Earlier today I posted "The Episcopal Church and its ruminations on Marriage, and the baggage we all carry."
I've gotten many supportive comments, for which I am thankful. But I was troubled to see that one remark, " There are all sorts of highfalutin' articles purporting to give a robust (what ever that is) theology of marriage" was deeply hurtful to one of the theologians who have been writing.
As with any commentary I of course meant to say what I said... there are some highfalutin' articles... written in pretty advanced theologically oriented language. I had pulled up "robust" as one of my favorite theological slang words. "Robust,"I believe echoes the energy of the evangelical movement of the late 1800's early 1900's where manly virtues of physical and moral strength through the exercise of body, mind and spirit, were all the rage and identified with a "robust" Christian mission in the world. The notion of Muscular Christianity was in the back of my mind as the place where the language of "robust" theology would have had a foothold.
So my remark was about what I saw out there in the internet landscape - a variety of strong, muscular, robust, theological arguments that I believed collectively moved the conversation not one wit closer to a conversation about justice in society regarding marriage and justice in marriage. It was a general remark. A bit snarky, I will admit.
However, I am not untouched by actual writing by these notables, and The Rev.Dr. Craig Uffman in his most recent article used the word "robust" to describe the sort of theological response needed to address some traditionalists who themselves were pretty robust. I may well have been reminded of the word "robust" from his writing. But my remark was not directed at his writing. Craig was taken back by my apparent attack on his piece and wrote to tell me so. I meant no such personal attack.
Now first I want to apologize to Craig for adding to the load he is carrying these days. He has received some unpleasant comments from various sources. One of these, Stand Firm, has decided that "Craig Uffman has betrayed the Gospel."
He certainly did not need more to carry. I did not mean to refer specifically to Uffman's article by using the "robust" reference. That he understood it this way might suggest that others will as well.
So let's get it right. I have indeed read the Uffman article. I believe that it has much to offer as a theological paper of considerable depth. I do not agree with his notion that a pause in the conversation about marriage is necessary. I believe we need to take on matters of justice as it concerns marriage as a peculiar form of civil contract. As concerns holiness in life, including life in marriage, that is another matter, one addressed I might suggest, not so much as a theological matter but as a faith matter, lived out in community.
And yes, highfalutin' robust theological articles by a wide variety of quite worthy persons are out there in Anglican land. Uffman's was one. As a collection they did not particularly move or help me. But I was not signaling him out.
I hope one day to meet Dr. Uffman. I am sure we will have much to talk about. Meanwhile, I will try to remember that snarky remarks have consequences, sometimes regrettable. When we meet we can perhaps begin anew with some sense of mutual forbearance.