Go read the Draft of the Preliminary Report of the Special Committee to Study Issues of Civil Union and Christian Marriage to the 219th General Assembly. Then come back to my rant here.
Here is my one sentence response to the committee - mutual forbearance is only possible or meaningful in the absence of coercion.
It is not possible for someone to exercise forbearance against their oppressor. That is submission to tyranny. When we have a situation where those who oppose same-gender marriage are free to abstain, and those who favor it are free to perform or enter into same-gender marriages then a call to mutual forbearance would be both appropriate and feasible. Until then it is a cowardly appeal to the status quo.
I realize that probably sounded harsh. I was not privy to the work of the committee. I know one of the committee members, Rev. Derrick Weston, and admire him a great deal. Furthermore, the report contains much that is valuable - the overview of the history, and legal situation of marriage, as well as the admirable attempt to state a variety of viewpoints impartially. Ultimately, though, rather than making the substance of their conclusion about civil unions or marriage it is an emotional appeal to unity.
The committee is absolutely right about the importance of universal submission to Christ. Right about the need for respect and civility in our dialogue. These to me are obvious truths that bear frequent repeating, but don't actually impinge on the core debate which is whether we will permit our clergy to perform same-gendered marriages or our members enter into them. The conclusion is a non-conclusion.
As a progressive I understand the appeal, and sense the sage nodding of heads, behind the idea of living in the tension, of accepting that there are no easy solutions, of agreeing to disagree. But that obscures the fact that the two sides are not playing on equal footing here. At present there is no liberty. The progressive side is bound coercively to play according conservative beliefs the entire time we are in this season of discernment and prayer. This is no "mutual" forbearance at all. One side must forbear while the other is content with the status quo.
I'm not surprised by the report in the slightest. Like the PUP report before it, this committee has chosen, admirably, to go down the path of understanding and fellowship rather than arriving at conclusions. I have no doubt it was a fruitful season for the members of the committee of growing in affection for one another. Maybe we should all just get on committees and talk about these things face to face so we can all grow in respect and love. But we probably shouldn't expect anything to come out of these committees which looks anything like a decision. The stalemate is deep and lasting (for now).
Which is why liberty is imperative. When everyone is free to marry or not marry - then we can talk about mutual forbearance.