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.