+Kirk Smith, Bishop of Arizona (and a former clergy colleague of mine here in Los Angeles) has published his reflections on the House of Bishops Meeting in his weekly E-Pistle posted online over at Episcopal Cafe. In particular, +Kirk wrote about what he'd heard from the Archbishop of Canterbury.
In broad terms he asked us to postpone our own church’s agenda in favor of peace in the larger Communion. That desire was more strongly expressed by four members of the Anglican Advisory Council who spoke to us this morning. They again urged us to consider affirming in some way what was asked of us by the Primates at their February meeting in Dar Es Salaam, namely to refrain from consecrating openly gay bishops and approving same sex blessings; offer alternative primatial oversight to dioceses who wish it; and allow our church to be monitored by a council made up of other Provinces.
Most of us feel again the frustration of being caught in the conundrum of wanting to walk with our world-wide partners without turning our backs on our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. Many of us also believe we have already done all we can to appease those who differ with us in these matters. It seems we are being given a “Sophie’s choice,” being ask to pick who we love more. Whatever choice is made, people will be hurt. Even the option of refusing to choose can be interpreted by both parties as rejection.
I've actually used that "Sophie's choice" metaphor myself in the past to describe the place we find ourselves in the Anglican Communion: that we're being forced to choose between the gay and lesbian baptized and our Anglican Communion brothers and sisters.
And someone (I forget who ... if it was you email me and I'll give you credit) talked me out of using it anymore by saying, "In order for it to be a Sophie's choice there have to be Nazis with guns pointed at you. And there aren't any. There are just people who are trying to make you think there are."
And they were right. The only "guns" out there are threats by Primates who insist on the exclusion of the LGBT faithful as the criterion for their inclusion at the table. The only weapons being deployed are the intercontinental ballistic bishops being consecrated and launched as weapons of mass discrimination against the American Episcopal Church.
There is, I am convinced, an ontological difference between feeling excluded because you're disagreed with and being excluded because of who you are. Watching brothers and sisters walk away from the Episcopal Church because they've been disagreed with is a painful thing. The Episcopal Church walking away from the gay and lesbian baptized to preserve the unity of the Anglican Communion is a sinful thing.
As hard a choice as it is it is not a Sophie's choice. It is a Gospel choice and it is time for the bishops to make it.