Friday, June 09, 2006

What’s really at stake (and it certainly isn't sex)

What I believe is that preserving the traditional Anglican theological process of seeking truth in common prayer will still serve us well if we let it. -- +Stacy Sauls


I've just arrived in Columbus -- have only unpacked the laptop so far! -- but wanted to share this stellar analysis by +Stacy Sauls, Bishop of Lexington, as a "must read" for context we prepare to gather for General Convention 2006. More to come ... Susan

What’s really at stake (and it certainly isn't sex)

Sex sells in America. One particular commercial comes to mind. It involves a woman shampooing her hair in an airplane restroom while making incredibly suggestive sounds that are heard to the great shock of everyone else on the flight. What does sex have to do with buying shampoo? Nothing, of course. The Church is learning the hard way what advertisers learned long ago. Sex sells because it pushes decision making from our most rational capacities to our most visceral ones.

The presenting issues of our current controversy in the Church are sexual, specifically whether the Church can be supportive of a certain kind of same sex relationship (marked by mutual love and respect, exclusivity among partners, and lifelong commitment) and whether people in such relationships should hold positions of ordained leadership, especially as bishops. Reasonable, intelligent, and equally committed people of faith, to be sure, hold different and completely rational opinions about these issues. That is not the problem. The problem is that sex pushes us to react viscerally and instinctively instead, and we frequently succumb, as much on one side of the issues as the other. It is this visceral reactivity that is behind the name calling, slander, and rampant immaturity bedeviling us at the moment and getting in the way of any thoughtful resolution of the issues. Visceral may be OK for buying shampoo. Faith deserves better.

Read it all in The Advocate, the Diocese of Lexington's newspaper


Catherine said...

A meaninful and timely piece. Now if we could only get the opposite side of the aisle to read it.

Praying still,


Unknown said...

Yes, Catherine, quite a discussion on this article going on over at T19. Here's the thread:

You can also see that Kendall is dealing with similiar issues as Susan and has to moderate comments.


Milton said...

Catherine, many of us on "the opposite side of the aisle" have read it and find it more of the unconvincing and historically inaccurate and revisionist same. For much better commentary (and non-vitriolic) than I could give you on why, find the thread on Titusonenine and read the comments.

Milton said...

Good heavens!! To post comments, I'm dizzy from jumping several hoops and, oh no, horrors! I've created a
BLOG!! :)


thanks for making the effort, milton!

Catherine said...

I'm sure it has BB. Thank you for the invite. I have been over to T19 and perused several discussions. Thank you again.

And Milton, easy does it ok? I am not being sarcastic here. I think we all need to tone down and calm down. Life is stressful enough without us clammering this way and that as fellow Christians. Let's all simply keep praying that whatever God's will is--and He alone will decide--that it be done.

Milton said...

Catherine, no sarcasm taken nor any sarcasm or ill-will meant in return. It's just that Saul's article strikes me as totally more of both "sides" talking past each other. I hear nothing of the Gospel or the saving grace of Jesus bought with His blood shed on the cross that graces me no longer to live to my lusts (as I previously assuredly did) but to die to myself and live to God in Christ Jesus. To bring up just one phrase I read often from your "side"s proponents, nowhere in the Bible did Jesus say He came for the "radical inclusion" of everyone, no questions asked, no transformation needed to reconcile us born sinners to a holy, holy, holy God whose eyes are too pure to look upon sin. He said that "if anyone would be My disciple, he must die to himself daily, take up his cross and follow Me". When people (the rich young ruler, former disciples who couldn't take His saying that unless they ate His body and drank His blood they would not have life within them) rejected His words and His works and turned away from Him, He didn't say they were "radically included" anyway. There were and are conditions, conditions that we cannot meet on our own, in the flesh. "Then who can be saved?" "With man it is impossible, but with God all things are possible." "Without Me you can do nothing."

Oh yes, unity. Jesus said, "Do you think I came to bring peace upon the earth? No, I tell you, I came to bring a sword." He goes on to quote Micah (He quoted nearly every book of the OT in the Gospels, thus affirming their truth) to say that even family members would be divided against each other over Him. (Compare Matthew 10: 32-39 with Micah 7: 5-8)

After rambling on so long, the shortest statement of the Gospel and the faith that saved me is the title of my blog (sounds like a monster-run for your lives, it's a BLOG!!), Galatians 2: 20. When I read articles more along the lines of that verse, with the conviction that comes from staking your eternal life on its truth, there may be a hope of bridging the chasm between these two very different "faiths". God's grace and peace to you!

Milton said...

Jeff, "lust" and "the flesh" do not refer only to sexual sins but to our fallen, inborn tendency to prefer and live out of our own self-will that is opposed to God's will until we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. In fact, until this happens, we put our own will before God as an idol in our hearts.

Jesus' message "love thy neighbor" was radical (especially applying it to the Samaritans the Jews despised), but that wasn't what got Him crucified. He said Himself that He came (among other reasons) to be the sacrifice for our sins, so ultimately it was the will of the Father, obeyed in perfect submission by the Son ("He is the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the world")that crucified Him. But the Pharisees said that it was because Jesus, being a man, claimed to be God, blasphemy deserving death. The only defense against that sentence would be, of course, if that man really WAS God, the reality that Jesus tried repeatedly to get the Pharisees to see but to which they hardened their hearts to the end.

Catherine said...

Thank you Milton for sharing so much. I appreciate the depth of your reply as well as the time you took to provide it. I tried to get to your blog but as usual with, there is some technical glitch that is preventing me from visiting your site. I will try later. Peace to you too, Milton!

Catherine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"Milton -

I'm not so sure I agree with you.

I think that is a very literal reading."

That in a nutshell is what's wrong with an apparently large faction in the ECUSA. Without any Scriptural or traditional backing, Jeff dismisses the argument of Milton that Christ was killed for the crime of blasphemy, despite the Scriptures' plain reading.

I already read Stacy Sauls' well-written piece. Looking forward to reading more informed commentary at T19.


Milton said...

Catherine, quite welcome. No technical problem with my "blog". I only created the shell of one to be able to comment here; I don't have the time or the urgent impulse to maintain a real blog.

Jeff, I will reply later when I can give your comment the time it deserves. I will say now that our little discussion only illustrates more clearly how different our basic premises of faith are, and how utterly different and irreconcilable these two "churches" under one roof have become. We are following two entirely different maps, both purporting to be of the same territory. No wonder our paths have diverged from each other, to end at two very different destinations.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, maybe I should start leaving stuff at your blog rather than hogging up space here. However, as long as the hostess indulges...

My luck, my server doesn't seem to like CANN and the CANN-hosted sites, so T19 is off limits to me.

But in any case, the reason I'm even on this blog is that I'm looking for reasoned commentary from a point of view that differs from my own. My interest in Anglicanism/Episcopalianism stems from my belief that your communion is like the canary in the mineshaft. The Episcopalian Church at the pew level seems to engage contemporary movements (such as women's liberation, the US divorce culture, and LGBT) a few years in advance of the RCC in this country. I'm trying to understand your theology in your own terms, not through some conservative Catholic caricature.

Quite frankly, I'm not as firmly behind the conservative Episcopalians as you might surmise. I find the gay marriage thing like swallowing a gnat compared to accepting divorce in both the laity and clergy. Ditto for the change of the BCP, which would seem more fundamental for a communion that bases itself on common worship more than upon common belief. So I'm trying to learn from my admittedly conservative Catholic point of view why this particular step caused such controversy when other seemingly more fundamental items did not.


Renee in Ohio said...

I joined the Episcopal church shortly after the last General Convention, and, at least in part because of the decision to elevate Bishop Robinson. Long story, which I can tell another time. But I've been looking forward to this event for the past couple years, and now, look, it done snuck up on me! I don't know how much convention I'll be able to attend, because our family really can't afford for me to take a lot of time off work. But I definitely want to hear Bishop Robinson speak.

I'm going to start posting about GC06 and related issues at my own blog, here.