Sunday, July 3, 2011
Last week the State of New York, after months of agonizing debate and (let's be honest) party political compromise, voted to legally recognize same sex marriages. They join, or rather will shortly join a hearty American crew: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, plus Washington, D.C. and the Coquille Indian Tribe in Oregon. I, for one, quietly welcome this. A seasoned, thinking, theological approach to this peppery subject can surely only come down on the side of those men and women who desire the right to have their committed relationship recognized by the country or state in which they live. And the church in which they worship.
My diocesan bishop has granted permission for the episcopal churches in Long Island to proceed with the sanctification of such marriages. In a personal text in which I asked him about the permitted liturgy he advised adapting the current wedding service with sensitivity until the formal liturgy is approved. This I will do, if I am asked. No great announcement or trumpet. Matrimony, being a sacrament of the Church, is above such popular headlines.
Sadly there are already loud sermons being delivered on the east end of Long Island. Not from the episcopal churches of my deanery (although there might be one, let the reader understand!), and we do not expect any response from the culturally-aligned Catholic tribes. Why should we? What they deny in church they practice in reality anyway. No, it is the local Baptist congregations that are of concern. And these groups are black, African American. With regret I suspect that in many parts of America this will a racial/cultural issue. And that is horribly sad, because it suggests that the black community have forgotten what it is to be a denied person or group. The people to blame? Their religious leaders.
I have heard a report today from a lesbian member of the local Baptist church that her minister denounced this change in the law, and that "we" ought not to condone such a sinful thing. The usual aggressive popular homiletic: Love the "sinner" but condemn the "sin." I heard her, and on many levels. She once had told me that her family had been Episcopalians, or as she said, Anglicans. I teased her. Maybe she ought to return to her roots. She laughed, but something in her eyes agreed.
Posted by Tim Lewis at 8:26 PM