Wednesday, 14 March 2007
A new Christian think tank has issued the first articulation of gay marriage as "a moral good" that "spiritually liberates straight people as well as gay people.'" The Institute for Progressive Christianity (IPC) considers the paper - "The Kingdom of God and the Witness of Gay Marriage" - a theological breakthrough.
The academic "white paper" could change the outcome of the great battle over same-sex unions now raging inside several mainline Protestant denominations including the Episcopal Church USA (ECUSA) and follows the recent ultimatum from the Anglican Communion to dioceses and parishes within the ECUSA to cease blessing such unions and stop consecrating openly gay bishops
The Rev. Mark Farr, an Episcopal priest and IPC co- director, called the paper "a truly groundbreaking scriptural affirmation of gay marriage as an almost iconic window into the reality of God's love."
"The paper recognizes fundamental Christian teaching about the nature of God is central to the concept of gay marriage and affirms gay marriage as a necessary moral good within Christian theology," declared the author of the paper, Otis Gaddis III, Co- Director of the IPC Academic Review.
"These truths integrated into Christian theology illuminate and clarify our understanding of God's plan of creative transformation of humanity into the Kingdom of God - the utopian end of all things," said Gaddis, a self-described "progressive evangelical" and "Nicene Christian" (a reference to the Nicene Creed as a central credo of Christian faith).
The paper "affirms gay marriage as a positive value for the Christian worldview as rooted in Christian Biblical texts and the core Christian doctrines of Trinity, Incarnation, Crucifixion, Resurrection and Ascension," said Gaddis.
Furthermore, according to Zeus Yiamouviannis PhD, IPC Co-Director of Academic Review, "this paper is innovative theologically because it explains in concrete terms within an evangelical Christian framework how gay marriage doesn't simply spiritually liberate gay people, it also spiritually liberates straight people." In other words, said Yiamouviannis, "this paper changes the dynamics of the entire debate over gay marriage."
"When we articulate gay marriage as a theological good, we shift the burden of proof in the debate over gay marriage in favor of the perspective of God's justice, instead of accepting morally arbitrary right- wing notions of sexuality," said Gaddis.
According to Yiamouviannis, the IPC hopes to use the Gaddis paper to spark "a conversation with conservative Christians, because we deeply root our affirmative case for gay marriage in the biblical witness, and as such we have built a theological bridge for dialogue with all Christians who seek moral guidance from the Bible."
"Progressive Christians have long discussed the need for an articulation of an affirmative and biblical understanding of the ethics of gay marriage," Yiamouviannis added, declaring that the white paper does just that. IPC executive director Mark Farr noted the relevance of the paper's publication (following its formal presentation at the IPC Winter Symposium in Cambridge, Massachusetts on February 24) in the wake of the ultimatum issued in Dar es Salaam by the bishops of the Anglican Communion, and in the context of the constitution action on gay marriage in the Massachusetts state legislature expected late this year.
According to Farr, "paper represents a bold starting point to build a new sexual ethic affirming the spiritual aspects of the gay relationship" in response to the recent call by Michael Ingham, Anglican bishop of western Canada's New Westminster diocese, for a comprehensive 'reformation' of sexual ethics."
The IPC "white paper" as well as two other shorter papers on the subject of gay marriage are available at the IPC website: www.instituteforprogressivechristianity.org .