Guest MINDSETTER™ Dan Lawlor: Time to Support Gay Marriage
Monday, November 28, 2011
The Catholic Bishop of Rhode Island recently argued “the homosexual agenda is relentless,” in a column titled, “Don't Ask, Don't Tell … Don't Sin.”
The Episcopal Bishop of Rhode Island likewise has argued recently, “I believe that Holy Matrimony is a sacred religious rite, whose definition should not be re-interpreted by legislation or civil courts.”
So, a female married bishop and a male celibate bishop, in two denominations, both feel that marriage is a sacred religious rite that has nothing to do with the state.
The "relentless" agenda that the Catholic Bishop speaks of is for all people to be treated equal before civil law. The relentless agenda that says freedom of religion means that Presbyterian, Lutheran, and Unitarian Churches, alongside Jewish Congregations, have the same right to define marriage theologically as the Catholic Church. The relentless agenda that people, as citizens, have rights irrespective of their denomination.
The sacred rite that the Episcopal Bishop speaks of is one that is not the same as a civil law code. The bloody history of the early Protestant Church of England should be tale enough for the dangers of mixing politics and faith. Furthermore, once the door of interpreting the tradition is open – why must re-interpretation stop at female bishops, but not honestly gay ones?
Bishop Tobin and Bishop Wolf are quite right to preach theology and its applications - but in this country, there are many. Both make appeals to a universal theological reason. Yet, the kaledioscope that is religious freedom produces many sources of origin and truth. Theological diversity is the American game. To paraphrase John Locke, “What business is it of the tax collector if you worship in a meeting house or a synagogue?”
Tobin, as bishop in the Roman Catholic Church, can criticize the state and its positions. In fact, he should. Wolf as bishop in the Episcopal Church, can criticize the state and its positions. In fact, she should. Both have done admirable work around housing and homelessness in our state. Yet, the state, legally, is not Catholic, nor Episcopalian. It is a democratic republic with liberty for all. It is a home for all peoples. As a State Representative's literature said last election, “The state's laws should reflect the diversity of its people.”
In matters of culture and belief, the bishops should be loud and forthright. Yet, before the law, in a democratic society, they are one of many voices. We are equal before the law. Marriage equality should come to Rhode Island.
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