By Dawn Wolfe Gutterman
ROYAL OAK – Dr. David Myers, Professor of Psychology at Hope College and author of a recent book arguing the cause of equal marriage rights from a faith-based perspective, will appear in Royal Oak and Warren this month.
Myers’ book, “What God Has Joined Together? A Christian Case for Gay Marriage,” was published in June 2005. (See “Author David Myers makes Christian case for marriage equality with new book,” online at www.pridesource.com).
Myers’ Royal Oak appearance, scheduled for March 16, is being sponsored by the Michigan Coalition for Human Rights, a 26-year-old organization originally founded by local religious leaders including the recently retired Bishop Thomas Gumbleton.
According to MCHR’s Chairman, Charles Rooney, the organization has invited Dr. Myers to speak because, “We’re hoping to attract some people in the middle – people who haven’t already made up their minds [about marriage equality]. He’s the kind of person who can attract them and open up the discussion.”
The Myers presentation is part of MCHR’s series called, “Progressive Moral Values.” According to Rooney, past speakers have addressed topics including “family values” and “the radical right and its attempt to move us into a theocratic state.”
“The people who are loudest about promoting family values are adamantly against the kind of government programs that would really help families,” Rooney said of that program, which was presented by Dr. Gloria Albrecht of the University of Detroit Mercy.
“There’s a lot of people out there with progressive moral values, and how do we speak to the issues?” said Dr. Brenda Bryant, MCHR’s treasurer.
Bryant recalled that, in 2004, an acquaintance of hers told Bryant that she would be voting for George W. Bush, “because he’s a church-going man.”
“Kerry’s a Catholic, for God’s sake,” Bryant added, and said that religious extremists have “spun” the issues to make it seem that in order to be a moral person, one must support their positions.
As for the issue of equal marriage rights, Rooney said, “Calling it a marriage might be an issue with some churches, but respecting the rights of people – the basic human right to have public recognition of love – this is not an undermining of traditional marriage, it is a strengthening of people’s commitment to each other. Whatever religion you’re in, this is something we’re in favor of.”
“We like Myers’ approach to it because this is something he recognizes – that there are values on each side,” he added.
According to MCHR, “By affirming marriage for all, ‘What God Has Joined Together?’ concurs with conservatives’ call for marriage renewal and a more marriage-supporting culture. And it concurs with liberals’ affirmation of everyone’s right, regardless of sexual orientation, to seal love with commitment and to participate fully in the church’s life and ministry.”
Myers told BTL via email that he has received “about 200 letters and e-mails, mostly supportive, but also including people who are sharply critical. Most of the latter appear to be responding to newspaper articles about the book, rather than to actually engaging it’s content (which may actually be more respecting of the Bible and more supportive of marriage than the letter writers presume).”
As for the controversy his book has stirred up among his conservative co-worshippers in the Reformed Church, Myers had this to say about the greater problems facing the institution of marriage, in an article that will be published in the online journal “Reformed Review” during the week of March 13:
“There is surely a need to refocus on the family. Alas, rather than focus on getting and keeping people married, the church is diverting its energy into keeping gay people unmarried. One is reminded of senior devil Screwtape’s advice on how to corrupt: ‘The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood.'”
On March 30, Myers will discuss the topic, “Bridging the Divide: Strengthening Marriage, Welcoming Gays,” and sign copies of his book at an event at Macomb Community College in Warren. The March 30 event is sponsored by Macomb Community College’s Multicultural Strategies Initiative, its libraries and its Forum Series.
Hear Dr. Myers
Dr. David Myers will speak on Thursday, March 16 at 7 p.m. at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Woodward at 11 Mile Road in Royal Oak. $5 donation requested. For more information call 313-579-9079 or visit MCHR’s website at http://www.mchr.org.
On March 30, Myers will speak from 1-2 p.m. in Building K, Room 324 of Macomb Community College’s South Campus at 12 Mile and Hayes roads in Warren. An optional spaghetti buffet lunch with the author will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in Room 345. Tickets for the luncheon are $12 and must be purchased from the cashier’s office at South Campus by March 24. For more information on the presentation, contact Lesley Lambright at 586-445-7235. To inquire about tickets for the buffet lunch, call 586-445-7198.