Thought, freedom, pluralism and friendship

By | December 30, 2022
David Virtue

I recently had a brief but pleasant online conversation with someone. You’ll never guess who it was.

It was David Virtue of the conservative publication VirtueOnline. The conversation was enjoyable, and I told David I was glad for his work.


That’s right; I enjoyed talking with David.

And it’s an important reminder about free speech, pluralism, friendship, society, and the church.

Why? Because we acknowledge that we have different views on sexuality and the church. I’m gay and in a same-sex marriage. Regrettably, my marriage was blessed by the Episcopal Church.

David does not believe the church should conduct same-sex marriages. So by rights, we should be at odds. (Or not, given how wrong my decision was to get married in the church.)

But as we recognize, we both focus on writing about important topics, including abuse in the church. We’re both willing to speak truth to power. In short, there is more that unites us than separates us.

And I’d far rather deal with someone who is upfront about the fact he disagrees with me than someone like Mark Stevenson. Stevenson claims he supports LGBTQ+ marriage and then runs off to get consecrated in an SBC that actively works against gay marriage, all in the name of “racial reconciliation.” Or the morally bereft folks from my former parish, who make social media posts urging me to commit suicide.





Thump! That noise you just heard was the sound of me going under the bus’s wheels. And Stevenson’s decision is hardly helpful at a time when all agree marriage equality is under assault. But it didn’t matter one wit to Stevenson.

Nor can we say David’s a bad guy. On the contrary, he believes strongly in certain things and works hard to support those views. That contrasts favorably with the Episcopal Church, which talks a good game but doesn’t do jack-diddly in practice.

Lessons learned

It’s important to remember that sort of pluralism was the rule of the game not long ago, both in the U.S. and the Episcopal Church. Then, we were big enough to support different views and avoid demonizing each other. And at the end of the day, we’d work together for the common good, regardless of political, religious, or other views.

Today, we’ve lost that cohesion, and we are worse off for it.

As a society, we’ve also become obsessed with single issues. In David’s case, I could quickly get wrapped around the axle over his views on marriage equality. But if I did so, I’d be a hypocrite, for I’m fond of saying that being gay is a small part of who I am. So, it’s only fair to treat David’s views as an equally small part of more significant issues.

Looking forward

Hopefully, this will remind all involved that more unites us than divides us. We are all human; we all have people we love and people who love us. We all want to see a stable, prosperous U.S. that permits free speech and freedom of religion.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’ll be in an ACNA church this Sunday.

But it’s worth noting that several dear friends are Missouri Synod, while others are ACNA. I love all of them, and they have been wonderfully supportive.

It seems, too, that Jesus would take this approach. Recall that Jesus invited himself into the home of the much-hated tax collector, Zacchaeus. Naturally, and predictably enough, the crowd did the group-think thing, muttering about how Jesus was staying with a sinner.

Yet the Episcopal Church takes a far different approach. It has repeatedly lied about my issues with perjuring priest Bob Malm. It has brushed me off, made pretextual excuses, ignored its canons, and otherwise done everything it can to avoid accountability.

So. let’s not assume that those who disagree with us — either about faith issues, politics, abortion, or any other matter — are our enemy. It’s a dangerous assumption and one that should be beneath every Christian.

I look forward to working with David in the future. And it’s interesting that we both appear to believe that the Episcopal Church is dying.

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