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Jeff Martinhauk: An Open Letter to the Archbishop of Canterbury

Wednesday, February 7, 2007 • 8:59 am

This person has apparently placed himself in a vacuum sealed box, stopped up his ears, and simply repeated the same tired agit-prop to himself for the last three years. Non-celibate homosexual activists are “victims” of “oppression” by pharisaic traditionalists who are “afraid” of change and ever-resistant to the “prophetic voice”.


An Open Letter to His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury

Prior to the Meeting of the Primates in Tanzania

February 6, 2007

Your Grace,

I write to you not as a part of any organization or group, but on my own accord as a member of the Episcopal Church and of the Anglican Communion.  As a gay man in this great church, I am slowly realizing the mistakes we in the gay and lesbian community have made in our efforts to bring our unique perspective on the Gospel message to our brothers and sisters in Christ within this church.  Perhaps in an effort to assimilate into heterosexual society, we have been overly prepared to make apologetic arguments based on similarities with our straight counterparts.  We seem to have placed our trust in the established leaders and processes of the church, hoping that if our arguments are strong enough that our case will be heard with a sympathetic ear.  Of course history has never, to my knowledge, shown that the oppressed have made much progress by placing hope in the powers of the institutions that oppress them.  We cannot make progress with apologetic arguments, attempting to assimilate into institutions held by primarily heterosexual males who have never experienced our oppression.  Isn’t that why the high priests rejected the message of Jesus, a fellow Jew?  I need not remind Your Grace that the fear of change is a powerful resistance to the prophetic voice, as it was for Caiphus.  “What will it do to our institutions?”  “What will it do to our own positions?”  “How will we be remembered as leaders?”  These must have been difficult questions for the Sanhedrin as they conspired against Jesus.  Questions with answers that Jesus apparently felt were worthy of martyrdom.

Some argue that the “nature or nurture” discussion has an impact on our fate.  I say to them that being “gay” or “lesbian” in the U.S. is a social construct.  Sexual attraction is not something we choose, but claiming our identity as “gay” or “lesbian,” is.  Just because our identity is a social construct does not de-value it.  Gender roles are social constructs.  There are, I hope, few that would say that the gender roles of women in the patriarchal society of the Old Testament (or even the New Testament) should be held up in today’s society—although, as Your Grace knows well, exactly which gender roles are appropriate today is still a heated topic in the Communion, depending on the cultural context of the discussion.  Just as racism is a social construct with very real consequences, gathering its existence from the brokenness of humanity, those suffering from the oppression of racism must claim their identity and move forward shining light into the blindness of their oppressors that they may see, and in so doing freeing themselves from the chains of oppression

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Comments:

“Open letters” ARE agit-prop.

[1] Posted by Timothy Fountain on 02-07-2007 at 09:31 AM • top

Let me see if I can summarize this letter paragraph by paragraph:

“We’ve gotten nowhere by appealing to heterosexual leaders. Imagine the progress we would have made had all church leaders down the ages been gay. But since they weren’t, it amounts to the kind of oppression and conspiracies directed at Jesus.”

“Being gay is just a social construct, nothing more. So isn’t being straight a social construct too? Well, that would negate my argument, so let me try this: Racism is a social construct, too. Therefore, being gay is the same as being black, and we need to be allowed to ride the civil rights coattails as far as we please. No, blacks aren’t denied the right to marry. Yes, I know that very few blacks support gay mrriage. That’s not the point. Yes, I know gays aren’t denied the right to one-man, one-woman marriage. Will you please stop messing up my racism analogy!?!?”

“Look - I came here to talk about identity. My identity is defined first and foremost by where I put my willy. Ergo, Christianity must discard 2,000 years of teaching on sexuality to accommodate me.”

“Being gay is no different than being straight, really. But we absolutely MUST have gay bishops, because they’re different. They can do all these things straight people can’t… like keep us from being persecuted. What’s that? Don’t we have untold millions of straight people who stand up for us every day? Well yeah, but that really undercuts my ‘persecution’ angle, so look over here now, at the ‘we’re special’ puppet…”

“Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah… did I mention all the things in the secular world that bug me? Yeah… medical stuff and all that. How can you people sleep at night knowing that this is going on? Well yeah, I understand that’s not the same as the Word of God on sin and our call to repentance. No wait! It IS the same! Hey - STOP THAT!”

“Look - WE’RE OPPRESSED, DAMMIT! We’re some of the most highly educated, intelligent, artistically creative people around, and we’re consistently in the top percentile of wage-earners… OOOHHHHHH! NO WAIT!!! We’re persecuted, just like Jesus! Yeah, that’s the ticket!!”

[2] Posted by Greg Griffith on 02-07-2007 at 09:36 AM • top

What Mr. Martinhauk fails to understand is the sins of the high priests were in failing to recognize Jesus’ as foretold through Scripture.  So possibly the glass on his vacuum sealed box distorts the picture but he is accusing us of the exact opposite - of believing what Scripture says.

[3] Posted by JackieB on 02-07-2007 at 09:38 AM • top

Greg: Ooh, that smarted!

sir snarksalot

[4] Posted by the snarkster on 02-07-2007 at 09:40 AM • top

“Perhaps in an effort to assimilate into heterosexual society, we have been overly prepared to make apologetic arguments based on similarities with our straight counterparts. We seem to have placed our trust in the established leaders and processes of the church, hoping that if our arguments are strong enough that our case will be heard with a sympathetic ear. “

Well, Jeff, your arguments obviously were not strong enough, having been built on intellectually dishonest shifting sand.

“Sexual attraction is not something we choose, but claiming our identity as “gay” or “lesbian,” is.”

I though you were born gay or lesbian, not that it was an “identity” you could choose. 

From several attempts to get Mr. Martinhauk to answer challenges to his interpretations of Scripture on his own blog that twist the text beyond recognition, only to have the subject changed without an answer time after time, I can say his letter is representative of what logic and reason we can expect of him.  May the ABC extend Jeff Martinhauk the same high esteem in which he holds +Jack Spong! (sarcasm off)

[5] Posted by Milton on 02-07-2007 at 09:50 AM • top

“We seem to have placed our trust in the established leaders and processes of the church, hoping that if our arguments are strong enough . . .”

They’re not.  Not even close.

[6] Posted by Phil on 02-07-2007 at 09:58 AM • top

I notice no less than 8 references in the letter to gays being oppressed.  Then I note that he and his partner have two kids, he’s living in Austin and attending a rather nice seminary, has his own blog, and so on, and from his picture, he appears quite cheerful. 

Frederick Douglass, call your office…

[7] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 02-07-2007 at 02:31 PM • top

Craig,  just a correction to your post: his kids are with his former partner and a surrogate mom.

[8] Posted by DietofWorms on 02-07-2007 at 03:04 PM • top

Let me see. What is the ultimate intimate end of a homosexual relationship? You do what with what? Or you have to strap on WHAT? Sorry, no amount of cerebral feldercarb will make that jive with God’s plan of creation. Just not natural. It doesn’t take a Thomist to figure that out. So quit trying to make up into down or B-B’s into elephants. (No intended reference to Matt’s theological thread!)

[9] Posted by Anglican Paplist on 02-07-2007 at 03:23 PM • top

By the way, Mr. Martinhauk is in seminary in Austin, TX according to his blog posts from some months ago.  Brave new priests for a brave new world!

[10] Posted by Milton on 02-07-2007 at 03:32 PM • top

I reject in its entirety the unscientific theory of genetic unnatural behavior. Surely the proponents of this odd idea recognize that we must suspend one of the liberals most ancient dogmas, Darwinian Evolution, for it to have any traction. Not so. Nature is not your kind old Mother as in the TV spots, it is a large dangerous long toothed thing that kills you quick when you interfere with its iron hard obsession with reproduction. No, this is learned behavior friends. If it were normative, the species so greatly beloved by Chas. Darwin would have gone the way of the Archeopterix millenia ago. Let’s talk about Global Warming. There remains some doubt about that, unlike the above topic.

[11] Posted by teddy mak on 02-07-2007 at 03:37 PM • top

I beg Your Grace not to appeal to irrelevant procedural issues which may or may not have been followed

Yes what does one’s word matter? Ignore the man behind the curtain! Listen to what I am saying now! Trust me!

But my basis is in liberation theology

A thousand cuts but yet this beast of a theology still lingers…

[12] Posted by Rocks on 02-07-2007 at 05:09 PM • top

Correcting a correction:  “Craig, just a correction to your post: his kids are with his former partner and a surrogate mom. “

Reading his posts from August, his kids are with him in Texas.

[13] Posted by LBStringer on 02-07-2007 at 06:53 PM • top

Dear Jeff,
With all due respect, the conversation is over. Your letter only reiterates what we have been hearing for the last thirty years. I do agree that as you say gays and lesbians have a ” unique perspective on the Gospel message to our brothers and sisters in Christ within this church”. But we don’t buy it because it is false teaching, without a shred of evidence to support it.

[14] Posted by bradhutt on 02-07-2007 at 07:50 PM • top

Jeff waxes bathetic:

When a young man is attacked because he is gay and left for dead, strung up on a fence in Wyoming by his murderers, would his attackers have known better had they seen an active gay Christian, preaching and teaching the Gospel?

No, they wouldn’t.  Of course not.  But this is even sillier than it at first appears.  If he had been a serious Christian, gay or straight, he wouldn’t have been cruising rough biker bars in the first place:

Another egregious example of media bias is the ever partial-reporting of the Matthew Sheppard murder. For sure, this was a brutal and barbaric crime and I’d be happy to see his killers fry. But I’m also disturbed at the canonization of Matthew as the patron saint of hate crimes. His sexual proclivity was cruising for “rough trade”, which means he was attracted to his assailants precisely because they were scuzzy punks whose look and manner virtually screamed trouble. He doesn’t deserve to burn in hell as Fred Phelps constantly rages. But rational public discourse about his destructive behavior could help save lives - especially among gay youth. So shame on the media for placing political correctness ahead of safety and responsibility.

John McKellar

Jeff utterly misses the point:

If the church sends our culture a message that it is ok to discriminate against gay and lesbian people—whether through the rites of the church or in its theology—then it also tells the straight people in our culture that it is ok to perpetuate violence, agony, and suffering upon us.

+++Rowan has already answered:

  ... [T]his is not and should never be a question about the contribution of gay and lesbian people as such to the Church of God and its ministry, about the dignity and value of gay and lesbian people.

Instead it is a question, agonisingly difficult for many, as to what kinds of behaviour a Church that seeks to be loyal to the Bible can bless, and what kinds of behaviour it must warn against – and so it is a question about how we make decisions corporately with other Christians, looking together for the mind of Christ as we share the study of the scriptures.

Jeff simply has not been paying attention.  Those straw men have been torn up and dispersed to the wind long ago.  What good has it done him to come out of the closet if he’s still imprisoned in his tiny cage of self-pity?

[15] Posted by Craig Goodrich on 02-07-2007 at 08:09 PM • top

And hence an argument for open communion, on the same grounds:

Adjusted such:
If the church sends our culture a message that it is ok to discriminate against unbaptized people—whether through the rites of the church or in its theology—then it also tells the baptized people in our culture that it is ok to perpetuate violence, agony, and suffering upon the unbaptized.

No one who made this argument would be taken seriously.

[16] Posted by James Manley on 02-07-2007 at 08:42 PM • top

He lost any kind of creditability from me after I read his Bio…..... He may be the greatest guy on earth but when I read “surrogate mother, former partner, and children” in the same sentence I loose interest.

[17] Posted by Horsemansouthern on 02-08-2007 at 07:32 AM • top

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