Weekly, who drafted the Affirmation Declaration, describes himself as “a Christian, a teacher of Scripture, a pastor, and gay.” He notes that “although I emphasize my sexual orientation for the purposes of ministry, it really doesn’t define who I am. I long for the day when such emphases are unnecessary because the Church openly affirms people across the spectrum of sexual orientations and gender identities.”
Following is an excerpt from his recent post, “The Real Threat to the Family.”
. . . In both the Old and New Testaments, the family unit took multiple forms. There were units with one father and one mother (vis-à-vis the Adam and Eve paradigm), multiple mothers in a single family unit (vis-à-vis the Jacob, Leah, and Rachel paradigm, not to mention the concubines Bilhah and Zilpah), and even single-parent households, like Mary, after the death of her husband, Joseph. Even polygamy is affirmed by the fact that only bishops and deacons were commanded to be the husband of one wife, while nothing whatsoever was ever commanded of the rest of the Christian population!
Obviously, Genesis 1-2 isn’t as indicative of the divine perspective on marriage as our opponents so monotonously claim -- that is, unless you read it in isolation from the rest of the Bible and force commands upon all humankind where none exist in the text. Yet we’re the ones who are accused of twisting Scripture.
And what about the famous argument that children need a mother and a father? On its surface, this argument is an affront to the many families that were forced to endure with a single parent, either as a result of abandonment or widowhood. Should we teach single parents that it is their Christian duty to get remarried as soon as possible, so as to recreate the structure that God requires of all legitimate families; or, on the other hand, is there some measure of grace that extends to people who may not meet the biblical ideal because of the circumstances involved?
And what exactly is this biblical ideal? Anti-gay Christians require a model of one man and one woman; but I’ve already demonstrated that Scripture, itself, doesn’t enforce such a rule. I would argue that the ideal has nothing to do with a person’s sex, and more to do with a person’s support structure. With two parents in the home, the weight of child-rearing and provision doesn’t fall squarely upon one person’s shoulders. Partnership is demonstrated in its best light by two people working together to provide a stable home environment, a stable family structure in which to raise children.
But, isn’t it important for children to have the parental perspective of both a man and a woman? Isn’t that a pertinent part of their childhood development? I don’t believe that it is. The social construct of gender (man and woman) is not universal or enduring. Even since biblical times, the role of the man as provider and head of the household, and of the woman as housekeeper and helper to the husband, has morphed into a more equalized partnership in which both people contribute in all aspects of a healthy family environment. Some may claim that this is unbiblical, but if you ask me, it’s a more accurate representation of the fact that in Christ there is neither male nor female. Truly, society has finally caught up with the perspective that God has always held of the divisions between man and woman -- that there is no division at all! Wasn’t that the pre-Fall intent, after all?
Besides, the argument always circles back to single-parent homes. Is the fact that single-parent homes have a greater chance of producing children who wind up troubled in adolescence and even later in love indicative of a need for a male and a female in the home, or is it, rather, indicative of the need of two adult figures to help share the burden of child-rearing? I argue that it’s the latter -- that the sex of the people don’t matter... It’s a matter of quantity -- is there someone there to help shoulder the burden? Is there someone there to help reinforce the authority of the other parent? Is there someone there to help provide a supervisory presence to children, ensuring that they aren’t required to raise themselves while a single parent works his/her butt off trying to keep a roof over everyone’s head?
Same-sex couples are every bit as capable of providing a stable home environment to children. In fact, one needn’t theorize about it. There are plenty of living examples of such homes right now. We need only consider the development of these children.
It has been my experience that the only downside to such homes is the pressure brought to bear on children in the school system because they come from households with same-sex parents. Some claim that such bullying proves how heartless it is for parents to raise their children in same-sex households. But, it’s interesting how they never consider how heartless it is for bigots to instill their anti-gay sentiments into yet another generation of people. It’s obvious that these bully children got their cruel attitudes from somewhere; yet nobody ever calls their parents on the carpet to account for the fact that they've taught their children -- explicitly or by antipathy -- that it’s okay to treat people in such ways. No, it’s the same-sex parents who are at fault. Unbelievable!
Gay people are not the threat to the family unit. I’ll tell you what the threat is. The threat is the Church’s misguided efforts to oppose same-sex marriage, or same-sex adoptions. The threat is the fact that the Church is expending all of its time, energy, and resources fighting families that don’t look like them, rather than trying to strengthen the crumbling families that already exist in their own local congregations. No, they’re too busy picketing same-sex marriages, rather than divorce courts. They’re too busy stopping families from existing, rather than preventing those that exist from falling apart. They need to focus on building families, rather than focusing on preventing new ones from existing.
Gay people don’t hate the family. Gay people aren’t out to destroy the family. We affirm family every day in the process of coming out so that our loved ones can have the chance to know and love us for who we are, as we know and love them. We affirm family every day in our pleas for the right to have families of our own. We affirm family every day by striving for the right to marry the person of our choosing. We affirm family every day by our desire to have children (via surrogacy) and/or to adopt children into our families, providing them with stable environments in which to be nurtured and to grow.
Oh no, my friends, we aren’t the threat to the family. The anti-gay wing of the Church is!
To read Weekly’s commentary in its entirety, click here.
See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
John Corvino on the “Always and Everywhere” Argument Against Marriage Equality
Patrick Ryan on the “Defense of Traditional Marriage” Argument Against Marriage Equality
Nathanial Frank on the “Natural Law” Argument Against Marriage Equality