[Fwd: The Gospel On Gay Marriage]
- I offer this little email as FYI but it is worth reading.
> EarthLink Revolves Around You.
> The Gospel On Gay Marriage
> By Letha Dawson Scanzoni, AlterNet
> Posted on June 16, 2005, Printed on June 20, 2005
> In his book, "God's Politics," Jim Wallis wrote about how the religious
> right has narrowed faith-based values to a few "hot-button" issues, while
> ignoring the biblical vision of social justice in areas such as poverty, the
> environment, and questions of war and peace.
> But hot-button issues like same-sex marriage can't be cast aside at a time
> when influential religious leaders are rallying the troops for a war against
> a minority group already suffering the pain of discrimination. Chuck Colson
> has trumpeted the battle cry by saying that the "number one cultural
> priority of Christians" should be "stopping the spread of same-sex marriage"
> and that "pastors, priests, and clergy of all denominations should be
> leading the charge."
> Before dismissing the religious right, progressives may find it helpful to
> learn more about them -- particularly that group the media lump together as
> "the evangelicals," a term that has been hijacked from its original meaning
> of "good news." Because of this, many people now associate the term with
> wealth, political power, militarism, judgmentalism, intolerance, and an
> arrogance that is totally contrary to the spirit of the gospel (and contrary
> to those who retain the original meaning of "evangelical").
> The hope of finding open-mindedness within the religious right may seem
> futile, especially since its prominent spokespersons claim they are being
> persecuted for their faith whenever their particular constellation of values
> is questioned. Back in 1985, when the religious right first began increasing
> its cultural and political influence, I wrote an article suggesting that
> instead of viewing the conservative Christian movement as a monolithic
> entity, we need to recognize at least four major categories within the
> a.. Aggressive Combatants, who mobilize their followers to go to battle
> against whatever they consider to be the current threat (most recently,
> same-sex marriage);
> b.. Loyal Followers, who consider the Combatants to be their religious
> authorities, buying their books, tuning in to their broadcasts, accepting
> their interpretations of the Bible, and responding to their fundraising
> c.. Thoughtful Questioners, who were drawn to the movement by its emphasis
> on a personal relationship with God and the importance of the Bible in their
> lives but are not convinced that all issues are settled or that all the
> answers are already in;
> d.. Hurting Strugglers, sincere believers who earnestly practiced their
> faith and followed the rules they had been taught, yet were faced with some
> circumstance that turned their well-ordered world upside down -- a divorce,
> a gay child, a pregnant teenager, domestic violence, mental illness, job
> loss, bankruptcy, a suicide in the family.
> What progressives need to recognize is that Thoughtful Questioners and
> Hurting Strugglers may be more receptive to new ideas than is often
> realized. Even some Loyal Followers may move over into one of these
> categories at some point. But to communicate with them, it's important to
> first acknowledge how much their religion matters to them and then seek out
> areas of common concern and mutually held values.
> Second, an awareness of alternative approaches to biblical interpretation
> can help progressives resist the temptation to ridicule sincere people of
> faith as unenlightened "Bible thumpers."
> In applying these principles to the same-sex marriage question, the right
> and left can find common ground in recognizing the human need to belong and
> the desire for legally conferred kinship status on chosen, committed life
> partners. We can affirm the message of marriage supporters in their valuing
> and promotion of marriage, while at the same time challenging the notion
> that including gays and lesbians in marriage would make heterosexual
> marriages weaker.
> Might not opening marriage to gays instead add weight to the importance of
> monogamy and the idea that love, commitment and sex belong together in the
> legally recognized relationship called marriage?
> Might not same-sex marriage therefore strengthen the institution as a whole?
> Listening to the moving stories of gay and lesbian couples who have longed
> for the recognition, rights and responsibilities of marriage in their 10,
> 20, or even 50 years together could counter unfounded conspiracy theories
> such as James Dobson's charge in Marriage Under Fire that most gays and
> lesbians don't really want to be married but are actually advancing a gay
> marriage initiative as part of a 60-year plan to destroy the family.
> The right has also framed the religious aspects of the debate by
> dogmatically asserting that the "Bible condemns homosexuality" -- a
> statement accepted unquestioningly, repeated in the media, and asserted even
> in political discourse. Progressives seem to have no way to respond except
> to toss out the Bible as irrelevant, which turns off many religious people
> immediately and plays into the hands of those who want discrimination built
> into the constitution.
> It's important for people of faith to know that the Bible doesn't condemn
> "homosexuality." Neither the term nor the concept was known in biblical
> Sexual orientation, whether homosexual or heterosexual, has been shown by
> scientists to be a natural disposition -- a normal variant like handedness.
> In the few Scripture verses mentioning same-sex acts, the emphasis is on
> gang rape, exploitation and idolatry. Nothing is said about loving,
> committed, same-sex relationships. Faulty translations have muddied the
> waters further.
> People of faith on the left and on the right need to find ways to
> communicate about such matters. Only then can we reach out to one another
> with open arms rather than tensed muscles or raised fists.
> Letha Dawson Scanzoni is co-author, with David G. Myers, of "What God Has
> Joined Together? A Christian Case for Gay Marriage," just published by
> ? 2005 Independent Media Institute.
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]