[TERRY] GROSS: Now, you use the expression that you were doing this on behalf of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people, and you refer to that as a] group, you know, gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, throughout your new book, “In the Eye of the Storm.” And in a way, a lot of people probably think you’re making your case even more difficult by including transgendered people, because even a lot of people who accept homosexuality would draw the line at transgendered. That would just be too much for them. And so I think it’s interesting that you’ve been inclusive of them, too, in your statements about sexual orientation and gender. And I’d like you to explain why.
Bishop ROBINSON: You know, in Jesus’ day, people would’ve made the argument that, `Well, you know, all of this is nice words, Jesus, but, you know, we have to draw the line at lepers.’ Or, `You know, I really like the way you deal with everyone, and you’re so kind, but, you know, we just have to draw the line at prostitutes.’ Jesus was always in trouble for including everyone in God’s love. And he spent most of his time with people at the margins, people who were oppressed, people who had been told for countless generations that they were not loved by God. And almost everything he did was related to bringing that good news to them, which, by the way, didn’t sound like good news to the religious authorities of his time, but it did sound good to those who were marginalized.
I’m doing everything I can to model my own life after that of Jesus, which I believe we as Christians are called to do. And the fact of the matter is that gay and lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people are among those who have been marginalized, both in the culture and in the church. You know, we’ve got a lot further to go, frankly, around issues of bisexuality and transgender folks simply because they are less known to us. And so I’m not willing to jettison those two more perhaps controversial, or certainly less known, categories of people just because it would keep me out of trouble. Jesus was always getting into trouble. He said, `Expect to get into trouble if you follow me,’ and so I think I’m in pretty good company.
GROSS: Now, you point out in your book that many of the moral issues we face today involve sexuality, including abortion, fertility therapies, alternate measures of reproduction, the role of women and men, divorce. You know, I’m really curious, I don’t think I have a clue where you stand on abortion. And I’m really curious to hear how you’ve decided where you stand on that, like, how you use your theological knowledge and thinking to answer that question for yourself. And again, I have no idea what your answer’s going to be.
Bishop ROBINSON: I like to say that the Episcopal Church is advanced placement religion. That is to say, it’s a religion that values our minds and encourages us to use them, and it values individual choice and discernment. And the official stance of the Episcopal Church, which is really what I believe, asks us to hold in tension two truths and then make a decision somewhere in between. One of those truths is that all life is sacred. We may not know exactly when it begins, but we know that all of life is sacred and cherished by God. And on the other side, that such a decision ought to rest with the individual and that there are many, many factors that relate to that, how one would care for a child and what kind of resources there are to offer that child the kind of life he or she might deserve. So we say both of those things are true and consider both of them. Talk to your priest about those. Pray about it. And then make a choice.
And so the Episcopal Church has always stood for the legal right for women to choose, that government should not be dictating how they choose, and at the same time hold up this notion of life as sacred. And then, as we do with so many ethical decisions, we make our choice in fear and trembling, trusting in a loving God. And if we get it wrong, you know, that’s the great thing about being forgiven; we’re already forgiven in the ways that we fall short.
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I will consider posting comments on this interview submitted first by email to Kendall’s E-mail: KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.