by Larry Graham
The world is flat. The bible says so.
That was the teaching, until human investigation discovered otherwise. What happened to all of those flat-Earth people? With a few exceptions that are still around today, they either (a) became educated in the matter or (b) died off. No amount of intense belief; no amount of impassioned prayer will make the Earth flat.
But the Church tried very hard to make it flat anyhow.
Question: Who was responsible for the disruptions caused by this discovery? The astronomers? The church? Galileo took the blame, under pressure, and the Church was in the wrong.
While I agree that cultural differences lie at the root of our current Communion difficulties, I find it impossible to accept that we should give equal time and importance to ignorance and truth. While all cultures should be appreciated and all persons honored, all cultures are not created equal. It's time we stopped pretending that they are.
Cultures that practice blood sacrifice, female genital mutilation, or sell their children into slavery are not on a par with those that don't. Uneducated persons, in any society, are apt to be frightened of new ideas that they don'tunderstand or that their culture holds as wrong. Saying that homosexuality doesn't exist in Africa, or that it's an anomaly of decadent Western culture may play well among ignorant populations -- here and abroad. But it isn't true.
And we are supposed to be on the side of truth. It may be appropriate to acknowledge that we have rocked the boat. It is inappropriate to say that we're sorry for doing so. And it is flat out wrong to fail to acton what we know as true, just because somebody is offended by it.
I suggest that we should say something like "we have been blessed by Divine Providence with the knowledge, insight, scientific tools and time to inquire into the nature of homosexuality. We acknowledge that the new truths that have emerged can be distrubing. We have acted on these new truths through the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and we understand this has caused tension. We can see that God is doing a new thing. We desire to share this understanding with the wider Communion."
We do not need to dumb down our beliefs. (We can leave that to the fundamentalists who do a very good job of it.) We must not be the Galileos of the present age.
Thanks to Larry Graham (Verger at All Saints, Atlanta) for not only "telling it like it is" but giving permission for me to share his reflections here.