There's something about the views of Peter Jensen that would have been exasperatingly familiar to any gay man or lesbian, yet those views still induce a kind of holy amazement.
Sentiments such as "[the homosexual] lifestyle is spiritually perilous" and "[the homosexual] lifestyle is unhealthy", then remarks about "the dereliction of duty of the medical profession" and "permanent disruption in the affairs of the Church", and so on.
What on earth is to be made of a human being who talks in this kind of way in an attempt to be meaningful?
If a character in a play spoke this way, many in the audience would disbelieve him. He would be revealing himself to be in the grip of a baffling affectation, as a man very much set in his ways and views, and who had, in a very real sense, some serious growing up to do.
What is conspicuous about Peter Jensen's words is not simply how blithely insolent they are but how godless they are. They are an attack on thousands of gay and lesbian citizens, unrelieved by so much as a shred of decency or even ordinary benign regard. They betray zero understanding of gays and lesbians as actual people leading actual lives.
This is the problem with lifeless, ecclesiastical rhetoric and this is Peter Jensen's problem. Here we have a man who speaks as if he actually believes that the souls of gay people are "in peril". The lament of Peter Jensen is that he is incapable of understanding that his rhetoric is part of the very problem he thinks he is addressing. He sees moral decay everywhere yet is incapable of mature and enlivened discourse on sexuality. He assumes an entitlement to tutor people about sex and spirit, yet his language is untouched by anything that is tangibly human. If it were otherwise, his language would show an entirely different quality. He would be benevolent and he would be inspirational. He would show great capacity for drawing people beyond confusion, beyond their fears, limitations and misunderstandings about sex. Above all, he would make all people, heterosexual and homosexual, feel truly valued.
Not Peter Jensen. The basis of authentic moral reasoning has eluded him.
He speaks with an unquestioned sense of entitlement about people of whose lives he knows nothing. He has neither the wit nor subtlety to grasp that marriage is something that happens not in a church or synagogue but under the conditions of real human existence.
Every day, gay and lesbian people wake up to someone they love dearly, and who is their intimate partner in life, someone to whom they are, quite literally, married. They face the same joys, expectations, dilemmas, doubts, quarrels and dreams as any heterosexual couple.
Every person who is seriously married - gay or straight, - is leading a religious life.
The first sign of a person leading a religious life is that he or she is a benign person, one capable of great tolerance and understanding.
She or he is not a passive person incapable of action or of speaking his or her mind, but a person for whom continuous goodwill is the necessary measure of actual existence.
I know a heterosexual couple in the city who live this life for real, who have never had to "get hitched" in a place of worship to be married to each other every day of their lives, who peruse the Herald every morning, and who - reading the nonsense coming out of the mouths of the Peter Jensens of this world - shake their heads and roll their eyes.
These are people who inhabit the domain of real life. It's a domain from which Peter Jensen's pulpit is very conspicuously absent.
* Uri Khein is a Waiheke writer.