Yes, the language in paragraph 50 is troublesome, and fast-becoming notorious. Indeed, would homosexuals like hearing that the orientation of straights is “to be valued” in and of itself? I get it, you can stop sending me emails, b/c friends, I have no time to answer them
Because the language is causing a furor — Father Dwight is pretty unhappy with it. I’m trying to keep in mind that this relatio we are all working from is an unofficial translation, and that those sometimes contain a measure of mistakes and even mischief.
As to what it all could possibly mean, that’s something I have wondered about a lot at First Things: what might be the plan?
In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus talks about marriage:
But he said to them, “Not all men can receive this saying, but only those to whom it is given. For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it.”
In Christ Jesus’ statement there is no judgment and no denigration of those who are “incapable of marriage”; it is a simple, respectful teaching, and it condemns no one. Is it too politically incorrect to wonder if Jesus is here speaking—with typical love and grace—of marriage as an office that is both exclusive and exclusionary? Jesus does not lie, and he seems to be suggesting that either through nature or nurture or religious inclination, there are humans who are as beloved as any others –equally, in the sight of God — but not meant to marry.
Those who have “been so from birth” — where do they fit in God’s design? They must have value because God does not make humans who do not have value. Men and women have different gifts, and they are equally of value.
What is the orientation value? Is it the creative perspective which manifests the Glory of God to us in different ways?
Is it to bring us to depths of agape that many (most) straight couples with kids may have neither the time nor freedom to explore to its fuller depths?
Is it to serve the church in that way? We don’t know. That’s what we have to discover.
I don’t think Paragraph 50 is, as some are writing, “pandering” and it’s not “patronizing” either…but it is inartfully expressed.
I’ve been thinking a lot today about John Henry Newman, whose great friendship with Ambrose Saint John may make him a kind of Patron Saint of Agape, and his particular prayer:
“God has created me to do Him some definite service. He has committed some work to me which He has not committed to another. I have my mission. I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. I am a link in a chain, a bond of connection between persons.
He has not created me for naught. I shall do good; I shall do His work.
I shall be an angel of peace, a preacher of truth in my own place,
while not intending it if I do but keep His commandments.
Therefore, I will trust Him, whatever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him, in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him. If I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. He does nothing in vain. He knows what He is about. He may take away my friends. He may throw me among strangers. He may make me feel desolate, make my spirits sink, hide my future from me. Still, He knows what He is about.”
― John Henry Newman
I suspect our gay brothers and sisters have some definite service that must — because truth and reason demand it — both conform to truths that are eternal and perhaps assist in a restoration whose time has come. If so, they need to discern the plan, and the service, and so do we. Together.
I’ve managed two other posts on this subject of the relatio, today, here and here.
Eve Tushnet: Discipleship is a Journey
David Mills: Between Doctrine and Discipline
Tom Zampino: Synod Microquakes in the Middle of a Reversion
Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry: Quick points on the relatio