Monday, April 03, 2006

"First they came for ..."

Remember the oft quoted WWII cautionary -- "First they came for the Jews ... ?" I've heard it a lot in the last few years as the pressure has mounted on the American Episcopal Church to sacrifice its LGBT members on the altar of ecclesial unity, only it's been reframed to "First they came for the gays, then they came for the women ..."

Paranoia? A friend and mentor gave me these sage words of advice many years ago, "Just because you're not paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you" -- advice I remembered this morning when I read Peter Toon's recent advice to the Communion At Large: "Women's Ordination in the context of human rights."

I guess I should be comforted that his opposition to the ordination of women is "not because women are evil and men are good, but because to ordain women is to set aside God's will in creation and in the new covenant that man is male and female, in that order." But I'm not.

I'm reminded once again that the challenges we face in the Episcopal Church are about power and privilege and patriarchy and the witness we have to offer of a church striving to fully include ALL of the baptized into the Body of Christ has perhaps never been more critical than it is right now.

If we fail to live up to that high calling -- if we count the cost of discipleship too high to pay and choose institutional unity over prophetic witness by abandoning the LBGT baptized -- then we should not be surprised at whose vocations and ministries will next be the target of "communion-at-any-price."

The cost of discipleship is high -- but not as high as the cost of capitulation.


Anonymous said...

Susan, now your rhetoric has gone over the top. If the Church chooses not to bless some interpersonal relationships, or chooses not to ordain persons involved in some interpersonal relationships, such choices are in no way to "abandon" or "sacrifice" any child of God who means to follow the way of Jesus Christ. Baptism and eucharist are the two sacraments of Christian identity, and neither ordination or marriage are tickets to any finer status.

MWΣ+ said...

I love the quote about paranoia. Now preferred second only to "I think I think, therefore I think I am."

Do you mind clarifying the connection between baptism and inclusion? It's been some time since I've seen an apology for the necessity of baptism that didn't come out of right field.


Henry ... standing by the rhetoric once again. How do you reconcile "choosing to bless some interpersonal relationships" with the whole theology of sacrament -- that relationships that are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual graces are already a blessing -- to the couple and to the community -- and that the Church just adds the "amen" to what God has already blessed? And while you are entirely correct that neither ordination nor marriage are "tickets to any finer status" neither should they be restricted to a percentage of the baptized based solely on race, gender, orientation or any other God-given aspect of our human nature.

And for "mwo" ... The foundation of my theology of inclusion IS my theology of baptism. In the Episcopal Church when we baptize a baby there's a point in the service where we ask the congregation, "Will you support this person in her life in Christ?"

The answer is "We will!" and -- as I'm fond of noting -- there is no * after "this person" that says *unless she turns out to be a lesbian.

Supporting a person in her life in Christ means full and equal claim on the church AND full and equal responsibility to take up a life of discipleship -- a theology that I happen to think comes squarely out of CENTER field!

Anonymous said...

"Full and equal claim on the Church?" Again, this is very unChristian rhetoric. How can Christ's Church OWE anyone of us? How can Christ's Church be conceived as anything like real property, or a mother lode of gold or diamonds, or a party to a contract?


Henry, "full and equal claim" is the language used in 1976 by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in the resolution affirming that homosexual persons were [a] children of God and (therefore) entitled to the aforementioned "full and equal claim."

You might find the background paper "Where We Stand" helpful in bringing you up to date ... it's online at

Anonymous said...

General Convention resolutions do not revise, edit, or amend the truth of Jesus Christ.

Anonymous said...

I really think you need to repent and find Jesus. You are way too cute to be a lesbian. My prayers are with you. David P.S. Did you have a bad experience as a child?

Anonymous said...

"Supporting a person in her life in Christ means full and equal claim on the church"

You must admit, though, that we, on the conservative side, do not impede inclusion when we insist that the church also uphold the other statements in the baptismal liturgy, such as "Do you renounce all sinful desires that draw you from the love of God?" We, unlike you, state these certain desires to be not of God, and therefore something that draws away from God's love. You might not agree with that, but don't try to make it about our lack of inclusion of the baptized.

For us it is not about excluding part of the faithful, but rather living up to our command from St. Paul to correct each other, gently, and only in love. Some of those on the conservative side, as I can tell from some comments on your blog, have forgotten about the "in love" part. For those I apologize to you. I have known several lesbians and tried to support each in their life in Christ, without neglecting that part of my Christian responsibility. There can be no real Christian community unless Christians are willing to correct, and be corrected, in love.


for j. duncan ...

"We, unlike you, state these certain desires to be not of God, and therefore something that draws away from God's love."

So the question becomes: who has the power to decide -- to discern -- what is of God and what is not? ECUSA has discerned -- after 30 years of study, prayer and contemplation -- that there are INDEED such relationships that fall within the bounds of our common faith.

You disagree.

We believe there is room in this church for both perspectives to live together in communion in spite of our differences.

Some insist this is the "line in the sand" over which the church must DECIDE or SPLIT. At which point the conversation becomes not about theology or sexuality but about the power to include or to exclude.

Which brings me back to naming this as an inclusion issue.

Gusdog said...

Rev. Susan,

So the question becomes: who has the power to decide -- to discern -- what is of God and what is not? ECUSA has discerned -- after 30 years of study, prayer and contemplation -- that there are INDEED such relationships that fall within the bounds of our common faith.

There’s the rub. Many of us don’t believe that ECUSA can discern the will of God that is against the teaching of scripture, the historic catholic faith, the theology of most of the Anglican Communion, and of most of the Christian world.

Let’s take something that we all could probably agree is sin. This probably makes a lousy parallel, so take it for what it is. The last commandment of the Decalogue is this: you shall not covet. Coveting what others have is an impediment to a loving relationship with God, which is why God tells us not to do it.

My mother has the worst problem with this commandment. She constantly compares her house, her car, etc. to those of family and friends, and covets theirs. She has serious trouble getting along with my aunt because my aunt has a much nicer house, and doesn’t have to work as hard. She buys more stuff to try to outdo her friends, and is in constant debt because of it. All of her children have tried to awaken her to this sin, which does nothing but hurt her, and she can’t see it. I could go on, but I think anyone reading this gets the picture.

Now, my mother is not an Episcopalian. But I would not exclude her from worship or fellowship based upon her sinfulness. Certainly, I have plenty of sin of my own. I love my mother, and even if she weren’t my mother, I would love her as a sister in Christ. I’m saddened by the way that her sin impedes her relationships with God and others, but she is redeemed by the blood of our Lord, and I have no doubt that God loves her.

Now, if the church decided that the 10 Commandments were just a really good idea for the Israelites, but that our notion of covetousness was more enlightened, then I would have a huge problem. It’s not that I have problems with those who covet; heck, I’m guilty of it myself sometimes. My problem would be with the church deciding to overrule God.

If the church continued to overrule God, I would be forced to conclude the church was in apostasy. The church would have to change, or I would have to find a way to be in communion with the greater church that held to the catholic faith. (BTW, I’m still am Episcopalian, so I’m not one who has decided that ECUSA is in apostasy and left).

Now, I’m sure I haven’t said anything here that hasn’t been said a hundred times during the last three years, and in the discussions prior. My intent is not really to change anyone’s mind here, and I have no delusions that what I’ve written has been earth shattering (or very good, really ). I guess my point is, I know God loves those of you who are LGBT. And I love you too. Susan, I have never met you, but I love you as my sister in Christ. And it saddens me that so many people hate you because of your sexual orientation.

I do believe that God calls us to be celibate outside of marriage between a man and woman. If my belief means that you don’t think I am keeping the command to love my neighbor as myself, then you are welcome to that opinion, and we can agree to disagree. As far as exclusion goes, that’s a tougher question. If inclusion means worshipping and sharing Eucharist with those with whom I disagree on such matters, then I am inclusive. If it means accepting as church doctrine that sex outside of the bonds of marriage is not sinful, then I am not. If it means that Scripture is outdated, then I am not. (I know the debate is much more complex than that; I’m not trying to oversimplify. I’m just trying to keep this book to one volume).

Thanks for the opportunity to post. May the Lord’s peace be with you all.


Gusdog said...

Wow. I killed the thread. Sorry...