A Conversation on the Definition of Marriage
Are you tired of hearing people scream about same sex marriage? Do you want to stick to your principles, without sounding shrill or mean? At least one thousand people agree with you! That’s how many people attended the “Conversation on the Definition of Marriage” jointly sponsored by the Ruth Institute and Skyline Church in La Mesa CA, one of the largest mega-churches in San Diego. This model of civil discussion of this most contentious issue of our time was the capstone event of the It Takes a Family to Raise a Village conference.
We brought prominent advocates on both sides, emphasizing both religious and secular arguments. Bishop Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man consecrated a bishop in the Episcopal Church, holds that a Christian understanding of marriage can include same sex couples. Ruth Institute regular ITAF speaker, Dr. Robert Gagnon of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, defended the ancient meaning of the Biblical texts. I joined Dr. Gagnon in defending man woman marriage, using mostly secular arguments. Dr. John Corvino of the Philosophy Department of Wayne State University, defended same sex marriage from a philosophical perspective.
People joined us from all over Southern California, from all across the religious spectrum, and of course, from across the political spectrum.
On Sunday morning, Pastor Jim had admonished his congregation to be welcoming: “Show our guests Skyline hospitality.” The Skyline prayer team literally covered the grounds with prayer, pleading for grace for all who would enter the property. I was very impressed with the piety of our brothers and sisters at Skyline.
All that prayer and preparation paid off. We had a courteous and respectful discussion that was nonetheless candid and open. Both sides felt that they had the opportunity to say their piece.
This conversation made the differences between the two sides very plain. Let me quote someone who attended:
Generally, the biblical voice is silenced or the event becomes so infused with allegations of “hate” that the arguments are no longer really heard. Sunday night was so different. Everything was heard and you could hear a pin drop. All the intelligence was on the biblical side; all the sentimentalism was on the gay side. Neither Rob nor Jennifer ever backed down… they made their points with great civility and lucidity.
The San Diego Union Tribune wrote about us here. Look at the comments: some of the commenters actually attended the event! If you attended the “Conversation,” add your comments too. We are working on making the video of the event available. We will make the announcement on our Ruth Institute Facebook page. Please go to the Ruth Institute Facebook page and “like” us, so you will know immediately when the videos are available.