Wednesday, June 5, 2013

On Bishops and Marriage.

In a big surprise, the British House of Lords voted overwhelmingly to approve the 2nd reading of a bill that would make marriage equality the law of the land.   Somewhat unexpectedly, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby voted to kill the bill.  I say "unexpectedly" because he had been offering an olive twig, acknowledging that gay relationships can be admirable.  But apparently, actually recognizing a marriage like mine will destroy straight marriages, cause people to divorce and cease procreating....well, we've heard all this before, and Welby is just the same-old same-old. 

 The Church of England certainly includes dissenting bishops, and marriage equality is strongly supported by the British people, but none of the 14 "Lords Spiritual" in attendance actually voted in favor of equality (though 5 did abstain).  Greasing the skids to oblivion.

From Welby, let's turn to Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill.  He attended an event discussing same sex marriage with pro-gay Sister Jeannine Gramick. And he got an earful.  Here's what the National Catholic Reporter tells us:
Paprocki said the church would love to welcome gay people but is forced into a defensive position by "activists pushing an agenda." That set off [Anne] Gray, who has a gay son... 
"Here I am," she said. "The big scary gay agenda."
"It is all about anecdotal stories," she said. "My son is a perfect human being. There is nothing intrinsically disordered about him. I know because I am his mother."... 
"You need to listen to mothers," she said.
Now, pay attention to the following bit (my emphasis)
One of the youngest people in the room said she was a devout Catholic, but when her aunt and sister told her they were gay, she was put on the spot. She asked Paprocki if she could remain a good Catholic and still support her family members in their desires to form lifelong relationships.

"It is a struggle to be a good Catholic while supporting gay marriage," the bishop said. "It strains your relationship with the church."

He said those who oppose the church on the issue should become Protestants. "They do a lot of good things too," he said.
Polls show that upwards of 60% of Roman Catholic laity upport marriage equality. Is the bishop really suggesting that they all leave the church? Because that will leave the pews awfully empty.

Writing in the Guardian about the UK situation, Andrew Brown notes
If there is one thing that I have learned from the comments on this site in the last four years, it is that homophobia breeds hatred in return. A really significant proportion of the commenters who hate and despise Christianity do so because they feel that Christians stand for the hatred and contempt of gay people.
Both Welby and Paprocki have the same problem. Their efforts to demonize gay people are leading to couples--mothers, and others-- to reject what their church has to offer, reject the church, and leave faith. This is not a strategy for long-term survival.


dr.primrose said...

My all-time favorite argument against same-sex marriage was offered by Lord Tebbit in the House of Lords yesterday -- the succession problem caused by sperm donors to a lesbian queen and her wife:

"There is, I believe, no bar to a lesbian succeeding to the Throne. It may happen. It probably will, at some stage. What, then, if she marries and her partner bears a child by an anonymous sperm donor? Is that child the heir to the Throne? If the Queen herself subsequently bore a child by an anonymous donor, which child then, if either, would inherit the Throne? The possibilities must have been discussed in the deep consideration of this Bill in government, so the Minister must know the answer. If she does not know it immediately, I am sure that her officials will be able to give it to her, because it has all been discussed thoroughly."

Really, what can one possibly say in response?

Counterlight said...

I noticed that line by Andrew Brown too, a real keeper. It's one of those rare moments when the whole situation is articulated so well that it seems obvious, and we all smack our heads and say, "of course!"