Monday, November 17, 2008

"Sodomite" and "Nigger" Diocesan Convention Pt. 3




I have always enjoyed Diocesan Convention no matter which diocese I was serving. It was a time in which I gathered with colleagues, heard a speaker or two that helped me renew my commitment as a priest and pastor. It was where I could have my voice heard through the legislative and elective processes so dear to my denomination. I met friends who shared the ministry both lay and ordained. I stood in the traditions of our Church sustained with a liturgy that lifted me out of my local congregation and into the realm of the whole national and international Church. Episcopal clergy are not members of their parishes; they are members of the convention of their diocese. Convention was where I understood myself to be a pastor, priest and Christian of something greater than my local parish.

Yes, it was a place where we could argue with one another about various manifestations of Christ’s love in resolutions, constitution and canons and the use of diocesan funds. But never did we deny that the faith we shared was in Jesus Christ. Never did we intimate that we were not faithful Christians because we held one position or another.

The debris left from the schismatic efforts of a few renegade bishops in the Episcopal Church is still with us. We have lost a couple of parishes because of these schismatic efforts but most of the Episcopalians have remained in other parishes in Binghamton. I had hoped that in past conventions we had made it clear what the mind of convention about LGBT persons was. I know I flinched when the Dean brought forth his resolution. Once again LGBT persons became the target for the neo-conservatives to beat up, diminish healthy relationships to sexual acts and deny LGBT persons the same kind of respect as heterosexual Christians. The discussion, though short, allowed some to continue to denigrate the faith of LGBT persons. Granted, the resolution passed unequivocally, but the damage was done. The Chair of Convention did not intervene with the speakers who insisted on calling the manifestations of love of LGBT persons sodomy.

We would not allow the word “Nigger” because the word has been used to denigrate African-Americans. We don’t use “Bitch” or “whore” or other terms used to denigrate the lives of women. “Sodomite” should not be used for the same reason. It is a dirty, ugly word that does not in anyway describe the love between LGBT persons. For the Bishop to remain silent when such language is used on Convention floor says that he either supports the use of such language or he is not aware of the hurtfulness such language to LGBT persons. It means that he is not being advised by people who are sensitive to the needs of LGBT Christians in his diocese. It means his support of LGBT persons is facile and wishy-washy. He does not stand in solidarity with those who have been excluded. It means he cannot practice what he preaches. I call upon him to exclude the word from use at all diocesan meetings because of its continued injury to the faith of LGBT persons.

30 comments:

Two Auntees said...

Thank you for your words. It is so important to the LGBT community to know that others stand with us and speak out for us.

I am not from your diocese but our bishop apparently has similar views to your bishop. I have personally heard our bishop say in an Integrity group that gays and lesbians were unable to be in faithful relationships. I guess that was news to at least one gay couple in the group who has been in a 25 year faithful relationship. Of course that really made me angry, I stood up and told him that I had worked in Sexually Transmitted Disease clinics for more than 30 years and there were proportionally more heterosexual individuals who were treated so his statement was really not valid.

He was extremely rude in the meeting. When a couple of people talked to him later, he said that he had been in a meeting with people arguing for the other side and was angry when he came to the Integrity meeting. He never showed any kind of remorse for his insulting behavior.

Muthah+ said...

Two Auntees, thank you for your comments. I find that even though there are those who "support" LGBT because it is the PC thing are often under the skin just as abusive as the ones who vote badly. It is the fake liberal position.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, Muthah+, I grieve for what you had to experience this w/e. Lord, have mercy for they know not what they do.

Or, maybe they do, and they do it anyway.

Christ, have mercy.

"Perfect love casts out fear," isn't that what St. Paul wrote.

So many of our churches and our leaders are infected with fear. It's fear that leads to the kind of 'hate speech' which allows words like "sodomite" and "faggot"" to stand unchallenged. My sense is that if it were not PC to not challenge words like "bitch," "whore" and "nigger", it wouldn't be done, either.

You are so right - gay oppression is the last allowable oppression. Some one's gotta be on the bottom. It's us and the illegal immigrants.

Lord, have mercy.

Thank you for your bold witness in this Blog. You continue to inspire me as you did more years ago than I care to admit.

Brava, Muthah. Brava!

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Well, Muthah+, and the hell of it is, they are being doubly ignorant b/c the sin of Sodom was not being hospitable...and how anyone can get a friggin' redeeming thing out of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah is beyond me. I have learned from that story:

1. You can dicker with God like he's a Persian rug merchant.
2. It's ok to offer your prepubescent daughters for sexual favors if a crowd gets pissy.

Great Biblical lessons there!

Tobias Haller said...

Hi, and thanks for this. I've known you as a commenter at other blogs, but not been to your own until today. I'm adding you to my blogroll. I'm happy to say the Diocese of New York convention went much more smoothely, and no one spoke in opposition to our marriage equality resolution. There were a few tense moments, but we had two wonderful speakers present and support the resolution, with no vocal opposition, and the vote was overwhelmingly in favor. Some day things will smoothe out in CNY, and I pray for greater strength of will and conviction for your bishop, and all bishops. Spine! Spine!

Grandmère Mimi said...

Muthah, the word has no place in the dialogue at a diocesan convention. Shame on the powers who let that happen.

Ann said...

I am horrified that Skip would allow this sort of speech- and that no one rose to object.

susan s. said...

MapPriest pointed me here.

How very painful it must be to have to listen to events like this. Thanks for speaking out there and here.

I go one step further than Mimi. The word has no place, full stop!

Bill said...

Elizabeth Kaeton said...
"Lord, have mercy for they know not what they do."

Elizabeth, if that were truly the case I could live with it. I think you’re being far too nice and far too Christian to these very Un-Christian people. Ignorance is neither a sin nor a crime. But, I believe they know exactly what they are saying and the pain it causes. You don’t become a priest or get elevated to the level of bishop in this country without a substantial education and a working knowledge of the English language. These people do not hesitate to hurt, malign and spread their hate at every opportunity. I for one will not give them the benefit of the doubt that they are unaware of the diseased fruit of their actions.

SCG said...

Unbelievable! And yet, sadly, not so unbelievable if you consider the sort of vile bile that was spewed forth during +Gene Robinson's consecration in New Hampshire five years ago. Although at least there, the priest from Pittsburgh was kindly asked to shut up and sit down.
I have found my own bishop to be a weakling on this topic. He talks a good game about "love thy neighbor" and all that, but his actions don't match his words (i.e. if you're a partnered gay person called by God to the priesthood, you need to go elsewhere to receive support of the bishop).
I continue to pray for the day when those in charge realize that their status of being "in charge" is fleeting, and that they shouldn't stand in the way of faithful people of any kind from being full participants in the church, and members of the Body of Christ.
Good luck to you, Muthah!

Father Doug said...

Hi, everybody, I'm the priest who did not use the word "sodomite" at the Convention. That's right. Lauren has fudged the issue. I never said "sodomite."

What I said was that the resolution before the convention was designed to alter the church's teaching on sodomy. That sodomy was, and still is, a sin. I went on to describe briefly why, using reason, scripture and tradition.

So, I am not guilty of using the term "sodomite." I AM guilty of using "sodomy." I guess I'm just the sort of guy that prefers to use perfectly good English words instead of circuitous latin-greek mishmash phrases like "homosexual sexual intercourse." I also say "drink" instead of "beverage."

It's fairly well known that the word sodomy, while drawn from the story of the men of Sodom, is not dependent on the story for it's meaning. I'll spare you all the dictionary definition.

First, does anybody really doubt that somewhere underneath these resolutions lurks the assertion, often smuggled in under phrases about "inclusion" and "diversity," that certain behaviors formerly viewed as sin are now assumed to be, at least, neutral.

Second, is it really so bad for me to point out that that is in fact part of what the resolution is about?

Gotta go. More later.

Doug

FranIAm said...

I have read this three times now and am still at a loss for words other than my anger and despair.

And now that last comment... What the???

The reality- from my own position as heterosexual and Catholic is this - why are we always looking at LGBT issues as sexual? That is what sodomites, sodomy and Sodom represent.

Where is the human dignity that is of Jesus Christ?

Saintly Ramblings said...

Fr. Doug - your use of the term "sodomy" would be (possibly) acceptable if you were talking about forced homosexual rape, but not when referring to faithful loving adult consensual relationships, and I omit the word homosexual there as anal intercourse is also a heterosexual practice.

As a commentator has pointed out, that Genesis story which forms part of your "three-legged stool" is far more complicated than your single "sinful action" interpretation allows.

Father Doug said...

Franiam,
You're filled with anger and despair. I'm sorry for you. It's a horrible place to be. I think that the reason we are "always looking at LGBT issues as sexual" is that the whole business of working up "identities" and "communities" based on one's sexual desires pretty much determines that those desires will be the way those "communities" and "identities" are viewed.

It's the LGBT community who insists on their private sexual desires and practices being proclaimed. Who asked? Now, if they feel that it is extremely important for us neanderthals to be confronted with our discriminations and to be forced to declare that we find nothing objectionable in a man lying with a man as with a woman, and that we are just sure that that's OK by us, fine. Go ahead and call us out. It's your right. It's a little naive, however, to then be horrified and angered and despairing that, well, it's not OK by some of us. Some of us think that the old rule here is pretty sensible, and we don't cotton to our churches promulgating new, shoddy doctrines.

Saintly Ramblings,
I suppose I could have said "anal intercourse" at the meeting. I do agree that much of the reason for the "support" the LGBT's get has to do with heterosexuals wanting to hang on to the sexual license they've been racking up of late. It's bigger than gays and lesbians, obviously. It's license for a whole raft of things. After all, if the reigning doctrine is "It's OK if you can attach it to some form of 'love,'" the field is wide open for everybody. There will simply be no more sexual ethics, per se, in the church, period.

I never said that the Genesis story forms a part of my 3-legged stool. I said, at the Convention, that sodomy is a sin in part because Holy Scripture condemns it in the harshest possible language in both the Old and New Testaments without even the whiff of approval anywhere.

My final point, to Lauren. I didn't use the word "sodomite." You ought to acknowledge that. Further, there's a big difference between the word I didn't use and the word "nigger." The word sodomite could mean only this: a man guilty of committing sodomy. Compare that to "nigger." What would that be? A man guilty of committing . . . ??? There's no corresponding verb. Grammar itself shows: one is about identity and one is about behavior.

The reason I did not use the word is not because the word is naughty, as you seem to think. It is because it is irrelevant to my argument. My argument was, if you recall, that I am a worse sinner than anybody else at Convention and am not worthy of being a priest. However, the Resolution intends to change the church's definition of sexual sin. Do you deny that?

JCF said...

It's the LGBT community who insists on their private sexual desires and practices being proclaimed.

>:-0

Hear me, and hear me NOW, you whacked-out BIGOT!

We in the "LGBT community" insist on being able to LOVE WHO WE LOVE, AS we love them, without discrimination, harrassment, or violence...

...and, as citizens of the United States, with Equal Protection of our spousal relationships, that U.S. Constitution affords us.

As Episcopalians, we insist on that modicum of "the dignity of every human being" proclaimed by our Baptismal Covenant.

Take your JUDGMENT, based on biased Bible mis-translations, Fr. Doug . . . and REPENT ye of them!

IT said...

I put it to the bigot up there "Fr Doug" that he has no idea whether any couple (straight or gay) technically practices "sodomy".

(Although perhaps he should be interested in the newsflash that "sodomy" as formally defined is pretty popular with straight folks! Yessiree! So what's okay with that for straights but wrong with gays? I digress).

Gay couples are not defined by sexual acts any more than straight couples are defined by sexual acts. That all "Fr Doug" can see in gay couples is one type of sex act, well, that says a lot more about "fr Doug" than those he purports to judge.

Indeed, there is no way "Fr Doug" can evaluate whether a gay couple has sexual activity at all, and here's a novel concept, "Fr Doug": I don't define my relationship with my wife (married in the California Interregnum) by the kind of sex we have, or whether we have sex at all.

Do you?

Of course, being women, the formal definition of "sodomy " doesn't apply. but like most anti-gay bigots, "Fr Doug" is obsessed only with the men. I guess like Queen Victoria, he can't really figure out the female side.

Perhaps if "Fr Doug" got his imagination out of other people's beds and worried more about what and who they are as human beings, he might have something to add to this debate.

But otherwise he's just another straight man obsessed by sodomy. I tell you, straight men obsess far, far more about gay sex than any of MY gay friends.

What do you suppose that means?

Erika Baker said...

Fr Doug
"It's the LGBT community who insists on their private sexual desires and practices being proclaimed"

I do indeed!
I was delighted when my community was present to witness our public confirmation of my undying love for my partner and hers for me.

I was delighted when my community was there to witness how we had successfully created a loving, stable family unit, that managed to hold my older daughter through 3 years of gruelling leukaemia treatment, and my younger one through all the emotional traumas associated with having a seriously ill child in the family.

I was delighted when my love was willing to share all future responsibility for the girls too, morally and legally.

In turn, she was delighted when I made an implicit public commitment to be there for her ageing mother, to look after her, to provide a stable home so that she could come to live with us if it ever became necessary.


Apart from a seriously screwed up and sex obsessed mind, I cannot for the life of me conceive of just what it is that makes you publicly denigrate all of that and fight it as immoral.

If I were you, I'd be truly ashamed of myself and really wouldn't come out on a blog and try to defend it.

MarkBrunson said...

Doug,

I'm trying to be reasonable and avoid getting unnecessarily angry or abusive.

Surely you realize that there has been no adequate defense for the position that homosexual sexual relationships are inherently sinful. Simply pointing to translations of translations of human interpretation is not definitive proof for those of faith any more than we could accept something simply because science and pragmatism approve it.

You say that it was and still is a sin - that is a personal belief statement. It may be shared by many, but it is not the sole application of the teachings.

As to the supposed centrality of sex to us homosexuals, I have to wonder why, given your assertions, you feel the need to proclaim your sexual practices. I assume you introduce your wife as your wife and you don't try to pretend your two daughters are visiting relatives. You proclaim them loudly enough in your profile. As you know, Paul told us - clearly - that marriage was for those who "burn" - are unable to control their sexual desire.

Finally, in as gentle a way as possible, let me tell you that, given your use and defensiveness over the use of the word "sodomy," you are not in any way capable of ministering to homosexuals. You simply lack the emotional equipment and the sensitivity. After all, "idiot" is a perfectly good, perfectly acceptable description found in the dictionary, yet, I imagine you would find it offensive, and, in any case, I respect that you will be able to mend the sin of wilfull ignorance on your part.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

"However, the Resolution intends to change the church's definition of sexual sin."

Oh, sigh.

Slavery is scriptural, too, and Episcopalians were allowed to own slaves prior to the Civil War, and the church changed their tune on that. Plural marriage is allowed in the Bible, and our canons don't match up to the Bible there. Jesus was VERY specific on the topic of divorce, but we certainly allow that in the church.

I just noticed in Leviticus that letting menstruating women in church defiles the tabernacle. Wow, that's a pretty strong admonishment too.

We sure pick and choose a lot about these sins. So I guess I'm saying I don't feel incredibly alarmed that folks in TEC are wishing to change the church's teachings considering it's been done before. I just don't understand why people home in on "sexual sin" above all others. For some reason that attracts and obsesses the reasserters like nothing else, and I think THAT bugs me as much as anything, human nature being what it is!

Tobias Haller said...

Of course the church redefines sin. It does it all the time. It is one of the faculties which Jesus bestowed upon it. You know the verses, so I won't cite them.

There are human actions and institutions that Scripture (and the earlier church) condemned in the most extreme language that are now permitted. There are human actions and institutions that Scripture (and the earlier church) tolerated or mandated, that are now forbidden. Again, you know these, so I won't bother to list them. Some of them actually involve sex and marriage, as you know.

What amazes me, Fr Doug, is that given these realities you seem to be so shocked at the notion of the church continuing to do what it has done for 20 centuries.

And FWIW, I think it equally wrong to pretend -- if anyone is doing so -- that this is not exactly what we are engaged in doing.

Muthah+ said...

Doug,
When you get up and the first words out of your mouth on a resolution on not barring persons who are married, partnered or unmarried to be considered for ordination are "This is about sodomy!" it is hard not to hear "sodomite". The implication was there. I am not going to split verbal hairs with you. Jots and tittles are not where my Christianity lies.

Doug, please learn that such words continue to hurt. Yes, gay folk ARE trying to change the understanding of sin in this case because how the Scripture was understood in the pst is wrong, just as it was about the demon possession of epileptics, the fear of women, etc.

I hope the clear mandate shown by the convention, and the continued working with LG colleagues will allow you to see Christ manifested in them.

I have to admit that I am less ashamed of what you said that about the bishop not gaveling you. Next time you do use such language, I will ask the chair to take action.

Geoff said...

It's the LGBT community who insists on their private sexual desires and practices being proclaimed.

Not anyone I know in the LGBT community. Most of us just want to form loving, permanent partnerships with our church's blessing. The people I encounter who make a big fuss over sex acts are all heteros with a bee in their bonnet.

Father Doug said...

Whew. Let me try to respond to each.

JCF said, "We in the "LGBT community" insist on being able to LOVE WHO WE LOVE, AS we love them, without discrimination, harrassment, or violence..."

Go right ahead. I'm not stopping you. Nor am I harrassing or committing violence against you. Discrimination depends. I will discriminate (i.e. distinguish between, treat differently) only when it's relevant, rational and just to do so. I reject unjust discrimination. The Constitution does not protect same-sex marriages qua marriages, but it does protect free speech, press, etc. for all people, gay or not.

For the "respect dignity" bit, see my post above.

IT is absolutely right that I have no idea at all whether any person practices sodomy or not. That's why I did NOT use the term "Sodomite" as Lauren accused me of using. I have no interest in anybody else's sex life. I am merely interested in our church not altering standard, classic, Christian sexual ethics. That is what the resolution was really about. (I still don't see why anybody here wants to deny that fact. It is, in fact, what you want the church to do, no?)

Well, ERIKA BAKER, you're not me, obviously, and I am not ashamed of standing up for the truth.

I, too, am delighted for every single good thing that has been done by you and by your friends to care for the sick and so forth. You sound like a very good person. Congratulations. I am quite sure that all the good things you mention here could be accomplished without the Episcopal Church altering its moral teaching on sex and marriage.

Of course, the mere fact that you are a good person does not mean that every opinion you have about Christian morality is correct.

MARKBRUNSON, I thank you for your reasonable tone.

I have always thought that the Scriptural evidence alone was not enough. While it is true that the Old and New Testaments always condemn homosexual intercourse in the strongest possible terms whenever it arises, the argument from creation (God made us male and female in his image) and from reason (the reproductive system has a clear purpose and function; the very concept of "sex"--in any context--depends on the co-existence of the two sexes, male and female) is more decisive. Then, there's the Tradition.

Yes, it's true, I have a wife and children. All that proclaims my sexuality (which is to say, it proclaims that I am a man, my wife is a woman, and that, things being what they are between men and women, children have been produced from my body.)

And yes, that is different in quality from an ersatz marriage to a so-called husband. To be sexual does not mean to have lustful desires. To be sexual means to belong to one of nature's two sexes. The purpose of those two sexes is the continuation of the human race, a not inconsiderable matter. To "proclaim" that in culture is to concur with God's intentions in creation.

I don't think I'm defensive about the word "sodomy." I am defensive about Lauren's false accusation that I said "sodomite." Anyway, I have ministered to plenty of persons with homosexual desires. Some, when they find out that I don't approve of acting out those desires, reject me immediately. Others, whether they agree or disagree with me, stick around. To tell the truth, I don't use "sodomy" much, but I thought it relevant to the Convention debate.

KIRKEPISCOTOID, "sigh," is right! Here's a brief response to these tired arguments:

1. The Bible's entire sweep is opposed to slavery, especially the bit about being freed from slavery in Egypt, the metaphorical uses of slavery and freedom, Philemon, Paul's "do not become slaves of men", etc. A far cry from it's comment on s-----.

2. Plural marriage, like slavery, is allowed but not foundational or ideal. Adam has one wife. The bishops are to have one wife. Israel is to have one husband. Etc.

3. On divorce, you're right. Mostly. Jesus isn't quite so clear, given that there's an exception in Matthew that's missing in Mark. I'm waiting for the newly-enlightened Epis. Church to tighten up on divorce any day now, in response to their devotion to Jesus.

4. Be assured that I'm not homing in on sexual sin above any other. As soon as my convention tries to pass a resolution saying that avarice or drunkenness are good things, I'll be all over it.

TOBIAS, I'll not dispute this. Although I doubt that it's a matter of overturning former truths as much as it is developing and drawing them out to their full flower. But, again, that could be what's happening here. Could be.

So, what's the rush? And why should anybody consider a couple shrinking, fractious, tiny denominations to be "The Church" boldly taking up an alteration of classic, sensible teaching that accords with empirical reality. And, of all the cultures of time and space, why should ours--with our levels of divorce, STDs, pornography, illigitimacy and general degrading bawdiness--be expected to be the one from which this new direction of the Spirit would flow? I'm not convinced.

LAUREN, well, let's see, you took the word I didn't use and then compared it to using another word I didn't use (nigger), a comparison you would not have been able to make had you quoted me correctly. Then you put all that in your title. Now you don't want to split hairs. Getting quotes right is not "splitting hairs." It might be something closer to not bearing false witness against your neighbor.

You have not yet taken down the title and changed your original post, even though you admit that you got it wrong. A simple apology and a rewritten post would have been better.

For the record, "It's about sodomy" was not the first thing out of my mouth. The first thing was, "I am a worse sinner than anyone else in this room. I am not worthy of being a priest. For that matter, I'm not worthy of going to Heaven. The only reason I can--which is also the only reason I can be a priest--is because Jesus loved me and laid down his life for me on the cross." Then I said the resolution was about sodomy.

You describe the Resolution as one "not barring persons who are married, partnered or unmarried to be considered for ordination." News Flash: Married and unmarried persons are not barred and haven't been since the Reformation. So, what's this Resolution about? The "partnered" ones, and them only. And what's that code for? Erotic, genital relationships between unmarried people.

For the last time: Why don't you folks who want this change admit that that's what this is about? Why keep cloaking it in the language of "inclusion"? Is it fear that you can't win an up or down vote on changing the church's sexual ethic? Fear not. I think you'll win.

GEOFF, I promise not to make a big fuss over sex acts if you promise not to make a big fuss over the church's blessing.

Jim said...

There are a couple of odd things going on here.

First, it appears that some people in New York are unaware that a substantial number of homosexuals are women. I have no solid data, but my hunch is that 'sodomy' as the holy understand it is probably less frequent in that population than it is among straight couples. Maybe only lesbians should be allowed to marry?

Second, the holier than god crowd consistently overlook their own conduct. If they are so opposed to changing the 'definition of sin' why are they not working on bringing back Hebrews 6? After all, under that chapter any denial of the faith by a member is per se absolutely unforgivable. If they are not enforcing this are they not revisionists?

Third, I am interested in their ability to invade their neighbor's bedrooms secretly. They know (I do not) what sexual activity exists between couples. Amazing! I should think my friends would be more willing to share with me than with the proto-inquisitors.


FWIW
jimB

Erika Baker said...

Fr Doug

"I, too, am delighted for every single good thing that has been done by you and by your friends to care for the sick and so forth. You sound like a very good person. Congratulations. I am quite sure that all the good things you mention here could be accomplished without the Episcopal Church altering its moral teaching on sex and marriage"

Not my friend, Fr Doug, my wife.

And of course we have already done everything we do without the approval of the church.

It's just a very sad indictment that the church, or at least a part of its clergy, cannot see beyond the naughty bits to what really matters.

But it will. Give it time, even the church will see where the Spirit is leading it into truth and love.
And in another few decades people will shake their heads about people like you, just as they shake their heads about those who once defended slavery on moral grounds.

Muthah+ said...

Doug,
I have written what I have written. I did not attach your name to it but since you have owned your foul intentions, I take nothing back. You say that what I said on my blog is bearing false witness. Not at all, Doug. I know what you were saying whether I quoted you correctly or not. You intedned for me to know that you were saying ugly and hurting things about gay people.

You intimate but never take responsibility for your words. I am just calling you to hear it as we hear it. The kind of denigration of LGBT people that you spout is bearing false witness of gay and lesbian relationships.

Tobias Haller said...

Fr Doug,
Just a quick response as I'm dealing with a flooded boiler. (The joys of parish life...)

I am pleased you acknowledge that the debates with which we are engaged may be part of a valid development in Christian doctrine. I believe it to be so, based on principles of moral and dogmatic theology, one of which, at least, challenges the orthodoxy of the whole novel "complementarity" argument advanced against same-sex relationships in recent days. (Even Pope Benedict has noted the novelty of John Paul II's teaching on this subject.)

As to why now, or why us; we cannot fight the movement of culture, time and place -- we ignore these things to our peril. Occasionally the culture is actually ahead of the church, as in the case of slavery, which was ardently defended in the "orthodox" church while nonconformists were busy fighting it. So the time is now. And this appears to be the place.

But should it be us? Ultimately, every particular church needs to act as if it is "the" church. So the size of TEC is not relevant to our making decisions concerning our own actions. We are not imposing our views on any other church -- even within the Anglican Communion. We have made many decisions within Anglicanism and within TEC that depart from Roman Catholic tradition, for instance -- the Reformation itself being perhaps the clearest example of a relatively small national church making a major decision. We believe we have the right to do so. Given the evidence, the RCs may catch up in 400 years or so, though I think sooner in this case!

Finally, I cannot let pass your response concerning slavery being opposed in Scripture. That is not true. What is opposed (in the liberation of the people of Israel) is their having been taken by Pharaoh away from the service of God -- they belong to God and he is reclaiming his property. It is not an end to slavery but a reappropriation by the legitimate owner. I can also point out that Adam was created as God's "eved" (slave) and that Jesus himself took the form of a slave, and that Paul analogized the relationship of the believer to God with that of a slave to his master. The concept of slavery is intimately bound up with the doctrine of salvation itself -- far more so than marriage! So holding up Paul's advice to people not to enter into slavery if they can avoid it is hardly a theological trump point weighed against the rather full hand evident in Scripture. The decision of the church eventually to condemn slavery was not based upon a supposed biblical tendency towards freedom, other than that which saw human slavery as usurping God's privilege. It was rather an application of the Golden Rule, a much simpler moral touchstone.

This is, I think, a much more nuanced explanation concerning slavery than what you suggested. And similar nuance is required to understand how God might bless a couple in spite of their sex, and that there is more to loving relationships than "male and female." One would think it was evident, but that seems to be the sticking-point.

MarkBrunson said...

the argument from creation (God made us male and female in his image) and from reason (the reproductive system has a clear purpose and function; the very concept of "sex"--in any context--depends on the co-existence of the two sexes, male and female) is more decisive. Then, there's the Tradition.

. . .

And yes, that is different in quality from an ersatz marriage to a so-called husband. To be sexual does not mean to have lustful desires. To be sexual means to belong to one of nature's two sexes. The purpose of those two sexes is the continuation of the human race, a not inconsiderable matter. To "proclaim" that in culture is to concur with God's intentions in creation.



But you proceed, a priori with circumstantial evidence. If you reduce sexuality and sex to mere equipment and design, what you have is no more than a breeding program. It is to say that God made us no different from horses, sheep and chickens. If there is nothing spiritual beyond the physical, there is no need for holy matrimony, simply a matter of designing a system of rewards and punishments for keeping a couple together. In addition, it denies any deeper context of human existence, the mutuality that comes of mind and spirit. Quite inadvertantly, I'm sure, your very position is one that supports mere lustfulness.

The argument from Tradition has always been a faulty one, as traditions of all sorts are notoriously unreliable and must be validated time and again. A tradition that has stood because of force of arms, state retribution, private retribution and communal retribution, as the tradition on homosexuality has, is not valid without some further testing. As I've said, your argument from "nature" - which is based on a spurious position that marriage and sexuality are purely about the physical - is not proof. It is an entrenched position.

You claim that your sexuality proclaims God's Will - I think that that is a dangerous position to take. It presumes to know God's Will for all Mankind, which you cannot. As I've said, Paul saw the state as a "second best" for those who cannot control their urges, Christ had little positive to say on the subject, and the Old Testament deals with the subject as a social contract, a matter of law.

Your use of the word "ersatz" is not a good choice for actually reaching those to whom you speak, if your intention is actual communication. It is insulting, however unintentional.

Finally, if you truly wish to convince others of the workability, the truth of what you say, then set aside your wife. You may find it an unpalatable thought, but, if you truly believe you are preaching a soul-saving truth, then not to do so would make you a stumbling block, a poor example to weaker brethren - you would simply be laying burdens on others you cannot take.

Lindy said...

Your bishop should resign in shame.

So sorry for what you had to endure. Thank you for your presence, and your words here.

Lindy said...

I so admire the kindness each of you has shown in responding to "Father Doug." I don't have such gentleness in me so I'll just thank you who do.