Friday, June 04, 2004

Oh Canada!

From the Anglican Journal, the national newspaper of the Anglican Church of Canada:

Synod 'affirms' same-sex relationships

St. Catharines, Ont., June 2, 2004 - One day after delaying a decision on whether to bless gay relationships, Canadian Anglicans approved a statement that "affirms the integrity and sanctity of committed adult same-sex relationships."

Delegates meeting here at the triennial General Synod governing convention said the statement was intended to send gay and lesbian Anglicans a message after yesterday's vote.

"Our church has always had gay couples and they have been welcome. This would affirm we recognize them as children of God," said delegate Cassandra McCollum of the Yukon, who identified herself as bisexual.

Passage of the statement assuaged gay Anglicans who were disappointed by Wednesday night's action. "It is the first time gay relationships have been affirmed," said Steve Schuh, synod member and chair of the Vancouver chapter of Integrity, a group of gay Anglicans and supporters.

The debate over the motion heard several speakers express disappointment at Wednesday night's decision to defer until 2007 the question of whether to offer blessing ceremonies to gay couples. The vote asked the Primate's Theological Commission, a group that considers questions of biblical interpretation, to rule whether the matter is a question of doctrine, or rules of the faith, or not.

"I am disgusted with the inability of this synod to make a decision. It's been 30 years since we started this debate," said David Thomas, a youth member of the Canadian Forces. "I refuse to pass the buck."

Younger members of synod, particularly, expressed frustration. "I feel shame that we neglected our duty," said Erik Miller of Ottawa. "I am disheartened and disgusted with the decision yesterday," said Rachel Taylor of the Anglican Parishes of the Central Interior (of British Columbia).

"Yesterday, we agreed to err on the side of unity. I hope our final word on this matter will be compassion," said Rev. Peter John Hobbs.

However, traditionalists had difficulty with the statement. "God made us in his own image, male and female. I cannot accept a man lying with a man. I don't believe that is the way we were created. I really believe it goes against the Bible," said Ruby Lockhart of Central Newfoundland.

Others questioned whether using the word "sanctity" in relation to same-sex relationships made the motion a matter of doctrine, though Rev. Dennis Drainville of Quebec said that was not the case, adding the word "sanctity" was used because "God is in the midst of that relationship between two committed partners."

Following the vote Essentials, a coalition of conservative Anglican groups, issued a press release that said the "affirming" motion went a step further than the earlier motion that was deferred that would have left dioceses to decide whether to permit same-sex blessings.

The group said it would wait for "the response from the international community" before making any decisions about its future.
I read somewhere that Canterbury had pleaded with them to not pass the resolution of the day before that would have allowed same-sex blessings. As I can't find that link again, let's just call it a rumor. The response from Canterbury suggests that this is indeed the case, however:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams, has welcomed the decision by the Canadian General Synod to defer a decision on the question of same sex blessings until 2007.

"The decision to defer the question of the right of dioceses over same sex blessings offers hope for the continuing collegiality of the Anglican Communion.

"It is important that the Canadian church has held back from a structural shift that would have run counter to the pleas and wishes of the Primates' meeting last Autumn and of so many around the Communion. In doing so, it has avoided complicating still further the work of the Lambeth Commission."
I'm going to try to use a bit of restraint in my comments here. It's not easy, as I am quite angry about this. I realize that in becoming so angry, I have fallen into the trap of being exactly the same as those whom I oppose.

I am angry about the conservatives who have decided to use whatever means at their disposal to deny access to the Kingdom of God to those who they don't deem worthy.

Once again, Rowan Williams has given in to these extremists, who hide behind scripture and tradition to justify their self-appointed role as gate-keepers. I don't see one word of scripture that addresses this issue. And the tradition has pretended to be oblivious, while actually being downright dishonest, regarding it. If the conservatives would decide to be honest, and just say what their real motivation is, maybe some form of dialogue could continue. But they won't. They won't because they cannot even admit the truth to themselves, because, if they did, they would see that their position is not only unethical, but unChristian.

What is the honest motivation? "We think homosexual sex is disgusting." There it is. It will be denied, of course. But the page after page of biblical and theological condemnations of homosexuality make no sense to me, and many others, without this personal bias included. It is clear to everyone, except the author and those like him (yes, almost exclusively male authors, btw), that the writer has brought numerous personal biases with him before engaging in the issue.

The bible is not clear on this issue. I've provided links before about this. To use faulty interpretations of the bible as a weapon to mandate the behavior of another is an ugly form of oppression that must be condemned. If you want the links again, just ask.

The tradition is not clear on this issue. There have always been homosexuals in the Church, and some happened to be clergy.

The tradition has embraced a number of models of marriage over the years. In Africa (ironically the source of the most voracious diatribes against homosexuality), those in polygamous marriages are allowed to convert to Anglicanism without dissolving the multiple marriages. Serial polygamy (divorce) may be publicly challenged in some places, but is mostly quietly affirmed as a viable option.

The idea that marriage is all about procreation is no longer emphasized. The disclaimer added to the marriage rite (and, if it be God's will) in the BCP makes this rather clear. Thousands die daily from starvation. Until we learn to care for those who are among us now, the idea that sex is always about procreation is ethically questionable. Abraham's offspring numbering more than the stars was a promise that through sheer numbers, the children of Abraham would prevail. This is the thinking of the Roman Catholics as well; it is our duty to bring more Christians into the world, in order to overcome it. At least they are consistent. They condemn birth control and abortion on this same premise.

I do not see this same consistency in the self-appointed "protectors of the faith" within Anglicanism either on the issue of procreation or their so-called "biblical" model of marriage.

I know, I am buying right in to the "us" verses "them" thinking. And I apologize for that. I have been told that the best way forward is for the progressives (labeled by those who despise us as revisionists, apostates, heretics, etc...such lovely, Christian folks, eh?) to be people of grace, and not respond with anger to the hate speech that is so popular in conservative circles. The problem is, if no one responds, then things like this happen. Rowan is concerned that these angry bible thumpers might get even more upset, and being a man of grace, he backs down, and asks the Canadians to back down. Fine, so be it. But let's call them on their exclusionary, unChristian behavior.

I know these conservatives. For many years, I traveled in their circles. I have heard, repeatedly, the ugly things that are said not only about "queers," but about uppity women, depraved Calvinists, and anyone else that didn't fit their criteria as worthy of being a part of their little club.

They might be disgusted by homosexuality, but I am disgusted with their elitist, self-righteous condemnations. I have no desire to dialogue with these folks, or even be around them. They are threatening to maneuver to have ECUSA kicked out of the Anglican Communion over this. I'm getting to the point where I'm not so sure I care anymore. Why would one want to associate with such self-righteous megalomaniacs?

Having said that, I will also not allow this site to become a place of debate on this issue. This is Jake's place. If you want to bash gay Christians, get your own blog. If you came to my home, and started trashing my friends, I would tell you to leave. If you come to my site, and try the same rude behavior, I'll delete your comment and block you.

So much for restraint. Forgive the rant. May God have mercy on us all.


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