Recent Testimony of the Episcopal Bishop of Maine on a proposed Bill

Posted by Kendall Harmon

The Episcopal Church, long ago, concluded and publicly proclaimed through its own legislative body that gay and lesbian persons are children of God and, by baptism, full members of the church. We have also concluded that sexual orientation, in and of itself, is no bar to holding any office or ministry in the church, as long as the particular requirements of that office or ministry are met. And we have repeatedly affirmed our support for the human and civil rights of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered persons. In many of our congregations, both here in Maine and around the country, faithful same sex couples and their families are participating in the life of the church and sharing in the work of ministry and service to their communities.

If we, as Mainers, believe that faithful, lifelong monogamous relationships are among the building blocks of a healthy and stable society, then it is in our interest to extend the rights and obligations of civil marriage to all Maine citizens. To deny those rights to certain persons on the basis of sexual orientation is to create two classes of citizens and to deny one group what we believe is best for them and for society.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)TEC Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesMarriage & FamilySexuality--Civil Unions & Partnerships

Posted April 28, 2009 at 12:30 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]

1. Franz wrote:

It seems not to have occurred to the cleric that one might reasonably believe that faithful, lifelong monogamous relationships between a man and a woman are among the building blocks of a healthy and stable society

April 28, 1:49 pm | [comment link]
2. Jeffersonian wrote:

Why do revisionists elide so mendaciously over the issue of behavior?

April 28, 1:50 pm | [comment link]
3. Philip Snyder wrote:

As I keep saying, homosexual men and women are free to marry anyone that fits the definition of marriage.  Homosexual men are free to may (almost) any woman they can persuade to marry him and homosexual women are free to marry any man they can persuade to marry them.
The problem is that homosexual men and women are barred from marriage.  The problem (for them) is that they don’t like the definition of marriage.  They want to change that.  That sort of change is something that should be looked at long and hard before we jump into it.  The definition of marriage has remained unchanged in Western Civilization for longer than Christianity.  True, the purposes of marriage (from society’s standpoint) may have changed, but the essence of it has not - one man, one woman.  We exhibit great pride if we think that we know better than 2500 years of civilization.

Phil Snyder

April 28, 1:55 pm | [comment link]
4. TheOldHundredth wrote:

Therefore, I also affirm that part of L.D. 1020 that states there will be no effort to compel or coerce any minister to act in a way contrary to his or her belief and conscience. There will certainly never be any requirement in the Episcopal Diocese of Maine to act in contravention of conscience or of church doctrine.

Given what happened vis-à-vis the consciences of those bishops who could not accept the ordination of women, this seems like very cold comfort.

John E.

April 28, 2:20 pm | [comment link]
5. Ross wrote:


That argument—that both heterosexual men and homosexual men are alike free to marry women—is among the most blatantly specious arguments advanced by the reasserter side.  Heterosexual men are free to marry someone they love, assuming they can convince that someone to agree to marry them; homosexual men are not.

April 28, 2:20 pm | [comment link]
6. A Floridian wrote:

“ and lesbian persons are children of God and, by baptism, full members of the church. We have also concluded that sexual orientation, in and of itself, is no bar to holding any office or ministry in the church…”

There are some big-time fallacies and errors here:
1.  There is no such thing as ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ persons, special ‘folk’ who are exempt and excused from accountability to God’s Word and Will.  There are people broken by sin, dis-oriented away from God, who don’t believe the Word of God applies to them and want to have all the rights of children of God, but none of the responsibility. 
2.  All people are included in I Corinthians 6:9-11 and Galatians 5:24; and Hebrews 7:25 and Romans 1:18-32. 
3.  All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  If we deny our sin, we are unwise.  We are all to be born again, to put off the old man with its sinful desires, to be renewed in the spirit of our minds, to take every thought into captivity to the obedience of God.  We are the Church penitent, the fellowship of those being crucified and all are included in this; we are not the Church of the entitled, pampered and indulged.

April 28, 2:21 pm | [comment link]
7. Phil wrote:

Ross #5, so, if the object of that love is 14 (hetero or otherwise), are you OK with that?  I mean, if it’s all about freedom.

April 28, 2:55 pm | [comment link]
8. Philip Snyder wrote:

Ross, it is NOT a specious argument.  Marriage is what Marriage is - the union between husband and wife.  What is happening now is a redefinition of marriage.  There is no law to stop any homosexual person from contracting a valid marriage.  I doubt very seriously if you can show me any law that says “homosexual men and women are not allowed to get married in the state of XX.”

What the politically active homosexuals are tyring to do is change the definition of marriage from “one man and one woman” to “two (for now) people that love each other.”  So, I ask you if we are changing the definition of marriage today to make the sex of the parties irrelevant, what is to stop us from changing it to make the number of parties irrelevant?  How about the age or familial relationship? 

changing the definition of long standing traditions and customs and laws is very dangerous.  Don’t you think we should approach this with more respect for the centuries of wisdom that came before us?  Or are you so sure that we know better than those old folks.

Phil Snyder

April 28, 3:13 pm | [comment link]
9. Jeffersonian wrote:

Phil Snyder is right here…the arguments being made in favor of homosexual marriage are much, much larger than the issue at hand and will, without fail, be used in further defining marriage down in the future.

April 28, 3:38 pm | [comment link]
10. Harvey wrote:

The ida of marriage being that of one man and one woman has been with us for 1,000’s of years.  When we try to mess it up in any we do so at great peril.  History indicates this by sad experience as Sodom, Gommorah and Pompei found out.  Add to this the condemnation in New Testament in the Pauline Epistles.  Nuff Said!!

April 28, 4:17 pm | [comment link]
11. Charles wrote:

#10 - what about polygamy?  Have you read the Old Testament lately?

April 28, 4:52 pm | [comment link]
12. Jon wrote:

Well, it’s not entirely true that there has been one vision of marriage throughout the world for thousands of years.  For example:

*  Muslims believe it is good for one man to have many wives.  They believe this now and have believed it for many hundreds of years.

*  Jews (well before and after the time of Solomon) believed it was ok for one man to have many wives.

*  Christian Americans of the last 60 years typically view it as outrageous to consider that a man in his 30s or 40s could “marry” a girl who is 13.  But in the middle ages up through the 1600s such marriages were considered by Christians to be perfectly valid.

There may be very sound reasons for defining civil marriage in such a fashion that it makes invalid (as “marriage”) polygamous unions and/or unions of mature men to 13 year olds and/or same-sex unions.  But among those reasons is not the purported monolithic nature of marriage throughout time.

I am myself a traditionalist who has been on record from as early as April 2003 as opposing the election of VGR and the various steps ECUSA/TEC has taken since towards greenlighting same-sex marriage rites.  But I also think it is important to only make arguments that are sound, not those that sound good but are in fact based on falsehoods.  Just because an argument has the “right” conclusion doesn’t make it a valid argument.  Ideological blogs (on the right or left) can easily become echo chambers where residents fail to practice intellectual self-criticism.

April 28, 4:59 pm | [comment link]
13. NewTrollObserver wrote:

What we have here is, failure to communicate.

The religious wars of old Europe pointed to the wisdom of separation of church and state in the realm of government.

There is likewise wisdom in separating church and state in the realm of “marriage”: (1) let the state define ‘civil union/marriage’, from a strictly legal perspective, based on enlightenment ideals of utilitarianism and whatnot; (2) let the churches, synagogues, temples define marriage based on their respective traditions. People could choose the first, the second, or both together.

April 28, 7:29 pm | [comment link]
14. drjoan wrote:

#11 Charles:
Polygamy is no exception to the one man-one woman union though it might appear to be to some of you.  There is still only ONE sexual union at a time.  Folks who claim polygamy is an exception to the OMOW union are making a red herring (or is it a straw man?) out of the position.  Marriage is a contract between a man and a woman. 
I am SO glad to see the argument being put out above that any man—homosexual or heterosexual—may marry any woman—homosexual or heterosexual.  To try to twist that by saying any heterosexual man may marry any woman he loves but the homosexual man may not marry the man he loves is another red herring/straw man. 
And what #6 GA/FL wrote is SO important: in Scripture (and thus in God’s economy) there is no difference between gay/lesbian (or transgender or bisexual) persons and so-called “straight” persons.  We are ALL sinners—each one of us.  Christ did not die to save one group or another but for all humankind.

April 28, 7:35 pm | [comment link]
15. Jon wrote:

#13… I agree with you.  I am not especially stressed out about extending the definition of civil marriage to include samesex marriage.  I am, for various reasons, very concerned about attempts to change the CHURCH’s understanding of marriage, sexual ethics, etc.

I’m pretty unusual in that, however.  Most people on T19 and Standfirm, bishops in the Church of Rome, etc. are very upset by the idea of two gay people getting a marriage license at city hall and feel like the issue is gravely urgent.  Likewise, a large number of leftwing bishops think their opinions AS BISHOPS are relevant to the debates about samesex unions in the purely civil realm—they are constantly pontificating about it to state legislatures.

April 28, 8:04 pm | [comment link]
16. Words Matter wrote:

based on enlightenment ideals of utilitarianism and whatnot

Well, that’s an issue worth discussion. What is the “utility” of civil marriage at all? Of marriage between a man and woman? Is a relationship between two men or two women of equivalent social utility?

Actually, since Ross thinks couples who “love” one another should be married, let’s talk about the “utility” of basing marriage on “love” (understood, I suppose, as romantic love).

Since we are talking about utility here, let’s include a cost/benefit analysis: what is the cost of marriage weighed against it’s benefits? How do same-sex relationships compare to heterosexual relationships in a similar analysis?

These, it seems to me, are more relevant than a religious argument, since we don’t, as a society, share a common religion.

All that, and the “whatnot” is still hanging out there.  grin

April 28, 9:18 pm | [comment link]
17. Fr. Dale wrote:

If we, as Mainers, believe that faithful, lifelong monogamous relationships are among the building blocks of a healthy and stable society, then it is in our interest to extend the rights and obligations of civil marriage to all Maine citizens.

How does the bisexual group get around the above comment?

April 28, 9:49 pm | [comment link]
18. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Hmm, does Maine wish to go the route of the Episcopal Church and wither away and die by emulating the tactics and results of those toactics and decisions?  But, then, perhaps Maine does so wish.

April 28, 10:02 pm | [comment link]
19. Anastasios wrote:

Re: 17. Thank you, Dcn Dale. That’s a point I’ve been asking for some time now.

April 28, 10:41 pm | [comment link]
20. Sidney wrote:

#17 Bisexual means one can be attracted to people of either gender.  I don’t see that it means one is involved with both at the same time.

but this testimony is my own and does not represent a decision by the Diocese of Maine.

Sorry, bishop, but you were asked to testify because you’re a church leader.  You can’t separate yourself from the views of the church because the church ELECTED you knowing this is your position - THAT was a decision by the diocese.

April 28, 11:31 pm | [comment link]
21. Larry Morse wrote:

Much of what the bishop has said here is non- sense. I was asked to write the position paper for my church and, originally, for the ACA diocese. My open heart surgery put me out of operation - no pun intended - for a long time, so my paper was too late for the diocese, and yet, it has more sense in one sentence than the above has in its entirety. I would like to put my paper here but I don’t know how - short of typing the whole thing out. How can I transfer it in one swoop? It is 2 1/2 pages long.
    Here in Maine we have listened to The Agenda over and over. Because Maine has become bluer than California, it is now dominated culturally as well as politically by the Democrats, The Agenda is in control to a new and stifling degree. The Democrats have controlled the legislature for about 35 years, and one would think their failures would generate resistance. But the Republicans have failed even worse; it is rare to find one who has ever had an idea of his own or would know one when he meet one, and so they are unfit to meet this threat in any compelling way.

    Maine is more like Iowa than California; indeed, it out Iowas Iowa in its belief that the first law of the world is “You mind your business and I’ll mind mine. Live and let live means that no undertaking is of any importance unless it directly impinges on my income or freedom to do as I feel like.” The majority of the population does not favor homosexual marriage, but believe intensely that their opinions should effect no one but themselves. In the old days, this was the model of independence. In the present, it means that the many independents are at the mercy of Democrats who vote as a bloc, who put the Agenda ahead of personal judgment.  This simple means that, when it comes to voting, the termites always win - and this is precisely what will happen in this state. I suppose this is part of the state’s heritage as a state of farmers. Trying to get farmers to cooperate is like herding cats; and now this independence will be the death of independence.  Larry

April 28, 11:54 pm | [comment link]
22. Fr. Dale wrote:

#20. Sidney,

#17 Bisexual means one can be attracted to people of either gender.  I don’t see that it means one is involved with both at the same time.

Do you mean that serial monogamous relationships are OK? The statement says “lifelong”.
Why is there even a category if someone is attracted but is monogamous? That is like creating a special category for married heterosexuals because they are attracted to others of the opposite sex but remain monogamous.

April 29, 9:29 am | [comment link]
23. Harvey wrote:

Our Lord is on record as saying marriage in the beginning was the union of one-man one-woman and was quick to point out that we have been going downhill every since.  He is ready to forgive any sin when we ask forgivesness and mean it.  This I know and believe.

April 29, 1:14 pm | [comment link]
24. Sidney wrote:

Do you mean that serial monogamous relationships are OK?

I guess I’m confused.  I don’t understand the point you are trying to make.  I assume that the bishop uses both words ‘lifelong’ and ‘monogamous’ for emphasis.  Some people might not understand ‘monogamy’ to imply something that is lifelong.

April 29, 3:55 pm | [comment link]
25. Fr. Dale wrote:

#24. Sidney,
What is the point in having the classification “Bisexual”? If a person has a lifelong monogamous relationship then they will never be acting on any other impulse.

April 29, 4:22 pm | [comment link]
26. NewTrollObserver wrote:

#16, on enlightenment utilitarianism, a secular case against gay-marriage:

New York Governor Dave Paterson made some curious remarks on the gay marriage issue yesterday. The gist of them, so far as I can understand it, was that (a) opponents of gay marriage are motivated by their religion, and (b) the present opposition is vitiated by failure to speak out against the hell on earth (”beaten and often brutalized”) that homosexual college students endured before … well, before some unspecified event that enlightened everyone and made it all stop. Gov. Paterson’s accession, perhaps.

It’s all pretty incoherent, but that’s our Gov. for you. It did get me thinking, though, in the secular-right context, of the non-religious conservative case against gay marriage. There certainly is one, composed of some the following elements, mixed in proportions according to personal taste.

April 30, 2:47 pm | [comment link]
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