Tuesday, June 20, 2006

An act of moral courage: Presbyterians ease restrictions on gay and lesbian clergy

By Diane Silver
I have been pondering the true meaning of morality lately. I have to admit that today’s news from the Presbyterian Church makes me think that truth, beauty, the American way and, yup, just a touch of morality are finally working their way into the governing bodies of the mainline Protestant churches.

First we got good news from the Episcopal Church. Tonight, Reuters reports that the largest U.S. Presbyterian organization has just approved a proposal that would “open the way for the ordination of gays and lesbians under certain circumstances.”

Via the Washington Post, Reuters says:

The new policy was approved on a vote of 57-43 percent among 500 church representatives at the biennial meeting of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. It gives local church organizations more leeway in deciding if gays can be ordained as lay deacons and elders as well as clergy, provided they are faithful to the church's core values.
The article quotes opponents of the proposal, but also quotes Kim Clayton Richter of the Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta. Richter says it's wrong to interpret the Bible literally on homosexuality.
"You cannot pick out two or three passages to prove your point. You have to look at the whole witness of Jesus Christ. We've changed our mentality on slavery and the role of women. We have to change with reality," Richter said.
Condemning consenting adults for the crime of loving each other is neither moral nor an example of Christian compassion.

I believe sexual orientation itself is morally neutral. How a person chooses to express that orientation and whether he or she is abusive, neglectful or a loyal and loving to a partner is the real issue.

As a culture, I believe we do ourselves grave harm by focusing on the red herring of sexual orientation. What we should really be looking at is how we act within our relationships. Do we treat people as loving partners or as objects? Do we use or sexuality to hurt others? If we are in a loving relationship, how do we negotiate the myriad of issues that arise between any two people?

Simply entering into a same-sex relationship doesn't make two people wrong anymore than particpating in a heterosexual relationship makes them automatically right. It's time our culture grew up and looked at the real issues we face. Focusing on false "sins" only wastes our time, hurts innocent people and keeps us from solving our real problems.

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