Thursday, July 26, 2007

Inclusion with Clauses

I wrote this at my pastor's request...he asked if I'd write about how I had felt about not being able to have my same-sex union blessed on my and my wife's anniversary.

Inclusion with Clauses

I find it odd and absurd that gay and lesbian unions can’t be blessed. The Episcopal Church welcomes homosexuals to its church with the promise of full inclusion, well at least until you read the unpublished and typically undocumented fine print. Gene Robinson put the Episcopal Church on the map for me, until then I didn’t know that the denomination even existed. A fellow lesbian parishioner led me to our church, Reconciliation. As I learned more and more about what it meant to be an Episcopalian, the more excited I got. Here’s why I fell in love with the Episcopal Church: (1) Scripture, Tradition, Reason, (2) Women priests, (3) Gays and Lesbians welcomed as themselves, (4) via media. And these reasons why I love the Episcopal Church are also what bring me the most pain. It is reason number 4 in particular; the loop hole, the well ok, the we want everyone at the table, the so well we’ll look the other way when we don’t agree. We color it in the language of living in tension, we call it giving those who aren’t quite where the others are time to catch up; and this I can understand. But what I can’t understand is when we use via media as an excuse not to take action against injustice and discrimination.

Maybe it’s a fault of my own - an impatience with a 30 year conversation, an impatience with pure talk and not enough action. Maybe it’s a fault of my own that I’m unwilling to hold this moment in time in comparison to a 2,ooo year history. Maybe it’s a fault of my own for not being able to understand why others can’t see the beauty of my relationship to my partner, the beauty of our young family, maybe it’s my fault for not being able to see a God who finds my sexual orientation as evil and contrary to specific pieces of scripture never uttered by Jesus Christ. Maybe it’s my own fault for wanting our diocese, the Diocese of West Texas, to be like the dioceses that do bless same-sex unions that do allow practicing homosexuals to be ordained.

What I do know is that full inclusion with clauses hurts, it’s like a wound that never quite heals, every Sunday freshly poked as my heterosexual coupled parishioners have their unions blessed, never having to explain to their children why our church treats us just a little bit different. And so we begin the slow growth of the seed called hypocrisy. Do I explain to my children how sometimes the church gets it wrong even though Jesus tells us how to get it right? Do I explain to my children how sometimes “church people” are still learning what Jesus’ radical love is all about? Do I explain to my children that how the church is treating us, gays and lesbians, is contrary to the notion of what the ideal church is all about – it’s about family? And the answer is yes, to sugar-coat the issue, to avoid, to umm, well – is well, shameful to me, shameful to who I am, it is a shame I won’t carry. I’ll fast but I won’t lie; I won’t pretend that’s it’s ok. And when my children begin to ask why I stay the answer will be, because to leave the table is to leave the conversation, to acquiesce, and because the Episcopal Church eventually gets it right.


murat11 said...

Amen, amen, amen, amen.

And on the lighter side, amiga: that ain't no "same-sex union": that was wedding (I've seen the pictures) and is marriage (I see the love and commitment, and the babies to boot).

Peace and love: pat

jsd said...

Thank you, thank you, for all the love you share and give upon me and mine.

Lee said...

As I sat in my chair, after reading this, the emotions rose up around and within. My reaction to this is a very intense, "Shit! JS's hurting!" You guys are an awesome, to be experienced, family, wonderful people, and the best friends a person could ask for. I learn and grow everyday from knowing you. The thought of anyone excluding you guys from anything makes me so mad that I can't think of anything appropriate to say. Thank you for posting this. It has started internal dialogs that aren't stopping anytime soon. What is our pastor going to do with this?

jsd said...

Thank you, you offer much yourself Lee. He's sharing it with some folks now and it may go into our newsletter, and he's said it has given him things to think about.

Susan Palwick said...

Ouch. I want to scream when I hear about situations like this. I wish I could magically fix it. All I can say is that I think the Episcopal Church, and others, will eventually get there: in twenty years, or ten, not blessing same-sex marriages will seem as wrong and absurd to everyone as forbidding interracial marriage does now. Although I shouldn't say that, because some people probably still disapprove of interracial marriage, too. Sigh

But if those were my kids, I'd tell them the truth. I'd tell them that yes, the church is treating us a little differently because it hasn't quite figured out this Jesus business yet. And we're staying in the church anyway, because that's what Jesus did. He loved people even though they weren't perfect -- even when they were dense, hateful, or downright stupid -- and he refused to abandon them even when they abandoned him. He built his church on a "rock" who'd denied him three times under pressure. He kept trying to teach them who and what he was, until finally some people got it, and other didn't, and some never will, and a lot are still trying.

On a more down-to-earth level, it's important to stay because personal relationships are what change attitudes. And if same-sex couples leave churches, the other people there won't get to have relationships with same-sex couples, and justice will be even more delayed than it already is.

I've gone on too long, but please hang in there.

jsd said...

Susan thank you for your words and the passion in them and the encouragement.

terri c said...

trundled on over from Susan's place to read this; yeah, "conversation" is of value but we have to be honest: at present, study and conversation are happening on the backs of those like you and me. And, yeah, it's tough. Thinking of you!

jsd said...

terri c: thank you much appreciated