Bob Morris Responds to Ellen Barrett

Bob Morris Responds to Ellen Barrett

Date: Wed, 5 May 1999 15:19:34 -0400
From: Interweave
Subject: Re: The Hard Path of Christ and the Easy Path of Being Right

Your ideas certainly don't compromise your wisdom!

As I said, there's agony in any direction we take.

I am on your side of this issue, and share, in substance, your feelings. The reason the gay issue is different for the Biblicists, however, is that it's not an issue of social justice, but of personal sin. I know conservatives who endorse full civil rights for gays because they embrace secular pluralism, but don't believe that this "sin" should be allowed in the Church.

I don't agree with this conservative stance at all, but I think they need to be engaged on that level if that's where they are at. We not simply dismiss their distinction between sexual issues and other issues as prima facia foolish.

They don't see the slavery analogy at all, at all - as is the case with many conservative African-Americans who both reject and resent the analogy. For them the issue of just relations between people and the issue of the expression of a soul in sexual intercourse just do not belong in the same discussion. Scripture nowhere COMMANDS that slaves should be held-it simply accepts the practice, and seeks to set up some rights for the slaves to decent treatment, including the possiblity of emancipation. (Thank God, we've created a society where such rights aren't directly necessary!)

Scripture does, however (many would maintain) explicitly CONDEMN all same-sex intercourse. (I know there are some good studies that get behind that seeming simplicity, and I myself find them convincing-but they don't.)

Scripture also says, explicitly, that "a woman should not teach or hold authority over a man", as you know, and forbids divorce. The real nub of argument is with those who accept women's ordination, or divorce, but condemn same-sex intercourse in monogomous commitments. Why the difference in interpretation?

So, the parties are not agreed to the terms of the discussion. The issue is what we do about that.

As Bruce Ford observed, the schism if or as it comes won't be about sexual orientation as such, but about ideology - how Scripture is intepreted, for instance. The conservatives, in fact, see this much more clearly than most liberals, so far as I can see.

"Living together in peace" would, at minimum, involve agreeing for now to disagree about homosexuality; live and let live, as if were, and turn our attention to other elements the Church's mission in the world and places where we can support each other about that- which each of us also pursued our own special missions - like outreach to gay and lesbian folk.

This may-or may not-be possible.

Thanks for your thoughtful-and reasoned-response.



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