Friday, December 30, 2005

A Letter from Jack Taylor

Before Christmas we had a pretty feisty discussion about the importance of marriage on the Toward2015 listserv. It got so feisty that in the end it was necessary for me as moderator to end the discussion. One of the things that I hate in our present climate is that we find it impossible to talk with civility with one another and instead launch into personal invective against one another.

The following piece by Jack Taylor from Dallas was something that I edited from being published on the listserv, but I believe that it puts a human face on the dilemma with which we are wrestling. I publish it here, not because I agree with Mr. Taylor, I do not and my critique of what he has written follows, but because I found it allows us to look beneath the surface at the implications of the two worldviews that are tussling with one another.

What I ask you to do is to read Jack Taylor's words with generosity and charity, and then, if you want, to read my thoughts on his words:

I read with interest Father Richard Kew's essay on his second daughter's marriage and congratulate him. I, too, have given away two daughters in marriage and have fine grandchildren as a reward. His reflections on the importance of marriage between a man and a woman gave me pause for reflection too.

Sadly, I was unable to give my third daughter's hand in marriage because her chosen partner was of the same sex, even though they were able to buy a home together and planned to bear a child together through a surrogate father. The home-purchase and child-bearing are perfectly legal in Texas, but not the fulfillment of their love, commitment and devotion through marriage, and, even more sadly for a Church that blesses all sorts of animals every Saint Francis feast day, even a blessing. They are no longer together, although my daughter once told me if they had been allowed to marry, there is no doubt in both their minds they still would be one.

Now before you criticize any fragility of their relationship, think of your own and if you are married, whether you still would be married if you had simply lived together and were unable to wed. Suppose we lived in a society where only landowners were allowed to wed, or where only those who could afford a dowry were allowed to became brides? Or a society that allowed marriage only among those from identical backgrounds? That would have prevented my wife, a Norwegian, and I, of Scots-Irish and Native American background, from marrying 46 years ago.

That may sound extreme. But think a moment, It wasn't long ago when there were laws that prevented men and women from marrying if they were of different races, and only a little longer ago when African-Americans were required to sit in church balconies and takes communion last. Gays and lesbians are allowed to sit anywhere among the rest of the congregation now, and with rare exceptions are welcome at Christ's table with everyone. But they are not fully accepted at the altar rail when it comes to marriage. That defies Christian logic and Anglican reason. It's as if there was an additional live in Galatians 3:28 that added a caveat beginning "except for".

Many of us in the church and society at large express fear that extending this kind of freedom and equality to gays and lesbians somehow threatens our own families, our children, even the stability of our society. But the greatest threat is not that at all. The greatest threat is the fear and loathing that the perception of such a threat creates among us, not to mention the idea that some of us are better than others and therefore entitled to more rights and privileges. Who among you really believes that and can still claim your Christian love embraces everyone, equally?

Merry Christmas,
Jack Taylor

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