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Lesbian minister faces a church trial: Proceeding could presage a split in Methodism
Seattle Post Intelligencer ^ | 13 March 2004 | Wyatt Buchanan

Posted on 03/14/2004 6:12:49 PM PST by ahadams2

Lesbian minister faces a church trial: Proceeding could presage a split in Methodism

By WYATT BUCHANAN, SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

ELLENSBURG -- Karen Dammann never chose to take on the Methodist church.

She chose to be a minister, a right that women in the church have had since 1956.

Then she fell in love, with a woman named Meredith Savage.

When Meredith gave birth to a son five years ago, Dammann adopted him.

In 2001, Dammann decided that she could not live in the closet and minister at the same time -- she felt dishonest to herself and to her parishioners. She wrote to her bishop, telling him that she was in a relationship with a woman and had a 2-year-old son. She asked for an assignment to pastor a church, her right as a church elder.

What Dammann thought would be a simple "yes" or "no" answer to determine the next step in her life has forced the country's second-largest Protestant denomination -- and one of the most progressive -- to address the same question facing the rest of the nation: How much does sexual orientation matter?

Next week, 13 United Methodist ministers will answer that question for Dammann at a church trial in Bothell. She is accused of being unfit to serve as a minister because she is a self-avowed, practicing lesbian.

The decision will be watched closely by the church's Judicial Council -- its Supreme Court -- which has made an unprecedented demand that anyone not able to uphold the church's rules banning gays from ministering should step aside from jury duty.

Two previous church proceedings exonerated Dammann, leading to her appointment as pastor of First United Methodist Church in Ellensburg.

Whatever the outcome, church scholars see the makings of a split in the denomination, similar to the fissure over slavery that took almost 130 years for Methodists to bridge.

Leave of absence

"It was a lot of small decisions. It's not like I met Meredith and said, 'Oh, I want to be the poster child for gay clergy,' " Dammann, 47, said recently while standing in the kitchen of the Methodist parsonage, where she has lived since July.

Dammann has taken a leave of absence and she and her family have moved to the Oregon coast, hoping to escape the spotlight -- and stress -- leading up to the trial, which starts Wednesday. On Thursday, she and Savage were married in Portland.

Dammann tracks the years by watching her son, whose well-being has been the major factor in most of her decisions. She thought that the issue would be resolved while he was still a toddler. If she could do it over, Dammann said, she would have not written the coming-out letter to the bishop.

"Only for his sake," she said, motioning to the boy, now 5, who played nearby with the last of his unpacked toys. She worries about how the upheaval will affect him and regrets the stress in the home that may have added to asthma problems he had this winter.

During the 1999 baby shower, hosted by women in a Seattle church, Dammann sat across the room from Savage as she opened presents. Officially, they were roommates.

"That's when I said that I really had to stop doing this," Dammann said. But she wasn't ready for a public proclamation of her sexual orientation, and she did not want to leave the church. Instead, she took a leave of absence, and the family moved to Massachusetts and later to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Savage, a wetlands biologist, had a job assignment.

During that time, the church body also struggled with homosexuality, as delegates to the 2000 quadrennial summit turned down a bid to require pastors to sign a statement condemning gays for living outside the will of God.

Protesters demonstrated against the continued ban on gays in the ministry, and more than 200 people were arrested in two days, including two bishops. Similar protests are planned for Dammann's trial.

The church has debated different aspects of homosexuality since 1972, when Methodists declared that "homosexuals no less than heterosexuals are persons of sacred worth." The church's motto is "Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors." Never has the church voted to deny membership to gays.

At the same time, the church's official position states: "Although we do not condone the practice of homosexuality and consider the practice incompatible with Christian teaching, we affirm that God's grace is available to all."

The common ground that allowed Methodists for the past 30 years to hold both of these beliefs has shrunk, church scholars say. And it is that gap between partial and total inclusion of gays that is on trial with Dammann next week, although in practice the jury's decision affects only her.

"The church is deeply divided on this issue, and my guess is we're not going to face a situation where there is one deep fracture down the middle," said the Rev. Bruce Robbins, pastor of Hennepin Avenue Methodist Church in Minneapolis.

"What we do have are people who are extremely frustrated and in disagreement with one another, saying the center is not holding," said Robbins, who helped lead a church committee that examined the debate in 1997 and 1998 over homosexuality in the church. He supports the inclusion of gays in the ministry.

Raised Roman Catholic

It was the progressive nature of the church that helped persuade Dammann to join the United Methodist Church.

She was raised Roman Catholic and from childhood had wanted to become a priest. She studied theology in college, earned a master's degree and began work in the campus ministry at Seattle University. She also served as a chaplain for the Army Reserves and worked for the archdiocese.

"But I still felt the call to be ordained," she said. But that's not possible for women in the Catholic Church, so she joined the Methodists, drawn by the Wesleyan focus on grace. She was ordained in the church, and in 1992, accepted her first post, as pastor in St. John, an Eastern Washington town between Spokane and Colfax.

During this time, she did not consider herself gay and had a romantic relationship with a man while she attended seminary.

After St. John, she led churches in Mill Creek and in Seattle. It was during her last year at Mill Creek that she met Savage at a potluck dinner party. The couple describe the encounter as love at first sight.

"I think it was a depth of feeling that I had that I hadn't experienced before and a sense of rightness that I hadn't experienced," Dammann said. "I had dated men before, but I never wanted to be committed in a long-term relationship until I met Meredith. I don't know how to explain that; I experienced a rightness, it felt right for me."

Dammann stayed in the closet for three more years, as she led the congregation at Woodland Park United Methodist Church. (The current pastor at that church, Mark Williams, is gay and faced proceedings similar to Dammann's, although his case did not advance. The hearings were closed to the public.)

"I felt I had been following a call. As it unfolded, it always felt right," Dammann said. "I couldn't bring myself to choose between life with Meredith and life as a pastor, so I lived in that tension."

Some in the congregation knew the truth and were fine with it, while others objected, she said. No one made an official complaint to the bishop, but the double life was too much.

"There are a lot of contradictions in living a life of truth, integrity and openness and then living in the closet," Dammann said.

After taking the leave and moving to California, the family joined a Methodist church that encouraged the women to be open about their relationship. Emboldened, Dammann came out publicly, sending a letter to Bishop Elias Galvan in Seattle on Valentine's Day 2001 and asking for a position at a church.

The letter was a clear admission by Dammann that she was in violation of the church's rules, but a committee said the admission did not mean she was unfit to serve as a minister. That decision was appealed and then upheld.

It was then that the church's highest court stepped in, demanding that a trial be convened if Dammann was found to have violated the church rules.

Some see the unprecedented demand regarding juror selection as a separation-of-powers issue and believe that the council overstepped its bounds. That, combined with those who may defy the church ban on moral grounds, could mean a "not guilty" verdict.

Nine of the 13 jurors must vote "guilty" in order to convict. Punishment could range from a slap on the wrist to the loss of Dammann's credentials, which would strip her of her ministry.

Either way, the split between progressive and traditional factions will widen, people on all sides of the issue say. When slavery split the church into progressive and traditional camps in 1844, the church divided along North-South lines. That same dynamic -- progressive or liberal congregations in the north, traditional or conservative in the South -- is at play in the debate over gays, said Robbins, the church scholar.

Even if she is allowed to preach, Dammann won't return to Ellensburg, at least for now. Members there support her and want her back, but the outcome of the trial is uncertain, and Dammann is looking forward to a fresh start.

"We all just really love her just as she has loved us," said Dodie Haight, who represents the congregation at the annual conference of churches in the region. "She isn't set apart. She's just a good pastor. The fact that she is gay is incidental."

But like the church body, there is disagreement among the 60 church members in Ellensburg.

"We're talking about sacred beliefs. This is not nickel-and-dime stuff," said Richard Tate, who has stayed a member of the congregation despite his belief that gays should not be ministers. He said he speaks up when necessary and refuses to take communion from Dammann.

He views her efforts as part of an activist minority changing the rules for the majority, as officials in cities like San Francisco and Portland are trying to do. Tate calls this "anarchy" in the legal system.

"There are two parts to Karen. One is the person, the other is the symbol. It's the symbol I have the problem with, not the person," he said.

"It's one thing to listen to her. We all have got something to say. But as a symbol, she is up there in defiance of the Methodist system, religion and religious values."


TOPICS: Activism; Apologetics; Current Events; Mainline Protestant; Ministry/Outreach; Moral Issues; Religion & Culture; Theology
KEYWORDS: apostasy; heresy; homosexual; umc; unitedmethodist; usa; wa

1 posted on 03/14/2004 6:12:52 PM PST by ahadams2
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To: xzins
Ping.
2 posted on 03/14/2004 6:13:47 PM PST by ahadams2 (Anglican Freeper Resource Page: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglican/)
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To: ahadams2; Salvation; NYer
Only time will tell, but we will know by the middle of May if this article by the Seattle paper is just a pro-gay puff piece for Dammann or if it accurately portrays the denomination that I call home. We have our 4 year quadrenniel conference in late April/early May in Pittsburgh. I expect that denominational conference to STRONGLY support our orthodox position that homosexuality is a sin and that our ministers must not be homosexuals.

I say that this article's characterization of the denomination as split into "progressive" and "conservative" camps based in the north and south entirely misses the mark. I say the denomination is, instead, split into orthodox and ultra-liberal with only 2 western conferences and pieces of the northeast and north central supporting that ultra-liberal, non-Christian position. (Interestingly, the number of methodists in our western conferences is very low and nowhere near the number of our smaller conferences in the central and south.)

There is so much left out of this article that should be included. However, let me suggest that there are errors in this article.

She was raised Roman Catholic and from childhood had wanted to become a priest. She studied theology in college, earned a master's degree and began work in the campus ministry at Seattle University. She also served as a chaplain for the Army Reserves and worked for the archdiocese.

The above indicates that she was a "catholic" chaplain in the Army Reserves. I am a retired Army chaplain, and I know that to be an outright lie or an ignorant mistake.

There is ABSOLUTELY no such thing as a female Catholic priest, and there is ABSOLUTELY no Catholic chaplain who is not a fully ordained, Catholic priest. It is entirely in opposition to the standards of the Army Chaplaincy to have ANY chaplain who is not fully acceptable and ordained by the sending denomination. There is no way that the Catholics COULD "send" a female priest.

If this article will make this egregious kind of misrepresentation about this point, then what else will it misrepresent?

Finally, I have been told that "Dammann" is not this woman's original name, but is instead a name that she adopted. I will see if I can find a reference for that.

Dam Mann -- if true, it says a lot about what is going on here.

3 posted on 03/14/2004 8:46:36 PM PST by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of it!!)
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To: xzins
I'll be interested to see what your research shows concerning the individual in question. BTW: how big are your conferences? My impression is that they are significantly bigger than an Anglican diocese (or for that matter an RC diocese) - is there a diocesan level equivalent? just curious...
4 posted on 03/14/2004 9:27:34 PM PST by ahadams2 (Anglican Freeper Resource Page: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglican/)
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To: ahadams2
We are geographically larger, but not necessarily larger in number of adherents.

For example, I'm in the west Ohio conference that covers half of Ohio. Our bishop presides over approximately 1500 churches and roughly 300,000+ regular members.

Is that significantly different in size than a diocese?

5 posted on 03/14/2004 9:34:13 PM PST by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of it!!)
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To: xzins
this article's characterization of the denomination as split into "progressive" and "conservative" camps based in the north and south

The article also compared it to slavery, wasn't it subtle??

6 posted on 03/14/2004 10:07:13 PM PST by GeronL (http://www.ArmorforCongress.com......................Send a Freeper to Congress!)
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To: GeronL
The article also compared it to slavery, wasn't it subtle??

Their bias is so evident in their sliming of the orthodox position.

7 posted on 03/14/2004 10:17:19 PM PST by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of it!!)
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To: xzins
North, South, Slavery....

I'm pretty sure most people could see right through that.

8 posted on 03/14/2004 10:20:00 PM PST by GeronL (http://www.ArmorforCongress.com......................Send a Freeper to Congress!)
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To: GeronL
Silliness. Confused disbelief, but mainly--silliness.

A Methodist and child of the South, I remember well the undercurrents of the slave trade. Definitely separate, definitely unequal. Like ancient Hebrew "purity codes"--the ones Jesus was able to break beyond.

"Certain things" do not "belong" with "certain other things." Imagine the social fear of a harmless but pervasive purity code rule that is unquestioned (Why, for instance, is it allright to swallow one's own saliva only when it is IN the mouth to begin with?). Forget about whatever is actually occuring in true, common-sense reality--that is just (eeeww) GROSS.

Purity--racial and sexual. Don't mix the races and don't let that primitve sexual out-of-boundedness contaminate our white world. Just look at the African dancers, the rhythm of rap music or anywhere where the "blacks dance better than whites" is displayed. Watch our white women!

The West and its Enlightenment's primacy of mind fears the ancient wisdom of the body. There's surface envy from the Caucasian and buried rage. And rage is always a cover for fear. Fear the body, fear sexuality, fear the Other.

Not yet, my Lord. No WAY we are yet ready to love others as ourselves.

Myself included.

9 posted on 03/14/2004 10:29:28 PM PST by aikido7 (aikido7)
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To: aikido7
????
10 posted on 03/14/2004 10:37:04 PM PST by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of it!!)
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To: xzins
That's eight to ten times the size of one of our dioceses, at least as far as membership is concerned - I've heard of a few dioceses in the Global South which were in the neighborhood of 20,000 to 30,000 confirmed members but those are considered unusual. Part of this may be due to theological differences - for instance only our bishops are allowed to confirm members, so confirmation tends to be a once a year event.

Before the ecusa bishop of Virginia joined the heretics, even though he had two assistant bishops, he averaged one Sunday per year when he could actually attend his home parish - otherwise he was on the road every weekend, and so was at least one of the assistants. I remember an interview a retiring bishop and his wife gave a few years ago in which the bishop's wife answered that one of the things she looked forward to the most was being able to go to the same church every Sunday!:-)
11 posted on 03/15/2004 10:08:31 AM PST by ahadams2 (Anglican Freeper Resource Page: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglican/)
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To: xzins; ahadams2
The United Methodist church has about 4 times more members (8.3 M) than the Episcopal Church, USA (2M). And there are several other Methodist churches: Southern Methodist, AME, AME Zion, etc. However, the global Anglican communion has far more members than the various Methodist churches combined. Given the large geographical areas covered by each UM diocese, there must be far more parishioners per diocese.
12 posted on 03/15/2004 11:26:48 AM PST by dangus
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To: GeronL
I would think the reference was to the (obviously) southern based Southern Methodists versus the (northern) United Methodists and the black AME and AME Zion churches, but she seems to be indicating a split within the United Methodist church.

A funny thing was Bush is Methodist, but since the UM churches in the DC area were so patently hateful, he had to go to AME churches.
13 posted on 03/15/2004 11:30:35 AM PST by dangus
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To: ahadams2
My wife attended a Methodist service a couple of months ago. She reported that she never heard our Lord Jesus' name mentioned once. Not in prayer, sermon or song.

Of course, it was one church and it may be the very liberal area we live in. Still it is a sad commentary.
14 posted on 03/15/2004 12:35:46 PM PST by HarleyD (READ Your Bible-STUDY to show yourself approved)
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To: ahadams2
Umm ... The fact that she had a kid out of wedlock didn't bother anyone?
15 posted on 03/15/2004 1:04:39 PM PST by RonF
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To: HarleyD; xzins
that's entirely possible - however I don't think you'll find conditions identical to that throughout the UMC...in a way the UMC reminds me of ecusa in that one cannot assume anything when one visits an unknown parish.
16 posted on 03/15/2004 2:51:59 PM PST by ahadams2 (Anglican Freeper Resource Page: http://eala.freeservers.com/anglican/)
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To: ahadams2
Methodist Churches run the gamut from "high church" very formal, to traditional, to charisatic. It depends on the church in what area.
17 posted on 03/15/2004 5:04:17 PM PST by Vernon (Sir "Ol Vern" aka Brother Maynard - One of God's kids by Adoption!)
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To: HarleyD
I am an elder in the UMC. I guarantee that had your wife come to the church I pastor that she would have heard the name of Jesus....but not just me.

MOST United Methodists strongly desire to continue in the tradition of historic Christianity. We have a few wayward conferences and bishops and no easy mechanism for getting them in line. We are not a hierarchical church but are a connectional church.
18 posted on 03/15/2004 5:41:50 PM PST by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of it!!)
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To: xzins
Please don't take this as a slam against UM. We happen to live in a very liberal area and it took us 10 years to find a decent church-alas, a Southern Baptist. We're Calvinists in Baptist clothing. :O)

Sadly I think this is happening in many of the churches today of all denominations. The Barna reports which studies religious trends confirms this.
19 posted on 03/16/2004 2:19:44 AM PST by HarleyD (READ Your Bible-STUDY to show yourself approved)
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To: xzins
***MOST United Methodists strongly desire to continue in the tradition of historic Christianity. We have a few wayward conferences and bishops and no easy mechanism for getting them in line. We are not a hierarchical church but are a connectional church***

Then why is the UMC still in the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches?
20 posted on 03/16/2004 2:34:21 AM PST by drstevej (Repentant prayer of saints is the precursor to genuine revival.)
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To: HarleyD
I don't believe you could slam the UMC any more than I have.

I think the Southern Baptists are an excellent denomination, and you are blessed to have found a good church.
21 posted on 03/16/2004 5:35:56 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of it!!)
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To: drstevej
Why is UMC still in WCC & NCC?

I believe it's an outgrowth of the liberalism that grabbed control of our seminaries, boards, and agencies in the early part of this century. I don't remember the reason that conservative Christians left the denomination back then, but I believe it involved a series of disputes over holiness doctrine.

Therefore, I'd lay the blame at two doorsteps: (1) The liberals who had authority and made those choices, and (2) The conservatives who bailed out and left the denomination with a vacuum at the leadership level.

With a denomination conference only once every four years, things change very slowly in the UMC. But they are changing for the better. We have our General Conference in Pittsburgh this year from Apr 27-May 7.

That meeting will tell if we'll continue our walk toward orthodoxy, or if we'll hesitate. We'll know very soon.

22 posted on 03/16/2004 5:42:00 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of it!!)
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To: drstevej
Correction: early part of this century should be "early part of the last century."

I need to update my brain.

23 posted on 03/16/2004 6:36:02 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of it!!)
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To: ahadams2
The followin is found here: Agape Press

Methodist Publisher Predicts Lesbian Pastor Will Be Found Guilty
-- Karen Dammann's Case Goes to Trial This Week on Charges of Violating Church Law

By Jim Brown and Jody Brown
March 15, 2004

(AgapePress) - A leading spokesman for renewal in the United Methodist Church is predicting the outcome of this week's church trial of lesbian minister Karen Dammann.

A complaint was filed against Dammann after she told her bishop in February 2001 that she was "living in a partnered, covenanted homosexual relationship." On Wednesday, the Ellensburg, Washington, pastor will go on trial for defying the UMC's Book of Discipline, which bars homosexuals from being ordained or serving as pastors. While church law states that homosexuals are people of sacred worth, it regards the practice of homosexuality as incompatible with Christian teachings.

Presiding over the trial will be Bishop William Boyd Grove of Charleston, West Virginia. According to United Methodist News Service, Grove presided over the 1999 clergy trial of Jimmy Creech, who was charged with violating church law by officiating at same-sex union services. Creech, who had already undergone a clergy trial in 1998 for similar charges, was found guilty in 1999 and lost his ministerial orders.

Jim Heidinger, president and publisher of Good News magazine, expects similar results in the Dammann trial. In fact, he says it ought to an "open and shut" case.

"[S]he has already admitted publicly to the bishop and his cabinet that she's in that relationship -- so it ought to be a given that they would find her guilty," the publisher says. "And then [after that] the trial court has to determine a punishment. So we think that they will come up with a [guilty] decision."

Although the UMC has been living as a "divided" denomination for some time now, Heidinger maintains the church's General Conference is not divided on the issue of homosexuality.

"The United Methodist Church has been very clear that we are strongly opposed to same-sex covenants," he says, "and we're not about to affirm homosexual practice in the [denomination] even though we have some groups making a great deal of noise and getting a good bit of publicity in the press."

A jury of 13 plus two alternates will be chosen from a pool of at least 35 Methodist pastors from the Pacific Northwest conference. Jury selection is slated to begin Wednesday morning at Bothell United Methodist Church in Bothell, Washington, where the trial will take place. The denomination's Judicial Council has indicated it will retain jurisdiction on the matter to make sure the church does not make a mockery of the case by disobeying church law.

© 2004 AgapePress all rights reserved.


24 posted on 03/16/2004 6:40:15 AM PST by xzins (Retired Army and Proud of it!!)
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To: xzins
In a conversation with a previous D.S., he said he thought the radical liberals as well as the radical conservatives would leave the UMC, leaving the Church in the mainstream of Methodism. I'm not sure how "mainstream" that is; however, I understand the attacks on the church - all denominations - to be a continuing thing. To me it seems appropriate to pray for the patient under attack - regardless of the name by which they are known. One thing is certain, the Church, the Body of Christ, will survive and thrive! (I read the last chapter of the book!)
25 posted on 03/16/2004 8:17:01 AM PST by Vernon (Sir "Ol Vern" aka Brother Maynard - One of God's kids by Adoption!)
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To: aikido7
The times, not ours, we proclaim, for we see far better from here. Ah, perhaps true, yet in the looking back are we blind to the present or have we just deconstructed the past so that we can reconstruct the present in our own imagination. Alas, that which is immutable, typological, and theological, which was from the beginning, is it subject to the juste milieu? The other, sure, but always grounded in the transcendental norm.
26 posted on 03/16/2004 9:05:17 AM PST by lockeliberty (Christ proclaims: "This is Mine!" over the whole plain of human existence.)
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To: lockeliberty
Tom Ehrich's guess is that by the time this ugly election year is over, "Homosexual marriage" and "Christian marriage" will be so thoroughly politicized that we will be seeking another way to understand the ways people commit their lives to each other at a level of ultimate intimacy, fidelity, trust and sacrifice.

That way will have to do with the quality of their relationship, not their gender. Just as we moved beyond believing that Roman Catholics had to marry Roman Catholics or they would fry in hell, so we will move beyond a single
view of Christian union.

Will we call it "marriage?" Probably not. Will it matter what we call it? Not really. People are already forming unions and families in diverse ways. Among the first people to open their hearts and homes to my dad after Mom
died were a gay couple. That love means a whole lot more to me than gender issues.

That's how I see it.

Let's assume, now, that some agree with my answer and some think it wrong. What next? To my mind, that is the question we need to address. Not, how can I prove my case? But, how can we hold opposing views but still hold each
other close? How can we love and serve God even as we disagree about what God is saying?

The tragedy isn't that we disagree, but that we dishonor each other and consider right opinion more important than servanthood.

When Jesus taught at the synagogue in Luke, he was handed a piece of tradition. He then chose how to use it. He didn't say that God had anointed Messiah to dispense right opinion or rewards to the righteous. What he chose--and took
as his mission--was Isaiah's call to "bring good news to the poor," "to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind."

That is a far cry from having right opinion about marriage or any other issue. That is servanthood, love in action, submission to the needs of others, an understanding of God as tender-hearted.


27 posted on 03/17/2004 2:52:52 AM PST by aikido7 (aikido7)
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To: aikido7
The tragedy isn't that we disagree, but that we dishonor each other and consider right opinion more important than servanthood.

My FRiend, it seems you have completely bought into the Post-Modern lie that your truth is your truth and my truth is my truth. It is not about opinion but the everlasting Truth of God. His moral law is a rock that is unalterable and transcendent. Yes, of course we should love our homosexual neighbor with an attitude of servanthood but the best way to love our homosexual neighbor is to reveal to them God's immutable moral law that will save them from everlasting damnation and also to care for them when they are sick and dying from the temporal curses that accompany a corrupted moral lifestyle.

It is not really too surprising that homosexuals want to pretend they are married. All humans long for shalom, that sense of universal flourishing, wholeness, and delight, but the imaga Dei was corrupted at the fall and the result is that ever since then humans have exchanged the truth of God for a lie.

The real tragedy is that Christians have allowed the State to define marriage. Marriage is a holy union and as Christians the meaning and purpose can only rightly be seen through scripture. The State cannot define my marriage because I have only one King that defines marriage for me, and his name is Jesus.

We all the right to free association under the Constitution and however people want to form those associations is a matter of liberty. If two homosexual persons want to enter into a contract with each other they should have the liberty to do so. But that is not what is known as Christian marriage. Because I do not allow the State to define marriage, and because marriage represents our relationship to Christ, only the Church can properly sanctify a union which is between one man and one woman.

My FRiend, you need to put away the contemporary Baal and worship God only. God does not tolerate other gods beside him. Let us clearly understand the antithesis between our God and the gods of this world. Not one dot or tittle has passed away from God's moral law and the best way to love our homosexual neighbor is inform him of this fact and tell him he must repent of his evil behaviours.

28 posted on 03/17/2004 7:54:21 AM PST by lockeliberty (Christ proclaims: "This is Mine!" over the whole plain of human existence.)
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To: lockeliberty
Read the parables. What would the REAL Jesus do? "Those who have ears, better listen!"

Jesus trumps right opinion, dogma and marginalization every time....
29 posted on 03/18/2004 10:50:34 PM PST by aikido7 (aikido7)
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To: aikido7
What would the REAL Jesus do?

He would say, "go and sin no more". He is quick to forgive but he never marginalizes sin. There must be true repentance for sins to be forgiven. Jesus isn't just some fuzzy teddy bear who just loves everyone no matter what. He's coming to judge the quick and the dead. Those who are dead in their sins will suffer the ultimate separation. Unless a man is willing to die to his sin he will never gain life.

30 posted on 03/19/2004 12:42:47 AM PST by lockeliberty (Christ proclaims: "This is Mine!" over the whole plain of human existence.)
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To: lockeliberty
Over the years, believers have allowed God to become small, narrow, harsh and mean. They claim to have Scriptural justification; they certainly have institutional imperatives, for time-tested ways to build loyalty to an
institution include frightening people and appealing to their insecurity, need for superiority, ethnic or class pride, and self-loathing. By portraying God as small and partisan, institutions can claim the moral and
spiritual high ground in the competition for market share.

But how can one love a God who is so small, so calculating in dispensing favors, so insistent on our toeing the line? One can fear such a God, maybe even obey. But love requires more.

In his parable of the prodigal son, Jesus portrays God as extravagant in compassion, kindness, generosity, forgiveness and joy. To the elder son's dismay, the father goes overboard in welcoming the wastrel with robe, ring,
food and celebration - ways beyond the typical images of God as parsimonious in giving and reluctant in mercy.

To love God, one must see God as loving. And not just loving in the normal human way, but loving beyond measure, beyond self-interest, beyond reason.

To submit to God, one must trust God's compassion. To draw near to God, one must believe in God's welcome. For any of that to happen, we must stop needing God to be so small.

I realize that life is confusing. Modernity has much that is distasteful, moral issues are puzzling, society's tolerance might exceed our own, and the more we see of human diversity, the less sure we are of ourselves. But the
answer to such confusion isn't to make God small or partisan or angry or merciless.

If we require God to be that small, we will never have a meaningful relationship with God. We might find a like-minded fellowship and feel temporarily safe, but we won't know God. For God isn't like that. God looks for our return and is extravagant in welcoming us home.

Bless you. I realize you are doing the best you can with the beliefs you have....

31 posted on 03/19/2004 5:51:38 PM PST by aikido7 (aikido7)
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