Advocates of marriage for same-sex couples are not seeking to redefine the institution, but rather to join it, according to an openly partnered homosexual bishop in the Episcopal Church.
Outgoing Bishop Gene Robinson of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire made his case for allowing same-sex couples to marry during a November 1 radio debate with traditional marriage proponents in St. Paul, Minnesota. Minnesota residents will vote on amending the state constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman on November 6.
Robinson’s participation in the debate outside of his New Hampshire diocese continues to cement his image as a homosexual activist of national reach, rather than that of the bishop of a small, rural diocese that he aspired to be a decade ago. Now a celebrity in the homosexual community, Robinson has authored a recent book on same-sex marriage, and is perhaps the highest profile voice making a religious argument for it.
“We’re not talking about same-sex marriage as though it is different. We’re talking about marriage,” Robinson insisted, arguing that same-sex couples wanted stability for their marriages – stability brought about in part by societal recognition. “You’d think conservatives would be behind us 100 percent. For years they’ve accused gays of being promiscuous and having shallow relationships, and here we have gay couples wanting to make lifelong, faithful, monogamous relationships with one another.”
Quoting John Chapter 16:12-13, Robinson noted Jesus’ words: “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Holy Spirit comes, he will guide you into all truth”
“I think what he meant was ‘I’ve taught you everything I can now, bit don’t think for a minute that God is done with you or the people who follow you,’” Robinson interpreted. Correlating acceptance of homosexuality to the end of slavery and the subjugation of women, the bishop predicted that “God might actually be leading us into the inclusion of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.”
Robinson was rebutted by Pastor Jerry McAfee of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church, who quoted an earlier verse from the same book of John (14:15) “If you love me, you will obey what I command.”
Robinson argued back that McAfee probably did not exclude divorced and remarried persons from his congregation, even though Jesus said those who divorce and remarry are committing adultery.
“I think we are contextualizing a lot of things,” Robinson assessed. “None of us knows the entire mind of God.”
McAfee, in turn, expressed concern that Robinson was extricating a single sin from the Bible, while leaving the rest in place.
During the Minnesota Public Radio debate, Robinson was paired with Sarah Walker of Minnesotans United for All Families, the main group opposing the traditional marriage amendment, while McAfee was joined by National Organization for Marriage (NOM) President Brian Brown, who argued in favor of it.
McAfee argued that same-sex marriage was not a civil rights issue, saying that “to associate it as the same, I can’t acknowledge that.”
“No group, other than the American Indian, has gone through the tragedies that have happened to us [African Americans] in this country,” McAfee asserted. Surprisingly, Robinson quickly agreed with McAfee, striking a conciliatory tone and declaring that the two issues were not on the same level.
“Those who would oppress any group, they want us to fight one another,” Robinson flatly stated. “That does not serve us well.”
The Episcopal Church bishop asserted that Americans are changing their minds about same-sex marriage, garnering a vocal challenge from Brown, who noted that 32 states have voted for traditional marriage, while none have voted against it to date.
“[Americans] see two men or two women who love and care for each other in the ways that husbands and wives have cared for each other for countless generations. And they see them creating a family and loving their kids,” Robinson described. “As a religious person, what I would say they see is the light of God shining in those relationships.”
Robinson also reported that he does not use the words “bigot” or “homophobic,” revealing that he sees those as “conversation stoppers” and “dead end words” unhelpful to his cause.
Brian Brown, president of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), summarized that the amendment would keep the definition of marriage in the hands of voters, and block judges and legislatures from making same sex marriage legal.
“The amendment here in Minnesota has to do with a simple question: Do you believe that the courts or politicians should define the nature of marriage, or do you believe that the people should,” Brown asked the audience.