Tuesday, January 16, 2007

And there you have it ...

Posted below are the "clif notes" version of the challenges du jour facing the Church/Communion courtesy the ever-articulate Fr. Jake.

Yes, Kendall Harmon and others will point out (once again) that we're "getting it wrong" ... that they get to say what the issue is. Whatever. This is our truth as we know it. This our challenge and we're facing it. This is the church being called to its best self and we're embracing it.

"Not," as Paul Woodrum says in his essay on TEM, "because it is politic or impolitic, acceptable to some but not to others, but because it is right.

From Father Jake: It appears some within the Anglican Communion do not understand the situation as some of us within the Episcopal Church see it. It does not matter what the Primates do. It does not matter what Dr. Williams says. Because, regardless of the consequences, discrimination based on race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, is always wrong, and contrary to the Good News of God made known to us through Jesus Christ.

In the words of Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning, "in this Church there will be no outcasts." Let those who desire to once again put in place a human hierarchy of being do what they must. We will not be swayed by threats of exclusion or punishment. We will not repent, because we believe, with no equivocation, that we have not only done nothing requiring such repentance, but that we are championing God's vision of the Kingdom. We will continue to stand against discrimination and bigotry because it is the right thing to do.


The Pilgrim said...

I'll see your one Browning "in this Church there will be no outcasts,"
and raise you Paul's "Fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites (arsenokoita), thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers— none of these will inherit the kingdom of God."

St. Paul trumps Browning any day.

Ann said...

Dear The Pilgrim - Let's not gamble with human lives. Leave the judging to God - not a dice thrower nor a card shark.

Dennis said...

Good heavens, the pilgrim, that leaves a lot of people out.

The odd thing is that those of us in the mental health biz hear nice, polite middle class people who are upstanding people in their churches talk about doing all of these things. That means that you need to get to work right now checking the members of your local parish, seeing who this includes. What, you aren't going to throw out a senior warden for worshiping his investments (idolatry) or ask too many questions about the sunday school teacher's social drinking?

Then why on earth are you so freakin' obsessed with chasing down the lives of gay and lesbian people in the church.

Let's see some consistency from the so-called traditionalists. Either the witch hunts include everybody and all of the members of the church must make a clean admission to the Inquisition or let's not even start down that road.

Otherwise some people start to look a little selective, hypocritical, even. We wouldn't want to become revilers who don't inherit the kingdom, here.

Good luck finding a big enough microscope to look at every Episcopalian in your diocese

Ellie M said...

Woodrum is assuming that the motive of reasserters is bigotry. I don't think that's a fair assumption. All the reasserters I've encountered have been motivated by a sincere desire to be faithful to the scriptures. I see no hate in these people, just a different approach to living a godly life.

Does reappraiser "inclusiveness" not include different viewpoints, then?


ellie ...

progressive inclusivity absolutely includes different viewpoints. It is, however, difficult to include those whose criteria for being included is being agreed with.

therein -- as they say -- lies the rub.

PS - I do not believe Paul assumes the "motivation is bigotry" but I believe he correctly names bigotry as one of the fruits of the spirit of the absolutism that pervades the self-described reasserter camp.

Karen B. said...

Rev. Susan wrote:

It is, however, difficult to include those whose criteria for being included is being agreed with.

Susan+, I fear that is precisely the dilemma the Anglican Communion is facing with regards to TEC. TEC is demanding that the rest of the Communion agree with it, as your post here demonstrates. There will be no further listening, no further consideration of what the Primates or other instruments of unity have to say. You've made up your minds that you're right, so damn the consequences (torpedos), full speed ahead.

And I appreciate your clarity and honesty. It does seem that irrevokable lines have been drawn because both "sides" believe we're dealing with issues of ultimate truth on which there can be no compromise.

Jim Strader said...

Susan B - My understanding of historic Anglicanism is that there has been little if anything of ethical, scriptural, or ecclesial, nature that has brought an end to Anglicanism's comprehensive nature. Puritans, Methodists, Roman Catholics, and others have elected to depart from underneath Anglicanism's tent but, since the 16th Century, there has not been to this point in time an internal, consolidated effort to reform the nature of Anglicanism's "Via Media."

Readers can likewise consider the term "ultimate truth" to be a misnomer in Anglicanism. We hold very few things to be ultimately true other than those “doctrines” such as the creeds and other historical documents that are commonly upheld and liturgically adopted. Anglicans have never looked into the windows of other human beings souls to determine such persons understandings of Jesus the Christ divine and human natures. Anglicanism is not a confessional religion.

You may be correct in suggesting that an amicable separation between dissenting parties would be the best solution for Anglicans around the world but it would not be an historical Anglican solution.

The Pilgrim said...

Dennis: That is a straw man. I do not own that characterization.

It is not, contrary to Via Media and Integrity, about homosexuality. It is about scriptural authority. Always has been, always will be. Paul's writings are Scripture, Bishop Browning's are not. It's as simple as that. And no one is trying to "kick homosexuals out of the church", anymore than they are trying to get rid of idolators, alcoholics or anyone who is a sinner -- hey! That's ALL of us!

What does grate on the conservatives is when a group of people says that their particular inclination, contrary to Scripture, is not a sin after all, and that God glories in their shortcomings; that Jesus loves them just as they are and there is no reason to change or better their lives, that living an active lifestyle CONTRARY TO SCRIPTURE is no reason to repent.

Conoscenzo said...

I think the Anglican way would be to seek the middle way which you seem to cry out for and then argue against.

Allow me to illustrate. On the issue of homosexuality, there are some that think it to be an abomination and should not be tolerated (what I will call the negative view for no other reason than the word NOT is there, this is not a judgment on the position though). There are those that think it is perfectly natural and they see no difference between heterosexuality and homosexuality. Then there are those who do not think it’s “perfectly natural” but then again don’t think they should call it an outright sin, but a “disordered union”, because they feel they are passing judgment on the person and that this is not for them to do, but this is God’s prerogative.

The success of the “positive” view seems to be based on the fact that they have eliminated the neutral position from the dialog – either you are positive or you or negative. Once the argument has shifted to allow only the negative they can paint anyone in the neutral position as a “homophobe”. This label is precisely what the neutral parties are trying to avoid as they do not want to be perceived as “passing judgment”. In addition, because of the polarization of the argument, the “negative” camp and the more stalwart of the “neutral” camp have had to become strange bedfellows even furthering the “positive” camp’s ability to paint the issue as “homophobic”.

For reason to prevail and a return to a more “Classically Anglican” solution is not to try to convince the positive camp they are incorrect on their interpretation of Christianity. They don’t appear to be basing their interpretation on anything “rational” so a “rational” argument will never change their minds. The way to prevail is to shift the argument back to the three option solution.

With All Christian Love

Dr. Joan said...

So now we have SIN, NON-SIN, and SO-SO (or "middle ground) SIN. Right?
Goes right along with Rev. Susan's point about "her truth" vs anyone else's truth. Is there NEVER one simple truth?
I go along with The Pilgrim: St. Paul trumps Browning any day. And Dennis: Sin is sin whether we all do it or not. The point a reasserter makes is that Jesus helps us deal with sin, does NOT allow us to redefine it and live "into" it.

uffda51 said...

I’ve just watched the entire 21 minute video entitled “Choose This Day,” at anglicandecision.com. I heard a lot of words spoken in great sincerity.

Insidious. Hijacked. Pagan. Counterfeit. Insane. Non-Christian. Forgery. Current culture. Alien religion. All underscored by gentle, soothing music.

I never heard the words gay, lesbian or homosexual. How is it that none of these folks can even say the words that provoke in them such fear, disgust and horror? Wow.

I would have more respect for these folks if they came out and said exactly what they mean. I can only conclude that some people have some very odd and mistaken notions about gay people. Or perhaps some of these folks still believe that they have never met a gay person.

Faithfulness to the scriptures to me is less important than listening to the Holy Spirit. If we are faithful to the scriptures then the earth is flat, the moon is a source of light, slavery is acceptable and women cannot own property or vote. Epileptics are demon-possessed and lepers are unclean. Haven’t 200+ years of biblical scholarship told us anything about the context in which the Bible was written?

Was Jesus a reasserter, a conservative, a traditionalist, or was he a proponent of a radically inclusive love that upset the church establishment? Didn’t the abolitionists make a lot of orthodox, traditional church goers uncomfortable? Didn’t Bishop Tutu make a lot of orthodox, traditional church goers uncomfortable? Didn’t the American suffragettes make a lot of orthodox, traditional church goers uncomfortable? Is the comfort level of the traditionalists really our primary concern?

Were the writers of Leviticus experts on human sexuality? Is there no possibility that the Bible could be mistaken about human sexuality? Isn’t sexual orientation, like eye color, hair color and skin color, determined in the womb? Or is it something we sign up for, like allegiance to a major league baseball team, which could change if the team ever left Brooklyn? If we are committed to the “absolute truth” of Leviticus, shouldn’t we still be killing people who work on the Sabbath?

I see nothing whatsoever about homosexuality that is sinful. Period. I don’t “love the sinner, hate the sin” because there is no sin to hate. I love the person, created in the image of God, as we all are. No repentance by anyone is required.

I do the hate idea that suggests that LGBTs are somehow a sub-class of human beings. I do hate the idea that Gene Robinson was forced to wear a bullet proof vest to his ordination. I do not see the spirit of God at work in these ideas.

In the heart of hearts of reasserters, is the Holy Spirit truly calling for the exclusion of LGBTs by the church? Jesus said "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35). I don’t see how anyone can see this as a command to exclude LGBTs from full communion in TEC.

Yes, it’s about faithfulness. Faithfulness to God and the Holy Spirit. But we also recognize that religious institutions are all too infallible, that human beings are all too often fearful of the unfamiliar, and that no one group has a monopoly on absolute truth. We recognize that the Bible is the lens through which we see God, but that we are called upon to worship God, not the lens.

I think that if the folks who made this video came to my church and saw gay people preach the gospel, perform the liturgy, decorate the church, provide the music, place their tithes in the plate, rejoice in their children, receive the Eucharist, and help to run all of the outreach programs we have, side by side with their so-called straight brethren, they too might hear the Holy Spirit calling to them. As for me, I choose this day to stand with Gene Robinson, as I sincerely believe God has called me to do.


Bruce Babcock

Anonymous said...

back on this subject, i believe i have made many mistakes in my time. as a 40 year old gay man in san diego i have purportedly based a large portion of my existance based on the fact that i manipulate people and am a down right jerk. i am gay... but i don't like myself. maybe if i'm lucky someone will come see me and carve a few more scars in my chest. my dear ole' dad would be rolling over in his grave if he saw the way i treat my fellow man.