Bishop Gene RobinsonKristin Rudolph, IRD

Christians on either side of the homosexuality debate have “a lot to agree on … [but] one of the things we might not agree on is that book … the Bible,” said Bishop Gene Robinson at Skyline Church’s “Conversation on the Definition of Marriage.” Robinson was the first openly gay priest ordained in the Episcopal Church.

On Sunday, July 28, San Diego’s Skyline Church invited Robinson, John Corvino, Jennifer Roback Morse, and Robert Gagnon for this discussion. Robinson, the retiring bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New Hampshire, and Corvino, philosopher and co-author of the recent book Debating Same-Sex Marriage, were defending homosexual unions. Morse, founder and president of The Ruth Institute, and Gagnon, a theologian at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, defended traditional marriage.

“The Church is trying to ask and answer the question, how big … is God’s love for all of God’s children,” Robinson said in his opening statement. He explained that differing views of the Bible are a large reason for “why we miss each other in these conversations.” According to the Bishop: “The Bible is words about God [but] they were words not dictated by God … all of those words were meant to point to the living reality of a living God.”

Robinson explained his view on the Scriptures. “I take the Bible unbelievably seriously,” he stressed. “I take it so seriously that I refuse to take it simply.” According to Robinson, “context means everything,” and when reading scripture, one should ask: “Is the context described there similar to our context and therefore is eternally binding?” Through this contextualization, he discounted scriptural prohibitions of homosexuality, and argued that Jesus’ promise in John 16 that the Holy Spirit would “guide you into all truth” means that Christians should adopt an evolving view on sexual ethics.

With his highly contextualized and selective view of Scripture, Robinson admitted it is “a very tough call” to determine whether “the little voice I hear in my brain is God’s voice or my ego doing a magnificent impression of God’s voice.” He further insisted: “We’re not challenging the definition of marriage … we just want to be let in to that institution.” Robinson then compared legalizing same-sex marriage with opening marriage to African Americans after the Civil War and overturning anti-miscegenation laws in the Civil Rights era.

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