For a New Generation: Icons of Steadfast Love

My granddaughter Lily and I were having a chat several weeks ago as I was driving her to preschool. “Some families have two moms, some families have two dads, and my family has a mom and a dad,” she said. My response? “Families are wonderful.”

Lily already has, in both her Presbyterian preschool and her Episcopal church, living icons of same-sex, disciplined, covenanted, family-making love! Her life is enriched and blessed by these icons of steadfast love in a way that my early life was not.

In a recent presentation to the House of Bishops, Willis Jenkins, an Episcopal theologian at Yale, made a clear and compelling argument for the development of rites for same-sex unions. His argument is based on the concept of discipline. It went something like this: If, for several thousand years, people of faith have discovered that the most life-giving way to live the sexual dimension of their human reality is in committed, faithful, monogamous, lifelong unions, then the Church must not deny that life-giving discipline to a minority of our baptized sisters and brothers.

Clearly, my granddaughter is already being positively impacted by those in that disciplined life who create the families that help her trust the world.

What the Church is doing is taking some living icons, stuffed away in a closet, and placing them in the body of the Church. We propose to do this so that the Body of Christ will have more examples of steadfast love that look like that community of the Lover, the Beloved and the love between them that we adore as the Blessed Trinity.

In a world where we are all one click away from other images, where sexuality is reduced to, “I want what I want, when I want it,” our need for alternative icons is a matter of our spiritual life or death.

Lily has seen living icons of disciplined, generous and generative love, and she and all of us are blessed. Let us all live together the discipline of covenanted love.


Categories: GC2012

2 replies »

  1. Bishop Gulick writes, in his essay, “What the Church is doing is taking some living icons, stuffed away in a closet, and placing them in the body of the Church.”

    Let it not be forgot exactly who it was who stuffed them in that closet, and let it not be forgot how many of those icons are no longer living, the Matt Shepards of this world for whom this small step comes far too late: one small step towards humanity in one minority corner of Christianity, itself only one religion (though not a small one) out of many.

    Please, religious people, for the love of goodness itself, extend these halting results further by going on to reject all the supernatural claims that lead you commit honor killings, the genital mutilation of children, child sexual abuse, and all the other evils your religions celebrates daily as your birthright. Even if your religion doesn’t do these things, it provides the cover of respectability for those religions that do. You are complicit in your silence, so that you can have your special tax exempt status, faith schools, charter schools. Remember that the same privilege you sound so loudly about is also being granted to the madrassas that will produce our next “honor killing” perpetrators.

    From an outside perspective it seems that you must feel absolutely no responsibility to do good in the world, for its own sake, because of course, God’s going to fix it all up in the afterlife. No thought is given to the actual effects of your actions on earth, beyond what merit you accumulate thereby in the hereafter. The suffering of human beings, animals, the environment, means nothing intrinsically to you, since God himself will burn it all to cinders at the end, and make saints of you in the hereafter while the rest of us burn eternally for having the temerity to disbelieve the evidence-free dogma you insist that you — alone — are qualified to dictate to the rest of us heathens.

    Good Episcopalians will go home from the 77th General Conference happy and complaisant about their religion, feeling they’ve done their duty. “How good religion is, that it can sometimes, kicking and screaming over centuries, be persuaded to do something that decent people do immediately!” Nothing could be further from the truth. The debt of blood and purposeful suffering inflicted by Christianity and the rest of the world’s supernatural religions down the millenia will be satisfied when Christianity, along with all other religion, has been relinquished by every hand that wields it. The acceptance of same-sex blessing is an advance in the right direction, to be sure, but on the scale of a gnat’s wingspan to the breadth of the Grand Canyon in comparison to the revolting damage that religion merrily inflicts upon our planet every day.