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Re: Unicorns in the marriage bed
> And one of the grave dangers for a heterosexual male and priest
> participating in this discussion, one who is not at all fearful of lesbigays
> nor feels their relationships are sinful (apart from promiscuity) is the
> fear that when one raises what one thinks are legitimate theological issues,
> e.g. "marriage," or issues of law, e.g., canon, rubrics, resolutions,
> someone will attempt to paint him with the "anti-lesbigay" brush.
Thank you for running that risk. I've been painted with that brush occasionally myself and imagine that I will be so painted several more times before I die. It's not bad as masscara; trust me.
You are irenic and open to questions. You have been kind to me, and sometimes my own jitters have made me not notice. I am grateful for your patience.. More important: you are willing to be vulnerable. I especially appreciate
your sharing details about the contributions that Mike and Freddy made, and continue to make, to your life.
> I don't know if Mike and Freddy would have
> characterized their relationship as a marriage. I do know that they *did*
> characterize it as "lifelong."
"What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet." Sounds like they experienced some of the essence of holy matrimony.
Our theology has always insisted that a couple marry themselves, that the Church only solemnizes it. At the Beyond Inclusion conference last week in NYC someone got quite a lot of applause when he suggested (as I often heard Norman
Pittenger suggest) that the Church get out of the marrying business altogether, stop being an agent of the state, and get on with its proper theological functions of blessing and solemnizing.
> What would you have the Episcopal Church do? Should we have one rite that
> is a "marriage rite," and another that is a "rite for a union of two persons
> of the same sex?"
I don't have clear or easy answers to these good questions. I am busy asking many of them myself.
A wise priest told me at the first Integrity convention at St. James' Cathedral 24 years ago, "Louie, we are just coming out of Egypt. We probably have some wandering in the wilderness ahead of us. Don't presume to rush to Mt.
Sinai and declare the new law for us."
Little else in my pilgrimage has equipped me to be the law-giver, save Christ's law of love.
I have found Christ present in many relationships no one of us would probably solemnize, and in most of them, the persons would not seek a solemnization, only our kindness. One of my good friends for many years before his death paid
a young man to have sex with him. The older man had been the lead organist in Chicago until arthritis made him the bad organist in the tiny misson where I worshipped. His boyfriend had little other source of income for his wife and
children save Bill's generosity. And Avery was with Bill at mass two or three times a week. Avery was with Bill at concerts and at fine restaurants when we all went out to dinner. Bill saw to it that Avery's children had books and
clothes for school. Several years after Bill had died, Avery told me what a huge spiritual influence Bill still had over him, his children long ago grown. Whenever Avery was sick, Bill was there for him, and Bill was also bidding
Christ to be there for him. "O Lord, I am not worthy that you should'st come under my roof, but speak the word only, and my Avery shall be healed."
I once went with a gay priest friend to a shelter in Chicago on a bitterly cold day when the straight monk there summoned us because the police had brought to him a gay alcoholic whom they had pulled out of the Chicago River. He had
tried to commit suicide in his despair over the death of his lover, another wino, who was Native American. The monk introduced us and then left us alone with him in a very bleak, bare room. Blessedly we had the good sense that even
Job's 'comforters' had and the grace to sit in silence for an awful long time, letting him be the first to speak. "It's a tough world for a girl," he said, not sure whether he could trust these well dressed 'friends.'
"We're two girls who can say 'yes' to that," my priest friend Mary Rattlebeads replied.
I have not found God to check out folks' marriage licenses before becoming powerfully engaged in their intimacy. I value my own marriage immensely, but I am humbled to note that Jesus never married, that Paul spoke of marriage only
as lust control.
As we undertake the important work of evaluting and re-evaluating marriages and commitments, may God deliver us from making an icon out of them. God is our only icon, and God much prefers to come out of the stained glass and the
frescos and the leather bound books and to dwell among the Bill & Averies, the winos, ...... among whosoever will, available to absolutely everybody.
When Ernest and I took our vows 25 years ago, we did not know a single lesbigay couple in relationship. We have since met many, many who were couples long before then, but the world then was a very dangerous place to tell anyone.
As a black and white couple integrating a rural Georgia town, 60 miles from Plains, we did not have the luxury to hide, nor the inclination to do so. But we knew in our hearts that we were not so much charting new territory as we
were moving into territory we'd already heard promised in Scriptures, territory from which we had felt exiled until God miraculously made it clear to us that He radically includes us at the Holy Table. Our eyes were opened and in a
mystery we were given the gift of faith. All of the biblical stories which had made sense to me as stories only for someone else, for someone not like me, for my hetero heroes.... suddenly, as suddenly as Saul's vision on the road
to Damascus, as dramatically as Peter's vision on the rooftop in Joppa, suddenly, dramatially became efficacious for Ernest and me.
I'm not talking about ideas or canons or rubrics, though I undertand the importance of those to our community: I'm talking about our encounter with the Living God.
I suspect the time for lesbigays' wandering in the wilderness is over. I am encouraged that you and others are asking many of the right questions. Where possible, it is important to know what relationships we are blessing, though
heterosexual reality suggests that we ought not to be too surprised when grace takes quite a while to catch up with the lesser dynamics that often catapult persons into 'marraiges.' We don't stop blessing couples even if we think
or even know for certain that they aren't ready yet to have a mature understanding of the vows we bid them to take. After even the most appropriate ceremoniies and liturgies, we must leave most of the work to the couple, praying
that they will know the Living God.
Joy to you!