Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Slow Day at Schism Central

It must be a slow news day at Schism Central.

The reason I think that to be true is that I got a "Google Alert" this morning that one of them had written something that included "all saints church pasadena" (what I have Google set to Alert me about) endorsing what's being called a "Pansexual Declaration."

OK. I bit. Clicked on the link and found this "breaking news" headline:

263 Episcopal Clergy including 20 Bishops Endorse Pansexual Declaration

Turns out the breaking news is not so breaking. Turns out I signed the aforementioned declaration -- while I was Associate Rector at St. Peter's, San Pedro. (And since I'm about to celebrate my 8th Homecoming Sunday at All Saints Church, that was -- suffice to say -- awhile back!) Running quickly down the list I also spied Michael Hopkins -- President of Integrity. (not for a while) Mark Hollingsworth -- Archdeacon. (now a bishop) And Fred Borsch -- Bishop of Los Angeles. (+Jon's going on 10 years!)

Hello. If there really isn't anything new to report from Schism Central, how about giving it a rest and -- oh, I don't know ... how about:

Training some acolytes. Visiting some shut-ins. Organizing a rummage sale to buy malaria nets for Malawi.

But that's not going to happen, because here's the deal: They're not interested in mission and ministry! They're so busy worrying about what we might be doing in bed that they run out of time to work on what they might be doing in the world.

So ... for the record ... there IS no breaking news out of Schism Central. The knickers in a knot are for naught. AND ... in case you're interested ... here's copy of the darned fine declaration that has them all so hot and bothered ... multiple years after the fact. (You might just want to go sign on yourself ... it looks like might not be too late!)

Religious Declaration on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing

Sexuality is God's life-giving and life-fulfilling gift. We come from diverse religious communities to recognize sexuality as central to our humanity and as integral to our spirituality. We are speaking out against the pain, brokenness, oppression, and loss of meaning that many experience about their sexuality.

Our faith traditions celebrate the goodness of creation, including our bodies and our sexuality. We sin when this sacred gift is abused or exploited. However, the great promise of our traditions is love, healing, and restored relationships.

Our culture needs a sexual ethic focused on personal relationships and social justice rather than particular sexual acts. All persons have the right and responsibility to lead sexual lives that express love, justice, mutuality, commitment, consent, and pleasure. Grounded in respect for the body and for the vulnerability that intimacy brings, this ethic fosters physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It accepts no double standards and applies to all persons, without regard to sex, gender, color, age, bodily condition, marital status, or sexual orientation.

God hears the cries of those who suffer from the failure of religious communities to address sexuality. We are called today to see, hear, and respond to the suffering caused by violence against women and sexual minorities, the HIV pandemic, unsustainable population growth and over-consumption, and the commercial exploitation of sexuality.

Faith communities must therefore be truth seeking, courageous, and just. We call for:

•Theological reflection that integrates the wisdom of excluded, often silenced peoples, and insights about sexuality from medicine, social science, the arts and humanities.

•Full inclusion of women and sexual minorities in congregational life, including their ordination and the blessing of same sex unions.

•Sexuality counseling and education throughout the lifespan from trained religious leaders.

•Support for those who challenge sexual oppression and who work for justice within their congregations and denomination.

Faith communities must also advocate for sexual and spiritual wholeness in society. We call for:

•Lifelong, age appropriate sexuality education in schools, seminaries, and community settings.

•A faith-based commitment to sexual and reproductive rights, including access to voluntary contraception, abortion, and HIV/STD prevention and treatment.

•Religious leadership in movements to end sexual and social injustice.

God rejoices when we celebrate our sexuality with holiness and integrity. We, the undersigned, invite our colleagues and faith communities to join us in promoting sexual morality, justice, and healing.


Bill Carroll said...

Quite frankly I suspect that some folks are worried that people are having sex at all, let alone enjoying it.

I think D039 (2000), states well the norms that should apply to all sexual relationships among Christians.

"Resolved, That we expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God."

In addition to that, we should acknowledge the ambiguities around sexual life. Not every relationship that is not normative in one or more respects is ipso facto sinful, and even relationships that involve sin (i.e. all of them) may promote both premoral and moral goods. We are God's good creatures, fallen, beloved, and redeemed. At the same time, quite properly, D039 explicitly denounces "promiscuity, exploitation, and abusiveness."

Beyond that, we should favor civil liberties for all persons, regardless of how they conform or fail to conform to the Church's present conception of morality, criminalizing only acts of violence and exploitation.

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

A fair assessement, it seems to me.