Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Just in time for the Primates Meeting!

The timing is no accident - not when an Episcopal public figure such as a the dean of an Episcopal Seminary gets married to another woman in an extremely public event officiated by a sitting diocesan bishop just before the meeting of the Anglican Communion Primates in Ireland.

So the question is, what will Bishop Schori face if she shows up for the Primates Meeting later this month?  

Boycotting is another political act.  Do we assume that every single primate is in their position because of God's calling - if He didn't want them there, He'd take them out.  He is certainly capable.  But He hasn't.  Why is that?  Who are we really mad at - the leadership or God?  Could it be that God has something to teach us all?  All of us?  Perhaps we should refrain from engaging in more political acts (and frankly we're up to our eyeballs in these grandiose theatrics), and instead just show up.  It's not easy to show up, but that's what leadership is about - showing up when it's hard.

It is important to show up, especially after slap-in-your-face political (and make mistake about it, it is political) theatrics such as this communion-tearing event in Cambridge.  To not show up gives this political act power it does not deserve.  These actions in Cambridge are of a spoiled child not getting their way (and isn't that interesting - in fact, this looks far more like a fundraising event complete with iconic photographs and press coverage than a nice family wedding).  Let us not respond in a similar way, with our own well-intentioned but still at the end of the day political theatrics.  The time of boycotting is over - it is not the time to run and hide, but stand up and be counted.

God didn't call bishops - primates even - to sit at home with their arms folded, but to stand up and lead.  And at the end of the day, what will matter most is what the Lord says in the midst of those gathered, for He always always always shows up.

104 comments:

Ann said...

I am sure the Primates meeting was not part of the wedding plans - they have been engaged since last summer and this was a date when all their friends could gather. Like any couple planning their ceremony.

Wilf said...

A great part of me agrees that "boycotting is a political act" and would love to see those Primates that have said they would be absent, to show.

On the other hand, I think a charitable reading of their non-attendance is not necessarily to shoe-horn it into the notion of a boycott. They may simply be unable to attend because of clear Scriptural injunctions, as in II John. They may even feel they were mistaken to attend previous Primates Meetings.

I suppose they could also show at the venue, but explain what it is they can not do, with all the time and expense thereby incurred for perhaps nothing. Though it might still be worth it.

Wilf said...

Sorry bb, I should have followed your link. The act is clearly described as a "boycott."

BabyBlue said...

They are not like any couple - this is not a civil government act, this is advertised as a "wedding" between two Episcopal women priests, one being the Dean of an official Episcopal seminary. They advertised this "wedding" (which the Anglican Communion has officially pleaded with TEC to step away from over and over and over again) as a media event. The Episcopal Church does not officially recognize weddings between women. It doesn't. There is no approved liturgy. A wedding is a public worship service with liturgy approved by General Convention. So this is a political act. It follows in the footsteps of earlier political acts that forced social and theological change.

The passive aggressive nature of these political acts (the sort of put-on southern drawl of "who - little ol' me? Why I don't know what you're talking about, honey,") contributes to the other side wanting to engage in political actions of its own, namely boycotts, which of course can be another passive aggressive action. Pretending that this is a "wedding" when it's not - even though the diocesan bishop presides over it - is political. This kind of political action has been going on effectively for three decades at least. The activists keep doing it because it appears to work. But the reality is TEC is in a serious financial and spiritual crisis, shutting down churches, causing dioceses to seriously consider folding or merging, mortgaging 815 to pay for multi-million dollar loan it hasn't paid on in years, etc) which now is spreading into the communion.

Making statements that this is just "like any couple planning their ceremony" is nearly satirical - only it's not very funny. These are two Episcopal priests, one with the authority over future Episcopal priests. It's political, as much as boycotting is political. Let's name it and move on.

bb

Ann said...

They are like any other couple who love each other and want to make a life long commitment - never thought they would see the day when they could invite all their friends and community to witness their vows and be blessed by the church. Actually there is room for this wedding in the resolutions of the last GC -= a pastoral accommodation where same sex marriage is legal as in MA. The fact that you see plots and schemes does not take away for the act of love.

BabyBlue said...

Ann, it's just not going to work here. You are giving us the Talking Points. This isn't 1991 - it's 2011.

So let's just unpack the talking points:

TALKING POINTS

When confronted with the obvious, that this in not really a wedding but a political action, here is the list of official talking points:

1. Tell your opponent that the activists "are like any other couple who love each other," and draw attention away from the facts that there is no approved Episcopal liturgy for an official wedding - that indeed, in the eyes of the church, they are not married.

2. Tell them that that the individuals in question "want to make a life long commitment" inferring that if there opposition it is uncharitable to deny them this "desire." This will put your opponent in the reactionary position.

3. Focus on how the individuals in question want to "invite all their friends and community to witness their vows," and divert attention away from the fact that the press releases have been written, favorite media have been called, progressive blogs are alerted, and there is time for official photographs to be published in newspapers across the country.

4. Divert attention away from the fact that the Episcopal Church operates with the use of official liturgies in its public worship services, which include weddings, and instead focus on the euphemistic phrase,"pastoral accommodation." Under no circumstances should you draw attention to the fact that this "pastoral accommodation" was set up so that political actions could drive forward the establishment of official liturgies at the 2012 General Convention, of which major fund raising needs to be accomplished in 2011 to move that political action forward.

4. The Boomerang Effect: When confronted with opposition to public political activities, complain about the opposition seeing "plots and schemes," and instead turn the focus on to "the act of love." This will cause your opponent to be placed again in the reactive position and thereby neutralized.

bb

Ann said...

Thanks for your help with my "talking points" I did not realize I had them before your note. That is what I mean by seeing things that are not there.

Robin G. Jordan said...

It also shows how the Episcopal Church's liberal bishops have advanced this particular agenda. Bishop Shaw himself presided at the ceremony and blessed the couple.

Sibyl said...

God has set sacred boundaries for sexual relationships. Same-sex sexual acts are sin. To approve of sin is sin. Romans 1:18-32

What irony for people to try to change the church and God's law to fit their own desires.

Grandpa Dino said...

Satan laughs. Jesus wept.

Lapinbizarre said...

As you say, BB, 2011, not 1991. Get used to it.

You'll enjoy this link - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00x3qy7

Pageantmaster said...

Are you sure you don't mean 1611, thoroughly modern rabbit?

Thanks though for the link which I will listen to.

Lapinbizarre said...

I was responding to BB's comment above, #6 on this thread, Pageantmaster. 1991 is her date.

The first of the three BBC programmes, the only one of the three I have heard so far, is exceedingly good.

Pageantmaster said...

Oh I knew what you were responding to, but wondered if you were not really happier burrowing away into 1611 than 2011 like your Jacobean ancestor rabbits.

I think that I am going to enjoy this year - the AV anniversary is bringing out some very interesting articles and programs on that fascinating work. How extraordinary that it was the chaos and instability of the time which encouraged James to organise the scholars of the day to give of their best to systematically translate and revise our Bible. It wasn't the first English translation, but for its time, it is the best, and a gift and inheritance for us all.

Pageantmaster said...

Mind you, I am partial to the translation of the psalms in the Psalter from the earlier Myles Coverdale translation in the 1539 Great Bible of Henry VIII.

But back on topic, I suspect BB is probably quite right about what this is all about.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, this is a very sad thread. Whether or not this is political theater, the reality is that these two people love each other, want to be married and share a life together. There was a lot of political theatre when Rosa Parks sat on the bus, and when a group of black Americans sat at a "whites only" counter at Woolworth's. This is what needs to be done to create social change (and acceptance). Those of you who fear this use the Bible to support your beliefs but you will not prevail.

Rowan Williams says so very eloquently in the posting by BB. "The Bible tells us that the God we meet in the Bible is the God we meet now....the God who freely creates and is faithful to who He created...and because this is a God who is faithful...and the Church is the kind of church it is, a church that believes in a faithful and forgiving God"
And even more important:
"Because our God is that kind of God...a church unified in its worship and a church made one in the gift of the human spirit."

BabyBlue said...

Yes, it is a very sad thread.

There is no liturgy for same sex couples to get married in the Episcopal Church. Period. We can use all the euphemisms we want, but it still doesn't change that fact. Same sex couples cannot be married in the Episcopal Church - there is no mechanism to do it. Therefore there is a different agenda for such a public event and that is political. It's nothing new. This is how social and theological change has been forced through. It's also a vehicle to raise funds for more political actions. It's the American way!!

The bishop of Massachusetts knows there is no liturgy. So he knows what he's doing as well.

So this is a scam - pure and simple and that's very sad. Those who are participating are either political activists themselves (and since they are well educated priests as well as Dean of an Episcopal seminary we may assume they know exactly what they are doing) or they are victims. But it's not marriage. It's not a wedding. It's a scam. And that's sad, no matter how you slice it - if you are for some kind of compassionate response or if you think this a great step forward or if you think this is contrary to the historic teaching of the Christian Church, whatever - it's a scam.

The timing takes place within weeks of the Primates Meeting. That is either with Bishop Schori's blessing or not. We know she thinks this is where the Episcopal Church should be headed, so if she's signed off on this public media event, then that's quite interesting. It's also in contrast to her silence when the Bishop of New Jersey agreed to a monetary resolution with a departing parish to retain their church property without lawsuits or defrocking. So one does wonder if everyone is happy in Whoville or if 815 is just becoming irrelevant. If Bishop Schori is happy about this then she has some explaining to do when she meets face to face with Rowan Williams later this month in Ireland along with who ever else does decides to show up. The empty chairs will not be a happy sight, no matter how you want to look at it. But sadly it will help justify why there is boycott at all. Why would TEC want to do that?

Whatever is happening, it has deemed serious enough to get Queen Elizabeth II involved - these recent events have ramifications on her Commonwealth, of which the United States is not a member. The empty chairs at the Primates Meeting has implications on the openness of diplomatic channels in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. The Communion is more than just a big church - it is also one of the major channels of diplomatic communication in the world.

That being said, it still seems to be the higher ground to do what a clergy leader, now a bishop, once told me just before Denver 2000. He said that the most important thing to do when it came to gathering together as a church was simply but most importantly to show up.

bb

Ann said...

Tom Shaw was acting within the boundaries of the Episcopal Church- does not matter what the PB thinks - she only has one vote in the HoB. We decided at the last GC to allow this type of liturgy. As to affecting the diplomacy of the world -- I doubt the State Department or the equivalent in UK is worried. I understand that you do not approve of this wedding -- but I guess that is why you don't belong to the Episcopal Church anymore.

BabyBlue said...

There is no General Convention-approved liturgy for weddings/marriages of same sex couples in the Episcopal Church. There is a committee that has been charged with developing the liturgies and they are in need of funding - as are the activist groups who will work to get the liturgies approved at General Convention 2012. What is actually fascinating is this comment that it "does not matter what the PB thinks - she only has one vote in the HoB." That is either a major diss of the PB or an incredibly naive statement. She is the Presider over the House of Bishops - she has enormous power over that house which she has since she became the PB exerted over and over again, including elevating herself to the office of Primates. Frankly you are correct that it was set up so that the PB just was someone picked to run the meeting, but that is not what it's evolved to be, especially since Bishop Schori was enthroned at National Cathedral in November 2006. As Bishop Lee was quoted as saying, a new sheriff was in town.

The Bishop of Massachusetts again can use all the euphemisms he wants - but this is being projected as a wedding, a marriage sanctioned and therefore recognized in the Episcopal Church. That is simply not true. It's a scam and that is sad, for all parties including these two women. It is not a compassionate response, it's a media event.

The Queen of England addressed the Church of England Synod recently and was quite clear about where she stood. Our arrogance as Americans, which ever side we find ourselves, could be our undoing. That is the point. It's not just what we believe, it's how we live our lives. That's what Paul talks about in his first letter to the Corinthians. Without love, we are nothing.

As for the Episcopal Church, I am separated but not divorced. I am still a confirmed Episcopalian. I love the Episcopal Church.

bb

jschwarz42 said...

Of course this does beg the whole question of why they should NOT get married... I'm sorry, but I just find it incredibly sad that we cannot simply share in the joy of the marriage of this couple, as we would in the wedding of any other loving couple. Why would you insist on seeing this as some form of political "theater"? The Episcopal Church, to its credit, has come a long way in recent years toward a more enlightened understanding of what makes a loving, committed lifelong marriage of two people holy and blessed.

It has nothing to do with whether they are of the same or mixed genders. It has to do with the nature of the relationship between them - and with whether that relationship embodies Biblical virtues such as faithfulness, commitment, agape and covenantal love - and thus reflects on a human level the loving relationship between God and God's people (which is why Scripture so often uses marriage and sexual love as metaphors for the sacred). A blessed relationship is one which (as General Convention has beautifully put it several times now) is "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."

Not every marriage succeeds in being this, but the simple fact is that there is no longer any coherent rational or experiential or theological or scriptural basis for believing that same-gender marriages are any less blessed or favored by God than those of` mixed-gender couples. Whatever resistance exists within the Anglican Communion to same-gender marriage is simply a result of a refusal of some to abandon a mean-spirited theology of hate grounded in nothing other than ignorance, cultural prejudice and an apparent inability to reason coherently.

And it is not about "Scripture". There is not a single part of the scriptural witness which, under any sane hermeneutic, seriously considers the possibility of same-gender sexuality in a context of loving faithfulness, and then goes on to condemn it. But there is much in scripture that witnesses to the blessedness of faithful relationships. The scriptural condemnations of same-gender sexual behavior are all made under the assumption that same-gender sexuality invariably exists in a context ONLY of unnatural licentiousness and selfishness. And we today who have eyes to see have gradually come to witness that this culturally-conditioned assumption is manifestly false.

Those who threaten to "tear" the unity of the Communion are not TEC but those in the AC who insist on clinging to their own unfounded prejudices, instead of looking at the new realities that God is showing them in the lives of loving same-gender couples living and worshiping among us. For too many years I have seen the hurt of good faithful God-loving couples in our Virginia parish repeatedly denied the possibility of having their loving unions liturgically blessed by the church - all to satisfy the demands of the mindless theological drivel that constitutes most conservative religious thinking on this issue.

John

BabyBlue said...

In the Episcopal Church one must have a liturgy. There is no approved liturgy - yet - for same sex marriages or weddings. To just call it "mindless theological drivel" does not change the fact that there is no General Convention-approved liturgies for same sex marriages. Period. So this is a political event. Period. All the lovely rhetoric runs hallow because it's not loving to engage in promoting a scam. There are many who truly like to find compassionate pastoral responses to all Episcopalians who find themselves on the margins of society. But to promote scams when there is no authority to hold a wedding sanctioned and blessed by The Episcopal Church is neither pastoral or compassionate. It is political.

This political action is timed weeks before the official gathering of the Anglican Communion primates.

It not helpful to say that those who may point out that there is no liturgies for same sex blessings or that the actions of the American Episcopal Church has hurt relationships within the communion all over the world hold a "mean-spirited theology of hate grounded in nothing but ignorance, cultural prejudice and an apparent inability to reason coherently." In fact, such rhetoric calls into question whether one side is even listening to the other - and that's what political events promote.

Even if people are one's enemies, we are still called to love, love our enemies, love our neighbors, and do good. It is kindness that leads us to repentance, whatever side we find ourselves.

Is it loving to promote an event that is false? Is it not simply false because the Episcopal Church conducts public worship services with General Convention-approved liturgies? No one can build a house without a foundation, and for Episcopalians the foundation for theology and public worship is liturgy. We construct our Christian theology and our public worship on authorized liturgy.

And there is no liturgy.

Calling opponents names does not write liturgy. Elevating romantic relationships to the point of idolatry is not liturgy. Casting a romantic glow over the landscape is not liturgy. Holding up or tearing down the Bible is not liturgy. No liturgy, no wedding, no wedding, no marriage, no marriage then what?

We are left with a political event. And isn't that sad?

bb

Anonymous said...

RE: "Boycotting is another political act. Do we assume that every single primate is in their position because of God's calling - if He didn't want them there, He'd take them out. He is certainly capable. But He hasn't. Why is that? Who are we really mad at - the leadership or God? Could it be that God has something to teach us all? All of us? Perhaps we should refrain from engaging in more political acts (and frankly we're up to our eyeballs in these grandiose theatrics), and instead just show up."

I don't follow the reasoning here. All Primates should show up to meetings called by the ABC? Because they are Primates??

Why?

How is this a thing-that-all-Primates-should-do -- especially when Scripture is quite clear that one should definitely distinguish oneself sharply -- and not eat with -- false teachers proclaiming false gospels who are in the church, but should instead cast them out from fellowship. Meeting with Schori puts her on the same Christian level as the rest of the Primates.

Quite obviously -- she's not.

As to whether the Primates who are not attending the meeting where other Primates are showing up is a "political act" -- if it is, then I'm all for political acts and let's have more of them. It's about time we engaged in political actions -- which is certainly not intrinsically immoral.

At the end of the day when one is engaged in an organization where the two sides have mutually opposing and antithetical goals, values, and gospels, political acts is *precisely* what needs to be engaged in.

Go Primates!



Sarah

jschwarz42 said...

I am sorry, bb, but that does not even make sense to me. Why would one need a specifically authorized liturgy in order to celebrate a marriage? There are many beautifully-crafted liturgies available painstakingly produced in various dioceses. The Diocese of Washington e.g. has official guidelines and liturgies for blessing marriages of same-gender couples. I assume Massachusetts does also, and that this is what was used.

In any case, General Convention, which is the ruling body of TEC has specifically authorized bishops to make a "generous pastoral response", particularly in (but not limited to) those jurisdictions where civil marriage is available to same-gender couples. See Resolution C056 (2009). This clearly was intended to allow bishops to authorize marriage blessings that take place in their Dioceses (a kind of diocesan "local option"), pending action on official national "Rites of Blessing". That makes the marriage ceremony entirely proper, because permitted under an authorization granted by General Convention.

John

emma v said...

These are not two priests. There are two women who live in a fantasy land where God does not rule.
This is no marriage it is the result of a well thought out agenda to ruin the Episcopal church.
I hope Madame Katy is thrilled with her hand in its destruction also with her buddy Bishop Jon Bruno of Los Angeles.

Anonymous said...

maybe their "wedding" is like abortion...according to ragsdale. "a blessing"...

so we can now equate the murder of an unborn child to her "wedding". how delightful.

Gary Paul Gilbert said...

A politics of separate and unequal denies same-sex couples equal treatment in the Episcopal Church. It is a scandal that the Episcopal Church has not moved forward like the United Church of Christ and opened marriage to all couples regardless of gender!

As an agent of the State of Massachusetts, the Bishop of Massachusetts will preside at a civil wedding of two people and then, as a Bishop, he will bless the couple, which is thoroughly in keeping with Resolution C056 from General Convention 2009. C056 calls for bishops to show genersoity toward toward same-sex couples in jurisdictions which offer same-sex couples marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships. And it calls for the development of religious rites in the future. The marriage itself is secular, as are all marriages.

There is nothing new here.

General Convention, rather than the foreign primates, governs the Episcopal Church. The Archbishop of Canterbury hath no jurisdiction here.

Gary

Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call forth a renewed pastoral response from this Church, and for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships; and be it further


C056 Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention; and be it further


Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion; and be it further


Resolved, That bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church; and be it further


Resolved, That this Convention honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and be it further


Resolved, That the members of this Church be encouraged to engage in this effort.

Anonymous said...

bb -

How's that again? You're an Episcopalian? You're a member of what parish?

Anam Cara said...

Blogger Gary Paul Gilbert said...It is a scandal that the Episcopal Church has not moved forward like the United Church of Christ and opened marriage to all couples regardless of gender!

Ah, now I see. The Church should change with the times. The Church - the Body of Christ - should change as society changes. And yet, the Bible tells us over and over again that God does not change. But somehow His Body can change with the prevailing winds. Do I understand your point now?

"...I change not.."Malachi 3:6,
"...the same yesterday, today, and forever..."Hebrews 13:8,
"...no variableness nor shadow of turning..." James 1:17
"God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should change His mind...” Numbers 23:19,
"He who is the Glory of Israel does not lie or change his mind; for he is not a man, that he should change his mind.”1 Samuel 15:29

It seems to me that if God said that something then, he still thinks that now, even if our society doesn't. He said in Genesis that a man would cleave to his wife. (not one person to another) In Matthew Jesus says that marriage is between a man and a woman. In 1 Corinthians each man has his own wife and woman her own husband. Note the genders are mentioned so you can't call a woman a husband if she takes on the male role in a couple. In Ephesians husbands are called to love their wives.

And, of course, everyone is familiar with the verses in Romans that condemn same intimate same sex relationships. Homosexuality is consistently called sin: Gen 19, Lev 18:22, Lev 20:13, 1 Cor 6:9.

No. I think I'll side with "God doesn't change" on this one. The "marriage" is wrong and not valid in God's eyes.


And bb, you keep repeating yourself. Give it up! No need to do that. They didn't understand the first time, and they aren't going to get it no matter how many times you say it. They just don't understand the need for/point of liturgy. Let's face it, all these folks come from a different mindset - not liturgical, not sacramental, but what I call "free church" where you can do your own thing.

Anonymous said...

Important decisions in one's life often get reviewed in the light of subsequent events.

My decision to leave TEC is reconfirmed almost daily.

RalphM

Anonymous said...

RE: "A politics of separate and unequal denies same-sex couples equal treatment in the Episcopal Church."

Yeh -- a politics of separate and unequal denies mutual, committed, loving adult-sibling couples equal treatment in the Episcopal Church.

Same goes for mutual, committed, loving polyamorous relationships.

Same goes for any other minority sexual orientation out there that's not one of the currently faddish ones that TECusa current leaders have decided to promote.

What a horribly prejudiced stance by TEC -- to make a decision to promote one minority sexual orientation -- just because it's currently trendy -- over so many other minority sexual orientations that have equally loving, committed, consensual relationships.

For shame.


Sarah

Andy said...

BB,
You asked the question of "What will the pb face if she shows up at the Primate's meeting?" I suspect she will face business as usual. Perhaps the better question is what "should" she face?
How lovely would it be if the Primates, speaking in one voice, were to say "TEC, we release you to follow the desires of your heart and to do what seems right in your own eyes. Do as thou wilt, but don't call yourself Anglican."

Gary Paul Gilbert said...

Sarah, Polyamorous and committed adult-sibling couples are different because they are not asking to get married--either civilly or religiously. The question here is the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage simply because of the gender of the partners.

I don't appreciate being called a faddish sexual orientation.

Anam Cara,

Yes, the church changes. Slavery is no longer accepted. There was a time when Bishops in the Church of England had slaves working their plantations in the Caribbean. And there was time when women were excluded from the priesthood and generally seen as inferior to men. Antisemitism is another part of the history of the church which we could have done without. Are you suggesting prejudice is good simply because it is traditional?

How do you distinguish a conviction from a prejudice?


Gary

Anonymous said...

Gary,

Seeing "women as inferior" and ordaining women have nothing to do with each other. Those of us who are opposed to the ordination of women are not "ant-woman" or "anti-equality". We would view ourselves as being Biblically accurate. Skewed ideas of "justice" and "equality" bring about rhetoric...like your putting inferiority and non-ordination as being the same.

Anonymous said...

"Polyamorous and committed adult-sibling couples are different because they are not asking to get married--either civilly or religiously."

And when they do, we can expect TEC to be at the forefront of exploring liturgies for their blessings.

RalphM

Anam Cara said...

Yes, slavery is wrong. But think for a minute, God never told us that slavery was good. We finally came to the realization that it was wrong and that did not contradict anything God said. He has, however, told us that homosexuality is wrong. How dare we call Him a liar and call it right and good?

Ditto with antisemitism. God never called it good for us to contradict Him now.

As for woman priests, I know that in this group I am in the minority, but I agree with Anon from 4:11PM.

Steven Pascoe said...

Gary,

‘Sarah, Polyamorous and committed adult-sibling couples are different..’.

Don’t kid yourself. We’ve undermined the concept of marriage; the ground is prepared for the rest to follow.

Poly is the new gay
http://www.latrobe.edu.au/news/articles/2010/opinion/poly-is-the-new-gay


Switzerland considers repealing incest laws
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/switzerland/8198917/Switzerland-considers-repealing-incest-laws.html


‘Yes, the church changes…’
Maybe, but the word of God doesn’t. From the 39 Articles ‘And yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's Word written..’ (Article 20). Scripture should be ‘taught and obeyed in its plain and canonical sense’ (Jerusalem Statement). Careful reading of scripture shows us the sinfulness of the human heart, which does not sit very well with the prevailing culture; rather than the word judging us, we judge for ourselves what parts of scripture are relevant for us. The question ‘Did God actually say’ (Genesis 3) is still having a devastating effect.

Steven Pascoe
Cheltenham Uk

Anonymous said...

RE: "Sarah, Polyamorous and committed adult-sibling couples are different because they are not asking to get married--either civilly or religiously."

Actually some of them are asking for their mutual, committed, loving relationships to be recognized by the State -- you know -- just as those with the gay orientation did.

RE: "The question here is the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage simply because of the gender of the partners."

Right -- just as we exclude other mutual, loving, consensual, adult minority sexual relationships because of the family relationship, the number, the species, the life-challenge -- any number of random and meaningless reasons.

RE: "I don't appreciate being called a faddish sexual orientation."

Yeh -- as soon as somebody calls *you* "a faddish sexual orientation" I'll be sure to protest too. ; > )

But -- as you well know -- it was your *orientation* that is a currently faddishly popular minority sexual orientation. And you guys are grossly bigoted against all the other minority -- but *not* faddishly popular -- sexual orientations. You want to receive civil and societal affirmation -- while denying it to all other minority sexual orientations out there. Really a shame that you demonstrate your prejudice and bigotry so obviously and freely. And what incredible hypocricy from gay activists too.


Sarah

Anonymous said...

Anon 725-

Good question! Babyblue - how are you a member of the Episcopal Church? I don't get it.

BabyBlue said...

You must be new here, Anon. I am a confirmed Episcopalian. I worship in Episcopal churches from time to time, but am a member of an ACNA church, as a confirmed Episcopalian. Thankfully, the church does not require Episcopalians to be reconfirmed, as one would need to be for example if one went to the Roman Catholic Church, or even received. Currently, some Episcopal churches recognize that Truro is Anglican and the Episcopal rectors will either transfer their members or request that their new members be transferred, so transfer letters do go back and for between Episcopal and ACNA churches. Did you know that?

In fact, I find that a rather hopeful sign, at least at the local parish level.

bb

BabyBlue said...

This is also the case for the open exchange of clergy between certain dioceses in the Church of England and ACNA churches in the United States.

bb

The Lakeland Two said...

Checked in and read the comments. Quite the piranha fest. And yet in any other discussion the reappraisers are saying they aren't on a different track and there's no division. Interesting.

Why not have been honest way back? Why not at Lambeth? Etc., etc., etc. Because TEC has been busy entrenching while knowing a lot of us don't want to be on that track.

Thanks for the clarity. Be careful of what you're asking for. I think you're about to get it. Spiritually.

Hang in there, BB. You know thousands are behind you...While TEC shrinks and shrinks and shrinks.

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 1] Before we get too far down the road of the tired old familiar red herring of the "slippery-slope" (i.e., today gays; tomorrow incest and polygamy, and now apparently "polyamory" - but you forgot about pedophilia, which is usually thrown in for good measure!), let me try to briefly explain why this argument fundamentally does not work.

We have come to understand, from Scripture, theology, reason and experience, what are the kinds of characteristics that ESSENTIALLY typify that special kind of loving committed relationship between two people that we call "marriage" (although it has changed drastically in nature over the centuries and cultures). Among the factors that we have discerned to be essential are "Biblically" valued qualities: including faithful, committed, covenantal, respectful, loving, caring, mutual, unselfish (in the sense that the love in such relationships transcends selfish self-gratification or desire, but results in an abiding love in which each values the other person in themselves as much as or more than they do their own self and "interests"). These reflect, on a human level, the same characteristics which we find in God's Love for us and our relationship with God. And characteristics such as "committed" and "covenantal" seem to necessarily imply a kind of "monogamy" or "exclusivity" of commitment, or "life-long" commitment (even though relationships can sometimes break down and "die" before the parties do, despite their initial promise). Characteristics that are NOT compatible with such a blessed relationship (and are destructive of the Godly love that dwells and grows in such a relationship) include: exploitative (using the other person as a MERE object of gratification - which is not to say that true lovers do not take mutual delight and pleasure in one another), lack of mutuality (an essential inequality of power or some other factor which makes a real mature mutual relationship impossible), or a lack of faithful commitment to one another.

Now what we have come to understand and "discern", in our emerging communal experience of gay and lesbian couples living in our faith communities, is that many of these couples (those who are in truly loving unions) exhibit in their relationships, lives and love exactly the same kind of essential characteristics that make a marriage holy and blessed. And that therefore the "gender-mix" of a couple (same-gender or mixed-gender) has been shown by reason and experience to be simply a non-essential factor in whether a relationship is fully and authentically a "marriage". Many "marriages" or "unions" achieve the promise of blessedness, flourish, and display these characteristics; many fail and do not. But we see that this is equally true of both same-gender unions and the more culturally-accepted mixed-gender unions that alone (in the past) we have allowed to be called "marriages". (continued)

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 2] Now, by contrast, when we consider all these other forms of "disfavored" loving relationships, it seems to me we can see analytically in each case that there is something inherently "wrong" with them that would prevent them from flourishing into that special kind of loving (and sexual) relationship between two people that we see as holy and as reflecting and sacramentally embodying divine love. Polyamory lacks the element of commitment and covenant. Psychologically and existentially multiple-partner relationships simply do not work on the level of commitment (which is not to say that one may also have many close friends whom one "loves" - but in a different way). I would say the same is true of polygamy (also that it involves inequality). Incestuous relationships, even between siblings who have grown up together in the same family almost inevitably involve a subtle psychological danger of some degree of inequality or lack of mutuality. (Perhaps this is not always the case, particularly if they grew up separately, and if so maybe we should consider them on a case by case basis). Pedophilia obviously is ultimately exploitative and lacks the mutuality and equality necessary for a mature relationship.

And in all these cases, our experience seems to show us that they are ultimately harmful and that those persons in them do not seem to flourish in their humanity, or show forth the divine in their love. In the case of committed gay and lesbian unions, by contrast, we see countless examples of how their relationships have flourished and truly been a "blessing" both to the couples themselves and to others (including their children and communities). That is mostly (based on the theological truth found in experience) why increasingly churches such as TEC, which are open to learning from the experience of the community, are coming to accept them.

John

Gary Paul Gilbert said...

Precisely, John, the state has legitimate reasons for limiting marriage to two persons, whereas there is no reason other than prejudice to exclude couples on the basis of the gender of the partners. The church has experienced flourishing same-sex couples, some of whom have better relationships than sex-discordant couples.

The question of what kind of recognition other relationships should get, such as a worker who would like to get insurance benefits for a parent, is a totally different question.

Prejudice based on religion is ugly and very harmful. People are entitled to practice their religion but not to deny others their civil liberties.


Gary

BabyBlue said...

Wrong assumption, however. To say there is no liturgy to perform same sex marriages is not prejudice. In fact, I question whether it is a compassionate even pastoral response to lead these two individuals into thinking they are married in the eyes of the church when they are not. Is that compassionate? No - it's manipulative and it's not kind. This "wedding" was a political action and to name it as such is not prejudice, far from it. We are not talking about civil liberties, we are talking about the marriage of two women priests and making a media circus out of it to raise money for the effort to indeed authorize liturgies so that same sex may be officially recognized by the Episcopal Church.

Now it could be that some of the posters here are true romantics and think that this is about a loving couple wanting to be married just any other loving couple. My hat is off to you. But the reality is this marriage is not recognized by the Episcopal Church and this so-called pastoral response is neither pastoral or compassionate. It's manipulative and it's political and at the end of the day, it's just sad.

It also will justify why so many chairs may remain empty at the Primates Meeting later this month - and that's, quite frankly, very sad too. But if the postings here are any indication, it seems unlikely that the political activists care about anything but achieving their own political results. And how in heaven's name can that callous lack of regard for others outside their own narrow sphere be called love?

bb

jschwarz42 said...

bb, we probably need to agree to disagree on this. But how is this marriage not "recognized" by TEC? (And what would that mean and how could one tell?) I assume they were legally married civilly and their marriage was properly "blessed" under procedures and a liturgy officially authorized by the Bishop in the Diocese where it happened, pursuant to C056. If church-wide official "liturgies" for same-gender marriages (or blessings) are approved by General Convention in the future, that will still happen by official action of GC, just as C056 which allows the bishop to authorize this ceremony was by official action of GC. Why would one action (authorizing a liturgy) make such a marriage "officially recognized" and another (C056) not?

And all actions have "political" implications and effects. Is there a way that they could have been married (which I assume they did really want to do, and which option has only recently been open to them, within the "official" rules of the church) that you would NOT have seen as mere political grandstanding?

Besides, even under traditional Catholic sacramental theology of marriage, it is the couple themselves who enact the sacrament of marriage - the priest is there as a witness. So I would say that if they love one another, and declare their commitment to one another in a properly authorized ceremony, they are certainly married in the eyes of God - and of the church. So you are saying that, if they waited until (as will inevitably happen in TEC and all main-stream churches) there was an official church-wide liturgy, and did basically the same thing as now, they WOULD then be married, but now they are NOT? Church is supposed to be about more than jumping through the right bureaucratic hoops and satisfying every legalistic formality (even if I granted that the formalities were not in fact fully complied with here).

Regarding the Primates, you are right - certainly strategically. It would be a mistake for GAFCON Primates et al to stay away (a strategic error I sincerely hope they make, in light of my own "political" hopes for the Communion!). :-)

Several years ago at Dromantine I think (before Bp. KJS), my recollection (and I am relying on memory) is that TEC and the Canadians allowed themselves to be "disinvited" from the meeting and stupidly agreed not to show up. As a result (again as I recall), all the ridiculous stuff about Windsor and moratoria and all the rest of the general "dump-on-TEC" agenda that we have lived with ever since got passed by a margin so narrow that, if the more liberal provinces had shown up, it would have failed.

If the conservatives do not show up now, and TEC and the Canadians do, my guess is that the rest of the Communion are getting rather fed up with the hard-line conservatives' stubborn unreasonableness and may well modify many of the demands made on TEC and the Canadians. That will give the GAFCON folks the perfect excuse to do what they have apparently determined they want to do anyway - walk away from the Communion and dialogue and be happy listening to their own uniform voices in their own small insular circle. When you do not show up, you may feel righteous, but you forfeit your right to have a say in what happens.

- John

Anonymous said...

RE: "my guess is that the rest of the Communion are getting rather fed up with the hard-line conservatives' stubborn unreasonableness and may well modify many of the demands made on TEC and the Canadians."

Actually quite the opposite. One of the exciting things about the last couple of years since Lambeth has been to see so many of the more moderate Primates get their eyes opened about the nature of the current TEC leaders. Which is why some of them will be *joining* the Gafcon Primates in not attending a meeting that includes a false teacher like Schori.

The good news is that the remaining Gospel-believing Primates will get to enjoy the behavior of Schori/Hiltz *on their own* -- just as the moderate Gospel-believing bishops at Lambeth had to do the same.

Lambeth was a real -- and wonderful -- turning point in The Education of the Anglican Communion Bishops [who attended and got the good pleasure of observing TECusa leaders in action] and things have never been the same since.

The result has been a steady distancing of more and more Primates from TECusa.

RE: "Before we get too far down the road of the tired old familiar red herring of the "slippery-slope" . . . "

Yeh -- considering the fact that nobody brought up the "slippery slope" it's a little odd for you to try to insert it.

No, I merely pointed out the rank hypocricy and prejudice of the activists within *one* minority sexual orientation attempting to deny societal and civil blessing and approval to other minority sexual orientations.

And jschwarz41 is Exhibit A, I see, in that prejudice and hypocricy.

First off, he promptly eliminates any ability of loving, inclusive, committed multiple relationships to engage in society and law-approved marriages by intrinsically defining "marriage" as between only "two people" -- which is precisely what the gay activists accuse the heterosexuals of! Incredible hypocricy.

THEN -- he goes on to imply that relationships among adult siblings, or multiple adults, or varying species, or to life-challenged persons *are not able* to be "faithful" or "committed" or "covenantal" or "respectful" or "loving" or "caring" or "mutual" or "unselfish" - incredible gall considering that that's precisely what the gay activists claimed about heterosexuals who did not wish to expand the definition of marriage.

He then goes on to imply -randomly and with utterly no foundation or research or any authority whatsoever other than his own "ick factor" feelings -- that many such relationships do not exhibit "exactly the same kind of essential characteristics that make a marriage holy and blessed."

jschwarz nicely demonstrates *precisely* what I was talking about -- activists who wish to force society to pretend to approve of one minority sexual orientationi while brutally *disallowing* societal approval of others which are currently less popular.


Sarah

James said...

John: The problem is that not everyone agrees with your characterizations of either homosexuality or other minority sexual orientations.

You say "We have come to understand, from Scripture, theology, reason and experience, what are the kinds of characteristics that ESSENTIALLY typify that special kind of loving committed relationship between two people that we call "marriage"..." Catholic Christianity has always included different genders as being essential. You don't.

You say "it seems to me we can see analytically in each case that there is something inherently "wrong" with them that would prevent them from flourishing into that special kind of loving (and sexual) relationship ... that we see as holy and as reflecting and sacramentally embodying divine love." So it might seem to you. It apparently doesn't "seem" so to polygamy and incest orientation advocates. And what's more catholic Christianity has always believed that there is "something inherently "wrong" with homosexual partnerships that would prevent them from flourishing into that special kind of loving (and sexual) relationship ... that we see as holy and as reflecting and sacramentally embodying divine love."

All that you are saying John, is "I want the arguments for my minority sexual orientation to be accepted without challenge but I am not willing to return the favor to other minority sexual orientations." Sarah is right - you seem pretty closed-minded, bigoted and non-inclusive to other sexual minorities.

Anonymous said...

RE: "we can see analytically in each case that there is something inherently "wrong" with them . . . "

Hah hah -- actually we see no "analysis" at all, but merely the expressed "ick factor" emotions of jschwarz which allows him to demonstrate his prejudice against other minority sexual orientations.

Incredible.

Note that he *arbitrarily disallows automatically* -- and with no authority, or reasoning, or foundation at all -- all mutual, loving, committed, consensual relationships that include more than two people. Incredible hypocricy.

RE: "Polyamory lacks the element of commitment and covenant."

Absolutely not true. An appalling lie based on no knowledge at all of any actual real committed, inclusive, loving, mutual, consensual polyamorous relationships.


RE: "Psychologically and existentially multiple-partner relationships simply do not work on the level of commitment . . ."

. . . he asserts randomly with no science, no studies, no actual experience of such relationships -- nothing but his own bigotry, prejudice, and ignorance.

RE: "And in all these cases, our experience seems to show us . . . "

Heh -- floundering, flailing, rhetorical bs again. Jschwarz talking through his hat and simply asserting his feelings out loud on this blog as if they have any basis or authority at all, which they do not.

He's merely asserting what he feels -- which is simply "ick, ooh gross."

He then randomly claims that such relationships -- again, shockingly, *all the ones he doesn't approve of* -- don't "flourish" and aren't a "blessing"

I'm amazed that anyone could be so outrageously hypocritical, while yet mouthing all the claims of inclusion and non-prejudice.

Face it.

Gay activists want *their* particular minority sexual orientation to be legally approved and societally approved [or at least the pretence thereof] but they selfishly and with gross prejudice do not wish for any other minority sexual orientations to be so approved.

This is one of the most shameful aspects of their campaign -- the pretence of objective fairness while in reality simply greedily going for what they can get to the exclusion of less popular sexual orientations.



Sarah

Dale Matson said...

bb
"I worship in Episcopal churches from time to time, but am a member of an ACNA church, as a confirmed Episcopalian." I was unaware of your current status. Thank you for your blog which I believe plays a unique role because of both the quality of your intellect and the fruits of the Holy Spirit you manifest in your responses to others. YBIC

Wilf said...

yikes, LL2 you're right, it is sort of a piranha fest. BB, I wish you a strong stomach.

You should add to your talking points list "comparing ourselves to Rosa Parks." That always happens sooner or later. It's always a hoot when we get to be real historic & heroic like Rosa Parks.

Wilf said...

Hmmm, my comment above was too general. I do believe that Jschwartz42 is arguing in good spirit and bringing up some points which are worth thought. Wrong of me to seem to so broadly cast aspersion.

I agree, this is not a "slippery slope," but simply pointing out that the arguments used for homosexual marriage and not other sorts of marriage amounts to inequality and unfairness, if we try to be equitable in applying these arguments.

As for the reasons given why e.g., incest and pedophilia are subtlely exploitative: it should be pointed out that many, probably most of the world population, believe that this could also be said of homosexual relationships; that persons who have same-sex attractions are in general better off if they find a way of abstaining from such in a healthy manner - it's the very "diversity" and lack of alterity ("being other") in understanding and committing to the other gender. That *if* we are to take this great step of entering into sexual relations - with inevitable consequences for ourselves and society - that this great gift of sexuality also needs to be used in such a way that binds us lovingly and sympathetically to the other gender. And that if we fail to do so, we are engaging our same gender in a manner that's comparable to incest - the powerful bond of the sexual relationship likely to distort our relationships with ourselves, our partner, those of the other gender, and even those of our own gender - since all persons are gendered beings, and this isn't simply some kind of attribute like being left or right handed, or even ethnic like being white-skinned or dark-skinned. That we can always love a person of the same gender, no matter what our orientation - but that this love shouldn't move into sexuality.

The addition to the wedding liturgy here - "Scripture tells us that all love is from God" - is clearly false if by love, we mean: all forms of sexuality which are combined with commitment and affection. We don't believe, for example, that pedophilic love is from God - even when it is mutual and exclusive - and who are you or I to judge the mutuality or exclusivity of such things?

I would argue that Scripture does not really provide us with the criteria that Jschwartz42 here sums up - that such can be found if we engage in Fundamentalist-like proof-texting and argumentation toward specific views ... but certainly not in any identifyable body of teaching. We still have to move on the front of Borg, the resurrection and interpretation of Scripture - I haven't yet obliged with the next chapter of this engagement - my fault here.

My argument here would be: Christ's very strong words about porneia should be our guideline - anything which we do that consciously leads us toward sexual arousal is, in a way, like adultery - unless it occurs in the context of a committed, life-long relationship of marriage. Biblical scholars are also fairly unanimous that Christ here intended, and indicated with this, a marriage between one man and one woman.

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 1] So probably I should leave it alone at this point... But let me venture into the briar patch once more and try to be clearer. (1) I am not a "gay activist". I believe fervently in a fully inclusive church, modeled on the all-embracing all-accepting community, preaching the "good news" of God's unconditional forgiveness, that the pre-Easter Jesus appears to have advocated (See E.P. Sanders et al). I see the distress that has been caused to gay and lesbian people in my congregation by the irrational policies in my own Diocese of Virginia denying them the ability to have their unions and marriages publicly blessed in their own church. And, as Paul noted, when one part of the Body is hurt, the whole Body is hurt, and every other part is hurt. And so I am hurt - and my congregation is hurt. And TEC has been hurt temporarily to the extent that it has in the past permitted itself to be blackmailed into accepting "moratoria" and other offensive demands (that I believe most TEC leaders knew in their hearts were morally wrong) from Windsor and meetings of Primates who have apparently lacked the will to stand up for justice against their most "off-the-wall" members. (Williams himself reportedly never wanted the "Communique" that came out of Tanzania, but caved to pressure orchestrated by Akinola and Minns and others - and BTW their back-room machinations were, I suppose, NOT "political activism"!!)

(2) I confess I do not personally know people in "polyamorous" or incestuous relationships; so I should keep an open mind. And if you ask me whether all people in such relationships are "in sin", or should be excluded from full participation in the church, then I would say, "Of course not". We are not here to judge one another and decide who is and is not "worthy" of being a part of Christ's Body. We all live in a complex and morally ambiguous world, in which many important moral decisions are shrouded in moral ambiguity. And every relationship is different - and I am willing to believe some can be very loving and free of exploitation. But I do not see such relationships as being like "marriage" or having the same characteristics that we find "blessed" in marriage, and that therefore leads us as a church to "bless" marriages.

On the other hand, in the case of same-gender unions, I DO know many gay and lesbian couples living godly lives of service to one another and their community - and being happily married, where they have been able to do so in more enlightened states than Virginia). And, although every relationship is different, I see absolutely no inherent or principled difference between their relationships and that of myself and my wife.

(3) The Catholic Church does indeed maintain that "mixed-gender" is "essential" to marriage (and to a morally acceptable sexual relationship). But it (and other conservative churches) offer no REASONED or experience-based grounds for that assertion. And, as my philosophy professor used to say: "What may be arbitrarily asserted may be arbitrarily denied!" (The whole "complementarity" argument, which is the only thing approaching an attempt at reasoned argument that I find in most conservative treatments of these issues, fails even the laugh test, because every meaningful kind of diversity and complementarity of what we conventionally call "masculine" and "feminine" nature and character that we find enriching the relationships between mixed-gender couples we also find in same-gender relationships - except on the level of crude physicality, how the body's "plumbing" works, in which only ultra-right theologians like Gagnon seem to find some kind of rationally inexplicable significance.) [continued]

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 2](4) My broader point is that all good theology must be rational and "empirical" (in the broad sense used by William James, which would include purely spiritual and psychological experience). MY God does not play games with people. If you think that God rejects something, then you should be able to articulate rationally and analytically WHY and HOW that is so, in terms of how the Community experiences and discerns God's "Will" - not simply spout a priori dogmatic positions such as "The Bible says so" or "We have always believed thus". God is Love, loves compassion, values selfless commitment and covenantal faithfulness, and hates injustice and oppression. Once we allow our own communal experience to lead us away from the traditional prejudice that same-gender sexuality is inevitably exploitative and/or licentious, I see no rational basis for concluding that sexuality between same-gender couples in loving, committed, lifelong relationships can be seen as inherently "sinful", any more than in the case of "married" mixed-gender couples.

- John

Anonymous said...

I'm just going to make a random guess here. But given the amount of anger and general unhappiness that pervades your website, and as you belittle all acts of love it seems. I'm going to guess that you, Baby Blue, are not married - and presumably a bit bitter about it.

jschwarz42 said...

Wilf, I wrote my last post before reading yours. First thoughts. (1) Basically my critique of "complementarity" arguments would also apply to your "alterity" argument. Why does the necessary "alterity" for a marriage-type relationship have to come from physical gender difference (rather than the other ways that we confront the "other's otherness" in accepting the challenge of forming a relationship with our partner). (2) Jesus certainly was assuming a cultural context in which mixed-gender marriage was intended. That is different from saying that he ever specifically intended to address the issue of same-gender marriage - and rejected it. I think most mainstream theologians today would argue that Jesus simply was not addressing that issue, because it was not one he faced in speaking to his "audience" The Genesis quote "male and female he created them" is only in Matthew and is likely added by Matthew (who likes to find apt Scriptural quotes to insert in places where they do not always fit). The original context in Genesis is ambiguous as to meaning and significance. Most likely, I would say, it was a counter-cultural affirmation of the equal dignity of women in God's creation (spoken in a patriarchal society). It certainly did not imply anything about the "morality" of sexual relations, reading it in context.

- John

jschwarz42 said...

[Apparently, Part 1 of my post this morning did not "make it" so I am trying again. Part 2 appeared 9:42 am]]

[Part 1] So probably I should leave it alone at this point... But let me venture into the briar patch once more and try to be clearer. (1) I am not a "gay activist". I believe fervently in a fully inclusive church, modeled on the all-embracing all-accepting community, preaching the "good news" of God's unconditional forgiveness, that the pre-Easter Jesus appears to have advocated (See E.P. Sanders et al). I see the distress that has been caused to gay and lesbian people in my congregation by the irrational policies in my own Diocese of Virginia denying them the ability to have their unions and marriages publicly blessed in their own church. And, as Paul noted, when one part of the Body is hurt, the whole Body is hurt, and every other part is hurt. And so I am hurt - and my congregation is hurt. And TEC has been hurt temporarily to the extent that it has in the past permitted itself to be blackmailed into accepting "moratoria" and other offensive demands (that I believe most TEC leaders knew in their hearts were morally wrong) from Windsor and meetings of Primates who have apparently lacked the will to stand up for justice against their most "off-the-wall" members. (Williams himself reportedly never wanted the "Communique" that came out of Tanzania, but caved to pressure orchestrated by Akinola and Minns and others - and BTW their back-room machinations were, I suppose, NOT "political activism"!!)

(2) I confess I do not personally know people in "polyamorous" or incestuous relationships; so I should keep an open mind. And if you ask me whether all people in such relationships are "in sin", or should be excluded from full participation in the church, then I would say, "Of course not". We are not here to judge one another and decide who is and is not "worthy" of being a part of Christ's Body. We all live in a complex and morally ambiguous world, in which many important moral decisions are shrouded in moral ambiguity. And every relationship is different - and I am willing to believe some can be very loving and free of exploitation. But I do not see such relationships as being like "marriage" or having the same characteristics that we find "blessed" in marriage, and that therefore leads us as a church to "bless" marriages.

On the other hand, in the case of same-gender unions, I DO know many gay and lesbian couples living godly lives of service to one another and their community - and being happily married, where they have been able to do so in more enlightened states than Virginia). And, although every relationship is different, I see absolutely no inherent or principled difference between their relationships and that of myself and my wife.

(3) The Catholic Church does indeed maintain that "mixed-gender" is "essential" to marriage (and to a morally acceptable sexual relationship). But it (and other conservative churches) offer no REASONED or experience-based grounds for that assertion. And, as my philosophy professor used to say: "What may be arbitrarily asserted may be arbitrarily denied!" (The whole "complementarity" argument, which is the only thing approaching an attempt at reasoned argument that I find in most conservative treatments of these issues, fails even the laugh test, because every meaningful kind of diversity and complementarity of what we conventionally call "masculine" and "feminine" nature and character that we find enriching the relationships between mixed-gender couples we also find in same-gender relationships - except on the level of crude physicality, how the body's "plumbing" works, in which only ultra-right theologians like Gagnon seem to find some kind of rationally inexplicable significance.)
[continued in Part 2, already posted]

jschwarz42 said...

[Apparently Part 1 of my post this morning did not "make it" (too long) so I am trying agin as Part 1a and Part 1b]

[Part 1a] So probably I should leave it alone at this point... But let me venture into the briar patch once more and try to be clearer. (1) I am not a "gay activist". I believe fervently in a fully inclusive church, modeled on the all-embracing all-accepting community, preaching the "good news" of God's unconditional forgiveness, that the pre-Easter Jesus appears to have advocated (See E.P. Sanders et al). I see the distress that has been caused to gay and lesbian people in my congregation by the irrational policies in my own Diocese of Virginia denying them the ability to have their unions and marriages publicly blessed in their own church. And, as Paul noted, when one part of the Body is hurt, the whole Body is hurt, and every other part is hurt. And so I am hurt - and my congregation is hurt. And TEC has been hurt temporarily to the extent that it has in the past permitted itself to be blackmailed into accepting "moratoria" and other offensive demands (that I believe most TEC leaders knew in their hearts were morally wrong) from Windsor and meetings of Primates who have apparently lacked the will to stand up for justice against their most "off-the-wall" members. (Williams himself reportedly never wanted the "Communique" that came out of Tanzania, but caved to pressure orchestrated by Akinola and Minns and others - and BTW their back-room machinations were, I suppose, NOT "political activism"!!)

(2) I confess I do not personally know people in "polyamorous" or incestuous relationships; so I should keep an open mind. And if you ask me whether all people in such relationships are "in sin", or should be excluded from full participation in the church, then I would say, "Of course not". We are not here to judge one another and decide who is and is not "worthy" of being a part of Christ's Body. We all live in a complex and morally ambiguous world, in which many important moral decisions are shrouded in moral ambiguity. And every relationship is different - and I am willing to believe some can be very loving and free of exploitation. But I do not see such relationships as being like "marriage" or having the same characteristics that we find "blessed" in marriage, and that therefore leads us as a church to "bless" marriages.

On the other hand, in the case of same-gender unions, I DO know many gay and lesbian couples living godly lives of service to one another and their community - and being happily married, where they have been able to do so in more enlightened states than Virginia). And, although every relationship is different, I see absolutely no inherent or principled difference between their relationships and that of myself and my wife. [continued]

jschwarz42 said...

[Part 1b](3) The Catholic Church does indeed maintain that "mixed-gender" is "essential" to marriage (and to a morally acceptable sexual relationship). But it (and other conservative churches) offer no REASONED or experience-based grounds for that assertion. And, as my philosophy professor used to say: "What may be arbitrarily asserted may be arbitrarily denied!" (The whole "complementarity" argument, which is the only thing approaching an attempt at reasoned argument that I find in most conservative treatments of these issues, fails even the laugh test, because every meaningful kind of diversity and complementarity of what we conventionally call "masculine" and "feminine" nature and character that we find enriching the relationships between mixed-gender couples we also find in same-gender relationships - except on the level of crude physicality, how the body's "plumbing" works, in which only ultra-right theologians like Gagnon seem to find some kind of rationally inexplicable significance.) [continued in Part 2, already posted at 9:42 am]

Anonymous said...

RE: "Once we allow our own communal experience to lead us away from the traditional prejudice that same-gender sexuality is inevitably exploitative and/or licentious, I see no rational basis for concluding that sexuality between same-gender couples in loving, committed, lifelong relationships can be seen as inherently "sinful", any more than in the case of "married" mixed-gender couples.'

And . . . Once we allow our own communal experience to lead us away from the traditional prejudice that polyamorous/adult sibling/life-challenged/inter-species sexuality is inevitably exploitative and/or licentious, I see no rational basis for concluding that sexuality among polyamorous/adult sibling/life-challenged/inter-species relationships in loving, committed, lifelong, mutual, consensual, adult relationships can be seen as inherently "sinful", any more than in the case of "married" mixed-gender couples.

James said...

John says "But it (and other conservative churches) offer no REASONED or experience-based grounds for that assertion."
Actually, I find the catholic arguments to be very well reasoned and with a great deal of experience-based grounds. In contrast, I find the homosexual activists arguments to be seriously lacking in reason.

John - your mere assertions do not a reasoned argument make.

Wilf said...

jschwartz42 - Thanks again for your lucid remarks. Regarding your statement above:

all good theology must be rational and "empirical" (in the broad sense used by William James, which would include purely spiritual and psychological experience). MY God does not play games with people. If you think that God rejects something, then you should be able to articulate rationally and analytically WHY and HOW that is so, in terms of how the Community experiences and discerns God's "Will" - not simply spout a priori dogmatic positions such as "The Bible says so" or "We have always believed thus".

I don't think you'll frequently finding me making arguments like, "The Bible says so." Nonetheless ... Anglicans accept scripture as "the rule and ultimate standard of faith." So, yes: one can make the simple argument, "The Bible says so." Granted, theology will be more compelling and helpful when we do more than that. But we do accept scripture (granted, interpretation is an issue ... that's another debate).

Re. alterity - "Why does the necessary "alterity" for a marriage-type relationship have to come from physical gender difference (rather than the other ways that we confront the "other's otherness" ... ?"

Because gender is such a pronounced part of our existence as men and women. It is "easier" for some people than it is for others, and in some cases it is truly exceedingly difficult - e.g., some cases of gender dysphoria - yet there is always some aspect of gender. This fundamental alterity is so profound that other types of alterity simply can't substitute this incredibly important one. As you point out, the very beginning of the creation narrative describes men and women in terms of gender.

Jesus would have held the same basic beliefs regarding the law and sexuality as prescribed in the pentateuch - and even "sharpens" the law with his remarks on porneia. Even very "liberal" theologians admit this. Had he considered men and men marrying, he most certainly would have said this himself in a manner noteworthy enough for the evangelists to register it, as it would have been shocking to them. We also have Paul's words in Romans 1; which makes it quite certain that Jesus did not enjoin same-gender sexual relationships.

As you put it, re. 'how a Community discerns God's "will"' - since you put this word in quotes, perhaps it would help if you would describe whether or not, or in what manner, God has a will - e.g., is this a metaphor for the natural law? Or is it a metaphor for the ethical obligations a Community decides to take upon itself?

Anonymous said...

Mr Schwarz writes: "The Catholic Church does indeed maintain that "mixed-gender" is "essential" to marriage (and to a morally acceptable sexual relationship). But it (and other conservative churches) offer no REASONED or experience-based grounds for that assertion."

Actually, RCs do offer reasoned grounds--the nature of marriage is unitive and procreative. A mother and daughter may have a finer and more affectionate friendship than the daughter and her husband, but that love can't result in a child. Mother and daughter lack a power with respect to each other to produce a child, even though the mother conceived and bore her daughter.

A husband and wife who are incapable of conceiving a child, because one is involuntarily sterile, do not undercut the RC reasoning. A medical doctor confronting this situation will approach it as a medical problem. The same doctor approached by a mother and daughter who ask why they cannot conceive a child together will provide an awkward reply about the nature of properly functioning human biology.

Rooted in biology and eminently knowable by the scientist and layman alike. If this is not essential to marriage, then I guess people will need a new name to describe that relationship and the virtues necessary to sustain it.

Lapinbizarre said...

And what are you bitter about, Anonymous 9:58 a.m.?

Wilf said...

;) thanks for pointing that out, funnybunny & being nice to sweet bb, none of the orthodoksies did that but you did. Blessings.

Anonymous said...

I've been kind of watching this out of the corner of my eye and feeling a little uneasy about all aspects of it.

What actually happened in Massachusetts? It's an unusual jurisdiction in that same sex marriages are legal there. I assume that this was structured not as a "wedding" in the church, but a "blessing" of a secular union. So BB's point about the absence of a same sex marriage liturgy (4th comment at 1730) is not one that grabs me in this particular circumstance (unless this was styled by the clergy that presided as a "wedding"). I'm not sure I'm comfortable (or ever will be) with a church "blessing" a "union" that has no status as a religious matter within the church. On the other hand, I've had dogs and boats "blessed", and they don't have any particular religious or theological status either (although I am irrationally fond of both).

But, having said that, I absolutely marvel at the kind of childish incendiarianism (I may have just made up a word) on the part of some of these people in the Episcopal Church. There's a kind of gleeful provocateurism in things like this and the Glasspool situation that one would hope serious Christians would try to avoid. I think, somewhat subconsciously, people who insist on these acts in this difficult time, enjoy watching their opponents within (and outside) the Church fly off like balloons with the air let out of them.

When I was little, I used to think that the distinguishing feature between kids and adults was not that the adults were bigger or stronger than we were, but that they were wiser. As I have aged, I have come to believe that the danger of adults is that they are bigger and stronger than children, but in far too many cases, no wiser at all.

Oh, by the way, on the point about boycotting Dublin, I read BB to be saying that a boycott wasn't the appropriate response. I agree. There are too many people who like the sound of fabric ripping on both sides of this. There are better ways.


Scout

Anonymous said...

Lapin and Wilf:

The Anon at 9:58 is obviously a troll, and one approach is to ignore such creatures.

bb is perfectly capable of defending herself if she chooses to respond; she does not need the support of the "orthodoksies to do so.

RalphM

Anonymous said...

PS: I'll join Lapin, Wilf, and now Ralph in suggesting that anon 0958 find better ways to discuss this.

Scout

Anonymous said...

"they" being the women in the ceremony or the Church?

Scout

Anonymous said...

RE: " I read BB to be saying that a boycott wasn't the appropriate response. I agree. There are too many people who like the sound of fabric ripping on both sides of this. There are better ways."

Yes -- I read it that way too.

Of course, they're merely responding to the already ripped fabric. They demonstrate the reality.

Hopefully, more will, in the coming years -- as they get to know better the nature of the current leaders of TEC -- will do the same. It's been a good -- though steep -- learning curve for the bishops and Primates of the AC, and I'm gratified to see the progress on the learning since and during Lambeth.



Sarah

Anonymous said...

(Editor: though certainly meant in jest, let's stay to the topic - edited)

And, Scout, they referred to it repeatedly as a "marriage" and "Holy Matrimony", not simply a blessing of a civil union.

Carolyn

BabyBlue said...

BB NOTE: Some of the comments are going into the Cafe SPAM Box. I released the ones that were not SPAM.

bb

Wilf said...

Scout, I share your disturbance at what seems to be insensitivity of some in TEC with regard to this - though I imagine that you are probably irritated more than I since you are currently in TEC.

Re. the "this is just the same as any other couple" - it just happens to be a seminary president, and a diocesan bishop is right there up front. If all they had wished was simply to be married, they could have also done it quietly without the bishop present, without millions of copies of the story circulating in national print media.

One thing that can be said for the motives of those behind this marriage and the Glasspool consecration - many in TEC are looking at the situation of "social justice" for gay people within the United States and feel that one of the best ways they can serve this is by creating "facts on the ground" in U.S. Christianity. It becomes easier to say, "look, the church is doing all these things ... opinion in the church is clearly swinging." I am guessing that its significance is not aimed at the Communion or even the struggle within TEC; this has already been more or less decided.

Of course, this rather disregards the situation in the Communion; it's the "have your cake and eat it too" scenario if one then tries defending both.

Anonymous said...

BB - there is a time to leave organisations....ACNA found that. Now,some Primates, following what the NT says, did not go to Lambeth 08 because it was designed to be just talking with false teachers but to have no votes and no action against them.... same for Dublin this Jan.... what is the point of walking into Williams' traps when all he wants is for all to gather again and again but never to take any meaningful action against false teachers.... no surprise, he stands by what he wrote which supports the false teachers...... why go and waste time in 'indabas' - no decision taking is on offer. There is a time to shake dust off our feet...

The Lakeland Two said...

I've been sick and reading the comments coming across e-mail sadden me. When I see comments like that especially Anon 9:58 a.m.’s drive-by I see a person who let Satan sit down and type while they went to the fridge. Commmend Lapinbizzare for speaking up.

All involved in this event are so into the politics/awareness of the issue that it is a factor. Good. Let's stop pussy-footing around it. I have more respect for the in-your-face approach than the manuevered, subversive plan.

That's why we would love to see a national church-wide vote. Each member gets to vote on whether this is acceptible to them. Then let the chips fall where they may. If this was just about God, it would be easy to resolve. But it's not. It's even more than legitimacy of the homosexual agenda. Some of us see a deeper problem of understanding basic Christianity with Spong, Thew-Forrester and the like as examples of that problem.

Those for the agenda have blinders on and see only what they want. There is no room for those who disagree. Their "rights" trump everyone else’s rights. That’s why no quarter is made for those who want to stay with tradition, why KJS would rather sell a building to the Muslims or make it a saloon than allow it to be used by Christians.

I see three things:

1. A need to be spiritually pure. This is a concept that some people haven't been taught and without instruction is hard to grasp. I understand when people reach the point they can't tolerate further breach and choose to build a wall against further intrusion. That's why some left as individuals, congregations and dioceses.

2. A comprehension that even though we don't agree, we need to be in that pew (or folding chair) because we are all sinners. My challenges are just different.

3. A failure to understand that what the individual wants is contrary to what God wants, no matter what the issue is. If we are not in a deep relationship with God, we can not discern.

There is much we L2 don't know and don't care to challenge. We have a friend who lost his partner/husband after traveling to a permissive state to marry. I know he hurts and I wish I could take his pain away. I love my friend and hurt with him. We've talked about his relationship and that I'm conservative. But he also knows that while I don’t agree, I love him. And funny thing is that I'm more accepting of him than some of the ones who say they have no problem with the direction of TEC. Explain that to me.

I understand that some of you don't agree with me. I'm willing that there's enough room for both of us, but some of you would not leave room for me. That is where the rubber meets the road.

I hope that all the primates come and that God would inspire leadership the way He wants things done. If that means that a group of them walks out - so be it. But let's stop pretending that there aren't issues and division. If you are the Christian you are portraying, where is the love of your brother/sister? How can you make room for them? For us? For me? If you can't make room for others with you, then make room for them elsewhere and let God bless what He chooses.

Father God,

Please protect and bless all involved in this situation. Help us to hear Your desires and bring them to Your completion. Help us to love each other as You would have us. Help our leadership to find a way forward that is honorable to You. Bind Satan in any and every form. We bless You and thank You that You love us so much You sent Your only Son Jesus to dwell among us and to die for us. We love You, Lord. Mold us into the People of God You want us to be. Amen.

Anonymous said...

Wilf, I confess that there are delicate lines and often unclear between the degree to which the Church ventures into secular affairs and when it should tend to its internal non-secular priorities. There is an unfortunate tendency these days (perhaps it was always thus, but it seems much more acute now) for groups at both ends of the political spectrum to project their secular political enthusiasms into the heart of the Church and to gauge the Church by how well it mirrors their secular preferences. This does great damage to the Church, it seems to me. It's one thing to advocate for social justice, it's another to modify ancient liturgies to try to drive forward a secular political agenda, even if the motivations and goals of the secular activity are noble and just.

Sarah: it strikes me as of little moment where the tearing apart started. Any fool can rip things to shreds (you should see one of my dogs go at it - he's an absolutely delightful fellow, but no one would ever call him smart, even by dog standards). My feeling, however, is that the mending side is the more laborious, demanding, but, ultimately, God-pleasing activity. I realize others come to different conclusions for a variety of reasons, but I'm more in a mode of trying to find ways to hold things together in the Church. To be really sure that one has homogeneity on matters of faith and dogma, churches of one individual each would be the perfect solution. Humans, vastly flawed creatures that they are, are fully capable of painting themselves into that corner.

Anon 0840: ". . . Lambeth 08 . . . was designed to be just talking with false teachers but to have no votes and no action against them . . ."? Since when are the Lambeth conferences disciplinary tribunals? You make it sound like there should have been a public hanging and that it was a real disappointment that that wasn't on the agenda.

Scout

Anonymous said...

Scout,
The Bishop who presided over the ceremony referred to it as "marriage" and "Holy Matrimony".
Carolyn

Anonymous said...

While the two women may be "married" under state law, if the Bishop is referring to the ceremony as creating a state of "Holy Matrimony", he has succeeded in placing himself well out of step with even The Episcopal Church. As BB pointed out, there is no liturgy for marrying same sex couples in the Church. As I indicated above, this seems like gratuitous mischief on his part. Wilf's explanation is as good as any for this, but I find it puzzling and vexing at the same time.

Scout

The Lakeland Two said...

Scout,

Thank you for your comments. While we may not always agree, I appreciate them. In this case we agree and I appreciate that. It is incidents like this that I am pointing to when I say TEC is off the tracks.

Wilf said...

Scout,

What I should have mentioned but didn't, was: I see here that I was very, very wrong about you when I suspected you more or less of defending TEC down the line, no matter what the top leadership did. My apologies for this.

I also believe in social justice; but we need to be sure that our clergy, in addition to being interested in social justice, also some interest in serving God. We sometimes tend to assume that if someone is interested in social justice, that this is an indicator of "being on God's side" and they should be ordained.

Anonymous said...

Wilf: appreciate your comments. But I have to note that the reason you type-cast me is a common tendency in our times of people to think ideologically and to assume that if a person thinks X about Issue 1, they must think Y about issue 20. The whole schism debate has been rife with arbitrary groupings of people as "revisionists", "heretics", "liberals", etc. There are many active members of the Episcopal Church who have strong views against the wisdom of departure and schism, but who are not enamored with all the initiatives of the national TEC leadership or the actions of certain individual priests or bishops. We just were not impressed that the bug-out approach was the correct one under the circumstances. My primary issue has been what I view to be the complete impropriety of departees trying to take property from those who stay. This isn't a theological position, it's a matter of ethics, morals, and basic decency.

Scout

Anonymous said...

RE: "My feeling, however, is that the mending side is the more laborious, demanding, but, ultimately, God-pleasing activity."

Sure -- you don't see that the revisionism of TEC is church and gospel dividing. I get that.

But I do. And thus "mending" and unifying those who believe in one Gospel and those who believe in another should not -- and ultimately will not -- occur. The two are mutually antithetical and there is no "mending" the two.

No -- I look forward to more and more distance -- as will inevitably happen -- between those who believe one Gospel and those who believe in the other. The good news is that Lambeth and since then have been greatly revealing and clarifying to the Primates and bishops as a whole. I look for more of that to occur with the other traditional/moderate bishops/Primates. It's not just "The Meanest Ever Gafcon 5" or whatever. It's now a number more. And I think that number will only grow, until we have on the one side, Primates and bishops who believe the Gospel and at the meetings on the other side, the Primates and Bishops who are committed to the other gospel.

Ten years from now we will have *even more clear and distinctly divided out Primates/Lambeth/ACC instruments.

It can't *not* happen as the current TECusa leaders continue their steeper and swifter plunge.


Sarah

Anonymous said...

There is only one Gospel, Sarah. You set up a straw man to suggest that there are two. Your preference for division is your right. My only point is that I do not share it.

Scout

Anonymous said...

Scout - did I say Lambeth was supposed to be a 'tribunal'??? Clue: 'no'. But, you may accept that previous Lambeths had votes and resolutions..... but 08 was different in that it was designed not to have any.... so, many bishops didn't go because it was designed to be a fake 'indaba' talking shop and not to address problems ...... only in the interests of TEC revisionists...... bringing up 'tribunals', which I did not, does not change the facts.... and for similar reasons, it makes sense for Primates not to waste time going to talk to Schori et al in Dublin because no prospect of resolution is on offer (quite deliberately!) and TEC revisionists have shown many times that they are willing to 'indaba' just as long as that allows them to keep on putting 'facts on the ground'.... not everyone is fooled into cooperating with them or the ABC in this.....

Wilf said...

[pt I]
Scout,
I am prone to repeat myself here, but I believe the biggest indication here that there are two different gospels are in TEC's promotion of Marcus Borg. We've talked about this a bit before, but let me quickly outline what Borg tends to teach insofar as I understand him.

Borg teaches something akin to modern unitarianism - that there is a deity which manifests itself in different ways. The writings which each religious community hold to are sacred because those communities hold them as such.

Jesus did not rise from the dead; rather, the disciples had a number of visions, and also attempted to communicate other impressions they had about God by means of metaphor. What is "really" true is that with the resurrection, God "vindicated" Jesus. Borg tries to point out what he does NOT mean - he does not mean that this is simply a matter of Jesus's teachings staying with the disciples - but other things as well. He believes that the disciples felt Jesus's presence (or maybe even that Jesus WAS present with them). And he believes that the resurrection is a symbol that Jesus's teachings triumphed over the oppression of systems. The resurrection is "symbolic" and "metaphorical" - and Borg makes care to point out that metaphors *can* be true - and that this is a case of a true metaphor.

However, metaphors are always pointing to something else. We say something is "metaphorical" when it is not the phrase itself - but something to which that phrase refers - which is what we should look to when judging whether or not a metaphorical statement is true.

This "something else" is, in this case, basically an abiding teaching which Christians is still present with them. It is profoundly true, in the very concrete consequences they experience from these teachings - e.g., how much more one thrives when one is relieved of oppression, than when one has to live under oppression. "Jesus" ends up being: visionary experiences that people have where they truly believe they see and touch Jesus; plus a feeling of the presence of Jesus; plus the very real and concrete effects of teaching against oppressive systems.

Wilf said...

[pt 2]

In his analysis, it seems then that Jesus stands for an ethic that is against oppressive systems.

Borg speaks of the divinity of Christ as meaning the fulfillment of man. I.e., it is not God - it is simply man attaining some potential which is already within man's nature.

There is a lot of vagueness here. There is much room for mystery.

What's clear however is that this is not Jesus Christ of Trinitarian Christology. Below is my comparison, and not from Borg's actual teachings - rather conclusions. We do not have to turn to Christ as a person, in humility; rather, "turning to Christ" is re-interpreted as accepting the validity of the moral law, and the positive benefits one feels in situations where the moral law is kept. Jesus is not a person to whom we can pray; prayer rather would be self-centering and realizing that there is much beyond us, and that we must respect the moral law. Confession of sin would be no more than good therapeutic advice, and not related to our relationship with God.

It is not a problem that someone teaches this; the problem is that a church still claiming to be Trinitarian is teaching this to its adherents as the gospel. This is a different gospel. It may not be taught in your church, but it is being promoted by the National Church. There are also a number of very good indications that this is +KJS's position.

It is essential that Trinitarian Christians are taught the importance of embracing faith in the Risen Christ. Priests may struggle with this; in CofE, many do. But once our bishops reject the importance of the Risen Christ, and adopt the teaching which implies (or in some cases, is rather explicit) that Jesus is no more than a symbol for ethics (which I use interchangeably with "moral law," as distinct from "mores"), it should be very, very clear that we are bringing another gospel into the church. This is much more important than any possible bad ethical teachings or practices re. sex or the sanctity of life, as sex crimes or taking of life is never condemned as strongly as, essentially, counseling Christ's sons and daughters to give up hope in Him, and embrace a moral code in His place.

Other religions may call themselves "Christians" who feel they follow Jesus, but do not accept things like the divinity of Christ or the resurrection. But it's important to understand the distincitives of Trinitarian Christianity and what Trinitarian Christians commend to belief - even when our bishops or clergy may struggle with such things.

It's the point that they are teaching things contrary to these that we have become essentially anti-Trinitarian, and at this point we need to worry about "anathema." I don't believe this term should be seen strictly in "conservative" sense as only having to do with "the after-life", "hell" etc. etc.., but that we need a more broad view which includes our own temporal existence. I think that in some ways we can see signs of this anathema amongst ourselves in the Communion - in how we are torn apart from one another and stunted in mission. I also think it's corporate - I am responsible, as are all Anglicans who are cognizant enough as to know what is going on. It's not simply the fault of +KJS or Borg - it's our church culture, which put them in these places before they were ready to teach and lead in church, and it remains our responsibility in that we don't find some way to either dissuade them from this teaching, or to convince them to find other responsibilities which they can carry out faithfully and beautifully.

Wilf said...

[pt 2]
In his analysis, it seems then that Jesus stands for an ethic that is against oppressive systems.

Borg speaks of the divinity of Christ as meaning the fulfillment of man. I.e., it is not God - it is simply man attaining some potential which is already within man's nature.

There is a lot of vagueness here. There is much room for mystery.

What's clear however is that this is not Jesus Christ of Trinitarian Christology. Below is my comparison, and not from Borg's actual teachings - rather conclusions. We do not have to turn to Christ as a person, in humility; rather, "turning to Christ" is re-interpreted as accepting the validity of the moral law, and the positive benefits one feels in situations where the moral law is kept. Jesus is not a person to whom we can pray; prayer rather would be self-centering and realizing that there is much beyond us, and that we must respect the moral law. Confession of sin would be no more than good therapeutic advice, and not related to our relationship with God.

It is not a problem that someone teaches this; the problem is that a church still claiming to be Trinitarian is teaching this to its adherents as the gospel. This is a different gospel. It may not be taught in your church, but it is being promoted by the National Church. There are also a number of very good indications that this is +KJS's position.

It is essential that Trinitarian Christians are taught the importance of embracing faith in the Risen Christ. Priests may struggle with this; in CofE, many do. But once our bishops reject the importance of the Risen Christ, and adopt the teaching which implies (or in some cases, is rather explicit) that Jesus is no more than a symbol for ethics (which I use interchangeably with "moral law," as distinct from "mores"), it should be very, very clear that we are bringing another gospel into the church. This is much more important than any possible bad ethical teachings or practices re. sex or the sanctity of life, as sex crimes or taking of life is never condemned as strongly as, essentially, counseling Christ's sons and daughters to give up hope in Him, and embrace a moral code in His place.

Other religions may call themselves "Christians" who feel they follow Jesus, but do not accept things like the divinity of Christ or the resurrection. But it's important to understand the distincitives of Trinitarian Christianity and what Trinitarian Christians commend to belief - even when our bishops or clergy may struggle with such things.

It's the point that they are teaching things contrary to these that we have become essentially anti-Trinitarian, and at this point we need to worry about "anathema." I don't believe this term should be seen strictly in "conservative" sense as only having to do with "the after-life", "hell" etc. etc.., but that we need a more broad view which includes our own temporal existence. I think that in some ways we can see signs of this anathema amongst ourselves in the Communion - in how we are torn apart from one another and stunted in mission. I also think it's corporate - I am responsible, as are all Anglicans who are cognizant enough as to know what is going on. It's not simply the fault of +KJS or Borg - it's our church culture, which put them in these places before they were ready to teach and lead in church, and it remains our responsibility in that we don't find some way to either dissuade them from this teaching, or to convince them to find other responsibilities which they can carry out faithfully and beautifully.

Dale Matson said...

Wilf,
"I also believe in social justice; but we need to be sure that our clergy, in addition to being interested in social justice, also some interest in serving God. We sometimes tend to assume that if someone is interested in social justice, that this is an indicator of "being on God's side" and they should be ordained." Wilf, I heartily agree with this.
If social justice were the defining issue of Christian living then all Social Workers should be ordained.

jschwarz42 said...

Re: the priority of "social justice":

"...And what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with your God?"

It is precisely and principally in doing justice, in compassionately serving those in need and in building up the already-come-but-still-emerging Reign of God on earth, proclaimed by Jesus, that we serve God - and come to know God, and to find our own "salvation" in God.

All else is commentary.

- John

Anonymous said...

jschwarz - that is a drastic reduction which cuts out a lot of teaching..... so, you are a universalist?

Anam Cara said...

Scout, there are other gospels. There have been since the earliest Christian times.

Paul says to the Galatians: "I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed."

Anyone who does not teach the Trinity, the virgin birth, the resurrection, the ascension is teaching a different gospel.

Wilf said...

jschwartz42 -
You are very adept at putting things into words, and that helps a great deal; sometimes I also find my own thought sharpened by interacting with you.

Your words above really sum up the situation well. Teaching in TEC is increasingly about a set of ethical norms ("social justice"), with the elements of Trinitarian faith interpreted in various ways as metaphors for social justice - or elements of social justice.

I know that you find great "meaning" in this way of looking at faith - but I do hope and pray that you with your gentle but acute mind will someday discover that Christ is real - and is not simply a body of ethical standards and their concrete consequences - and that we actually relate ourselves to Him, as to a person. That we turn toward God in repentance, because until we do, there is something broken in that relationship.

One thing you will discover here is love - an abundant love for God, a recognition of His abundant love for you. I know that the love of God is a great theme in TEC - but without our actually relating ourselves to God through Christ, we are missing out on the most important aspect of God's love (and our own potential love). Christ's humanity and divinity, His resurrection - are all a part of what we need to recognize regarding who He is. The virgin birth is also important, especially for Catholics, in understanding Christ himself and who He is - but if I were to prioritize, I would prioritize first the resurrection, if one wants to explore faith in the person of Christ (as opposed to Christ the metaphor for ethics and justice). This is an important touchstone for understanding the full implications of Christ as fully man and fully God; of His care for space and time and this "material" world which at moments can seem trivial or "less than spiritual." For the incredible unity of creation and God's love, against gnostic visions which tend to find some ur-evil and from this notion of evil, attempt at finding some salvation from it - usually dividing the world into "good" and "bad" components (in the model where social justice is central rather than the Risen Christ, the "ur-evil" tends to be associated with systemic oppression and fundamentalism - the rest tends to be the outworking of a plan of how we can rid ourselves of such things)

You are right that justice needs to be a concern of Christians, a very important concern. But the gospels are also clear about their most important message: recognizing who Jesus is - recognizing this fully. It is through this recognition that people then turn toward their world with the proper lens of hope in transformation of the social realm through love, and provision for the needy.

Justice is a major Old Testament theme, but in the New Testament, when Jesus describes justice, it is often in terms of postponement of true justice. For true justice would mean those who have not yet acknowledged their Creator, would be separated from Him. Christ speaks more in terms of provision and love - i.e., grace - rather than justice - which of course, is associated with "the law." An overt focus on justice tends to lead toward legalism. But yes, this is what the media tends to call "social justice" - being fully aware of the social issues and needs around us.

If / when you recognize the Risen Christ for who He is - very likely your vision of social justice will also be changed in a subtle, but yet profound, manner. You do not have to worry about giving up anything. Christ is the fulfillment of that which we truly long for, shed of our various illusions of how we might attain such.

Wilf said...

Anam Cara,

Thanks so much for your contributions here, and for not simply letting us Anglicans slide away by ourselves into an oblivion of apostasy and denying Christ. It means a great deal that someone from a different church - Eastern Orthodox - takes time to read about Anglican issues, and then even write comments addressing specific issues that people are raising.

Blessings to you for this new year. Thank you for your help, your prayers, and our little bit of fellowship here in cyberspace.

jschwarz42 said...

Wilf:

Briefly three things. (1) I do not see why one priority excludes the other. I do indeed affirm that I experience really and existentially the person of the risen Jesus (whom we call Christ) as a living presence in my life, and that this grounds me in my relationship with God. I do not pretend to understand fully the "metaphysical reality" of that presence - I am willing to accept it as the life-grounding experience that it is, that it IS the transformative experience of God's presence in my life, and to accept that it needs to be fully experienced in community with those who share that faith experience. I doubt that there is anyone in TEC who would disagree (although they might put it differently). I believe that, in some sense beyond our understanding, I will after death continue to live on in a transformed existence that is nonetheless fully and completely ME (what some might call "resurrection of the body"), in a way that is made possible by that presence and that relationship. I do not find intricate theological explications of what we "mean" by stuff like "resurrection" to be helpful in deepening that faith experience and faith conviction.

(2) I do believe fundamentally that it is primarily in DOING what God calls us to do in answering compassionately and with justice to the needs of other persons, society and all of God's creation - and in "building up the Kingdom" - that we come closer to God (and to Jesus "personally") in relationship, and thereby become more fully all that God wants us to be as ourselves and in our humanity. That is what it means to walk "humbly" (which really means what we today would call "authentically" - not puffed up but true to ourselves) with our God. I believe that it is primarily in our loving relationships with other humans and through acting in response to God's call that we come to know God (although I do not deny the reality of others' "direct" mystical experience of God), and not through learning or "assenting to" theological, doctrinal explanations of "what" God is. I believe that Jesus himself taught us something like this by telling us that it is in service to the "least of those" who are poor and oppressed in society that we serve HIM and do something for HIM - and thus come into relationship with HIM (and with all of God's reality, to the extent we can experience it in our finite lives).

(3) "Justice" in the Biblical sense in which we talk of "social justice" has nothing to with the secular, law-court, "blind scales of justice" model, but has to do with God's passionate, compassionate and committed "preferential option" for the poor and downtrodden. It is thus quite the opposite of being "legalistic". Justice, in its primary sense, is not "punishment", or balancing the scales, but more like God's Dream of Love (agape) - but looked at from a different angle....

- John

The Lakeland Two said...

John - you wrote "I doubt that there is anyone in TEC who would disagree (although they might put it differently)."

That's the problem. There ARE people in TEC who would disagree. I know some - personally. There's Spong as a flaming example, too. The women's liturgy issue is another huge example.

It is these people who are in leadership that offends the rest of us, and it is these people that have caused more unrest than all the homosexual issue problems.

If you feel that all of TEC truly believes in Jesus - and what He says, then why are so many of TEC doing the opposite of what He has said?

Anonymous said...

RE: "There is only one Gospel, Sarah."

Very true. ; > )

But there are thousands of "gospels."

And the revisionist TEC activists hold an antithetical gospel to the Gospel. There will be no "unity" with those two mutually antithetical foundational worldviews.

RE: "Your preference for division . . . "

Nah -- I don't need to "prefer" division. I only desire the *clarity* of the already existing division.

And the clarity is clear and light-filled. The chasm is deep and broad.

I'm satisfied. And confident too that there will be no "unifying" of the antithetical.


Sarah

Anonymous said...

AC: my Bible translates the same passage as "I am astonished to find you turning so quickly away from him who called you by grace, and following a different gospel. Not that there is in fact another gospel, only there are persons who unsettle your minds by trying to distort the gospel of Christ . . ."

Too be sure, Paul had challenges that we do not face. For one, he didn't have a canonical testament. When he wrote to the Galatians, there were none of the books that we loosely call "the Gospels."
suspect, although we cannot know for sure, that he was referring to the recurring issue of the relationship of the Jewish Law to the message of redemption through belief in Christ died and resurrected. But I don't think that that dichotomy is what Sarah is talking about. I'm aligning myself with Paul in that I don't believe there are multiple gospels.

Based on the written record that is available to us, Paul did not teach the Virgin Birth or the Trinity. I suppose one could observe that he didn't deny them, but they are not part of his expressed thoughts in the materials to which we have access. He probably would have come up short in your criteria of faithful teaching.

Scout

Scout

Anonymous said...

Last comment should read "I suspect, but we cannot know for sure . . ." etc. Apologies for poor typing skills.

Scout

Anonymous said...

Scout - no wonder you want to stay false 'indabaing' with TEC revisionists is you think saying that Paul didn't explicitly write about Christmas adds any value in this debate...it does not.

You want unity with TEC revisionists...great, have fun....they need you as very few Americans can be bothered on a Sunday to go along and hear about 'ubuntu' or whatever. And, very few Primates of major provinces will waste more time going to the ABC's special gatherings while they are designed to prevent any Communion decisions against revisionists being enforced (e.g Lambeth 08 being unusual in having no votes and Dublin coming up.... no point going along as the trap is set so that nothing can change.... people are moving on .... but you can stay with TEC revisionists and feel you are doing something for unity.... institutional unity, that is, not any kind that matters eternally.

Anonymous said...

Anon 0957 _ I have no idea what you're talking about. Did you read my comment (or yours) before you pressed the "submit" button. I said nothing about St. Paul and Christmas or unity with "revisionists". I made the point in response Anam Caram that neither the Virgin Birth or the Trinity were concepts that Paul wrote about in the writings available to us. If not preaching them is the mark of preaching a "different gospel", Paul is guilty. I don't think of him that way, but that is the implication of AC's comment to which I was replying. My reading is inherently conservative and literal, by the way.

Scout

Anonymous said...

SCout - taking what you said re Paul (not a strong point in my view) and what you wrote to Sarah (i.e. "There is only one Gospel, Sarah. You set up a straw man to suggest that there are two. Your preference for division is your right. My only point is that I do not share it. Scout") - you might be able to see the basis for the comment..... you do not want division, you say.... fine, but if you are in TEC, you are only playing into the hands of revisionists by going for institutional unity.... revisionists would probably like your comment re Paul.....of course, he didn't need to go over those issues....and he did not encourage unity with false teachers, did he?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure what a "revisionist" is Anon, but I don't think there is anything particularly "revisionist" about close readings of scripture. We have the canonical New Testament available to us (most of us have multiple copies lying around). Paul was in a quite different situation. Paul's Gospel, the good news, was salvation through faith in Christ crucified and risen. When AC quotes Galatians 1:6-9 and then states that anyone who does not preach the Trinity, the Resurrection, the Virgin Birth and the Ascenscion is a false teacher, I only note that Paul did not preach at least two out of four of those. I'm not sure what you mean that Paul didn't "need to go over" those things. You act as though they were well-established theological foundations at the time of his ministry. From the record available to us there is no evidence that St. Paul even knew about the Virgin Birth or considered it at all important to his theology. Ditto the Trinity. These concepts emerged later.

Finally, I question why you would consider my being a member of TEC "playing into the hands of the 'revisionists'" (again, I'm not sure what a "revisionist" is, I assume it has many meanings in many contexts). My being a member of an Episcopal parish probably means nothing to most people of any shade of opinion. I just go there to worship. If there are revisionists in my parish, I don't know who they are or whether they think my presence is good, bad, or indifferent.

Scout

Daniel Weir said...

As a friend of both women, I am sorry that people have chosen to attack them.

The Lakeland Two said...

Daniel Weir - That they are your friends makes no difference to me other than it defines you further by the company you keep and that by your statement as written you sanction their actions.

Your friends have chosen to act contrary to what has been asked of the church in the US and the AC, much less many in the US. Hierarchy is hierarchy only as long as it suits them? Forcing the issue in the manner your friends have is an issue to a lot of us. It is their actions, and prior actions and words that I have issue with.

While I disagree with the actions of this group on multiple levels, they are at least honest in what they are doing. Why won't TEC be as honest? It provides clarity. Every seat at the Primate's Table that remains empty is a consequence of actions such as these. There is division - why try telling a court there isn't?

But while your friends have been allowed to worship their way, why can't those who chose to stay on the original course be allowed to worship their own way, too? Or is this just having your cake and eating ours, too?