Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Prayer, Darfur, UCC and the green Church

Who says prayer doesn't work? While scanning the headlines waiting on news out of the G8, this showed up in my RSS feed aggregator, "Sudan agrees Darfur peace outline". Praise the Lord. The story offers some hope and certainly the Sudanese have a long way to go, but peace is progressing in Darfur.

I don't know if I'm becoming more "normal" or Christians around the US are becoming more progressive, but these two headlines have my head spinning.US evangelicals boost green lobby that makes notice of how "Christianity Today, an influential evangelical magazine, backed a Senate bill calling for mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions, something the White House opposes." and "the 30-million-member National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) published a landmark document in November calling on conservative Christians to "labour to protect God's creation"."

Of course, not everyone in Christendom could be happy with a movement worried about God's creation. Radical cleric James Dobson's Focus on the Family says it cannot support "any issue that seems to put plants and animals above humans". How far out of the mainstream can one man be?

On a human level the United Church of Christ overwhelmingly calls for "full marriage equality". Now UCC has been a liberal mainstream branch of Christendom in America for several decades, so I don't think we'll see the Pope quicly matching the declaration, but it is big news. The first two points of their resolution are - "
  1. (1) affirms equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender and declares that the government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry and share fully in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of legally recognized marriage;
  2. (2)affirms equal access to the basic rights, institutional protections and quality of life conferred by the recognition of marriage,".
Language aside, I'm ok with that.

Part 7 is simply interesting - "urges congregations and individuals of the UCC to prayerfully consider and support local, state and national legislation to grant equal marriage rights to couples regardless of gender, and to work again legislation, including constitutional amendments, which denies rights to couples based on gender."

It is part 5 that troubles me some - "(5) calls upon all settings of the church to engage in serious, respectful and prayerful discussion of the covenantal relationship of marriage and equal marriage rights." I'm certainly not against homosexuals having long term committed relationships. Heck, I think everyone - gay or straight- should! It is the religious language that bothers me..marriage, covenantal, etc. Does this seem to accept the idea that marriage is a state/church partnership? That somehow covenantal relationships like marriage intrinsically bestow rights. No it is the State that bestows rights. The best policy is for the State to get out of the marriage business altogether. Let people -gay and straight - form partnerships and let the Church carry out weddings/marriages.