The Common Good
July-August 1996

Family Values

by Rev. Elizabeth McMaster | July-August 1996

I MOSTLY AGREED with Jim Wallis about
Waiting to Exhale (“Hearts & Minds,” May-June
1996).

I MOSTLY AGREED with Jim Wallis about Waiting to Exhale (“Hearts & Minds,” May-June 1996). He articulated what was bothersome to me about the movie, but which I hadn’t been able to ferret out for myself.

I believe, along with you, that “we must rebuild strong and healthy...families.” And I believe the surveys enough to know that two parents are better than one. But when you say that the “biblical norm is heterosexual marriage,” and that it “is the norm in this society,” are you not implying that a heterosexual marriage is “right” and any other form of two-adult commitment is “wrong”?

I do believe that the Left must learn some lessons about family values and improvement in the moral and ethical culture of the country, but damning gay men and lesbians for seeking commitment and family values within their community is far from Christian, far from right.

One problem is that clergy are responsible for signing off on a state-controlled piece of paper, the license. It would be far clearer if everyone (gay and straight alike) were to apply for some sort of “domestic partnership” legal document, entitling the bearers to the legalities now given only to heterosexual unions. Then, at the option of those wishing to marry, a religious service could be performed by willing religious institutions. We in the clergy could uphold the regulations of our particular denominations, and couples—gay and straight—could receive equal treatment under the law concerning insurance, estate planning, and other benefits now implicit in heterosexual marriages.

Rev. Elizabeth McMaster
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, via Internet

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