Rowan Cantaur has interesting comments. Some of it I can agree with totally. Some of it raises eyebrows.
In particular, I am troubled by his concern that persons living in committed, same-sex partnerships are living outside the marriage covenant and are therefore living a life in sin. I read his comments on the "lifestyle choice" as referring more to the decision to not be celibate (cohabiting heterosexual couples as well as homosexual couples), rather than suggesting that homosexuality is chosen (not part of one's innate being). He seems to state that cohabitation is a sin which is unforgivable as long as it is going on. Any sexual relationship outside marriage is an unforgivable sin as long as it is going on. Sorry, but I can't go there with him on that one.
From a purely logical standpoint, if we say that a lesbian couple is living a non-celibate life and is therefore in sin and cannot be fully part of the church, then we must set the standard that all non-celibate couples cannot be part of the church. That would pretty much mean that you wouldn't have any young clergy, since all of us were in at least our mid 20s when first ordained. Knowing what you all learned in high school, what can you surmise about the average 20-something? Oh, pick your jaws up off the floor.
If we set that standard for our gay and lesbian parishoners, then we have to set it for our hetero parishoners. Oh, Lord, could you imagine if we started refusing communion to the notorious sinners who cohabit? There would be lots and lots and lots of people... young people, divorced people, old granny people and seniors (!) who would not be getting communion!!
I think it is clear that our society, and our church, has moved beyond the point where it considers co-habitation and non-celibacy to be a major sin. I can't think of one clergy person who would refuse to marry a cohabiting couple. We've gotten over it. Some people are given the gift of celibacy. For those of us who are not, we are forgiven. And we move on.
From a theological standpoint, it also makes no sense to claim that a person living in a non-celibate relationship is committing such a sin that they cannot serve God. Since we just established that co-habitation is a non-issue for most of the American public (at the least, the public that I live in), are we then saying there is a sin out there that God can't forgive? If I can sin and then reap the rewards of forgiveness, I expect that all my fellow human beings can too.
Finally, there's the question of relevance. We live in a world where children are still starving, cancer is still not cured, and God's children are still not free in every corner of the earth. Is cohabitation really the issue that we are going to let tear apart the body of Christ? Is it really that important? Can you honestly expect me to believe that God will make or break eternity based on who we learn to offer eros love to? I sort of thought God would be more interested in the whole honoring God alone and loving our neighbors as ourselves thing... or perhaps the striving for justice and peace and respecting the dignity of every human being... or seeking and serving Christ in all persons. I must have missed the parts in the Creed where it said that cohabitation is such a big sin.
I know there are plenty of issues and theological bents I have not yet touched on and can't touch on in a simple post. But I hope I have at least expressed my discomfort with the lifestyle-choice language Rowan used.
Celibacy is a gift some people are given. Sexual love is a gift that others are given. We can't claim the gifts that are not ours. We can only seek to live out the wholeness of who we are exactly as God made us. And God made us to grow as a whole community, to love our neighbors as ourselves. So easy, and so impossible.