Thursday, March 25, 2010

On the Minority Report of the Marriage Committee

As the 219th General Assembly draws nearer, the only question that I have heard raised about the committee whose name is too long to mention is the differences between the committee report and the minority report.
Some suggestions of those differences have emerged lately that need some rebuttal. The minority report is basically an alternate introduction, conclusion, and recommendations; the body of the report is identical.
The minority of the committee opposes the existence of the conflict within the Church; its proposal is that there is one view of sex, marriage and family life (with which I happen to agree). The difficulty with the position of the minority is that the existence of the disagreement is not something to support or oppose: it is simply a fact.
I can oppose the rising of the sun, or its setting-- but that opposition simply leaves me in the position of trying to deny what is plainly clear to everybody who has eyes to see. The sun will continue to rise and set while we spend our time debating whether or not it can or can't-- facts, as someone once said, are stubborn things.
The committee report documents the fact of conflict over how the Church of Jesus Christ reaches out to LGBT people with the Gospel message of hope and transformation. That documentation requires that both the traditional doctrinal understanding and the understanding which is challenging it be acknowledged.
Acknowledging facts is not the same thing as endorsing views-- neither those who oppose equivalency of marriage nor those who support it can avoid the conversation that is well-represented in the majority report.
I hear in the minority report the same voice I heard in so much of our feedback-- how can this be where we are? How can we be debating what is so clear? I would challenge those who are dismayed to remember a few things:
1) Either God is the God of history, or He isn't. God is not looking over our shoulders at where we are saying, "how on earth did this happen?" God wrote the pages that led us to this moment. We are not off the map, or out of the book. God is the God of history; we got here because for some reason, God wanted us to get here. We are not forsaken.
2) We need to mature into a willingness to acknowledge that unity and uniformity are not the same thing, and that Love in this life and in this world is always spattered with dirt and blood. Loving as Christ loves is not clean or comfortable. It is not easy, and often it requires us to accept the unacceptable, to see the invisible, and to believe the unbelievable.
3) One hundred years from now, we will be dust on this earth, and together worshipping Christ in heaven. Wouldn't our short time here be better spent bringing more voices to the choir than trying to shout each other down? Is Christ not enough to keep us together?

That is the real question that the committee report poses-- and none of us knows the answer. The God of history will reveal it in time. Until then, no matter what happens, we will have to learn how to deal with-- HOW TO LOVE-- one another.


  1. Preach it, brother!

    Earl Arnold
    East Syracuse, NY

  2. Thanks Clay. Well said.

  3. Clay,
    Perhaps I misunderstand but I thought the committee was supposed to bring recommendations to the GA and base them on scripture and our Confessions. I didn't know the committee was supposed to help us understand that we don’t agree on these issues, we all already knew that. It seems to me that rather than attempt to say what Scripture or Confessions say about sexual issues you have instead told us about unity, which isn't bad but not what the Church needed. What if the issue had been Christology and some believed Jesus was God and others didn't, would you then have just said all we needed was unity?

    I am glad for the minority report, many of us are, I wish with all sincerity that you, my brother stood with the three.

  4. Viola,
    I would ask you to read the overture that created the committee to truly understand the intended scope of our work. I think people tend not to look at how circumscribed and prescribed the shape and form of the report was intended to be.
    I am suggesting that this particular conflict does not rise to the level of your last interrogatory question-- we as a committee, even those in the minority, knew that Christ was in those who disagreed with us. Like it or not, some read the Scriptures differently and see the Confessions differently. You and I would say wrongly-- and I have not backed away from my sense that their interpretation of Scripture and the Confessions is flawed.
    Does that mean that we are not in Christ together? Does that mean that we cannot remain in fellowship? I believe that the salient point is this: anyone outside our inbred circle, looking at the way we are conducting ourselves in this argument, would not be moved to say, "see how they love one another!"
    What if we win the argument, and are known as closed and judgmental, cold and unloving people; is Christ glorified? Have we furthered the cause of the Gospel?
    Unity is a sign of love-- and as in all families, the hardest time to remain together is when we are flying apart.
    The facts (as I see them) are that the report accurately portrays what we believe is true, and accurately portrays what those who disagree with us believe is true, then calls us to not grieve the Lord of the Church by using the fact of this disagreement as a reason to further rend the Body of Christ.
    I know that you do not agree with me, but I say with Martin Luther, here I stand. I can do no other.