Fearless Love: a report from Skyline Church

I commend Skyline Church for holding this conversation and for inviting the Rt. Rev. Gene Robinson, Episcopal bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire, and not the latest RuPaul look alike. Bishop Robinson had broad support in the audience, thanks to many Episcopalians who made the trip to La Mesa, including some from as far away as St. Paul in-the-Desert, Palm Springs. A few wore Tshirts that said “Fearless Love” with the new diocesan logo.

When the so-called moderator introduced Bishop Robinson, there was an outburst of applause, so I knew there were plenty of supporters in the audience. He spoke from the heart, and he spoke calmly and with conviction. He was warm and funny. All this in stark contrast to the two who spoke against gay marriage: Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse and Dr. Robert Gagnon. Dr. Gagnon gave a steamroller-style presentation supported by a PowerPoint with detailed analysis of what Jesus said about homosexuality, or rather what he extrapolated from Jesus’ statements about marriage. Dr. Morse spoke about the harm that would befall society if gay marriage is allowed. These arguments were not new or interesting.

What I found interesting, and irritating, is that the so-called moderator kept interrupting Dr. John Corvino, who is an out, gay man speaking in favor of gay marriage alongside Bishop Robinson. The moderator was the lead pastor of Skyline Church, Jim Garlow. He should not have even attempted to moderate the conversation. He did allow the Rev. Canon Allisyn Thomas to moderate once he recognized that he was really advocating for a position, and not a fair-minded moderator. It bothered me that he was so unaware of his own actions.

One of the most powerful moments was when Bishop Robinson, in replying to a query from the anti-gay marriage speakers about Biblical texts, said that although he agreed that all Biblical texts about homosexuality are negative, it was Scripture that saved his life because he would have put a gun to his head had he not heard God’s voice saying to him, “You are my beloved. In you I am well-pleased.” Bishop Robinson knew that he was loved by God in spite of what his conservative, homophobic, small-town, Kentucky church told him about homosexuality. A burst of applause from the audience when he finished telling this story punctuated his point.

A fair amount of humor peppered the otherwise tense conversation. It was interesting to sit in the huge, warehouse-like sanctuary with my partner, Kathy, and to know that we were sitting right next to people who were opposed to gay marriage. Not a comfortable experience, but a good one, because it means that we can all be in one room together and discuss this hot topic without coming to blows.

Kudos to Skyline. Huge love and thanks to Bishop Robinson. My favorite picture is to the right!

Hannah Wilder

We’ll be publishing more thoughts about the Skyline event over the week (to read them all, click here).

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2 thoughts on “Fearless Love: a report from Skyline Church”

  1. It’s been helpful to continue sharing in community about the Skyline experience.

    My first impressions were visceral, sensory ones; and reflection together is bringing a calmer listening heart. Hannah recounted Bishop Robinson’s profound realization that saved his life – “God's voice saying to him, "You are my beloved. In you I am well-pleased."

    Thank you, Rev. Allisyn, Bishop Robinson, Dr. Corvino and all who share the human faces of loving relationships in Christ. Hopefully, more people heard within their hearts profound expressions for marriage equality.

    Thank you to Skyline Pastor Garlow and congregation for hosting this event. God’s Gift and CALL that evening may be to bring us together for on-going conversations for creation/ humanity and democracy-sake.

  2. Today's blogpost from Equality Matters paints a somewhat different picture:

    "That's because, for NOM, there really isn't much distance between being "anti-gay marriage" and being "anti-gay" – the latter motivates the former. "Raising the negative on homosexuality," as one NOM memo put it, is a central part of the organization's effort to defeat same-sex marriage. Even Morse recently confessed that NOM's decision to publically attack gay marriage instead of gay people is purely "strategic."

    ITAF showcased the kind of anti-gay animus that activists have for years accused NOM of harboring behind closed doors. In the public eye, NOM depicts itself as fair-minded and moderate pro-marriage group. In reality, it's the kind of organization that seeks to train college students to justify anti-gay bigotry by relying on stereotypes, pseudoscience, and a sizable dose of right-wing religious extremism." — equalitymatters.org/blog/201208280001

    Also, the Ruth Project blog dismissed Bp. Gene and Dr. Corvino as "sentimental" and unBiblical, while saying that "all the intelligence" was on the side of Gagnon and Morse. See ruthinstitute.org/ITAF12/wrap/sunNiteConvo/wrapSun.html

    The undercover story is pretty riveting stuff, it's a fascinating read. I had wondered what the real reactions to the dialogue portion were, as the post didn't really mention them other than noting that the undercover blogger wished he could say something like "I'm on your side!" That's how I found your post.

    It seems that the leaders of "the other side" probably can't be reached, but the followers might still be. I hope so, anyway.


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