THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

THE UNITED CHURCH OF CANADA

January 21, 2005 09:03 ET

UNITED CHURCH MODERATOR WRITES TO MPs ON SAME-SEX MARRIAGE

Not everyone who speaks from the Christian perspective is opposed to same-sex marriage. Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Jan. 21, 2005) - Not everyone who speaks from the Christian perspective is opposed to same-sex marriage.

That is the message delivered by the Moderator of Canada's largest Protestant denomination in a letter mailed this week to every Member of Parliament. The letter also includes an invitation to MPs to attend a parliamentary breakfast to be hosted by the Moderator on Parliament Hill on Thursday, February 24, to engage parliamentarians in further conversation on the subject of marriage.

The text of the letter written by the Right Rev. Dr. Peter Short was released in a statement issued today by The United Church of Canada. The letter, which was mailed to the constituency offices of all Members of Parliament, is also posted on The United Church of Canada's website at www.united-church.ca.

The following is an excerpt from the Moderator's letter to parliamentarians:

"I want to put before you now a Christian perspective on faith, tradition, and values. I write of these precious things because I believe they ought to be considered in making public decisions. I am aware of your responsibilities toward a multicultural and multi-faith society, and so what follows is not intended to be normative for all. It is specifically and unapologetically of the Christian tradition, a tradition that runs deeply in Canadian life and history.

"I understand faith to be a way of living. To have faith is to implement a vision in one's daily life; in this sense, all live by some faith or other. Faith is not simply about the received doctrines. Doctrine is essential to religious life but it is not the final arbiter, neither of our decisions nor of our hope. After all, doctrines have been used to support slavery, apartheid, and the exclusion of women.

"Some will protest that we must have faith in the Bible, and that the Bible takes an unfavourable view of intimate same-sex relationship. But I would answer that Christian faith is not an uncritical repetition of a received text. It is a mindful commitment to the power of love, to which the text seeks to give witness. Every generation of the Christian faith must decide how they will honour that demand of love in the living of their days. Changing circumstances and changing ideas are not the enemy of faith.

"In fact, change is the only medium in which faithfulness can truly become faithfulness. Uncritical repetition is more like being on autopilot.

"Similarly, I understand tradition to be a living treasure. Tradition is not to be confused with habit, custom, or convention. These are simply vessels that seek to hold the living tradition of God's presence in the world. Habit, custom, and convention are not themselves the light; they come to bear witness to the light. John's gospel says that the Word of God became flesh in Jesus Christ. The Word became a living being, John writes, not words. The Supreme Court follows this traditional wisdom when it declares metaphorically that the constitution is a living tree. In Christian tradition the measure by which we choose a course of action is the measure of the love of Christ, a measure that judges even scripture. It is never legitimate to use the words of scripture to promote a loveless agenda.

"Further, I understand value to be created by God, not by ancient custom nor by current fashion nor by general approval. God does not love because human creatures have value. Rather, it is in loving human creatures that God gives them value. Value is a gift-not a rule, not a partisan lever, and certainly not a weapon. It is wrong to invoke the love of God in order that one person's 'values' might diminish another's value. Those who claim that homosexual people threaten to dismantle the value of heterosexual marriage would do well to remember that if anyone destroys marriage, it is married people, not gays and lesbians.

"In the end, faith, tradition, and values do not decide for us. They equip us to take up the responsible and difficult task of deciding for ourselves. This deciding is itself an act of faith. So we pray for one another, we struggle to live in the love of Christ, and we take our step in humble trust that the next generation will deal generously with us, knowing we did our best with the vision of love God gave us for our day.

"For me, Christian faith, tradition, and values contribute to our hope for that day when earth once more is fair and all her children one, including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people-all her children. The General Council of The United Church of Canada believes that equal marriage is a step on the path to justice, peace, and the common good. If prayer is a part of your life, please pray that we may tread lightly, wisely, lovingly, bravely, and faithfully."

Note: The complete text of the Moderator's letter to parliamentarians, along with The United Church of Canada's letter to the Prime Minister, is posted on the United Church's website at www.united-church.ca.
/For further information: Mary-Frances Denis Communications Officer The United Church of Canada 416-231-7680 ext. 2016 (business) 416-885-7478 (cell) 416-766-0057 (home) mdenis@united-church.ca/ IN: JUSTICE, POLITICS, RELIGION

Contact Information

  • Mary-Frances Denis, Communications Officer, The United Church of Canada
    Primary Phone: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016
    Secondary Phone: 416-885-7478
    E-mail: mdenis@united-church.ca