Friday, May 25, 2007

Will We be Accomplices to Sin?

From The Rev. Susan Russell:

...The Archbishop had an explanation for his decision not to include Bishop Robinson: “I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the Communion.”

What he doesn’t have is an explanation for the stunning hypocrisy of excluding the Bishop of New Hampshire because he is gay while including the Archbishop of Nigeria who supports legislation criminalizing gay and lesbian people so draconian that it has been condemned by the international Human Rights Watch.

What he doesn’t have is a response to those who increasingly use the word “irrelevant” to describe a church more interested in how many bishops will attend the elite gathering at Lambeth Palace in 2008 than it is in how we can help end the AIDS pandemic by 2008. Or stop the spread of malaria. Or find a way to end the genocide in Darfur...
It appears that Father Jones doesn't think much of Susan's opinion:

The far left is continuing to blow it. The bishops of California and Washington have joined with Integrity spokesperson Susan Russell in lockstep condemnation of the Archbishop of Canterbury's decision not to invite Gene Robinson to Lambeth. But, as is often the case with shrill one-issue advocates and those who seem beholden to them, the story is not quite what these people are saying it is. The leftist activist wing of the gay lobby is myopic here, and they are failing to see what is obvious to reasonable people. The invitations issued by Canterbury are going to be much more likely to be in favor of the Episcopal Church in the long run than not. That this can't be seen by the likes of Susan Russell, and those who reiterate her every press release and talking point, is further evidence that reasonable folk somewhere in the middle must continue to question the big-picture vision of folks out on the activist fringes...
So, let me see if I've got this straight. Since TEC is going to be "favored" in the long run, this gentleman, who fancies himself to be a "centrist," has no problem with this "favor" coming at the cost of excluding a segment of the Body of Christ?

I'm sorry, but that is not a "centrist" position. Actually, I'm not sure if it is even a Christian position.

Usually it is the progressives who are blamed for often being too quick in taking the consequentialist approach to most ethical questions; the greatest good for the greatest number is the right thing to do. The problem with this approach is that it can create victims. Sometimes, that cannot be avoided, when faced with difficult moral decisions. Apparently, the "centrists," or at least one of them, are now choosing to use this ethical approach to justify bigotry.

The decision made by Dr. Williams does not fall into the category of being an ethical choice in which unavoidable victims must be created for the greater good. He has unnecessarily sent the message that gay and lesbian Christians are, at best, second class Anglicans. He has done this to appease the greater number. This could have easily been avoided by simply offering an invitation to all the bishops, and then let the bishops make their own decisions about accepting or declining.

In a departure from the norm, it is now the progressives who have taken a deontological ethical stance on this decision; some things are always wrong, regardless of the consequences, and regardless of the benefit to the majority.

This decision by Dr. Williams is wrong. It is sinful. It asks us to participate in the sin of bigotry. It asks us to set aside our Baptismal Covenant, in which we promised to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.

And no, I'm not buying the "gradualist" approach; that if we are patient, maybe in 10 more years Bp. Robinson will get his invite. That's "the end justifies the means" approach to ethics again. It encourages us to allow a little bit of sin now, and we'll all repent later. What kind of twisted theology is that?

It is important that we keep in mind that this not about one bishop not getting his invite. This is about the Church's response to her gay and lesbian members. Father Jones acknowledges that it is not just about Gene in his previous post:

...Certainly, Gene and Martyn are representative of others -- they are not the only two bishops in this whole fracas -- but bishops need to get used to the idea of being symbolic of larger groups. That's their job!
Exactly, Father. Which why Dr. Williams' decision is unacceptable. Bp. Robinson is symbolic of every gay Christian in the Church. The clear message is that if you are gay, your status as an Anglican is in question. And by exclusion from the Anglican household, the implication is that one is excluded from the Kingdom of God. That message must be refuted and condemned by every Anglican, and by all those who follow Jesus Christ, who revealed to us the radically inclusive love of God.

Beyond that, our witness to the world has been deeply damaged by this unnecessary scapegoating maneuver. The world is watching to see if at least one segment of the Body of Christ will reject the self-righteous bigotry that they have come to expect from those who call themselves Christians. Will we show them that we're not any different from the Robertsons and Phelps of this world who regularly make a mockery of our faith? Or will we stand up and say no to such exclusionary tactics?

This self-styled centrist is not content with throwing just the gays and lesbians under the bus. He wants all those he judges to be on both extremes to be excluded:

...Maybe if Martyn and Gene -- and those who stand by them -- don't show up -- Lambeth will be a good conference. And presumably, tea will be served.
Need I say more?

Actually, I'm not going to say much more. My position is clearly the minority one on this issue. But I'll stand by it just the same. Dr. Williams has caved in to the Anglican conservative extremists, and is asking our bishops to become accomplices in this sin against God and against humanity. No good result that could possibly come out of Lambeth can justify such behavior.


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