The move toward acceptance of same-sex unions -- whether called marriage or something else -- proceeded with such slowness for so long that it hardly could be called movement at all.
But in recent years the pace has picked up dramatically. Public opinion has done a rather remarkable shift, and although the old religious voices that have misused scripture to condemn gays and lesbians have not been silenced they at least have been finding it harder to gain an audience.
(For my own essay on what the Bible says about homosexuality, look under the "Check this out" headline on the right side of this page.)
Another small advance toward right and rational thinking about same-sex marriage was reported a few days about by John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter. In this piece, he wrote of how another Vatican official has spoken favorably about the need to respectand recognize civil unions of same-sex couples. That, of course, is different from same-sex marriage, but at least it would give equal protection under the law to same-sex couples.
My argument is that all couples -- gay or straight -- who want to be married should go to an agent of the state for a civil ceremony. Then, if they want their union blessed by a faith community, they should go there next. Each faith community then could decide the issue for itself. That way you no longer would have clergy serving in the dual role of being agents of the state and representatives of religion.
My guess is that 20 or 40 years from now people will look back on the white-hot debate over homosexuality and be baffled about why it took so long to do the right thing -- just as we now are baffled when we look back at the debates over slavery and women's suffrage.
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ARE AMERICAN MOSQUES TO BLAME?
Back to the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings: The idea that American mosques are creating radicalized Muslims willing to attack other Americans is demonstrably false, the writers of this piece argue. And they make a good point. In fact, the evidence of centuries of Islamic presence in the U.S. suggests that Muslims here seek to be both good Muslims and good American citizens in at least the same percentage that Christians here seek to be good Christians and good American citiziens.
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THE BOOK CORNER
The Idolatry of God: Breaking our Addiction to Certainty and Satisfaction, by Peter Rollins. The author, founder of Ikon, a Christian faith group based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, is convinced that Christian leaders have made God an idol they're trying to sell like a cure-all. Try a month's prescription of God and your troubles will be gone, is the message. That, says Rollins, is cheap theological bunk. In his words: "What we see taking place in the church today is the reduction of God to an Idol, that is, to a thing that will satisfy us and fill the gap we feel in our hearts." Our desire to attain ultimate satisfaction, he says, leads us to such idolatrous hucksterism with its false certitude. What we need, he says, is not an idol that "can fulfill our desire" but "that which evokes a transformation in the very way that we desire." In an addendum interview with Rollins at the back of the book, he says his purpose in The Idolatry of God is to find that "point from which we can overturn the mammoth structure that propgates a reactionary and idolatrous form of life in the false guise of Christian faith." There's plenty in this book to talk about and argue about. And doing so would be time well spent.
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P.S.: This is your last chance to donate to the annual AIDSWalk KC event, which happens tomorrow. It supports the AIDS Service Foundation of Kansas City, and I'll be walking with the folks from Hope Care Center, where I volunteer. To contribute, click here.