Sunday, May 27, 2007

Mazel Tov!

As reported in today's NYTiimes:

The Rev. Mark Alan Lewis and the Rev. K. Dennis Winslow, Episcopal priests, were joined in civil union on Tuesday. The Rev. Tim S. Hall, also an Episcopal priest, officiated at the couple’s home in Union City, N.J., assisted by his wife, the Rev. Jacqueline Schmidt.

Read the rest here ... and may they live happily ever after!


Lauren Gough said...

Congratulations to Dennis and Hi to Tim and Jackie

Lauren Gough and Judy Upham

Hiram said...

If someone who claimed to be my friend kicked me in the stomach, and them said, "Please understand that I still want to be your friend; that was just something that felt right to me," how long do you think I would keep believing that the person really wanted to be a friend?

If the bishops of these priests do not discipline them in some way, the Primates of the Anglican Communion would be justified in thinking that the Episcopal Church only wants to be a member of the Communion on its own terms, not caring for the thoughts and prayers of the rest of the Communion.

Susan Russell said...

hiram ... and Mark and Dennis making vows to live happily ever after has precisely what to do with your stomach?

People are dying in Iraq as we speak as we pause for this "memorial" day and give thanks for those who died protecting the liberty and justice for all this nation was founded to proclaim. What a pity on this of all days that core American value cannot with grace be extended to Mark and Dennis.

Back to the BBQ

Anonymous said...

Yes, hiram, I suspect that these priests know exactly what you have spoken of. I suspect people like you have been kicking them in the stomach for years.

Just a thought.


Jim said...

To the happy couple, mosel tov! Live long and prosper.


Jim said...


Two people you do not know (I have met one of them a nice man) have promised to love each other. If that gives your stomach problems perhaps you should ask yourself why you cannot simply be happy when others are?

It takes great bravery to be where they are today, visible, honest, loving and facing the bigots who think they know how others should live and love.

It is so easy for me. My wife and I get all the affirmation our long marrige tends to draw in this society. No one will 'gay bash' us. No one will track us down and shoot us (as did happen to a lesbian couple on a hiking trail a ways back) or hang us on a fence, or threathen our careers to prove their "manhood."

If you cannot shut up (a good first choice) and you cannot affirm their love, at least admire their bravery!


uffda51 said...

I recently met a gay couple who have been together for 60 years. I'm not sure how the presence of a marriage certificate in their safe deposit box, if they had been allowed to obtain one, would threaten my marriage.

Congratulations to Mark & Dennis!

As for TEC, one group is being asked to accept the spectrum of human sexuality within God's creation. The other group is being asked to accept bigotry in the name of tradition and orthodoxy so that the Anglican Communion remains serene. How does excluding Bishop Robinson from the Anglican conversation help those who have yet to make their decision?

Hiram said...

It is very interesting that I said nothing at all in my original post about my own opinion of the ceremony reported in the NY Times, but everybody seems to think that I said that I feel as though I have been kicked in the stomach. I did not say that; it was an illustration for my main point: the larger Anglican Communion has asked the Episcopal Church to refrain from two things – consecrating as bishop any one who is in a same-sex sexually active relationship, and approving the blessing of same-sex unions. I will grant you that the article does not say that there was a blessing at this civil union ceremony, but since the two men sought out a priest to officiate, it is a reasonable to assume that some blessing was said. But maybe not, so the event would technically not violate the requests made by the Primates over the last several years.

My point is that for two priests to officiate at the civil union ceremony of two male priests is an act that tells the Primates that they do not care a fig for the opinion of the larger Communion – and that if the bishop(s) of the celebrants do not exercise some discipline of the priests, then they are complicit in denigrating the requests made to the Episcopal Church. They are, in effect, kicking the Primates in the stomach and saying, “But we really are friends; don’t let this disturb you. It is just something that I thought was good to do.”

I want to say three more things:

1) My opinions are based on the conviction that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is not merely the reflections of thoughtful and insightful men on their experiences of God and of acts attributed to God. Rather, God intended to tell humanity some things about himself, his character, and his relationship to us, and of us to him. And, having created us for some specific things, he tells us what it means to be fully human – including telling us how human sexuality is to expressed. As Jesus said (when asked about divorce), “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. 6) But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.' 7) Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, 8) and they shall become one flesh.' So they are no longer two but one flesh. 9) What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Mark 10:5-9; ESV) The only context that Jesus upholds for sexual relations is heterosexual marriage; he condemns all sexual intimacy outside of marriage.

2) I have no doubt that these men are decent, pleasant people. I have no doubt that they truly care for each other, and that they seek to be happy together. Indeed, I expect that they probably do enjoy quite a bit of happiness. But if God says, “You are not to engage in same-sex sexual activity,” then they are disobeying God and acting contrary to his desires. Indeed, by seeking to have this activity blessed, they are calling God a liar, and they are adding to their disobedience. Sins elegantly committed, and surrounded by good deeds, do not cease to be sins. (And sin is usually pleasant in some way – or else why would we be tempted?)

3) Uffda51 says, " I recently met a gay couple who have been together for 60 years. I'm not sure how the presence of a marriage certificate in their safe deposit box, if they had been allowed to obtain one, would threaten my marriage.” I have heard something like this said several times, and those who say it are (I suspect) seeking to deflect the argument into the personal realm, or else they do not understand what conservatives mean when they say, “Homosexual unions/marriages threaten marriage.” Uffda, I have no idea of what would or would not threaten your marriage, but what we conservatives mean is that “broadening” the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples will, in the long run, make marriage meaningless. (Of course, in the current culture, same-sex relationships are not the only thing weakening marriage – easy divorces and the condoning of pre-marital sexual activity are also wearing marriage down.)

Anonymous said...

Yes, Hiram, if CIVIL LAW lets the homos marry, then, well, anyone could marry and....and....and....

and just what exactly would that do, Hiram? if my partner and I could make a life-time legal commitment of rights and responsibilities. You know, file joint tax returns, make medical decisions for each other, and protect our children? Provide pensions and medical insurance? Just how, exactly, Hiram, would protecting my family and my children endanger your marriage or anyone elses?

Or do you think we are only about sex?

You know, I don't give a kite whether your church refuses to let gays in, really, but the minute you move your Biblically-rigid views in the secular sphere to deny me CIVIL rights I have a monstrous problem with your views.

Which is one of many reasons I am an emphatic secularist.

By the way there are good conservative justifications for gay marriage, e.g. here

IT, who is sick nearly to death of the argument that CIVIL marriage threatens the institution.

JCF said...

As Jesus said (when asked about divorce)

Everything you say after this, Hiram, is IRRELEVANT to a discussion of same-sex marriage. Your conclusion,

The only context that Jesus upholds for sexual relations is heterosexual marriage; he condemns all sexual intimacy outside of marriage.

is NOTHING more than your prejudiced opinion.

But if God says, “You are not to engage in same-sex sexual activity,”

God hasn't! >:-/

Jim said...


This is where you fail, "My opinions are based on the conviction that the Bible is inspired by the Holy Spirit." You see, I believe that, most of the people the orthodox homophobes excoriate believe that, our presiding bishop, and her predecessor believe that.

You have no monopoly on that assertion. Some of us simply do not see in the inspired word the same things you see. Some of us are fluent in both the culture and languages the Spirit was inclined to use, which may be why we reach different conclusions. Some of us may err.

Your assumption that your belief sets you apart or validates your ideas is sin, pure arrogant sin. Sin in its assumption that your hearing is superior, and sin in your assumption that we do not listen when we hear other notes.


Hiram said...

Jim B – There are two basic views of what the Bible is, and for the most part, Bp Schori and nearly everyone who supports the moral acceptability of same-sex sexual relationships believe that the Bible is the product of human beings who are reflecting on their experience of God – and their reflections are not necessarily accurate; as we have experiences of God, we can reflect as well, and so we can amend perspectives a bit – or even a great deal, if we think that we know a lot more now than they did then. According to this view, the Scriptures have a certain priority due to their age and to the way they have been helpful, but on the whole they are (to use a phrase that I have heard more than once) the Scriptures are “inspiring, not inspired.”

My view is the older and classic view that the Scriptures are “theopneustos,” “God-breathed.” Our minds are far too limited to understand everything about God, but he has led the human authors of Scripture to write accurately about him, his nature and character, and about us, our nature and status, and how we might be reconciled to him after the Fall of humanity into sin. God has conveyed to us, through human authors, an accurate understanding of who he is, what he offers us, and what he asks of us. We do not have answers to every question we might ask, but we can know what we need to know to live in a way that honors God and his intentions for us as his creatures. (Or more exactly, to grow into that way as we learn and grow and avail ourselves of the means of grace and the power of the Holy Spirit).

I am not the one who is introducing a novel reading of Scripture; I stand in the line of those who believe that God created humanity as male and female and that he intended marriage to be “one man, one woman, and one lifetime.” Since the rebellion of humanity against God, there have been a variety of views of marriage, most of which have denigrated women – but even in heathen cultures, the basic pattern around the world has been one man and one woman. Polygamy and a blind eye towards adultery have existed (the latter even in ostensibly Christian cultures), but even where these appear, they are not universal, and are often “privileges” of the upper classes.

I am not an expert in Greek and Hebrew, but I have done exegesis in both languages, and I am careful to research the culture and setting of passage with which I am dealing. One who does not know the setting will be hard-pressed to be accurate in understanding the meaning of the text – and since I am convinced that Scripture is God-breathed, I do study the setting of the passages and books I read.

JCF -- my prejudiced opinion? Again, I am not the one who is introducing a novel reading of the texts.

If Jesus’ restatement of what God was doing in creating human beings male and female is not good enough for you, consider Mark 7:21: “For it is from within, from the human heart, that evil intentions come: fornication, theft, murder, adultery, avarice, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy, slander, pride, folly. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” (NRSV) The word translated “fornication” is “porneia,” a Greek term meaning sexual sins, and given the Jewish teachings on sex, everyone who used the word would mean all sexual activity outside a heterosexual marriage – sex between an unmarried man and an unmarried woman, sex where one person was married but not to the sexual partner of the moment, and sex between members of the same sex. The Old Testament was quite clear that same-sex sexual activity was forbidden – I have seen arguments to the contrary, but they were tortured readings of the texts.

And IT, I am not talking about any individual marriage being threatened by same-sex marriages. My own marriage is not threatened, because my wife and I uphold the biblical teachings, reflected in our marriage vows. Our marriage is of course threatened by the fact that we are two sinners married to each other (a threat for all married people), but we take our concept of marriage from the Scriptures, not from whatever the culture may be doing at the moment.

But for those who do take their idea of marriage from the culture, a move to define marriage as any two people who wish to be united will dilute the idea of marriage (especially when you include – as most of those in favor of accepting same-sex sexual activity as morally good do – the bisexual, who by definition cannot be completed without a threesome). And there are of course those who advocate the goodness of polyamory; the Boston Globe had an article on such advocates a year or two ago.

And when the IDEA of marriage is diluted in a culture, then individual marriages will suffer. I am not worried about my marriage. I am not worried about my son’s marriage (the wedding is in two weeks), but I am concerned for my grandchildren’s generation.

God created the world to work in a certain way. His creation is robust; it can take a certain amount of disobedience to his plans and still function (“common grace” as some theologians call it). But in the long run, to work against God’s design is to court disaster – sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind. Untold damage is being done by the toleration of pre-marital sex and of women having children by several men but never marrying any of them – poverty is rampant, children have no fatherly guidance, young men think that their only purpose is to have sex with as many women as they can manage, and on and on. The less the biblical idea of marriage is respected in idea and in behavior, the more people will suffer.

Jim said...


I give up. Faced with this level of arrogance, I am powerless. I shall pray for you, and invite you to do so for me.

Hiram said...

Jim, if you wander back to this post and comments, could you tell me why you find my comments arrogant? I simply trying to state a position with clarity and logic, to the best of my ability -- and that seems to be what other commenters are doing. So I do not know why you say I am being arrogant.