A PASTORAL LETTER
From Bishop Judith Hardanger-Hansen
There has been considerable dissension in our fellowship recently, and a number of hard words have been spoken, causing much pain. I feel it my obligation to address the matter directly, exercising openmindedness and charity, both to the enlightened, Christ-like people who agree with me, and the knuckle-dragging Nazis on the other side.
From its inception, the Merry Pride movement has been like the wind of the Holy Spirit, breathing new life and new ideas into the church. Sadly, however, some people do not welcome change, and run from the challenges of a new day.
In case anyone reading this is unaware of recent history (home-schooled people, perhaps), the term “Merry” was adopted by the oppressed group formerly known as “adulterers,” employing a pun on the word “marry,” to give their lifestyle a more positive public face. They felt it intolerable to be forced to live any longer with a name that bore the weight of centuries of misunderstanding, prejudice, and oppression.
For it is a sad fact of history that for centuries, our Merry brothers and sisters suffered great persecution. Their activities were illegal, forcing them to meet clandestinely in seedy places like cheap motels. If someone outed them, they could lose their jobs, have their children taken away, and (during many centuries) even be prosecuted in court. In divorce proceedings, before the advent of No Fault Divorce, they were always assumed to be the guilty party.
How could a supposedly Christian culture act in so barbarous a manner?
Historians tell us it all goes back to a misunderstanding of Old Testament law. The commandment of the Decalogue was traditionally translated, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” leading to the unexamined assumption that married couples were expected to remain sexually monogamous so long as both parties lived.
This, of course, was entirely irrational, unreasonable, and historically inaccurate. Enlightened scholars now inform us that the commandment against “adultery” was not in fact directed at the sincere behavior of loving couples, but at the temple prostitution which commonly took place in the Canaanite religion. The purpose of the law was simply to keep the Israelites away from pagan fertility rites.
(Not that we condemn temple prostitution or pagan fertility rights, either. Our fruitful conversations with our brothers and sisters of the earth religions have helped us gain a more charitable understanding of those ancient and beautiful expressions of spirituality than ever before. That will be the subject of a later pastoral letter from me.)
The point is that the Hebrew scriptures never in fact forbade responsible, sincere sexual activity with partners other than one’s spouse. Merry life is all about love. Love is not something you can tie down with petty restrictions and taboos. Love is of the Spirit, and blows wherever it will. How could we dare suggest that God is against any kind of love? We need more love in the world, not less!
Science, too, informs us that nearly 50% of the population has no genetic predisposition toward marital fidelity. Surely God would not have created so many of us with a strong urge for sex with multiple partners, if S/He were not in favor of sexual variety.
I know some of you find these views unacceptable. We have no plans (at present) to put you out of the church. There is room, I hope, for all of us in God’s family, even the stupidest among us, so long as those of you with hateful, bigoted ideas keep them to yourselves.
In the Name of the God who is Love,
Judith Hardanger-Hansen, Bishop
Readers interested in learning more about Bishop Handanger-Hansen are referred to Lars Walker’s novel Wolf Time, which can be downloaded from the Baen Free Library here. (Select Lars Walker’s name from the list.)