Sunday 16 August 2009

Love is an Orientation – a book every evangelical must read, says Andrew Goddard

Two ‘must read’ recommendations from me today. You must read Andrew Goddard’s book review on the Fulcrum web site and you must read the book he reviews: Andrew Marin, Love is an Orientation: Elevating the Conversation with the Gay Community; IVP USA, 2009. ISBN 978-0-8308-3626-0, although reading Andrew may be enough – but I definitely want to read the book –asap. (Andrew is Tutor in Ethics at Trinity College Bristol and a member of Fulcrum’s leadership team)

I was very, very tempted to quote much of Andrew’s article here, including most of his quotes from Marin. Quoting the majority of both article and quotes would be ridiculous, so go and read Andrew for yourself – he gives an extensive summary of the book. Here are two quotes to persuade you to go there, NOW!

Andrew writes:
“[I]t is a book like no other I know, a book which desperately needed to be written, a book which sadly very few people could write, a book which every Christian – or certainly every evangelical - who wants to learn about homosexuality and a Christian response to gay and lesbian people – should read” and, quoting Marin “There is also the stark and perhaps for some readers shocking testimony that “I have never met a more loving community in my life than the GLBT community” (166).”

What does this mean for Fulcrum, Changing Attitude, conservative evangelicals, and others?

I’m wondering what kind of conversion experience Andrew might have undergone. We are due to meet for lunch this week (after too long a gap thanks to his relocation from Oxford to Bristol) and I hope to discover more over lunch.

I’ve learnt a lot in recent years about the subsets in the traditional, conservative wing of the church, the overlaps and distinctions between Fulcrum, Reform, Anglican Mainstream, CEEC, etc. More recently I’ve begun to discern subtle differences within each subset, and I’m now wondering about Fulcrum in particular, with the Rt Revd Graham Kings, Fulcrum’s Theological Secretary now a bishop in my diocese, Andrew responding so positively to Marin’s book, and the Bishop of Durham using language that Marin would question.

Andrew Goddard say that Marin:
“… warns against using “homosexual” (“instead use words like gay, lesbian, GLBT, gay and lesbian community” (60)) and shares three lessons he has learned over the years: get past our own issues regarding the GLBT community, do our homework (“we have to go to the culture before we know the culture”) and “prepare ourselves to not say or do anything that would be contrary to our intent to learn or serve…” (63).

One of the things that made me angry last week was the Bishop of Durham’s use of words and phrases which are offensive to LGBT people – ‘non-celibate homosexuals’, ‘homosexual behaviour’ and ‘those with homosexual and similar instincts’. Will Andrew be recommending ‘Love is an Orientation’ to the Bishop? Will Fulcrum’s leadership team follow Andrew’s advice, read the book, and discuss its effect on them and implications for them?

Let me conclude by quoting Andrew once more:
“I found that Marin powerfully expresses much of what I’ve begun to learn (and warns against much I continually have to un-learn) but also made me aware how much more I need to learn - intellectually, experientially and spiritually. In particular, his book showed me how narrow and in-house my listening – and probably most of the (admittedly limited) evangelical listening to GLBT people - has been, focussed as it has been on the church debate. It has left me wrestling with whether and how I can participate in that debate from a traditionalist position and also find a way of doing at least a small part of what Marin has been doing by going beyond the confines of the church and its political battles and seeking and sharing Christ in the GLBT community.”


  1. There is a danger for those of us who know what Wright means within the narrow confines of the Anglican political debate, of suggesting that his words have any *real* meaning. A 'non-celibate homosexual' means absolutely nothing outside current churchspeak. Like in the Larson cartoon, most people reading Durham's letter would read blah, blah, blah Anglican Communion blah, blah...This is true however of a lot of the language used by the Church on a range of issues and one of the reasons no-one is coming in any serious numbers. The Church is in massive decline, even some English diocese are on the verge of real bankruptcy. What we should pin on Durham et al, successors in name only to the great Michael Ramsey, is that their language would have had a resonance with some Victorians, mainly white slave owning men, some older people today and some other people with problems facing reality; but that otherwise it is utterly meaningless, utterly; and alienating - language like this is directly responsible for emptying our Churches.

  2. The arrogant phrase 'What the bishop really meant' is such a gift:

    From Durham Diocesan website:

    Diocese of Durham: Helping to grow God's Kingdom in every community.

    What the Bishop of Durham really meant:

    Helping to grow God's Kingdom in every community - which excludes gays (non-celibate blah, blah) and limits the role of women.

  3. Colin, in the end I am not really sure what this gets us, but an enemy that is less strident, less hostile, but in the end still believes in their heart of hearts that we are wrong, that we GLBT Christians are not living the life that God ultimately wants for us.

    That hidden agenda is summed up nicely in the statement from the review that incorporates a quote from the book; "Finally, from 1 Timothy 1, Marin develops the “think-big-picture principle” in which we trust God, stand firm and persevere convinced that each person “has until their very last breath to accomplish what God has set forth for their life” (134)." Emphasis mine.

    That represents to me our enemy patiently waiting to the end of life for a deathbed confession and repentance for having lived life as a gay man or woman!

    And to put it bluntly, that's bullshit.

  4. David,
    if it helps really entrenched people to start listening properly, it will really make a difference.
    Because genuine transformation can only begin once we listen and take the other seriously.

    At the end of it, many (not all!) might still believe we're wrong, but that doesn't need to bother us if they stop discrimminating against us.
    There's a huge difference between someone who casts his brother out of his life, and a grandfather who watches his cohabitating grandchildren at the joint family Christmas, still believing that they're living in sin but not letting it influence his relationship with them.

    It seems that Marrin has at least found a langugae that evangelicals can hear and understand, and we have to admit that we have so far failed to do that.

  5. Why is NTW being accused of being anti-woman. He is an active supporter of women bishops

  6. Refreshing to hear someone call his stance what it is: anti-gay.

    And I must read more of his stuff as it sounds like a rich vein of nonsense. I had assumed he was at least consistent in his use of the Bible and would be concerned about the headship of women, but clearly he is selective; which poses the question: on what basis? His own prejudices perhaps?

    Or is *what he really means* that his support of women bishops is only if they are not active, non-practicing? They are permitted in the church so long as they don't have any inappropriate physical contact with mitres or croziers. Will he require all non-subserviant-women bishops to repent after each utterance, after each episcopal decision?

    Or is his stance just transparently and conveniently political and utterly meaningless to the world at large. Hmm.

  7. Yes Erika, it may make the disagreement more palatable. But if in the end the goal is to hope that with all the listening to our sob stories of issues with family, issues with friends & neighbors, issues with workmates, issues with partners and public accommodation of our relationships, etc., etc., we will eventually see the light and understand that our homosexuality and its accompanying lifestyle are not what God really wants for us, and convert, repent and abandon our sin filled way, then the whole thing is unChristian, unethical, disingenuous and a farce. In spite of the few casualties their side may experience in the long run.

    And if too many of them "convert" and not enough of us, then you shall quickly see how fast it gets shut down and everything reverts to the way things were.

    You cannot approach us with a dishonest, hidden agenda and expect anything good to come from it. "A spring cannot issue both unpolluted and polluted water."

  8. a grandfather who watches his cohabitating grandchildren at the joint family Christmas, still believing that they're living in sin but not letting it influence his relationship with them.

    I think one would in fact be very naive to think that it did not influence his relationship with them!

  9. Conservative evangelicals care only about their relationship with the Bible and gay Christians threaten that because of a couple of texts which refer to same-sex actions. To be a gay Christian requires you to interpret these texts, in the same way all Christians interpret texts but do not have to admit they do because there is nothing so stark they have to overcome in the ancient material. For my whole life I've heard Christians unconvincingly explaining away our responsibility to the poor, with far weaker arguments than are available regarding the same-sex texts.

    That is why being gay is a great gift of God in creation, because it forces you to be grown up about the Bible, to think for yourself. Conservative Evangelicals do not want their use of the Bible threatened, to think for themselves, they are not interested in other people's same-sex experiences or indeed their own: why else would an ex-gay movement have any takers!

    Let’s be clear about the Bible. That is the talent we have been given. Job: a literary experiment by wisdom scholars; Adam and Eve: one of two creation poems in Genesis with many contemporary parallels.

    In my opinion the Lambeth 1998 declaration that 'the homosexual lifestyle is incompatible with the Bible' was the point the Rubicon was crossed, not this latest business. That statement is incompatible with Anglicanism; with Reason, but it became the published normative position - how did that happen? The joke about bishops being managers in fancy dress stopped being funny: it was just pathetically true.

    However it happened, it marked the end of my concern or interest in the opinion of Anglican bishops (except Tutu). Whatever the bishops thought they were saying, they said to me and to a lot of people, gay and non-gay: we have nothing to offer you; you will have to work this out for yourself. That will be seen as the decisive moment I think.

  10. Anonymous (whichever),

    I am so glad you single out Tutu. What a great and wonderful man/human being/Anglican/bishop/archbishop he is! But I think there are other bishops who are actively virtuous in this regard: Selby and Harris (OK, both retired but still active), Saxbee, Southwark, even Jones, and Sentamu - whose heart isn't in this particular aspect of 'orthodoxy'(at least, as I read him).

    I don't underestimate the forces against proper recognition of gays, but I do strongly believe in the widespread decency of C of E folk.


    John Moles.

  11. Personally I think that Andrew's review shows that most serious debate is over within evangelical and traditionalist circles (at least within academic circles), but not with the outcome that CA would approve of. And that the focus is now shifting to how to reach out with God's love to people who "are gay" in a culture that sees sexual orientation as a hugely important factor in personal identify.

    Not that they are convinced by arguments that, for people who are gay, gay relationships are good. Or even that sexual orientation is a given, or that there are several normal orientations. Rather, that Christians have to learn to love, and communicate the Gospel to, everyone who is open within the predominant cultural environment, even "sinners"!

  12. David,

    This is Andrew Marin, the person who wrote Love is an Orientation. You quote my sentence from p. 134 as a deathbed confession...far from it. I have no intent in ever attempting to "change" someone from gay to straight, nor waiting until they're dying to try to do so either! The thought of such a bait-and-switch makes me queezy.

    Want to know the interesting part to what you quoted - the very conservative factions over here in the States use that EXACT sentence to say that I'm a universalist with no morality. I find it unique that both "sides" pick the same sentence to accuse me of what either one doesn't like. I actually think it's kind of funny how I get attacked with the same sentence - and yet this sentence seems to have two totally different meanings just depending on who is reading it.

    That sentence is speaking to a belief in Christ. I'm not sure if you read my book or not, but that sentence is followed by a story that illustrates my point that in the Gospel of John it says that the Kingdom is inherited through belief (first and foremost). My thesis is that the Christian community has been focusing on sexual behavior for so long that belief is an after-thought. In my mind, those are backwards priorities.

    One other thought - I talk about, and validate GLBT Christians throughout the whole of my book! I hope you have a chance to read it and see for yourself firsthand that what I am saying here is indeed true.

    I belief that both communities are continually falling into the wrong conversations, and thus, stifiling the potential that each of us have to make a significant impact for the Kingdom together.

    Much love.
    Andrew Marin

  13. Andrew

    I am fascinated by your post to David.
    I copied Colin's post about your book to a (pro-gay)evangelical friend of mine who immediately focused on the same sentence to say she didn't understand Colin's enthusiasm as David's interpretation was correct.
    It seems you are being misunderstood even among the evangelicals you're primarily addressing.

  14. David
    “You cannot approach us with a dishonest, hidden agenda and expect anything good to come from it. "A spring cannot issue both unpolluted and polluted water.

    But that implies that they should only talk to us if they were already pro-gay. Listening changes people, who knows where it will end up. Or are you only talking to them in order to convert them to your view?
    I’d be happy if they saw me as a real, complex person instead of this ridiculous cardboard stereotype they usually have. I’d be happy if they stopped lying about me and about my faith.

    I don’t care what these people think of me as long as they don’t assume power to intervene in my life.

    Ultimately, it would be good, if they could end up treating me as the same kind of sinner as a divorcee, with the same sanctions and consequences for my life in the church. I’m not holding my breath….but until they do start to engage with the reality of us rather than with their feverish imagination, the whole process can’t even begin.

  15. 'Ultimately, it would be good, if they could end up treating me as the same kind of sinner as a divorcee'

    No, no, no. Just because someone has a ludicrous relationship with a collection of ancient texts, some of which illuminate our realtionship with God and some of which don't they do not have the right to define your place, in society or in language or in any other way. There may be an attitude of sympathy or of care but never respect or serious consideration. If the Church cannot sort this out then thank God for the secular laws.

  16. I think the sentence under discussion is perfectly clear. I also think that conservative Christians often do do this in practice. (I've certainly benefited from it myself: I'm separated from my wife [will divorce sometime] and living 'in sin' [not my view] with another woman, with whom I've had a child.) That is, they just agree - tacitly - to 'park' the issue. Where such people get worried is when they are confronted with their behaviour and asked to justify it. Maybe Marin can provide them a 'reputable' basis on which to do it (instead of just 'live and let live' /'agree to differ'/'no big deal'/'we're all sinners', which I think admirable sentiments but which are too pragmatic for some). I realise this is all much more difficult for gay people, but some device which would enable the present debate to be by-passed would be an improvement on the status quo.

  17. Anonymous
    "they do not have the right to define your place, in society or in language or in any other way."
    Of course they don't, and they are quite powerless in that respect, which is why they shout so loudly where they do still have power.
    And in church they do.
    When I started living openly with my now wife she was not relicensed as Reader, I was not allowed to finish my Reader training, and for the blessing of our relationship we had to find a meaningful field because we weren't allowed to use the church I can see from my window and which I have attended for the past 8 years. The priest took a huge personal risk too, and I am having to keep his/her identity a secret.

    This is the kind of judgemental nonsense that has to stop.
    They can continue to think I'm a sinner, I absolutely don't care about that.
    But they should not treat me worse than anyone committing a heterosexual "sin" like divorce.

    I sincerley hope that Andrew Marin can bring a little bit of sense into this conversation and help people to regain their sense of proportion.

  18. Erika,

    Thank you for your closing statements, because that is exactly what I am trying to do. Both communities have been talking past each other for so long because there is already THE modis-operandi of "the only way to handle" such a topic: I'm on this side, you're on that side, and we'll never agree unless one of us either gives in, or changes our theological belief system.

    I believe that both communities are working off of a false model of the ideal situation because structurally speaking, neither of those "best case scenarios" will ever happen. So both communities are fighting for an ideal that can never come ture. This is the crux of the culture war, something that needs to be openly (AND peacefully and productively) addressed.

    Just so you all know, I will be in the UK Sept 4-13th speaking with leaders throughout the Evangelical Alliance (and with some of the Anglican bishops and leaders as well) about these exact issues. Then, I'll also be back pretty much the whole month of April 2010 publically speaking on these topics. Building bridges starts individually, and I pray that each of us can start to shift our own paradigms away from a war mentality and on to a Kingdom one. I know that is easier said than done, especially when you have straight Christians excluding you and putting you down, but if not us to take that first step, then who? This is also the first message I communicate to the straight Christians as well! The time is now to just stop doing what has always been done surrounding this topic!

    Much love.
    Andrew Marin

  19. Erika,

    Glad to read your post, distressing as it was. Brings out obvious distinction which I often forget: that between 'ordinary' orthodox (many/most of whom just want to 'get on') and those with power, who may be nastier (arguable) but generally feel that they cannot compromise PUBLICLY (which is what they would have to do in keeping you and your spouse on as Readers).

    So - again - maybe AM points a way forward.


  20. Andrew, thank you for responding.

    No, I have not read your book. I am responding to the review of your book which Colin is encouraging us to read and then perchance buy the book. If you look at what I have quoted, it is a quote from the review that has in it a quote from your book. Now if your reviewer has misunderstood your book, please correct the review for us, because I do not believe that there is any other way to understand what the reviewer has written; that in your process of positively interacting with GLBT folks you lot have until our last breath to help us see the error of our way, to see the correctness of your beliefs and win our souls for Christ.

    Andrew, I am not attacking you. I am dismissing you as irrelevant. And I am basing it on the review. Where most Anglicans here will tell you that they sit on a three-legged stool, I am an Anglican that sits on a four-legged stool. I went to a United Methodist seminary and not only subscribe to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, but the Wesleyan Quadrilateral as well; scripture, tradition, reason and experience.

    So for me it boils down to a simple question. Do you accept the monogamous, faithful, same gender relationships of gay, lesbian and bisexual folks, as well as the sexual identities and monogamous, faithful, relationships of transgender folks, as holy and equally acceptable before God as mixed gender marriages?

    If your answer is not an unequivocal "YES," then we have nothing more about which to speak because you are just a kinder, gentler version of the same old fundamentalist, evangelicals that we have been round the bend with my entire adult life. It is an experience of which I have grown weary, and will not subject myself to again.

  21. Hi David,

    No matter what I say here, it's a lose-lose situation. I can only encourage you to read my book to get a full understanding of exactly who I am and where I'm coming from, because I believe you're asking the wrong question (close-ended vs. open-ended and Jesus' responses to each). As you said, you have already dismissed me as irrelevant, and that's unfortunate. How can a bridge ever be build between two diametically oppossed communities in a peaceful and productive way, if neither community actually believes it can happen. Sounds like you don't believe it can happen, but I do, and I'll continue working everyday of my life to see a bridge built. I'm not asking anyone to just believe my words, but believe my intentional and comitted actions over a significant amount of time. I would never ask you to subject yoruself to the horrors that you have most likely gone through, throughout a majority of your life. But if I can continue to encourage the Church, and its various factions, move forward in a more peaceful and productive fashion, than that faithful comittment is a success (Prov 16:3), and one-day builds into a movement that changes cultural perceptions and interactions.

    Much love.

  22. So the bottom line folks is that Andrew cannot give an unequivocal "YES" to my question. And he cannot do it because according to him it is the "wrong" question.

    I think that by this point in our individual and relational lives and in our communal experience with the church, and with Christianity in general, it is the first and foremost question, closed-ended or not. Because they are either for us or they are against us. And in the end I think that in regard to eternal values Andrew is against us. He has just decided to be nicer about it. So then you cannot help being a bit suspicious about why he is willing to spend so much time and energy on this matter.

    My personal experience is that it no longer matters what fundamentalist evangelicals believe and say. I know what my experience is with God is in my life. I know that if I am unacceptable before God that it has nothing to do with my sexuality or my faithful, monogamous relationships. (If I had one!) And there are now starting to be enough places in the world where like-minded Christians feel the same way. My culture is 15 to 20 years behind the US & Canada, but my church, the Anglican Church of Mexico, is the daughter of TEC. We have unbreakable bonds of affection. As it grows more safe for us in TEC and her sister churches in the AC, and in the church universal, it grows safer for us here in Mexico. The relationship building, the dialogs and the building of bridges, of which Andrew speaks, have already been had. For the last 30 or 40 years. We have done the work. We have done the theology. We need not reinvent the wheel with him.

    I no longer have the time, the energy or the gumption to spar with folks like Andrew, no matter how nice he wants to be about it, nor do I have the funds to support his authorship of a kinder, gentler same old same old.

  23. Hi David

    I'm in my fifties, straight, and an evangelical, and I can answer yes to your question. The problem is that it isn't me that you have to win over, it's people like Andrew Goddard and Tom Wright.

    Jeremy C

    It's actually quite revealing to read the "Goddard to Goddard" dialogue (I assume it's still archived on the Fulcrum website) and compare it with the language of this article. I think that there is a discernable shift of position. Maybe not as far as I would like, certainly not as far as you would like, but at least a shift in the right direction.

    By the way, I didn't read the comments which you highlighted as being the hope of a deathbed repentance, but rather as a statement of the fact that God hasn't written any of us off yet. That is as true of Andrew Goddard or Tom Wright as it is of me or of you. When we dialogue, we have the opportunity of moving past stereotypes into relationship. It is a process which, if carried out in genuine respect and humility, will leave none of us unchanged. Therein lies our hope.

  24. Oops, my name ended up halfway down the post. Can't work out all this technical stuff!

  25. David

    I don't understand why you want anyone's approval. Ultimately, the only people who have to approve of me are my friend and my family. The rest, I thank for letting me live my life without interference or hindrance, and letting me be personally responsible before God.

    You have not replied to my earlier post, but I would be interested in understanding why it would not be enough for you if people simply treated us like they treat any heterosexual sinner.
    As long as they stop discriminating against me, they can think about me whatever they like.

    This isn't same old same old. This is possibly the first step towards live and let live, which is precisely what we've been asking for for so long.

  26. Hi Jeremy.

    Thank you for affirming the sacredness of us as children of God, and of our relationships before God.

    I think that if you go back to the review of Andrew's book and read that line again while asking yourself two questions in sequence you will see why I read it that way.

    1. If I value and affirm the sacredness of GLBT sexuality and relationships what is the purpose of this comment?

    2. If I do not value and affirm the sacredness of GLBT sexuality and relationships what is the purpose of this comment?

    I think that it is obvious from his dancing around the bush answer to my straightforward question that Andrew does not in fact value and affirm the sacredness of GLBT sexuality and relationships. Hence why I see that statement as having no other purpose than that he has until the endgame to win us over.

    BTW, I am no longer concerned about convincing anyone, high potentate, famous big thinker or no. I realize that for many of us "We're here! We're queer! Get over it!" We are happy to clasp hands with like-minded followers of Christ as we all co-create with Christ God's Commonwealth. Enough time and energy were expended on convincing in the past. Too many lives were lost in the interim. Too many lives could yet be lost should we neglect our mission. We are moving forward, not reliving the past with a new generation of conevos. Come join us.

  27. Erika, I do not care about whether Andrew accepts us. I ask the question to know whether it is of value to any of us to expend the energy reinventing the wheel. Based on his answer I think that we waste our time.

  28. David

    I think we're talking cross purposes.

    What people think of me is of no consequence to me, how they treat me is.

    And if Andrew's approach can help to reduce people's stridency and their determination to discriminate against us, then it is helpful, regardless of what he or anyone else may think.

    The whole point of listening is not for all to end up agreeing, but to develop genuine compassion for each other and to see each other as equals, not as enemies.

    With women priests, we have some churches who have them and some who don't. Some people who will accept communion from a woman and some who won't.
    If we can get to a stage where those parishes which want to allow SSBs can do so, and those who welcome partnered gay priests can employ them, then I'm not interested in what the anti-gay equivalent of Forward in Faith feels about that.

    I happily let them stew in their judgmentalism and anti-gay theology, as long as they are equally happy to let me and my parish live out our understanding of what being a Christian means.

    War, abortion, divorce, usury, women priests - we manage to have lots of incredibly different views on a lot of things without trying to impose our own thinking on the others.
    If homosexuality can end up in that list, I shall be happy and it really won't bother me that some see me as a particularly hineous sinner.

    And I genuinely believe that Andrew's approach can contribute to that goal.

  29. Good points Erika, but to get to a real reapprochement won't you also have to persuade people who feel the same way as David and Colin to "stop bothering conservatives"? For instance to stop asserting that any disapproval of gay relationships incites hate against gay people and should be banned, and demanding that people should be legally obliged to act as if they approved of gay relationships?

  30. Then really Erika, Andrew's mission is to the choir, his choir. His dialog is with evangelicals. If he can lead them into not discriminating against us in church and in the nation, then God's speed. But Andrew does not need you or me, any of us to accomplish that.

    Then the now infamous remark does not matter, because that is their hidden agenda amongst themselves. As long as we enjoy the fruit of his labor, peace and tranquility, then no matter that the occasional Christian sharing our pew, our parish council, our foreign mission goals has a hidden agenda of hoping that their Christian lifestyle will rub off on us. We just have to remember not to scratch the surface because it is toxic beneath.

    And a mission to fellow conservative Evangelical Christians does not need our involvement, or especially the involvement of our more fragile and unwitting siblings. We should mark the perimeter of Andrew's labor well with warnings to GLBT folk; There be monsters here.

  31. Anon@22:00, I cannot speak for Colin because we are from two entirely different nations.

    Speaking for myself, I do not bother conservatives. I do not seek them out. I live in North America and I believe that conservative churches should have the right to discriminate in membership, rights and sacraments, ordained ministry and employment. I do not believe that they should be able to discriminate in social services offered through their ministries if they are supported by government funds. I also do not believe that individual Christians have the right to discriminate in their delivery of goods and services when it is in violation of business licensing or public accommodation laws. I believe in freedom of speech and also in laws which curtail hate speech and activities.

  32. David
    Oh yes, Andrew's mission is to the choir.
    But a conversation is a two way process, and it is our task to listen too.

    If Andrew is showing me ways and a language that is more likely to help me get my own point across, which is that I am not after validation or approval, and that I am not wanting to persecute conservatives or destroy Western society and morals, then I have a lot to learn from him.

    After all, my current way of speaking is also nothing more than preaching to my choir.

    And the phrase that really chimed is that we must ask open ended questions, not closed ones. Our current "right or wrong", "yes or no" has only got us more and more entrenched.
    And it is true that whenever Jesus has been challenged with a closed end question he gave a surprise answer that turned it into an open ended one, and one in which all sides in an argument could learn from him and from each other.

  33. Anonymous
    Are people legally required to act as if they approve of gay relationships?
    Or are you talking about a civil government insisting that all public services are open to anyone?

    I agree that a wedding photographer should have the right to choose his clients, but I don't agree that an adoption agency that takes public money should be allowed to discriminate against a whole group of tax payers who help finance it.

    Could you live with that distinction?

  34. I agree that a wedding photographer should have the right to choose his clients, but I don't agree that an adoption agency that takes public money should be allowed to discriminate against a whole group of tax payers who help finance it.

    Erika I think that most folks in North America feel that both forms of discrimination should be illegal. The US & Canada have both business licensing and public accommodation laws which state that you cannot discriminate in the delivery of the goods & services that you purvey to the public. If you are going to allow distinctions for the local caterer, flowershop, bakery and photographer to discriminate, but not the Hilton Hotel, then such laws would need exact lists of who or what industries could discriminate and who could not. That's a nightmare in the making.

    If you sincerely believe that you could learn from Andrew's campaign to the Evangelicals, by all means listen in and participate when you feel the opportunity. But I do not feel that asking him right off the bat if he feels that our relationships are sacred and of equal value as heterosexual marriage is unreasonable. Because he will not answer with a simple yes or no, I believe that the answer is no. If the answer is no, then he and his campaign are potentially lethal to unwitting GLBT folks who may be attracted to it for its kind tone and level headed conversation. Ultimately he has a hidden agenda and our folks must be aware of that.

    Mark the ancient maps well; There be monsters here!

  35. David
    I agree that it's not easy. But just as I, as a translator, draw the line of what work I will accept, so I am willing to grant others the right to draw their own lines.

    It is tricky, because you're right that hotels should not discriminate, while I have no problem with a small B&B doing so.

    There could be a way of distinguishing between corporate enterprises and small self-employed ones, for example. I admit, I haven't thought it through and I am only responding from an emotional point of view.

    Regarding Andrew, I am still not sure what you're saying. You say you do not need his approval, and yet you dismiss him completely if you're not sure that he does personally approve of you.

    What is so dangerous about accepting that some people will never approve of us (or will at least start a listening process believing that they never will), and yet helping them to reduce the feverish climate of judgmentalist discrimmination?

    Isn't getting to a point where someone says "I really dislike what you do with your life but I accept that it is your personal responsibility and I will let God be your judge" better than having people campaign that you should be thrown out of their church?

  36. David
    I have just translated a James Alison article called Brokeheart Mountain in which he argues that in previous times there had been a kind of silent acceptance of homosexuality interspersed with some lynchings. And it is only when the lynching stops and those previously in danger of their lives can start to live openly, that those who used to do the lynching can learn anything new about the people they had previously judged without knowing them.
    It is only in this "suspended lynching" space that learning, any learning, is possible.

    Now, what I see Andrew doing is trying to create a space where, metaphorically, the lynching is suspended.

    Neither he nor we know what will happen within that space, but I know that those who currently have their eyes and ears closed to the reality of who I am will only start to see me when they give me the space to live openly in their presence.

    Reducing the hostility is the first step towards real change.
    You cannot ask for acceptance first and awareness of what we are second. The awareness has to come first before any change is possible.

  37. And from Richard Rohr's daily meditation:

    "No need for anybody else to agree with us, or to need their reassurance that we are right. “We do not think ourselves into a new way of living, we live ourselves into a new way of thinking"

  38. I'm hearing "love the sinner, hate the sin" but couched in milder terms -- I agree with Dahveed.

    Look, I'm glad that some of the evangelicals are toning it down. They are "getting it" that GLBT people exist, and some even exist in churches. Fancy that. Good. It's progress.

    But to be merely tolerated is not much of an advance.m Reading Goddard's review of the book I am struck by his setting off two distinct groups: "Christians" and "the GLBT community". Well, sorry, but those groups are not separate, they overlap quite a bit. My wife, for example, doesn't need to be brought the "Good News". As a cradle Roman Catholic, she gets it. She also gets that the structure of her church rejects her, and has therefore started to move to TEC-- an explicitly welcoming community that doesn't expect any less, nor any more, of us than any of other married couple. (Obligatory disclaimer, I don't believe, so ours is a "mixed" marriage ! ;-)

    i do think Andrew Marin and others are right on one thing in this present conversation: there are two diametrically opposed views between accepting GLBT as simply a variant with the exact same moral challenges as straight people, and viewing them as a distinct class of unrepentant sinners simply for the sin of whom they love. I really don't see how you can find compromise on that, ,except in how you determine a modus vivendi.

    My modus vivendi is, I am perfectly happy for anti-GLBT religionists to refuse to marry or employ or otherwise interact with GLBT in the context of their faith. Within their church walls, they can do as they please.

    Ii am vehemently opposed to their opposition to GLBT being able to determine my secular rights, my secular employment, or the provision of government or secular services.

    Right now, however, thanks to the anti-GLBT religionists, my rights are limited. In the US , there is no protection against employment discrimination if you are GLBT,and the military throws you out. Hate crimes are on the rise, but are not prosecuted as such. My marriage evaporates the minute I leave my state and thanks to Prop H8, is tenuous even within. We have no federal rights as a couple including pension or disability.

    Erika, you and others in the UK have far more rights than we do. In most states we have nothing. So much for the shining city on the hill.

    So right now, those opposed to GLBT have made our lives pretty miserable largely on the basis of religion. I'm not going to thank them for that, and I'm not going to compromise on those fundamental issues. I would be perfectly happy to live and let live; they are the ones who deliberately eliminatd my rights Like Dahveed, if I don't hear basic respect, and if I don't hear anything about fairness and equal civil rights, then I have no conversation. There is no good news for the likes of me.

  39. IT
    I am grateful for the rights we have here!
    They were largely won by gay people being prepared to engage with a hostile society, again and again and again. They were won by gay people continuing to talk to those who eventually toned down their hostility but still remained opposed to us - a bit like the evangelicals Andrew Marin is talking to now.

    And while you may be happy to allow them to discriminate against LGBTs in "their" churches, I am not, because as you rightly say in the beginning, it's my church too.

    In my private life I have discovered that just peacefully living openly in a small village has had an enormous impact on a lot of people. They finally got to know a real lesbian family, they had to re-think their stereotypes, and they slowly grew to accept us at an ever deeper level.
    Some who were like the ones Andrew Marin is talking to in the beginning have been "converted" by our walking together as real people rather than as stereotypical "them"s that they are now genuine friends.

    Talking and being real to each other is the only way to make progress in any kind of human relationship.
    I don't understand why the lgbt issue should be different and why it should be the only one that can be solved at a cerebral level.