Monday, November 17, 2008

Diocesan Convention I--No, Doug, it isn't all about Sodomy!

I thought that we were going to get through Diocesan Convention without stirring up the old wounds. But the Dean felt a need to enliven a very boring convention by sticking a habenero into the stew. Resolution: May unmarried or partnered persons be considered for ordination? And the neo-conservatives were on.

To equate the love of partnered persons with sodomy, which one rector did, says that the priest does not understand the lives of partnered people and the depths of their love. Most of us have to overcome the blocks to our relationship that many would place in our way. It is a false message that says that people cannot have love for one another and their families unless they are married. This is not only unscriptural, it is pure bunk.

I have friends who have been married for almost 30 years. They have 2 grown children, live in the town where they grew up, own a business and one of the couple is the mayor of the village. The husband had tried to reconcile his feelings that he was really a woman all of his life. Years of therapy finally revealed that he was really a woman. Needless to say, this put much pressure upon his spouse. But the love that they had for each other was more important to them than gender. He was counseled to leave his spouse and live his town because he would not be accepted if he changed. Bravely he said no. He gradually entered into the life of the transsexual. They live happily together now as two women in the same town,—their love for each other, their family and God stands as a witness to us all of what it means to be faithful. The issue is NOT sex. The issue is love and how we live out God’s love for us.

All kinds of people live together. Seniors live together without the bonds of matrimony. Gay and straight folk live together. Sisters and brothers live together. Children live with their parents and parents live with their children. The issue is not sex. The issue is about the kind of love that bonds people together. This new age is going to see more and more non-married people living together—not because of sex but because of finances, because of the need for companionship, because of the need to have nurturing environments for children etc. Marriage is not the only manifestation of God’s love and to say that it is, is manifestly untrue.

My neo-conservative brothers (and I might add they are all male) are falling for the oldest of Pelagian traps. Their reasoning is that salvation has to do with following the law. The law does not save. We are not saved by being sinless. We are saved by God’s love for us in the life of Jesus Christ.

One thing that I have been reminded of by working with the Lutherans is that Luther understood the Word to be the Incarnate Jesus rather than the jots and tittles of the written word. Sola Scriptura has to do with the manifestation of Christ rather than the do’s and don’ts of the written page.

The world is changing. We are able to see the love of God in two people who live together in love rather than by any rules of institutions. We are beginning to see that Christ’s love can and is manifested in different configurations than heretofore. And the Church is beginning to acknowledge this. The resolution passed with considerable majority. Thanks be to God!

It was interesting that several Lesbians came up to me and thanked me for speaking on their behalf and contradicting the neo-conservatives’ hurting denouncement of their lives and faith. For those of the clergy who are Lesbian or Gay it is important for us to speak up not only for ourselves but for the LGBT people in diocese. This doesn't mean that straight folk cannot speak to the issue. It just means that Christ is seen the lives of LGBT people and LGBT need to be able to see Christ in themselves just as surly as the heterosexual manifestations of priesthood.

Even the teenagers at our convention wanted to talk to me following my response at the microphone. They invited me into their group wondering what all that rejection was about from some members of the clergy. The couldn't beleive that such things were being said by priests in their Church. Young people today are much more accepting than their elders. They also understand what Christ's love is about. However, they are not going to accept a church that are demeening of those who are different. It was gratifying that they do understand the message of Jesus so clearly.

It was interesting that some of the diocesan leadership was quite uncomfortable with me talking to the youth and interrupted our discussion on several occasions with very worried looks upon their faces. It tells me loudly that even though the diocesan leadership preaches inclusion, they are in reality just as closed and afraid as the neo-conservatives. I am gratified by the vote of Convention, but we have miles to go before CNY is the welcoming and affirming diocese that it once was.


Gus said...

This was my first Convention. I can't say it was a really good use of my time.

That anti-sodomy rant made me mad. I wanted to head for the nearest mike and say "Respect the diginity of EVERY human being," but the question was called. I suppose that's as well; I was mad enough that I know very well I would not have said it nicely, probably muttering "DUH" under my breath as I turned away from the mike, probably just loud enough to be heard.

Muthah+ said...

Gus, last year was not so bad, but the previous 4 conventions we had to sit through hours of nastiness. On that issue this convention was better than most. But what was much worse is the total loss of what a convention can and should mean.

Father Doug said...

OK, let's make sure we're talking about the same event. I introduced my comments by saying something I happen to believe: I am the worst sinner in the room. I also said at the start that I am not worthy of being a priest or of going to heaven. The only reason I can do either is that Jesus loved me (why, I don't know!) and gave his life for me on the cross.

You said that we "neo-conservatives" (why the "neo-"?) are Pelagian. How exactly is that Pelagian? We are saved by grace, period, not by whether we do or do not live up to a standard of righteousness.

The point of the Resolution (neatly hidden beneath a plea for "openness" to the Ordination process, something already in the Constitutions and Canons) was to clarify the Diocese's official teaching on sodomy. It was to declare that sex apart from marriage is legitimate and no barrier to holiness. That is a lie.

You seem to want to argue that this has something to do with people living together. It doesn't. It has to do with "married/partner status." We're talking about sexual relationships here, Lauren, not roommate arrangements. If that were not the case, then we could easily have passed roommate legislation in all the states giving any two persons marriage-like status for legal and inheritance purposes. One would only need to register one's partnership with the clerk. It could be, as you suggest, sisters, parent-child, friends, etc. But, no. The gay-rights crowd doesn't want to live with that. Instead, it has to be "same-sex marriage," a sexual and romantic relationship that is equally good, equally holy and equally legitimate as real marriage.

That's what the resolution pushed for.

Father Doug said...

To Gus:
For years I've tried to instruct the bishop that just because somebody goes to a microphone and says, "I call the question," does not and cannot automatically stop debate. "Calling the Question" is actually to "move the previous question" and is a motion to cut off debate. If others still want to speak, it must be seconded and voted on. Furthermore it must pass (I think) by two-thirds. No matter, the bishop keeps pretending that anybody has the absolute power to stop debate by simply "calling the Question."

Had you come to the microphone, I might have wondered how you deal with, say, drunk drivers. Are they wrong? Is their behavior sinful? If I point out the sin in drunk driving, am I no longer "respecting the dignity of every human being." What if the drunk driver insists he's done nothing wrong? Does respecting his dignity mean that he gets to decide right and wrong for himself? Does it mean that if I contradict him ("No, I disagree. I believe that drunk driving is a sin.") I do not respect him?

I draw these questions from your (undelivered) comment. Aren't you assuming that because I identify a certain behavior with sin I somehow no longer "respect the dignity" of those who perform the behavior. I ask you, if indeed the behavior is a sin (as in drunk driving, or stealing, etc.) is it I who do not respect their dignity by pointing out the truth or is it they, those who in fact carry out the sin, who do not respect their own dignity, since they are letting themselves fall into sin.

I know that when I commit sin, which is often, I am the one who is not respecting my own dignity--a dignity that is mine in Christ. If someone says to me, "Oh, that's OK. We all do that. It's not a very big sin, not probably any sin at all," then that person also does not respect my dignity. But if someone stands up to me and says, "You, Douglas, are in the wrong. You have sinned," I am indebted to that person. That person, not the other, truly respected my dignity because he truly believed that I was able not to sin.

Doug Taylor-Weiss

JCF said...

The point of the Resolution (neatly hidden beneath a plea for "openness" to the Ordination process, something already in the Constitutions and Canons) was to clarify the Diocese's official teaching on sodomy. It was to declare that sex apart from marriage is legitimate and no barrier to holiness. That is a lie.


"Sodomy" is the supremely inhospitable sin of rape. It has NOTHING to do with spousal intimacy between two committed partners, whether of the same- or opposite-sex.

Your attempt, Father Doug, to crash through the bedroom door of committed spouses is OFFENSIVE and UNACCEPTABLE, by the canons of the Episcopal Church. It's none of your business what spouses do in the privacy of their homes. Period. End of discussion.

You say you believe you're the "worst sinner in the room". Then why don't act as a properly repentant sinner, by amending your OWN life, and quit trying (coercively) amend other peoples'?