Bishop of Episcopal Diocese calls for marriage equality in Maryland

A recent Washington Post poll revealed an intriguing, and, to me, distressing dynamic regarding the role of religion in the … Continued

A recent Washington Post poll revealed an intriguing, and, to me, distressing dynamic regarding the role of religion in the debate about same-sex marriage in the state of Maryland.

            Forty-four percent of Marylanders oppose same-sex marriage, and three quarters of them say they do so for religious reasons.

            Fifty percent of the state’s voters support same-sex marriage, but only 5 percent of them say that religion informs that stance.

            Had I been surveyed, I would have fallen among that 5 percent. I suspect that the overwhelming majority of those who oppose marriage equality are Christians, and I’d like to suggest to them, with deep respect for the depth of their convictions, that the Bible we share may not say what they think it says in regards to same-sex marriage.

             The Scriptural argument against same-sex marriage is based on seven references in the Old and New Testaments that condemn homosexual activity. Each one of those passages, however, condemns exploitative sexual activity that is the antithesis of loving, committed relationships. The Bible is silent on the subject of same-gender monogamous relationships.

            In contrast, the Bible has strong teachings against divorce. Jesus himself is quite clear on the subject. Yet over the ages, most Christian churches have come to recognize that God forgives the human sin and frailty that precipitate divorce. We now take a more compassionate approach to this issue than our biblical forebears would have condoned. If the teaching on divorce can change in the light of further theological reflection, I believe that the teaching on same-sex relationships can change as well.

            However you interpret the seven texts used to argue against marriage equality, they pale in comparison to the over-arching biblical imperatives to love one another, work for justice, and recognize that each of us is created in the image and likeness of God.  Jesus, for Christians, is God incarnate. He not only shows us how to live, but reveals to us that God loves us unconditionally. Indeed, gay and lesbian Christians often speak of the overwhelming experience of being assured that they are loved by God as they are

            No matter how devoted to the scriptures of our faith we may be, few of us shape our moral opinion based on holy texts alone. If God is at work in the world, then our experience is a kind of scripture, and we must pay careful attention to what it is teaching us.

             Jesus said, “you will know people by their fruits.” St. Paul wrote: “The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Many of us in the Episcopal Church, which I serve as a bishop, know same-sex couples whose relationships can only be described as holy, and thus we have come to support the blessing of such unions. They stand in stark contrast with many exploitative and casual patterns of sexuality that both heterosexual and homosexual Christians are right to reject.

            The struggle to determine what sorts of people God approves of is an ancient one. Jewish Christians, the original followers of Jesus, struggled over whether to include non-Jews into their fellowship. Gentiles, according to Jewish law, were unclean. But in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter was led by a vision to the home of a Gentile family who were eager to learn of Jesus’s teaching. After sharing a meal with them, he makes one of the most memorable declarations in all of scripture: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.”

            Every generation, it seems, has struggled to include someone previously thought to be outside the realm of God’s grace and full humanity. In our time, we in the Episcopal Church have come to understand that God shows no partiality between straight and gay people. Not every same-sex couple is a paragon of holiness, but neither is every heterosexual couple. Life long relationships are hard, which is why the support of religious and societal institutions is so important.

            From the convictions of my Christian faith, and in support of my gay and lesbian friends whose relationships inspire me in my marriage, I urge Marylanders to join me in supporting the marriage equality legislation currently under consideration in their state.

 

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which includes Montgomery, Prince George’s
, Charles
, and St. Mary’s Counties. She wrote this article for On Faith

 Not pretty in pink: Komen’s trust gap


Priest fired for refusing to use new Catholic prayers

Written by
  • jeb_jackson

    Well, basur, a lot of scripture is very clear. Changing scripture interpretation so your activity is acceptable doesn’t mean the scripture has changed. Making h o m o s e x u a l i t y acceptable, as the Reverend is doing, because God loves us unconditionally, is turning scripture on its head.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    Just as scripture turns morality, reason, and the dignity of our species on its head. It’s a lateral move if you ask me.

  • jeb_jackson

    Well, 7Hail, there have been a lot of consenting adults in sexual matters. There are standards that consent doesn’t broach. Having sex with someone of the same sex or some one who isn’t your wife or husband whether consenting or not is wrong. Whether you go to hell for it or not is between you and God. I’m just saying Rev Budde is in error thinking she is speaking for God when she says h o m o sexuality is fine because God loves us unconditionally. As I said, she is putting scripture on its head.

  • Carstonio

    No, adultery is wrong because it harms the innocent spouses. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong about homosexuality. Christians and other believers whose doctrines forbid it are free to eschew it, but they shouldn’t begrudge it in others because it’s none of their business. Like the Amish stance on electric and phone service. The standard for judging the morality of any action is whether it helps or harms others.

  • jeb_jackson

    The standard for judging the morality of any action is whether it is wrong or not.

    Homosexuality is my business because at the least if they are allowed to marry, their tax status affects me. I choose not to subsidize their behavior.

    Get another angle, Cars.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    If I were a christian I’d honestly lean towards the ‘no harm no foul’ standard for morality, because otherwise it is hard to justify the laws that protect your doctrine, which is wrong on every level.

  • Carstonio

    “The standard for judging the morality of any action is whether it is wrong or not.” – Huh? That’s self-referential. It’s no different than saying “It’s wrong because it’s wrong.”

    And gays aren’t harming you or me, whether or not they marry. We’re not “subsidizing” their behavior because we have no control over it. Nor should we try to control it. If one objects to homosexuality, that should dictate only that person’s behavior. Whether a given individual is straight or gay means as little to me as the person’s favorite toppings on a pizza.

  • Catken1

    “Homosexuality is my business because at the least if they are allowed to marry, their tax status affects me. I choose not to subsidize their behavior. ”

    Then I claim the right not to subsidize your genital-obsessed breeding arrangement, which cannot be called a “marriage” because no one who seeks to have Gingrich’s latest legally-solemnized adulterous fling given priority over the lifelong devotion of two gay people can be mature enough to have a real marriage.
    Please give up your tax benefits to avoid offending those who object to your choice of spouse and definition of marriage.

  • jeb_jackson

    That’s an appropriate comment, Cat. There are many who object to my spouse because she chose me instead of them. I guess my virility comes through even behind the blogosphere. As Sydney Lanier pens..”the long sweet limbs of a girl…” Depending on which role you play in your relationships, you may or may not know of which I speak.

  • GiveMeThat

    This is a great example of why the Episcopal denomination is going down the drain.

    “The Bible is silent on the subject of same-gender monogamous relationships.” No. The Bible condemns all homosexuality, regardless of setting. The Bible is “silent” on loving, monogamous adulterous relationships.

    Liberals believe that since there are “only” seven – unequivocal – condemnatory passages on homosexuality, we may ignore them. How many passages are their on murder? How about incest? What is the magic number that we can then ignore Bibilcal injunctions?

    And then there is divorce. Christians aren’t celebrating divorce. They aren’t blessing it.

  • RickWatcher

    There is only one way to interpret God’s Word. If you continue in your sin, whether it’s homosexuality, adultery, theft, etc.., you will be condemned to an everlasting seperation from God into a place where you will weep, scream and gnash your teeth. And it doesn’t matter what some man who is supposed to be a priest says, it’s what God’s Word says.

  • XVIIHailSkins

    When a thinking adult hears this type of delirious rhetoric, they can typically laugh and walk away. But now consider that christian sociopaths like the poster above me repeat this same threat on a daily basis to children. Yes, children, and for them the image of hell is very real, and the notion that their parents, their friends, and everyone they love could be subjected to hellfire is literally the driving force behind the greatest delusion in human history.

    This is why I think the ethics behind allowing religionists to envelop children with this type of insanity before they’ve even learned to think should be reexamined. What if it was your kid? If it were any other type of discourse, this practice would amount to psychological child abuse. It has to be stopped.

  • tslats

    For the right amount of money, the RC priests will annul that previous problem of yours. I’m sure they found grounds for that in the Bible somewhere .. gay haters that they are (though gay as a rainbow they may be .. cowards).

  • dcrswm

    Don’t need any specific number, you are talking about a superstitous beliefe system which our constitution clearly indicates is not going to EVER be used to form policy or law. Now look we all like a good ghost story but let it go already.

  • ricklinguist

    I am a person of faith. My partner of many years and I were married, by a rabbi, in a mainstream Temple, before God and our families. It was wonderful. It gave social and religious standing to what was already, for many years, the most important aspect of our shared lives. As the rabbi himself noted, he’d married many couples before, but never one that already felt as married as we clearly were.
    People are free not to believe in God the way we do, of course. And their religions may carry out different rites, and may set their own conditions for those rites. That’s about faith, though, and I think we have to respectfully acknowledge that we may all never agree, nor do we have to.
    Now we are looking to protect our most important relationship legally, civilly, so that we are not legal strangers to one another.
    We share a house, a car, a mortgage, bills, decisions about what to have for dinner and decisions about life and death.
    Heterosexual couples get to protect their most important relationship with a single marriage contract. We need to protect ours as well.

  • ckarmosky

    So glad that I became Episcopalian four months ago!!

  • LibertyHound1

    Governor and Mrs. O’Malley think that religious leaders should have no say in the laws of Maryland. If that’s so, who gives a damn what an Episcopal bishop thinks?

    Of course, they matter to the O’Malley’s only when they are supporters, and are to be silenced when inconvenient.

  • Meridian1

    All very lovely but entirely beside the point, which is that we do not live in a theocracy and, while it is proper for people’s views to be informed by their religious beliefs, laws must have a valid secular purpose.

    From a legal and public policy standpoint, therefore, the bishop’s religious interpretation is entirely irrelevant. Theological debates over what the bible does and does not say have no place in the matter, and religious people and their clerics are free to believe whatever they want with respect to marriage within their churches. The only legitimate question is whether there is a valid secular purpose in excluding gay people from CIVIL marriage, and the answer, quite clearly, is “no.”

  • PracticingCatholic

    This is a telling example of the difference between Catholics and Protestants – i.e, private interpretaion of scripture vs.interpretation by an authoritative Magisterium. Catholics do not look totheir own reading of scripture as authortative because historically, it is the Church gave us scripture, deciding on the canon, translations and ultimately, what it means. Without such an authoritative voice, Christianity can devolve into nothing more than a convenient way to justify a rationalist/progressive agenda. Select passages can be used to support or explain away whatever position I like. Years of study in scripture and theology, knowlege of the original Aramaic or Greek, historical study of the context; all get thrown out as long as the words can be bent to fit the readers interpretation. Not “I agree with the Word of God” but instea “God agrees with me.”

  • pchicks

    Brilliant! The Bishop has clearly demonstrated that some people of faith accurately put love and understanding first. Too often we only hear from zealots who want to use various pieces of scripture as an excuse for their bigotry while at the same time participating in numerous acts that other parts of scripture would condemn.

  • luridone

    Right on, XVII!!!!

  • luridone

    Ah, yes, the “authoritative Magisterium.” The wonderful folks who brought us the Crusades, the Inquisition, indulgences, pedophiles by the score. All based on authoritative interpretation of their holy book.

    Authoritative interpretation of a fantasy book usually leads to trouble.

  • philhoey

    Buddle’s argument is a classic case of a sophist’s reasoning on situation ethics.
    The must be no absolutes in the Episcopal Communion any more.

  • telemachus

    What is really funny about the argument over separation of church and state, in the dispute over same sex marriage, is that the Catholic faith of four of the SCOTUS justices likely to hear any same sex marriage case will heavily influence their constituional decision making.

    Pretending that marriage is merely some contract between any two romantically/sexually inclined couple completely misses the historical, religious, and cultural bases of marriage.

    However, the four Catholic judges will be most heavily swayed by the cultrural, moral, religious, and legal freight surrounding marriage.

  • telemachus

    @ the linguist:

    The question is one of language. What do we mean by marriage?

    Is it only the romantic/sexual couplings of any two consenting adults, or is it more linked to the procreative capacities inherent in the complementarity of the sexes?

    Even the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was afraid to go near that one…

  • carlaclaws

    The 9th didn’t touch it because they didn’t need to. I am a heterosexual who could not have children, but I am married. Why is that such a stretch? Are marriages automatically dissolved when the wife becomes menopausal?

  • carlaclaws

    I am straight woman, and I think “The Marshes of Glynn” is worse than Vogon poetry.

  • nondescriptalias

    Thank you so, so much for sharing this elegant argument in support of marriage equality. It was poignant and perfect.

  • telemachus

    Hey,

    I voted for Obama and will do so again.

    The cast of Republican cartoon characters is repulsive…. but this if off topic.

  • csintala79

    God doesn’t need a bevy of “experts” between Him and a believer. If you believe that scripture is divinely inspired, who were the experts between God and His scribes? If He didn’t need interpreters then, He doesn’t now. His diciples were not educated men of letters. They were not theologians. They were simple men who responded to the direct call.

  • csintala79

    Sorry, but there is more than one way to interpret the Word of God. We wouldn’t have a multitude of denominations and Christians wouldn’t have suffered centuries of intolerance from other Christians if that be the case. Essentially ecumenicism requires distilling the fundamental points of faith drawn from scripture to as few as possible (e.g., Christ is the savior and scripture contains all that is required for salvation). It must be agreed that tolerance can be extended regarding questions of faith not required for salvation, i.e., points that have varying interpretations. But, then, in this country that guarantees religious freedom, we don’t have to agree on anything; religion is not a rational system that leads to verifiable truths.

  • DanB7

    “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.”

    Oh, if only the most religious amongst us both understood this and lived their lives that way. No need for hatred, persecution or condemnation. My love and happiness in life is just as valid as yours. Life is short, I’d rather live in peace.

  • ROCKHARDJOCKVA

    Those who oppose marriage equality for religious reasons are the same ones who also advocate for freedom of religion / separation of church and state.

    Their illogic further demonstrates that their opposition is based on bigotry.

  • csintala79

    “Those who oppose marriage equality for religious reasons are the same ones who also advocate for freedom of religion / separation of church and state. ”

    I don’t think so.

  • JosephD1000

    You are correct csintala79. The majority of those opposed to marriage equality for religious reasons have no interest whatsoever in religious freedom or separation of church and state. On the contrary, they seek compulsory adherence to their version of their religion for everyone.

  • JosephD1000

    God forbid anyone would be rational or progressive. Oh wait, according to some, he does forbid it. If you want to live under such a tyranny, you are welcome to, it is after all, a free country, for now.

  • avonmanor

    May God have mercy on Ms. Budde’s soul. Homosexuality is not only against God’s law,but against natural law. Society and everything in this world may change, but God and His Word that is in the Bible DOESN’T! God is love, but He abhors sin. Homosexuality is sin. Love the sinner, but hate the sin. For all of us in this world who sin, God offers us redemption through His Son,Jesus Christ(John 3:16).

  • Catken1

    Any god who condemns people to eternal torture because they fell in love with someone who had the “wrong” dangly bits isn’t worth worshipping. People who worship a god who burns their brothers and sisters for such reasons are only kissing up to an abuser in cowardly hope of not getting hurt themselves.

  • billr54619

    But look at her reasoning here – it is the slippery slope in all its glory. Since we now condone divorce, we must, by logical reasoning condone homsexuality ? Really ? Is that so ?

    But two wrongs do not make a right. The love of Christ must be strong enough to get us outside ourselves, so that we don’t call good evil, or evil good – even when our own emotional commitments are at stake.

    Bishop Budde would like to bequeth the “gift” of same sex marriage on all of society – even as she has taken over the institution of the church to this false teaching.

  • billr54619

    Look at it this way – there are no doubt many Episcopalians who may be influence by Bishop Budde’s exercise of what the Catholics would call the “ordinary magisterium”. If she teaches falsehood, that is a problem not merely for her diocese and her denomination – but the whole church. Now, you can go legalistic in that Roman Catholic fashion and reject her “credentials” as it were. But that is not the criteria Jesus offered – why their works ye shall know them.

  • allinthistogether

    The bible is consistent only in its internal inconsistency. All humans are fallible, including popes. The Church taught that the earth was flat and the sun orbited around the earth. There are no perfect interpeters of “God’s will.” Recognizing that would give true believers a very healthy dose of humility.

  • allinthistogether

    Following up on what someone else said: believing in God in order to save yourself from suffering is not a noble purpose. Any god who would condemn to eternal hell those who don’t believe in him/her is clearly flawed and is not worth worshipping. If you are going to put your faith in a god, at least choose a noble god.

  • allinthistogether

    The Declaration of Independence indicates the inalienable rights of “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness,” not “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness as religious believers determine it to be God’s will.” Marriage equality is plain and simply a civil right. No one’s god’s opinion has anything to do with it, since the legislation in question clearly provides that religious organizations do not have to sanctify the marriage.

    Life, liberty and marriage.

  • bdgrgrrl

    philhoey:

    I’m not sure what you mean by the “Episcopal Communion”. If you mean the Episcopal Church in the United States that denomination is definitely trending in the direction of few absolutes in the denomination as a whole (such as Jesus Christ being one way to achieve salvation rather than the only way). The denomination is declining sharply in numbers as a result. However, there are still a handful of bishops who still stand up for the traditional Episcopalian faith, as well as individual priests and their parishes.

    However, if you mean the worldwide Anglican Communion that is a different story by and large. There are some English-speaking national churches (Episcopal Church in the U.S., Anglican Church in Canada, Church of England, and others) that do have very liberal theological views. The largest growth in the Anglican Communion is in Africa and with the exception of South Africa, African Anglicans are theologically orthodox and their churches are growing.

    There are also alternatives to Episcopalianism in the U.S. and Canada. Two of the newest are the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) and the Anglican Mission to the Americas.(AMiA). About 70% of my own (formerly Episcopal) parish joined a denomination that became part of the ACNA after we felt the Episcopal Church had gone beyond redemption and we could no longer work within to reform this denomination.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous