Why do I Write about Gay Marriage?



No really! Why? I want to know!

The Huffington Post e-mailed me yesterday to let me know my article on gay marriage had been published, and I immediately got a sinking feeling in my stomach. (It was the same feeling I got less than a year ago.) I hate writing about this subject. Really, I do. I get attacked from both sides. New atheists (who apparently have too much time on their hands) attack my beliefs, and my sisters and brothers in Christ attack the sincerity of my faith. Just this morning, someone called me stupid (atheist) and a liar (Christian).


The thing is, I don’t really think any article I have written about gay marriage has really been about gay marriage. For me, the culture wars is killing us. It is killing us! I truly believe the way we have approached our mission is completely sinful. Our opposition to gay marriage (basically a civil contract) does not make fewer people gay, nor does it protect “traditional marriage.” But it is very, very distracting. There are so many more important – more effective – things we could be doing.

I bring this upon myself, I know! I would probably take less heat from my fellow Christians if I were just a little more condemning in my tone, if I wagged a Pharisaical finger at gay folks. But I won’t do that. For now, I am going to let the ambiguity about my position on “homosexuality” as a purely spiritual issue stay ambiguous. I know some people will take this to mean that I am “pro-gay.” I guess in a way they would be right. I have gay friends, and I am pro-them.

On Sunday mornings, before I take communion, I pray that God would have compassion on me, a sinner, “of whom I am chief.” I am in no position to pick up stones (John 8:1-10). Or, to switch biblical metaphors, I think that when Jesus told us to pay attention to our own planks, he meant it (Matt. 7:4).

6 thoughts on “Why do I Write about Gay Marriage?”

  1. Hello there, I have been following your blog for a little
    while and have some questions. So as an Orthodox Christian with
    numerous homosexual friends. I am some what of an academic type and
    would like to read more about this particular topic. So I have Fr.
    Hopko’s book on Same Sex attraction coming in and a book titled
    What the Bible really says about homosexuality by Daniel A.
    Helminiak. I have tried to learn more about the group Axios and how
    they are viewed by the different archdiocese. If you have any
    recommendations on what to read or research, it would be greatly
    appreciated. Daniel

    1. Hi Daniel,

      Thanks for following. Unfortunately, one of my major complaints against Orthodox skittishness about this issue (for fear of slippery slopes) is that it leaves us with very few resources for thinking about these issues in a particularly Orthodox way. Instead, we bandy about arguments deriving from Roman Catholic natural theology and Protestant biblical literalism. Fr. Hopko is about as far as our theology goes, and his little book, while helpful in some ways, leaves a lot to be desired.

      If you would like, I can put together a bibliography of readings about marriage, the family, and texts about sex and sexuality.

      Actually, that’s not a bad idea no matter what. But that may take me a bit. In the meantime, Peter Brown’s _Body and Society_ is a great little book to get you acquainted with some of the assumptions that featured in the way the church fathers and mothers thought about sex.

      I am also revising a paper on Gregory and Augustine’s views of sex and the body for the Sophia Institute. I may post snippets of that article on this site.

      Hope this helps some!


  2. As meaningsless as some things might seem, we are to do our duty (as both the Bhagavad Gita and a certain heart-warming movie inform us). :-)

  3. Dave,

    Thanks for your kind words and your fair request. I was talking with someone else about this just yesterday. You are right about what I am doing with what I write. I have left my stance on the morality of same-sex-orientation ambiguous. There are several reasons for this. One is that this is just “tricky” territory in general. Conversation about this issue can become very heated. While some Orthodox Christian laity and even hierarchs are actively for incorporating gay folk into the life of the church, others say that anyone who even suggests approval of the “homosexual lifestyle” should be excommunicated. I also have wonderful friends and mentors who are gay, while others in my life struggle with their own genuine sorrow that their loved ones may end up in hell for their “decisions.” (Whatever one might feel about such beliefs does not disregard the fact that we should conduct ourselves in a way that honors their emotions and does not make light of their grief.)

    My feelings about this issue are not black and white. I am trying to find a way to make their complexity simple and consistent, and to speak in way that honors my tradition and the people I love. I want my words to be true, clear, and kind. I will try to follow up this comment whenever that happens. All I can say for now is that I am not exactly undecided. I just haven’t worked out all the kinks yet.

    Sorry I cannot give you a better answer. One is in the works.

  4. David: Thanks for your thoughtful articles. Having just gotten into your blog a bit, I want to read more. I’ve read several of your pieces on the gay marriage issue, and I note, with you that none of them are really about gay marriage at all, but that they mostly deflect attention back to a Christian’s real focus. I end up wondering then–along with your other readers who no doubt get that you’re not really talking about homosexuality–how you do feel about homosexuality, whether you’re ultimately accepting of “actively” gay people, or unaccepting, or in the holy realm of not being sure. It would be interesting to hear…

  5. I appreciate your thoughts. I appreciate them the more because you are a Christian and you are not Gay. In the 1970’s I attended Roman Catholic Seminary with the end being to become a priest. You have to understand in the 70’s a RC seminary was a far cry from what it is today. There was much openness for theological speculation and liturgical experimentation. As I tried to codify each codification was met with a challenge. I walked in a hard core RC the only doubts I had were that Vatican II was valid. I walked out with a greater awareness of the greatness of God and the expansiveness of His mercy. Today I’m a member to the Episcopal Church. Not a big jump to be sure. But I don’t find the ‘democratic’ model of church to be a negative experience rather it is enriching to see the whole church clerical and lay, male and female act as a body together directing the life of the Church. We have the continuity of the apostolic faith (in a large part to Orthodox bishops who consecrated Anglican bishops when Rome put Apostolic linage of our church in doubt) I have a great deal of respect for Orthodoxy but my personal experience hasn’t been so keen mostly ethnic parishes and I just couldn’t make the team cuz I wasn’t ‘один из нас’ …but even though I’m Episcopalian now as I walk up to communion I remember the words..”O Lord I believe and profess thou art truly the Christ the son of the Living God…” :)


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