In 2004, Brenda Cole—a colleague in a group dedicated to improving the spiritual lives of LGBT people—asked me to preside at her wedding, scheduled more than a year away. “Nancy is a lifelong Presbyterian and wants a Presbyterian minister to preside at our wedding," Brenda said hopefully. "Would you meet with us and talk about officiating?”
It's often said that in a tolerance-obsessed culture, everything is tolerated—except intolerance. Actually, this gets said a lot more often than perhaps it should, because being intolerant is not the same sort of thing as being black or female or gay or Muslim. Tolerating people is more fundamental than tolerating their ideas.
A few years ago, my family started sponsoring a child through World Vision. I knew that the organization was generally evangelical, and that we are generally not. But this massive parachurch organization does good work, and I trusted them enough for a minuscule portion of that good work to be on our behalf. For 35 dollars a month, we’ve been contributing to the health, education, and general welfare of a little girl in Haiti, who was born the same day as our older daughter. Whatever theological differences I have with World Vision seem immaterial to this.
Theological differences may be slightly more material for some of the organization’s conservative supporters.
On Tuesday, the general assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) approved a resolution calling on the church in all its expressions to affirm the faith, baptism, and spiritual gifts of everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. This was timely, given the Defense of Marriage Act decision, though the resolution doesn’t specifically mention same-sex marriage. Nor does it mention ordination—the other hot-button issue around sexuality in the church—though it does affirm that neither sexual orientation nor gender identity is “grounds for exclusion from fellowship or service within the church.”
Matt Yglesias is right that public policy must deal with the broad abstractions of the common good, not just with issues that affect lawmakers personally. And Anne Thériault is certainly right that a woman's value, dignity and rights are not contingent on who cares about her personally.
Still, both posts seem too dismissive of the role personal relationships play in our formation, our view of the world, our very personhood.
National Organization for Marriage board chair John C. Eastman recently called adoption a “second-best option” for children. He was speaking to the Associated Press about Chief Justice John Robert’s position on the rights of same-sex couples: “Certainly adoption in families headed, like Chief Roberts’ family is, by a heterosexual couple, is by far the second-best option.”
The comment reveals less about adoptive families than about Eastman’s willingness to jettison religious tradition for political gain.