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Church: Let's honor all relationships
I appreciate your Aug. 23 article, Issue divides Episcopalians and your later column addressing prejudice. The issue of inclusion of and/or discrimination against sexual minorities is presently before us in dramatic ways, both in civil society and within religious communities. Hopefully, honest sharing of information and opinions will help us find our way through these times.
I am concerned about one sentence included in the Aug. 23 article. It says, He (referring to Bishop Gene Robinson) left her (his wife) for a man he has been living with since 1989, according to news reports. Unfortunately, those news reports are not factual and, in my opinion, are based on and continue to perpetuate a common misconception about sexual minority persons, in this case gay men.
That misconception is that gay men are immoral, unfaithful, and promiscuous. That is a prejudice, an idea some people use to prejudge, the process of making a judgment without the facts.
Here are the facts about Bishop Robinsons relationships. He entered into marriage with a lack of clarity about his sexual orientation, a fact he shared openly with his wife during their courtship. He made significant efforts (therapy and prayer) to change. He and his wife made a mutual decision to divorce. At that time neither of them was involved with another person. Some years later, his wife remarried; two months after that marriage, he met his partner. They have now been together for 14 years in a monogamous relationship which they see as a life-long commitment.
Those facts come from the National Public Radio program, Fresh Air, of July 24, 2003, in which Bishop Robinson was interviewed (available at www.npr.org). They were further verified by phone communications with the Episcopalian Diocese of New Hampshire, where the Bishop presides.
Some years ago, I was drawn into the world of sexual minorities through my faith community. What I have discovered is that there are many faithful Christians within those minorities gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender. Many of them are in mutual, monogamous, life-long relationships. I have also come to know many loving same-sex couples who do not participate in faith communities. I find that those relationships are the same as heterosexual relationships. They all begin with a mutual sharing of love; some of them are successful in sustaining that love, and some of them are not.
In a country where we declare that all are created equal, entitled to the pursuit of happiness, and in faith communities where we sing God loves all the little children, all the children of the world, it is my hope that we find a way to give all such relationships recognition and honor. And that starts with having factual discussions and not spreading prejudice.
Reconciling Ministries Network,
Pacific Northwest Conference
United Methodist Church