be, because that is a moral issue. And that means it’s about a very definite right and wrong.

And it’s a moral issue of no small consequence. There couldn’t possibly be more at stake. The people on one side of this debate — the majority, which wields all the power — are claiming that, in the eyes of God, those on the other side are less than human.

No matter how strenuously he or she might deny it, the fact is that any Christian who does not forthrightly and unambiguously assert that there is nothing whatsoever inherently immoral about same-sex relationships has chosen a side in this conflict. To a starving man, the person who can’t decide if they want to share their food is no better than the person who refuses to (emphasis added).

– more at John Shore, Huffington Post

 

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Catholic Nun Challenges Church's Stance on Gay Marriage

On the heels of the Vatican’s dispute with American nuns, one sister is taking a defiant stand against the Catholic hierarchy’s opposition to gay marriage.

Jeannine Gramick is the main speaker for a Saturday program where Catholics supporting Maryland’s marriage equality law discuss ways to prevent the legislation from being repealed on referendum during the November elections. The gathering will run from 1 to 4 p.m. at Goucher College’s Alumni Hall.

“It’s a great shame that the leaders of my church—the bishops—are all out there campaigning against marriage equality,” she said. “I want to be proud of my church and that makes me very ashamed.”

-full report at  Reisterstown, MD Patch.

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