A very different perspectives than those I linked to earlier (here and here) comes from Bishop Little of the Diocese of Northern Indiana:
While people who share my perspective are in a minority within the Episcopal Church, and while many have simply become silent in the face of such overwhelming numbers on the other side of these difficult issues, the Episcopal Church is far from monochrome. And so it is essential that church leaders – and the church’s own news service – honestly recognize this diversity when they respond to an event such as the Supreme Court’s ruling. To fail to do so is, effectively, to “un-church” a theological minority and to treat them as though they do not exist.
In other words: Go gently in victory – and in defeat.
Here is my own commitment:
- I will recognize and honor the presence of brothers and sisters within my own diocese who conscientiously disagree with me.
- I will do all that I can to be in relationship with them, and to seek honest and open conversation. That includes creating diocesan policies that honor their consciences as well as my own.
- I will recognize that I might be wrong, and will continue to search the Scriptures.
And I urge my fellow leaders in the Episcopal Church – and the Episcopal News Service – to make a similar undertaking:
- Recognize that there are faithful brothers and sisters in your diocese, in your parish, and in your ecclesisial institutions, who do not agree with you – even if they are silent. Recognize and celebrate their presence. Never speak or act as though they do not exist.
- Do all that you can to be in relationship with them. Talk with them. Make sure that their consciences are honored.
- Recognize that you might be wrong. Continue to search the Scriptures.
The ENS article of July 1 and many statements issued immediately after the Supreme Court’s ruling profoundly disturbed me. They felt at best dismissive and at worst triumphalist.
I’m grateful to Bishop Little for speaking out.
It is certainly appropriate to remind the winners in any conflict that the losers still have a place in the community and since we are not single issue creatures by nature, we need each other for practical as well as spiritual health. But to suggest that is is wrong to celebrate the overturning of a truly evil law that discriminated against a whole class of our fellow citizens or to prevent a malicious majority that sought deny the fundamental equality of some of our brothers and sisters because of a feature of the nature with which their Creator endowed them, seems out of place. Indeed, we should all rejoice when that takes place.
Moreover, it is unclear exactly how one might “honor the conscience” of someone who wants to judge and condemn others for some aspect of their very nature, whether it be skin color or sexual orientation. It is no longer debatable that a certain proportion of the population is born homosexual, just as a proportion are born brown or black or white, left-handed or right-handed, autistic or not. To suggest that “searching the Scriptures” will somehow enlighten us about such matters seems misplaced. There are plenty of instances where the Scriptures tell us slavery is acceptable and stoning is an appropriate punishment. Many things that were taken for granted in earlier societies, including our own, are not acceptable today. What the Court did in overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and sustaining the Appeals Court’s judgment against Proposition 8 was to make it clear that there is no legitimate public good that is served by discriminating against people on the grounds of sexual orientation. That is entirely consistent with the Scriptural injunction to “love our neighbor as ourselves.”