BIBLE AND SAME SEX MARRIAGE 

The Rt. Rev. Mariann Edgar Budde is Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, which includes Montgomery, Prince George’s , Charles , and St. Mary’s Counties. She wrote this article for On Faith


“The Scriptural argument against same-sex marriage is based on seven references in the Old and New Testaments that condemn homosexual activity. Each one of those passages, however, condemns exploitative sexual activity that is the antithesis of loving, committed relationships. The Bible is silent on the subject of same-gender monogamous relationships.

In contrast, the Bible has strong teachings against divorce. Jesus himself is quite clear on the subject. Yet over the ages, most Christian churches have come to recognize that God forgives the human sin and frailty that precipitate divorce. We now take a more compassionate approach to this issue than our biblical forebears would have condoned. If the teaching on divorce can change in the light of further theological reflection, I believe that the teaching on same-sex relationships can change as well.

However you interpret the seven texts used to argue against marriage equality, they pale in comparison to the over-arching biblical imperatives to love one another, work for justice, and recognize that each of us is created in the image and likeness of God. Jesus, for Christians, is God incarnate. He not only shows us how to live, but reveals to us that God loves us unconditionally. Indeed, gay and lesbian Christians often speak of the overwhelming experience of being assured that they are loved by God as they are

No matter how devoted to the scriptures of our faith we may be, few of us shape our moral opinion based on holy texts alone. If God is at work in the world, then our experience is a kind of scripture, and we must pay careful attention to what it is teaching us.

Jesus said, “you will know people by their fruits.” St. Paul wrote: “The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Many of us in the Episcopal Church, which I serve as a bishop, know same-sex couples whose relationships can only be described as holy, and thus we have come to support the blessing of such unions. They stand in stark contrast with many exploitative and casual patterns of sexuality that both heterosexual and homosexual Christians are right to reject.

The struggle to determine what sorts of people God approves of is an ancient one. Jewish Christians, the original followers of Jesus, struggled over whether to include non-Jews into their fellowship. Gentiles, according to Jewish law, were unclean. But in the Acts of the Apostles, Peter was led by a vision to the home of a Gentile family who were eager to learn of Jesus’s teaching. After sharing a meal with them, he makes one of the most memorable declarations in all of scripture: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality.”

Every generation, it seems, has struggled to include someone previously thought to be outside the realm of God’s grace and full humanity. In our time, we in the Episcopal Church have come to understand that God shows no partiality between straight and gay people. Not every same-sex couple is a paragon of holiness, but neither is every heterosexual couple. Life long relationships are hard, which is why the support of religious and societal institutions is so important.

From the convictions of my Christian faith, and in support of my gay and lesbian friends whose relationships inspire me in my marriage, I urge Marylanders to join me in supporting the marriage equality legislation currently under consideration in their state.”

Bishop Budde’s scriptural analysis is impressive and hopefullly frees many Christians to now support Same Sex Marriages as do most young people.
Rev Bernard F. Hillenbrand

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NATION BUILDING IS A TEAM SPORT 

The following is from the Newsletter of Former Senator David Durenberger urging the two parties to come together to solve the huge problems facing our country and the world. The title is his.

“As president pointed out in his state of the union speech, he inherited two wars he didn’t support and an economic collapse that had already cost Americans 4 million jobs before he took office, and another 4 million before he and his congressional majority could staunch the flow. Without any support from congressional Republicans whose Senate leader famously swore that “our principal goal is to make Barack Obama a one-term president.”

“Everything the Republicans have done since seems dedicated to that cause. Even though you have overwhelmingly voiced your disapproval of the tone-deaf polarization in Washington, the Republican presidential primary debates are all the evidence you need that bi-partisanship works only on their terms. Congressman Brad Sherman (R-CA) says it well: “We’re within nine and a half months of the country telling us whether to honor the instructions they gave us in 2008 or the ones they gave us in 2010.”

”We Americans are all in this together. We deserve to share in the success of working together toward shared goals. But how do we set those goals in a political system divided by partisans and ideologues and wealthy Super PACs? Someone has to show the way. It’s called “leadership.” In America, that task is the president’s because he’s elected to represent the country, not the state or regional interests of a federal system of representation. To represent America as a united country in the world of nations.”

“The party leaders of the Senate and the House have the responsibility for showing us how best to achieve these national goals. That’s how we built the capacity during the Reagan and Bush 41 years for the economic recovery of the Clinton years. Newt Gingrich deserves no special credit for this achievement. Until his ascendancy to power in the House, it was bi-partisan congressional policy reform in health, energy, the environment, trade, tax and entitlement policy – many of the policies about which President Obama spoke this week – that did the nation-building the country”

We have come together before in the face of great crisis and we surely must again.

Rev Bernard F. Hillenbrand



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GOD’S FIRST WORDS 

We chanced upon a radio remark from a Rabi who said,” The Bible is God’s first words not his last words!” Some of these first words have caused massive suffering. A prime example is in the third book of the Old Testament. In Leviticus 18 verse 22. It says, “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman: it is an abomination.” The punishment for an abomination was a death by torture. The victim was buried up to the neck in sand and the neighbors smashed the head with stones.

In Leviticus Moses reports his instructions from God in the form of rules and regulations to govern the tiny nation of Israel. Their understanding was that God demanded certain rituals such as splashing sacrificial goat’s blood on a rock. The followers responded in profound Good faith. However in this instance they were criminally wrong. This passage has for thousands of years caused undeserved suffering for our innocent fellow humans who have inherited homosexual orientations.

Also our faithful honest hard-working ancestors were sure that the earth was created in six days; that people are in the image of God; and they knew that the Earth was not round or people would fall off. They had no hint about DNA and that sexual preferences are inherited in our genes as is the color of our skin or the shape of our nose.

Their vision of God was as a Divine Person. They had no idea of the over whelming power and creativity of God. Black holes and dark energy still remains beyond human understanding. In the beginning they believed God was in a holy box moving from place to place under a tent. Since these first words, we now know that in the cosmos earth is a tiny speck like a grain of sand in the desert. Unlike Moses we moderns have seen Neil Armstrong standing on the Moon and looking back at our tiny round blue Earth.

Some of the worst of bad ideas seem to live the longest. This is a classic example. Humans have lived for many years with a clear understanding that their sexual preferences were not learned but inherited. In spite of this clear evidence to the contrary the instinct is to believe that only heterosexuals are normal and that homosexuals are an abomination.

For thousands of years there is no evidence whatsoever that people who were born with homosexual preferences misbehave more often or are in any way inferior to heterosexuals. Conduct wise the very basic teaching of the Bible is that we are all sinners and as St. Paul notes, “fall short of the mark”.

Here are some more of these other first words and ideas from the Bible that have caused immense suffering: slavery is approved; blacks are inferior to whites; females are inferior males; and Jews are evil and must be eradicated.

Winston Churchill said.” Americans always do the right thing but only after they have exhausted every other possibility”. Now is the time to do the right thing. .

Homophobia is a very bad idea. Stop it!


Rev Bernard F. Hillenbrand








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TRULY REMARKABLE MAN 



Allan Kiron was born in Poland May 25, 1929. He died on Tuesday December 27, 2011 in Washington on the last day of Hanukkah. He had every reason to hate everyone, God included. His mother and most of his family most probably died in the gas chambers. He survived from four years of the unbelievable horror of Auschwitz and other Concentration Camps.

He came to the United States as a teenager. He met and married the beautiful Loretta. They raised four remarkable sons. He had an impressive career both as a U.S. soldier and a valuable official at the U.S. Patent Office. His ashes will later be interred with honor at Arlington Nation Cemetery

What made him remarkable was that he decided that he would not return hate for hate. He came to the United States determined to become a good American. He made up the name KIRON taking a letter from the name of his immediate relatives some of whom he knew were gassed. He was a prim mover for establishing the Washington Holocaust Museum. I asked him to take me for a visit. He declined. He said he went once and would not return. More recently he was honored at the White House as one of the last survivors of the concentration camps.

The second part of this life is an inspiration for all of us. He was determined to return love for hate; humor for strife and poetry to express thanksgiving. In a brief pre burial memorial the service was built on his wife and sons reciting his happy poetry. Here is his final message:

LOVE

Love, men's eternal riddle
Glue of life from age to age
Beseeched, betrayed but never conquered
Its footprints are on every page.

And yet little do we know
What powers in love dwell
Why a man will give his life for love
No one can really tell.

Do not ponder what is love
Its strength will only fade
There is more beauty in the hidden sun
Than any artwork ever made

Do not despair gentle friend
There is more to love then said
Love without reason is only blind
But reasoned love is dead.

Let me salute you my special friend with My POEM:



As we start a brand-new year
Let's have Allan's message in our ear
And in poems of fun and love
Say thanks for life to God above.


Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand


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FIGHTING INJUSTICE 

Web brousing reveals that John Wesley the founder of the Mehodist movement in his writings called “American slavery the vilest that ever saw the sun”. The last letter that John Wesley wrote was to William Wilberforce, a man who had been converted under Wesley's ministry and who was a member of Parliament. The letter concerns his opposition to slavery and encouragement for Wilberforce to take action for change.
Balam, February 24, 1791
“Dear Sir:
Unless the divine power has raised you us to be as Athanasius contra mundum, [2] I see not howyou can go through your glorious enterprise in opposing that execrable villainy which is the scandal of religion, of England, and of human nature. Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be fore you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing! Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.
Reading this morning a tract wrote by a poor African, I was particularly struck by that circumstance that a man who has a black skin, being wronged or outraged by a white man, can have no redress; it being a "law" in our colonies that the oath of a black against a white goes for nothing. What villainy is this?
That he who has guided you from youth up may continue to strengthen you in this and all things, is the prayer of, dear sir,
Your affectionate servant, John Wesley”

Parliament finally outlawed England's participation in the slave trade in 1807.

Wesley and the earliest Methodist fought against the vileness of slavery and we modern Methodists must now take up a battle against another equally vile aspect of American life. It is the be senseless and totally destructive attack against fellow Americans who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual. They are falsely accused of polygamy; pedophila, and bestiality. This homophobia is prompting very bitter and distractive divisions in our denomination and others at the very moment when Christianity and other faiths are on the decline.

On the personal level John Wesley was 87 years old when he made his last attack against slavery. I am at age 86. I pray for Wesleyan courage and wisdom to dedicate my final days to fighting against all aspects of homeophelia.

Rev. Bernard F. Hillenbrand

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