I’ve received the following comment from Steven in Northern Ireland. It was posted at the end of the long debate about the Gene Robinson announcement. I thought it was worth putting in a new post and keeping the comments separate.
I would like to compliment you on the quality of the debate within your blog. Most people who post here seem to do so with respect for the views of others.
I am a presbyterian from Portadown in Northern Ireland (boo hiss) but do not have a church background and only became a Christian in my early/mid 20s. I stumbled upon your site via Bishop David’s blog.
I am not sure were I stand on the whole same sex debate within the Anglican communion. My gut (which may be wrong) feeling is that homosexuality may not be God’s choice for human relationships.
What I want to know is, do you think that you could be wrong in your (apparent) feeling that same sex unions are of equal value in the eyes of God? Do you, for example, consider them to be as legitimate an expression of love as marriage between a man and a woman?
If you accept you could be wrong how does that affect your attitude to the debate?
Bishop Gene does not seem to feel he could be wrong and as such his attitude, from my very limited knowledge of same, can appear to be rather triumphalist, i.e., lacking humility.
If anything we are ALL called to humility and the tone of some of the debate (on both sides) is often anything but.
Thanks and keep up the excellent work in providing this useful forum for debate.
Thanks for this Steven. It is a very thoughtful comment and most welcome. All presbyterians are welcome here.
I do accept that there is every possiblity that I might be wrong. Furthermore, I’d say that the only thing that I’m 100% certain about is that I’m not absolutely right!
The main reason that I feel fairly comfortable saying this is that I’ve already changed my mind about quite a lot of things in this debate at one time or another already. When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I would have self-identified as an Evangelical and held views on relationships and human sexuality that were [then] predictable. Those views changed whilst I was studying theology.
I’ve continued to change too. At one time, I would have said that I did not think that gay marriage or civil partnerships were important and that gay people should probably resist them. I think I was wrong about that. I had no idea what an impact that civil partnerships would make to the views of the general population and now I’d say that as much as possible, gay and straight people should be treated as similarly as they can be, by state and church and individuals.
As to whether Gene Robinson is triumphalist, I can’t say that I found him to be so on the one occassion that we met. I agree that the tone of debate can be very offputting and I’m pleased that you’ve found it to be better on here.
Of course, the tone of debate is set by the standard of those who comment. Lots of us who blog and comment around the Scottish Episcopal Church do so under our own names, and I think that helps. There is a core of people who tend to know one another offline as well as online.
Once upon a time, I would have explained a blog to people as being like an online diary. Then I started to say, “blogging is performance” and I still think that is true. However, I’ve now started to say that a blog is a community and can build community. The internet is about people, and I’m glad I’ve known and witnessed that all along.