Saturday, May 10, 2014

Christian Commentary

I have refrained from commenting on the news that broke last weekend about Bishop Gene Robinson's divorce from his husband, Mark Andrew, after 25 years of togetherness (six of which were in a formal sense as recognized by the state of NH, first as a civil union, and then marriage). My reasons for staying silent were really two-fold: one was that I was deeply saddened to read that news as I love and respect Bishop Gene.  I've never been privileged to meet Mark, but his quiet character came through in the documentaries where I have seen him.  The other reason is out of respect for the privacy of the couple.  No matter how public +Gene may be, I don't believe it is the place for those outside the relationship to offer their commentary on the nature of that relationship, especially if it is one that has seemingly run its course and is now ending.  

Which is why I was alarmed by those who are Christian who felt they had the right to make a public comment on Bishop Gene's character or his place in the church because of this divorce.  There is one judge and jury on this matter and that's God.  Period.  With God, there are only +Gene and Mark who know the in's and out's of this relationship.  Even those who witnessed their vows and promised to uphold them in their marriage can't possibly know what their life together was like, especially the years that +Gene served as the Ninth Bishop of New Hampshire, and the first openly-gay leader in the Anglican Communion.   So, to my mind, the most mature and Christian response to this is to express sorrow at the news and hope that these two men find peace in their parting.  I am continuing to pray for both of them.

If nothing else, I think this event highlights a need for those who feel "betrayed" or "let down" by +Gene and Mark's divorce to take a moment to ask themselves, "Why am I taking this personally?"  I would venture a guess that, for some, this marriage had become an icon.  It was the proof that gay people can have successful relationships, be married, and be just as "normal" as their straight counterparts.  Of course, that's a recipe for disappointment because yes--gays can get married (in some places), but our relationships are still human with human flaws in that way humans fail and hurt one another unintentionally or sometimes with actual malice.   To pretend that there is something "special" or "magically perfect" when you put two people of the same gender together in the covenant of marriage is foolish, and shows a lack of understanding about marriage.  Certainly puts us LGBTQI people up on a pedestal, and at greater risk for crashing on our heads.  That need for us to be above reproach adds another level of stress to our sometimes very stressed-out lives, and makes me wonder if the witnesses to the vows of marriage, in fact, intend to uphold the couple in their relationship in a real way?  

Bishop Gene wrote his own statement to answer questions and critics.  Many other bloggers have written eloquently on this issue defending the couple's decision to separate.  For my part, I am simply saying that if people are having an issue and feeling angry about this development in the life of Bishop Gene Robinson and Mark Andrew, the anger is clearly not at the couple in question, but at what each individual has decided that relationship meant to him or her.  Is their divorce a commentary on your own life or relationship or your own failings in your relationships?  Think. 


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