Wednesday, April 02, 2014

WHEN WORLDS COLLIDE: "Dodgers and a Theological Inquiry"

So here's the email I woke up to this morning. It was (at least in part) a response to this article in Fox Sports News about the issues we're having with getting television coverage of the Dodgers in Los Angeles -- and included this tweet I posted last night:

The subject line of the email was Dodgers and Theological Inquiry, and it read:

Ms. Russell,

I hope the Lenten season is treating you well. I do have a somewhat heavy question for you, but I would first like to briefly note how I discovered you. As a LA resident, I am a huge Dodgers fan and I was reading an article describing that even Vin Scully is unable to watch Dodger games at home because he has DirecTV. The article shared your twitter post on the subject and, obviously, I agree wholeheartedly that the fans should be able to watch their team. What’s more, once I visited your twitter page I discovered that you are a Russell from Pasadena. I too am a Russell from Pasadena. I am currently in law school on the east coast, but Pasadena is my home. So, go Russells, go pasadena, and go Dodgers.

My heavy question comes by means of your clear support of homosexuality and homosexual marriage. Personally, I find no law that bars same-sex couples from being married by the state. But, I am also unable to find a good reason for proper sexual expression taking place between members of the same sex. In other words, it seems to me the whole point of sexuality is love and procreation: sexuality without love is without depth, and sexuality that is necessarily closed to procreation is without meaning or purpose. It would be like eating while closing ourselves to nourishment. Without getting too graphic, I am simply uncertain as to whether a penis in a rear end is the proper expression of love the good Lord intended for us.

Any of your thoughts on the issue would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time,
Will Russell

[Sigh.] And I replied:

Dear Will,

Thank you for taking time to write and express your solidarity on the “getting the Dodgers back on TV in Los Angeles” issue. With any luck negotiations between Time Warner and other providers will be successful sooner rather than later. Here’s hoping.

In regards to your “theological inquiry” ironically it reaches me while I am in Baltimore working with a task force appointed by the Episcopal Church for the study of marriage, including the charge to “address the pastoral need for priests to officiate at the civil marriages of same- sex couples in states that authorize such.” We are clergy, laity and bishops; theologians, educators and pastors part of a church that has, since the year 2000, recognized that the core values that of a relationship that rises to the standards of holiness are “fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God.”

Personally, I’d like to suggest that if you’re in law school and can “find no law that bars same-sex couples from being married by the state” you might want to brush up on your research skills. In fact, thirty-three states prohibit same-sex marriage, including twenty-nine states with prohibitions in their state constitutions. You can find out more on the National Conference of State Legislatures website, which I commend to you.

Theologically, when Jesus was queried about what “the good Lord intends” in the twenty-second chapter of Matthew he was quite clear: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. You don’t love your neighbors as yourself by denying their marriage equal protection under civil law. You don’t love your neighbors as yourself by insisting that their marriage is “without meaning” if it doesn’t include childbearing.

And you most certainly do not love your neighbors as yourself when you reduce the profound complexity of the emotional, spiritual and physical intimacy of marriage to a specific sexual act which – without getting too graphic – is not limited to same-sex couples. Such an ill-founded argument says a lot more about the narrowness of one’s own issues around sexuality than it does about what the good Lord intends for any of us.

If you’d like to read more, here are links to a couple of Huffington Post pieces I’ve written: FAQs  About God, Jesus, the Bible and Gay People and WWGD: What Would Galileo Do?

Thanks for your time and God bless,
(The Reverend Canon) Susan Russell

PS -- Just for the record, I actually don't support "homosexual marriage" any more than I pay "homosexual taxes," take out "homosexual trash" or fold "homosexual laundry." I support a protect marriage movement that protects all marriages and family values that value all families. Have a great day ... and Go, Blue!


Sue Roediger said...

Absolutely brilliant reply, calm, rational, measured, powerful.... out of the park...............again.

JCF said...

Boo, Blue! Go, Orange&Black! GO GIANTS!!!

...but agree w/ all the *rest* that you said, Susan.

Gotta love baseball season. :-)

Unknown said...

Thanks, Susan,

I learned something from our new interim rector, who is gay. During a conversation regarding Adult Ed, he paused, and said, "I'm just really tired of having to explain AGAIN how it is that I can have a legitimate personal relationship despite what it says in Leviticus. I'm tired of it!"

I'm sure you are too, Susan. So let me heap double praise all over you for your great patience.

I hope your TV troubles are resolved in time for the Friday home opener at Chavez Ravine.

up here in Giants country, diocese of El Camino Real