Monday, August 11, 2003

Lawrence's Logic Sacralized

The Episcopal Church's recent decision to elect V. Gene Robinson as it's first openly-gay bishop, and to, as a church body, permit gay unions is nothing more or less than dressing up the logic which informed the Supreme Court's Lawrence decision in pseudo-Christian language.

A while back I commented on the Lawrence decision, saying that it enshrined in law a concept of "absolute personal autonomy that owes nothing to anyone: family, community, society, much less God." Lawrence essentially says that the state must equally favor any sexual arrangement arrived at between any consenting adults. Well, the ECUSA's decision to elect Robinson and permit gay marriages says that the Episcopal Church henceforth will give its blessing to any sexual arrangement you can concoct. And in place of Scripture and the universal witness of church Tradition, it too has substituted absolute personal autonomy, and devolved marriage into a purely private expression of whatever the two "spouses" decide it expresses.

The proof can be seen in "Bishop" Robinson's own remarks (from Mark Steyn's excellent column in the Chicago Sun-Times:

I believe that God gave us the gift of sexuality so that we might express with our bodies the love that's in our hearts,'' he announced to his fellow bishops. ''I just need to tell you that I experience that with my partner. In the time that we have, I can't go into all the theology around it, but what I can tell you is that in my relationship with my partner, I am able to express the deep love that's in my heart, and in his unfailing and unquestioning love of me, I experience just a little bit of the kind of never-ending, never-failing love that God has for me. So it's sacramental for me.

Robinson attempts here to clothe his experience of his gay relationship in religious language, and to the religiously ill-informed it may work, but no committed and reasonably catechized Christian could fail to notice that what he describes doesn't even come close to the Christian understanding of marriage. Christian theology describes marrriage as analogous to and symbolic of the union of Christ and His Church, which union was effected by Christ's self-donating sacrifice for Her on Calvary. Alternately, Christian marriage can be described as a sacramental covenant between man and woman founded upon their complete gift of self to one another in Christ, by and through which they participate in one another's sanctification. Robinson's description revolves around sexuality as expressive of his feelings for his "partner". This is the sort of talk one might expect from a self-absorbed nineteen year old, but not from someone professing to be a serious thinker, or even a mature person, not to metion a serious Christian. In short , Robinson's own words demonstrate the narcissism of which Steyn and others accuse him, and the entire gay movement.

Robinson's statement is not suprising: I hear similar attitudes, the product of immersion in popular culture, from immature and ill-catechized teen-agers all the time. But of course, that this attitude should come to characterize a supposedly Christian church's position on marriage is tragic. The ECUSA has simply become a parrot of the dominant culture, albeit a parrot tastefully presented and echoing the culture in elevated Jacobean tones.

As others, most notably on have said, marriage has traditionally been regarded as an semi-public act, in which society has an interest both in supporting and regulating. It was seen as having a quasi-objective nature which went beyond merely the two individuals involved. Most significantly, it was seen as intrinsically linked to the family and procreation of children. But now Lawrence has undone that at the civil level, and the Episcopal Church has declared its willing complicity with the process. Marriage is whatever you decide it is, depending on how you feel about it. And the rest of us are expected to affirm you in your feelings.

Mark Steyn and others have commented on the arrogance of the Episcopal church's election of Robinson, and of Robinson's arrogance in comparing himself to Christ, and comparing his election to "Easter Sunday". But this arrogance has another name: Pride. The Pride that says God wasn't sufficiently "up to date" when he created Man's nature and determined what was Lawful for that nature. The Pride that says God wasn't sufficiently "tolerant" when he decreed that marriage was the union of Man and Woman. The Pride that says God wasn't sufficiently "open minded", when he decreed that sodomy was a perversion and crime. The Pride that says that Our Lord Jesus Christ wasn't sufficiently "inclusive" when he established His Church and laid down, through his apostles, what sort of men were suitable for the apostolic office. When you boil this sordid matter down to it's essence, what you have is a group of people deciding that they know better than God.