Wednesday, 13 April 2005

ECUSA decides about Nottingham

Yet Another Two Updates

The Bishop of Pittsburgh doesn’t like it either. He has issued A Statement from the Moderator of the Anglican Communion Network.

What the response of the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council to the 2005 Primates’ Communique gives with one hand, it takes away with the other. While it gives an appearance of complying with the Primates’ request, in actuality it does not. The Primates asked the ECUSA delegation to withdraw from the Anglican Consultative Council (AAC) – the only appropriate response is therefore to stay at home.

The American Anglican Council doesn’t like it at all, see this statement which includes:

The Executive Council’s letter to the Anglican Consultative Council is manipulative and deceptive. The Primates were clear and direct in their call to the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada:

“…we request that the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada voluntarily withdraw their members from the Anglican Consultative Council for the period leading up to the next Lambeth Conference. During that same period we request that both churches respond through their relevant constitutional bodies to the questions specifically addressed to them in the Windsor Report as they consider their place within the Anglican Communion.” (cf. paragraph 8)

While the language of the Communiqué is gracious and diplomatic, the intent is crystal clear—the American and Canadian Churches have been told to stand down from the Anglican Consultative Council. In addition, they have been presented with a clear choice to permanently walk together or walk apart. The parameters for “walking together” are also definitive: the Episcopal Church must repent of its heretical actions and embrace once more in word and in practice the faith and order of Anglicanism. We cannot accept that the Executive Council does not understand what the Primates have requested, and therefore we must assume that this is a deliberate plan to circumvent and ignore the full intent of the Communiqué.

The Executive Council is setting up an opportunity to lobby and influence the ACC meeting. Given the fact that ECUSA is insisting on such a presence, it seems a matter of justice and fair play that those who are excluded from ECUSA and isolated because they stand against revisionism should also be present and “available for conversation and consultation”. We call upon the Anglican Consultative Council to deny the Executive Council’s request; however, if the ECUSA delegation attends, we believe it is critical to include voices that offer a very different perspective, one that is consistent with Scripture and the accepted faith and order of the Anglican Communion.

No mention at all by the NACDAP Moderator or by the AAC of this paragraph in the communiqué:

16. Notwithstanding the request of paragraph 14 of this communiqué, we encourage the Anglican Consultative Council to organize a hearing at its meeting in Nottingham, England, in June 2005 at which representatives of the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada, invited for that specific purpose, may have an opportunity to set out the thinking behind the recent actions of their Provinces, in accordance with paragraph 141 of the Windsor Report.

Clearly a significant disagreement then between both of them and the ABC:

Further Update
Archbishop of Canterbury commends Executive Council letter

In a communication to Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams extended thanks to the Episcopal Church’s Executive Council for its decision to withdraw its three American members from official participation in the Anglican Consultative Council meeting in Nottingham, England in June.

“I have just received the news of the decision about ACC. Thank you all,” Williams said. “I can guess how hard it will have been, but you have acted very generously and constructively and I hope this will bear the fruit that it should…”

The Executive Council of ECUSA has decided to withdraw its representatives from official participation in the ACC at Nottingham this June. The full statement is published by ENS here. The key paragraph is:

We are mindful that Christ has made us members of one body, and that no part can say to any other “I have no need of you.” At the same time we wish to express our openness to the concerns and beliefs of others. In the spirit of the Covenant Statement recently adopted by our House of Bishops, we voluntarily withdraw our members from official participation in the ACC as it meets in Nottingham. As an expression of our desire “to bear one another’s burdens” (Galatians 6:2), we are asking our members to be present at the meeting to listen to reports on the life and ministry we share across the Communion and to be available for conversation and consultation.

Update Press coverage of this:
Associated Press Episcopalians accept no-delegates request and also this squib
Knight Ridder/Chicago Tribune U.S. Episcopal Church to sit out council over issue of gay bishops
Reuters U.S. church withdraws from key Anglican body

New York Times (This report also deals with another current American story) Connecticut Episcopalians Defy Bishop Over Gay Issues

Living Church Observers Will Attend ACC Meeting

Anglican Journal
U.S. church will bow out of international meeting

A first-hand account of the meeting on a blog

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 13 April 2005 at 9:38pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

The realignment of the Anglican Communion is now underway. Expect to see Ecusa gone after GC 2006 to follow its mission as an independent denomination, like the United Church of Christ. Meanwhile, the fallout in Ecusa will continue, as the six Connecticut priests are deposed and more churches defect to AMiA or Nigerian or other oversight. There IS a way back from this meltdown, but it is now very unlikely that Griswold, Crew, Robinson etc will make those steps: there is too much peronsal investment for them to concede that they have been wrong all along in the direction they have taken Ecusa.

Posted by: James Coleman on Wednesday, 13 April 2005 at 11:37pm BST

Speaking as a member of that "heretical" diocese in Canada, that dared to respond to Christ's message to welcome the down-trodden and marginalised into his church, this is a sad day.

I pray that the Council of General Synod in Canada, follow the advice of its own standing committee that urged it to attend the ACC meeting in Nottingham as full participants.

One cannot engage, if those to whom you need to engage are not there!

Posted by: Charles on Wednesday, 13 April 2005 at 11:50pm BST

"..Christ's message to welcome the down-trodden and marginalised into his church.."

Things may be different in Canada, but I know of no CofE church in the UK that does not welcome the down-trodden and maginalised into his church.

Posted by: Robert Leggat on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 10:00am BST

I also think it's probably not good. If they disagree with others in the communion, they should turn up and talk and explain their position. A no-show is just handing the rest of the communion to the evo-fundies on a plate.

Posted by: Tim on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 10:25am BST

Tim wrote:
"A no-show is just handing the rest of the communion to the evo-fundies on a plate."

Sorry, Tim, but this is a false dichotomy. Unease with the North American position on homosexuality extends well beyond "evo-fundies" - certainly to conservative Anglo-Catholics and probably to Archbishop Williams himself.

Posted by: Alan Harrison on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 12:05pm BST

From the president of Integrity US

"The Cost of Discipleship"

The April 13th letter written on behalf of ECUSA's Executive Council offers the kind of creative and grace-filled compromise that gives tne hope that the spirit of Anglican comprehensiveness may, after all, prove strong enough to survive the barrage of partisan polemic and polarizing rhetoric that sadly seems to dominate our ecclesial discourse.

By voluntarily withdrawing our representatives to the June ACC gathering from "official participation" ECUSA has once-and-for-all
demonstrated to the larger Communion that we take seriously the cost of discipleship -- that we are willing to pay a price for the prophetic ministry to which we have been called: the high calling of striving to include all of the baptized in the Body of Christ.

At the same time, by "asking our members to be present at the meeting to listen to reports on the life and ministry we share across the Communion and to be available for conversation and consultation" the Executive Council reasserts both the right and responsibility of ECUSA representatives to be incarnationally present in the deliberations of the only representative Anglican body including all orders of ministry.

It is a decision that will leave some feeling that in forgoing our voting privilege we have gone too far to appease the larger communion. It is a decision that will leave others feeling that in insisting on sending our representatives to be present at the table in Nottingham we have stopped short of the recommendations of the Primates. On reflection, I believe this considered response has found a true via media: not only complying with the "letter" of the Primates' requests but leaving room for the Spirit to move in conversation and consultation.

There is no question that there is cost to this discipleship to which we have been called but there is also promise -- promise in the potential that the listening process to which the Communion has committed itself for nearly 30 years may actually begin to happen in these conversations and consultations -- and hope that the spirit of reconciliation might draw us to recognize that the Gospel that ultimately unites us is stronger than the differences that currently divide us.


(The Reverend) Susan Russell

Posted by: Alison on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 3:16pm BST

I am truely sad to see my church back down. We are now on the edge of a slippery slope. If the ECUSA and Anglican Chruch of Canada are pushed out, it will only be a matter ot time before the Chruches of the UK are pushed out, and the Anglican Communion has a neo papacy based out of the African continent.

I suspect that if the ECUSA doesn't make another move like this, that Cantebury will side with the "liberal" Anglicans when push come to shove, and start imposing sanction upon the African Anglicans.

I wish for nothing else then the communion to stay intact, but I fear that it will not survive as we know it. I think the other churches outside the US and Canda should think greatly about who they share more in common with.

Posted by: Matthew Venuti on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 3:22pm BST

I have only one time before written any sort of comment online like this. My experience to date demonstrates that such 'blogging' or commenting does very little but add more fuel to the fire for those determined to use any and all available sources to stoke their flames. Even so, here goes...

Shame on us all. Shame. Name calling, self-aggrandising, self-indulgent, and self-justifying are just a few words that come to mind from this soul-killing, church-killing, and ultimately narcissistic obsession that has gripped the Anglican Church. The call to repentance should ring loudly in all our ears, for our failure to wash each other's feet. The near absolute absense of compassion and gentleness so evident in every level of discussion has very nearly robbed me of any confidence in our Church, and in our relevance to the true, actual, felt needs of the world such as war, famine, and plague.

Shame on us all, every single one of us.

Posted by: Troy on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 4:11pm BST

I am somewhat unconcerned about a decision to withdraw "official" participation from a meeting at which ECUSA and Canada are to be the main presenters. Sort of "withdrawing" without withdrawing.


Posted by: Robert Leduc on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 4:19pm BST

I believe that this is a brilliant and pastoral compromise. ECUSA will still be present and involved. At the same time, wil will not be there officially. That meets the letter of the law request from "the global south". The "south" wants the US (& others) out. By voluntarily being officially gone (but not physically gone) it allows the ACC to continue to function without asking for or forcing a vote to remove us. Since the ACC (& in fact the Primates & Lambeth) is purely advisory anyway, the request from the "south" was to exclude the US & Canada. By this compromise, they remain included.

Posted by: The Rev. Canon James Newman on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 5:05pm BST

I agree with James Newman, that this is a brilliant compromise, and a very positive step. There was a big non sequitur with the Primates' request that ECUSA and the ACC absent themselves from a meeting at which their actions would be the primary topic of discussion. By withdrawing from formal participation, yet still being present to listen and respond, dialogue can continue.

Posted by: Jim Pratt on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 7:30pm BST

Am I alone in thinking that the ABC has been conned? First, under the pretext of ensuring equality of opportunity, they decide to have no new bishops at all, which wrong-foots the "opposition". Then they say, with due piety, that they will voluntarily withdraw, but then add that they will still have people at the next meeting.

It's difficult not to feel that there are little games going on, on a matter which really is quite serious for all parties.

Posted by: Ian on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 7:53pm BST

In some ways it's sad to see the most liberal provinces starting to be excluded from the Communion, but they have effectively excluded themselves by rejecting biblical Christianity in favour of some apparently humanist philosophy which ignores areas of personal morality that call for self-denial and personal holiness.

Not that any of us ever make it to be that holy in this life, but to reject the call to conformity with Gods ideals (holiness), and replace it with self-fulfillment and discovering ones own desires, is not recognisably Christian; although it is very humanist.

Similarly rejecting the unique claims of Christ to be The Way, in favour of some univeralist form of "Inclusivity" may be very humanist, but it's far from the Christianity that claims the world is so sinful that God had to come and die for it!

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 14 April 2005 at 10:15pm BST

So Dave, on what grounds would *you* choose to appoint someone to be a bishop or not?

Posted by: Tim on Friday, 15 April 2005 at 12:22am BST

Dave,

I have posted here once before and it was on the same topic in repsonse to a like statement.

I fully support the blessing of same sex unions. And I deeply resent it being that said that I and others who also support those blessings are unbiblical. We have studied those passages. I have read about both positions in relation to the biblical text. My stance is very much biblically based. I, and others who support these blessings may interpret those texts differently than you do, but we did read (and still do) and base our understanding of same sex blessings on the Bible.

As well, it bothers me to be told that any who support blessings of same sex unions are being unduly influenced by the society around them. That has not been my experience. Rather the people I have encountered have been very much influenced by their faith and their understanding of the Incarnation and all that it has to teach us. Our understanding has been influenced first of all by our faith and relationship with God. We then go out into society with our understanding not vice versa.

Posted by: AMNicklin on Friday, 15 April 2005 at 5:34pm BST

James Coleman is exactly wrong. The Episcopal Church will remain in communion with Canterbury even if we have only “observer” status at the next Lambeth or two. Similar to the status of the Old Catholic communions. Even if he wanted to break communion with North American Anglicans--and he does not--it would create great problems within his own church. Already the Scots, and the Welsh to some extent, have fired shots over ++Williams’ bows. To say nothing about that 1/3 of British bishops who support the North American churches. Besides, cultural and historic ties exist which work against breaking communion. There are no such ties for Britons for nations of the Global South, such as Nigeria. These are alien cultures. Given a choice between Atlantic civilization and a backwater like Nigeria, does Mr. Coleman really think the British will chose Nigeria? Get real!!

Posted by: Kurt on Friday, 15 April 2005 at 5:52pm BST

Tim, How about following the advice of St Paul in his letter to Titus 1:7-9, including but not limited to:

+ is holy
+ is disciplined
+ holds firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught
+ encourages others by sound doctrine
+ refutes those who oppose sound doctrine
+ is blameless
+ is not overbearing
+ loves what is good
+ is selfcontrolled

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 15 April 2005 at 6:25pm BST

I'm pleased that ECUSA is living the teaching of scripture in accepting the request not to participate. If the conservative side would make half an effort, and acknowledge that we are all part of the body of Christ and follow the advice in scripture for unhappy divisions and how we should behave when we feel sure that we are the ones with the stronger faith (and who doesn't?) there could be peace (Romans 14,15).

And Dave, yes, Christ is inclusive. He tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love the least among us, to forgive those who persecute us and to love our enemies--who does that not include? In truth, he never tells us to shun anybody or to judge anybody. Judging is for God and God alone and when we do so, we break the first commandment. Plainly, by declaring that those who oppose you base their beliefs on humanist philosophy proves that you have not loved your brother well enough to have listened to him because this simply isn't true! And yes, Jesus did come and he did die for ALL our sins--not just yours. And isn't that inclusive? Are we not taught that ALL who believe in him will not parish but will have everlasting life? Where is the limit? There is no limit placed in scripture on his work on the cross, no sin that is excluded, and no faith that is unworthy of his saving grace. Some of us see that we are to free the oppressed, that loving is good fruit and there is no law concerning this, that we pray "thy will be done," and we wait to discern his will. So, prove to me in scripture that Christ is EXclusive!

Annie

Posted by: Annie on Friday, 15 April 2005 at 11:08pm BST

AMNicklin: “….we did read (and still do) and base our understanding of same sex blessings on the Bible.”

That’s what the Primates have asked be set out clearly so that this thinking can be established (or not).

Kurt: “….does Mr. Coleman really think the British will chose Nigeria? Get real!!”

You evidently think “the British” will prefer “Atlantic civilisation” than to the principled "backwater" of the Global South? I wouldn’t count on it. And even if that were true of some, it will not be universally true. James Coleman’s assessment will not be way off. The realignment will not end up being tidy.

Posted by: Neil on Saturday, 16 April 2005 at 12:28am BST

AMNicklin wrote "I fully support the blessing of same sex unions. And I deeply resent it being that said that I and others who also support those blessings are unbiblical.... My stance is very much biblically based."

Dear AMNicklin, That is just an assertion unless you can support it with facts as well as feelings !

Liberal interpretations that I hear are generally very much based on asserting the right to self-fulfillment over self-denial, and the discovery of "me" rather than the transformation of me. Hence the "God made me this way" type justifications - which wouldn't be acceptable for other sinful desires!!

The rest seems to me to usually consist of just enough deconstruction to either find a way to ignore a relavant scripture completely, or to narrow it's application to particular circumstances which, conveniently, don't apply to the types of same-sex sexual relationships the writer approves of (which also varies considerably if you compare the positions of, say, Jeffrey John "permanent faithful stable" and the LGCM "friendship").

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 16 April 2005 at 1:34am BST

"....and base our understanding of same sex blessings on the Bible......"

Where, AMNicklin, in the Bible, is your justification for this?

Posted by: Ian on Sunday, 17 April 2005 at 4:07pm BST

AMNicklin:

"I deeply resent it being that said that I and others who also support those (same sex) blessings are unbiblical"

I think you would find that many who do not share your viewpoint are equally upset when they are automatically branded as homophobic, behind the times, anti-gay etc. Which most are not! It strikes me that there is far too much name-calling from both sides, which achieves nothing!

"I fully support the blessing of same sex unions..... My stance is very much biblically based."

If you say that your stance is Biblically based, could you expand on this? I am not aware of Bible passages which endorse single-sex unions, but I'm open to persuasion, especially if it is endorsed by Scripture and tradition.

Posted by: Robert on Sunday, 17 April 2005 at 9:48pm BST

OK Dave, so show me the bishop who is truly blameless.

The rest is all fine, and notably doesn't prescribe anything like "is heterosexual" at all.

Posted by: Tim on Monday, 18 April 2005 at 3:29pm BST

Hi Tim, Thanks. I think that a person who was living out a homosexual "orientation" would fall foul, in St Paul's eyes, of "is holy" - since in St Paul's writings same-sex sex is seen as sinful. In my view he would also not fulfill "holds firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught" since same-sex sex has not be taught to be good for the last 2000 years.


Hi Annie. Christ includes everyone on the same basis, whatever our orientations, desires, sins, strengths, weaknesses, culture etc etc. He forgives and accepts us when we repent of our sins and turn to Him.

One problem with liberal "inclusion" is that it thinks it is universal inclusion, but is not! It focusses only on a few things that liberals now think are "ok", it certainly doesn't apply, for instance, to polygamists or perpetrators of female "circumcision". And it Excludes people who aren't also "liberal inclusives" !

Of course it is not easy for anyone, LGBT or other, to accept that part of who they perceive themselves to be is sinful. But in fact we are all only Sinners.... saved by grace

Posted by: Dave on Monday, 18 April 2005 at 8:33pm BST

I have a suggestion for those who feel gay people need to practice
"self-denial" (which in this case obviously refers to lifelong celibacy).

Why don't heterosexuals who feel this way form some sort of celibacy
movement themselves, so that gay folks will have role models from which to
draw inspiration? IOW, if those of you who feel that unchosen, lifelong
celibacy is the answer, why not step forward yourselves and show us how
it's done? You could all sign celibacy pacts and call each other on the
phone for support if you ever felt you needed it.

Shouldn't be too difficult, right? I mean, a lifespan's only 70-80 years
these days.

Come on, you guys! You can do it! It'll be loads of fun, I'm sure!

Posted by: bls on Monday, 18 April 2005 at 11:17pm BST

"There are no such ties for Britons for nations of the Global South, such as Nigeria. These are alien cultures. Given a choice between Atlantic civilization and a backwater like Nigeria, does Mr. Coleman really think the British will chose Nigeria? Get real!!"

Aaaaargh! With friends like you, Kurt, ECUSA needs no enemies.

We resist the diktats of +Akinola, NOT because he is from Nigeria: which is much a "mainstream" (not backwater) as anywhere else. Nor does ECUSA believe African culture is "alien": some of our greatest American saints (on our liturgical calendar) are black, and we have had no greater friends than +Desmond Tutu and +Njongokulu Ndungane.

No, we oppose the Archbishop of Nigeria (his "Global South" colleagues, and their Northern friends w/ the open wallets) because their Curia-like polity and fundamentalist Biblical-interpretation is UNANGLICAN, and ergo, not true to Our Crucified Lord Christ (who is properly iconigraphically-depicted in EVERY race and culture).

Disingenous attempts to play "the race card" won't work: I say that to both ECUSA's friends as well as its opponents.

**********

"'....and base our understanding of same sex blessings on the Bible......'

Where, AMNicklin, in the Bible, is your justification for this?"

Ian (et al): Start w/ Genesis, and read through Revelation. (The correct answer to *every* "Where, in the Bible, is your justification for ________?" question. Fie on proof-texting!)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Tuesday, 19 April 2005 at 8:08pm BST

J.C.Fisher: "Start w/ Genesis, and read through Revelation."

Your rather sarcastic comment is uncalled for, if I may say so. It might come as some surprise to learn that there are people who read and study the Bible regularly, who regard it as the word of God, and who do not subscribe to liberal pick-and-mix theology. There was no mention or thought of proof texting; the question posed to AMNicklin was eminently reasonable, given that he had stated that he supported the blessing of same sex unions, and that his stance is very much biblically based.

Posted by: Ian on Tuesday, 19 April 2005 at 10:48pm BST

Ian, I confess that sometimes I resort to the cutting sarcastic comment ("But Your Honor, it was self-defense!").

The above, however, wasn't one of them. While I neither question whether my conservative "God condemns same-sex sex" opponents CAN and DO read Holy Scripture, I do question whether they have done so apart from a *formation* in a "If you have questions about __[issue A]__, see __[Scripture passage B]__" *fundamentalist canon*.

Do I bring my *own* biases to my reading of Scripture? Absolutely! But as best *I* can (prayerfully) determine, from my several Genesis-to-Revelation readings, my wish-I-were-more-dedicated Daily Office readings, and my Sunday-by-Sunday (from my 43 years as an Anglican---about 30 of which hearing the weekly lectionary) liturgical year hearing/meditating (oh, nearly forgot: and several years of seminary training), *The Story* is GOD SAVES---BECAUSE GOD LOVES (all the rest is commentary).

Now, given that, I think that AMNicklin's *conclusion* ("the blessing of same sex unions . . . is very much biblically based")
was "eminently reasonable," and that those who would dispute that conclusion, must prove otherwise.

My sarcastic sword is sheathed (um, actually I'm trying to beat that sucker into a plowshare!): P-E-R-S-U-A-D-E me.

That's all I ask.

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Tuesday, 19 April 2005 at 11:56pm BST

bis wrote: "I have a suggestion for those who feel gay people need to practice "self-denial" ... why don't heterosexuals who feel this way form some sort of celibacy movement themselves, so that gay folks will have role models ..... Come on, you guys! You can do it! It'll be loads of fun, I'm sure!"

Hi bis.

Well, there's the whole priesthood of the RC church, as well as Monks and Nuns, who are sworned to live celebate lives... And my fellow traditionalists/evangelicals/charismatics also have a commitment to celibacy unless they marry (I did 'til I was nearly 30 and many, including several friends of mine, remain celebate for life.)

But, in this sex-obsessed world, even though there are these real examples, I suspect many people will not accept that it is possible to deny yourself sexually.

Posted by: Dave on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 12:04am BST

"If you say that your stance is Biblically based, could you expand on this? I am not aware of Bible passages which endorse single-sex unions, but I'm open to persuasion"

I too would be interested. It's a pity if people who evidently consider themselves to be in the know can only reply with patronising remarks! OK. So can Mr. Fisher or Mr. Nicklin help those who have not yet seen the light? Constructively, I mean....

Posted by: Peter on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 10:53am BST

"Now, given that, I think that AMNicklin's *conclusion* ("the blessing of same sex unions . . . is very much biblically based")
was "eminently reasonable," and that those who would dispute that conclusion, must prove otherwise."

What a strange argument! For umpteen hundreds of years it has been accepted that the Bible has a generally negative view of same-sex relationships. Now along comes someone who takes an opposite view, states categorically that it is Biblically based, and if anyone disputes this the onus is placed on him to prove otherwise!

Posted by: Ian on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 1:11pm BST

"GOD SAVES---BECAUSE GOD LOVES (all the rest is commentary)."

Dangerous argument. I'm sure that you don't mean it so, but that seems almost like a licence to do whatever we want! Presumably He wants disciples?

Posted by: Robert on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 2:13pm BST

"Well, there's the whole priesthood of the RC church, as well as Monks and Nuns, who are sworned to live celebate lives... And my fellow traditionalists/evangelicals/charismatics also have a commitment to celibacy unless they marry (I did 'til I was nearly 30 and many, including several friends of mine, remain celebate for life.)"

Hi Dave.

Key ideas here: priests and nuns "choose" celibacy. Christians commit to chastity "unless" they marry. You waited "until" you were nearly 30.

And of course, the Catholic Church is apparently now about to ban gay men from the priesthood, so there's no opportunity any longer for them submit to the discipline of celibacy in devoting one's life to God.

In any case: about half of those who actively "choose" the priesthood in the Catholic Church ultimately leave, many due to this issue. And everybody is ultimately allowed a permitted a marital relationship, if that opportunity should present itself. Gay people alone are expected to be celibate for life - that means no dating, no first kiss, no nothing, forevery - without any purpose or reason for this at all. I'm simply asking for heterosexuals to demonstrate their willingness to "walk the walk" in this case, and take on the same commitment. That means: no marriage, ever, no matter what. That's what you have to look forward to.

BTW, I take that you're one of the "sex-obsessed," since you've married?

Posted by: bls on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 3:41pm BST

("But, in this sex-obsessed world, even though there are these real examples, I suspect many people will not accept that it is possible to deny yourself sexually."


BTW, I always find it interesting to hear this statement come from someone who isn't "denying himself sexually." But I'm certainly no longer surprised.

Dave: the point is not sex. It's love, and what you're asking people to do is to deny the deepest part of themselves forever, no exceptions allowed - something that you yourself obviously weren't in the least interested in doing. You're asking us to become less than human, and to do something utterly meaningless for our entire lives. Something that simply isn't natural for most people. Here's some evidence: 95% of Americans marry at one time or another in their lives. It's obviously a very deep urge to find love and companionship - which, yes, involves sex, most of the time. But that is not the object.

At the end what you will have is not celibate gay Christians; you will have no gay Christians. But perhaps that's the ultimate goal anyway.)

Posted by: bls on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 3:52pm BST

BTW, it isn't true that for "the Bible has a generally negative view of same-sex relationships."

There's nothing - or, controversially, one passage, out of tens of thousands - that says anything at all about lesbians. (And, BTW, neither Augustine nor Clement of Alexandria read Romans I that way.)

Further, nobody quite knows what's being said in Timothy and Corinthians. The word used there is unknown, and has been translated 30+ different ways; it's bad data, IOW. Still further, we believe that none of the alleged negative references (all 5 of them, again out of tens of thousands!) refer to "same-sex relationships" as we're talking about them today.

So you can argue that the Bible says nothing about "same-sex relationships" - in fact, you really have to, given that lesbianism isn't mentioned - but you can't argue a "generally negative view."

Posted by: bls on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 5:44pm BST

"You're asking us to become less than human, and to do something utterly meaningless for our entire lives."

bls: are you really saying this is true for a single person if they are celibate? They are less than human? That unless they express their sexuality they are less than human?.....

I think St Paul might not agree.
And Jesus was less than human then? And he did something utterly meaningless with his entire life then?

Posted by: Neil on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 7:54pm BST

A recent posting reads: "God saves---because God loves (all the rest is commentary)", followed by the commentary by "Robert", "Dangerous argument. I'm sure that you don't mean it so, but that seems almost like a licence to do whatever we want! Presumably He wants disciples?"

It is said that a rabbi of about Jesus' era was challenged by one of his disciples to recite all of scripture standing on one foot. The rabbi promptly stood on one foot and said, "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. All the rest is commentary."

Dangerous.

As dangerous as Jesus himself.

What if the rabbi was right? What if scripture is the unrolling of the history of people over time struggling with what it means to love God and neighbor, and to be loved by God, and coming up with different understandings at different times in history(hence the apparent conflicts between various scripture passages)and all of it is enshrined there before us, the good, the bad and the ugly, so we will know that it is okay to disagree, to struggle ourselves with what all of it means and how we are to live it out and God isn't there waiting to condemn one of us and uphold the other, but rather to uphold us both.
What if it all is there so we know that it's okay to think and believe one thing today and a different thing tomorrow and God isn't out there waiting to get us for it.
What if Jesus came to free us from being afraid of God's condemnation, which is the only thing the law can bring any of us.
What if it all really is that dangerous. That we can trust in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus and live. Period.
What if what God wants is disciples - disciples who embody a radical love that does not judge but leaves judgment, if any, to God, so the world will live unafraid of God and have abundant life.
What if God wants disciples who say, "The scriptures are the first word, not the last word. Jesus is the last word and between the first word, that is the scriptures, and the last word that is Jesus, you and all those who follow you will add your own experiences and commentary. Know only that I am with you through the Holy Spirit willing only love, and neither the people of the scriptures nor you nor anyone in between, except Jesus of Nazareth, has yet quite gotten what I mean by that. So keep going. Just don't beat one another up over it."

I doubt that will fly with humankind. But I take scripture seriously, I am a scholar, I confess the Creeds, I love the Lord Jesus, and still this is what I believe. For this I have been told that I am not a Christian and that it is not possible for me to be faithful.
And still I follow the Lord Jesus, and him only. I bid all of you the Peace of Christ.
Faithfully, The Reverend Lois Keen, Priest-in-Charge, St. Martin's Mission, Boothwyn, PA

Posted by: The Rev'd Lois Keen on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 11:00pm BST

"I am a scholar, I confess the Creeds, I love the Lord Jesus, and still this is what I believe. For this I have been told that I am not a Christian and that it is not possible for me to be faithful."

Louis, this is being written near midnight my time, so I will be brief and only comment upon the above. But may I respectfully point out it would never occur to me to make such a judgement! The Lord knows his own, and it is not for any man to decide who a Christian is.

(And so to bed!)

Posted by: Robert on Wednesday, 20 April 2005 at 11:16pm BST

"bls: are you really saying this is true for a single person if they are celibate? They are less than human? That unless they express their sexuality they are less than human?....."

I was responding to the statement that "there's the whole priesthood of the RC church, as well as Monks and Nuns, who are sworned to live celebate lives." There is a purpose to their vow of celibacy - a vow which nobody else is asked to take, as you know. Yet gay people are not expected to have any purpose for doing this; it's to be a mere negation. We are not asked to focus our love on God; we are simply asked to be quiet and obey, and to look forward to no love at all, ever. Is this what you God is about, really?

And yes: I think asking someone who doesn't choose this life to take a lifelong vow of celibacy is making them less than human. Would you do it? I don't see any heterosexuals volunteering for this duty. So how about it, folks? When are we going to see some straight men and women stepping up to the plate on this issue?

It's the most basic part of human nature, for most people, to want to find partnership with another person. How would you react to having this imposed upon you from the outside? Suppose your Church asked you to do it, or your neighbor? By what right? Suppose you had been married for 20 years and somebody came along and told you to give up your partnership and become a celibate? That's what you guys expect of us; if we're in a long-term relationship - if we've promised to care for another person 'til death do us part - we're expected to end it. Again: is this what you think God would want?

And really: can we get off the "expressing sexuality" thing? Is this how you talk about your own marriages - as "expressions of sexuality"? I think not.

Anyway, I think I'm just asking a reasonable thing here. If heterosexuals think this is something gay people should do, I think it's only fair to ask them to do it also. Somehow nobody ever seems willing, though. Imagine that.

Posted by: bls on Thursday, 21 April 2005 at 12:25am BST

(I do wonder, too, why nobody ever acknowledges the very clear difference between these things. Demanding celibacy for life, no exceptions, is quite a different thing than remaining single by chance, or even than taking vows as a monk or nun.

Everybody else can marry at some point, if that's how life should turn out for them. Only gay people - literally alone among all others - are expected to deny themselves marital relationships no matter what. And as I said, of course that means no dating, ever. No first love. And no hope of ever having one.

How come this doesn't bother anybody? And one other question: why? I'd really like to hear one good, rational reason why we're expected to do all this. Just one.)

Posted by: bls on Thursday, 21 April 2005 at 12:31am BST

I hardly need add anything to what bls and the Rev. Lois Keen have said (so much more eloquently than me---not that that takes much!), except to also note to Robert (re "Dangerous"), C.S. Lewis' exceptionally wise warning that "Aslan is not a tame lion."

The Triune God IS exceptionally "dangerous" to *all* of us who are self-satisfied in our sins (and even MORESO in our self-righteous). That is, however, merely some of the more trenchent "commentary" to my proclamation (that is, the Gospel's proclamation, of which I am but a bird-brained parrot) that "God Saves---because God Loves." It's precisely when we become SELF-satisfied, that our monomania *shuts out* the saving LOVE of the One Who Emptied Self for us.

Lord have mercy!

NB to Ian: yup, the Good News is mighty "strange", too.

*********

Re Dave's "commitment to celibacy, until they marry": yes, that's the standard I'd like all Christians to aim for . . . however, it really can't be *The Standard*, until all whom feel called by God to marriage can do so, hmm?

[Counts down, till someone indignantly queries w/ counter-examples" "What if I want to marry my neighbor's wife? What if I want to marry my neighbor's six year-old? What if I want to marry my neighbor's Golden Retriever???" {sigh}]

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Thursday, 21 April 2005 at 5:04am BST

Louis, back to the Rabbi's comment. It reminds me of Augustine, who was asked a smiliar question. His reply was "Love God, and do as you like."

As you say you are a scholar (which I will not presume to claim in my own case!) you will know that this was a problem Paul had to address in Corinth, where people were saying "We are not under law but grace" and using this as an excuse to do whatever they wanted. (Antinomianism, if I am not mistaken.)

Augustine's point however was that love makes serious demands! If I love my wife, I will do all I can to strengthen the relationship, and turn away from those actions which would damage it.

I sense the passion with which you write, but would just say that love constrains us at times. It requires discipline, not a freedom to act and believe whatever we want.

But I'll stop here.


Posted by: Robert on Thursday, 21 April 2005 at 7:45am BST

Bls: “can we get off the "expressing sexuality" thing?”
Fraid not, no.

Physical hunger: I don’t eat – I die.
Physical thirst: I don’t drink – I die.
That’s how God made me.
Physical sexuality: I don’t have sex (express my sexuality) – I * don’t * die.
That’s how God made me too: that sexual appetite does not * have * to be satisfied.

Apart from being incredibly presumptious that anyone married does not know anything about sexual restraint, you seem obsessed that heterosexuals know nothing of the burdens of sexual restraint. What?

“Only gay people - literally alone among all others - are expected to deny themselves marital relationships no matter what. And as I said, of course that means no dating, ever. No first love. And no hope of ever having one.”

Please! That is so incredibly belittling to the many single people who have chosen sexual abstinence in the absence of being able to express their sexuality in God’s ordained way: lifelong, heterosexual monogamous marriage – whether for now or for life.

Posted by: Neil on Thursday, 21 April 2005 at 11:43am BST

Good grief, Neil. This is a very simple point: nobody else is asked to be celibate for life, no exceptions. Nobody. No matter how times you try to explain this away, it remains a fact. Single people can hope for marriage, and can marry if the opportunity presents itself - which it does, for most. Again: 95% of Americans marry at one time in their lives. (Guess which 5% is not included in that number?)

And I'll try to get the other point across one more time, too: "sex" is not what gay people are asking for. If we were, none of this would be going on. We are asking for our partnerships - which include a sexual component - to be recognized for what they are: marital relationships. Human beings naturally pair up (see above); sex is part of the equation, but it is certainly not the whole of the thing.

I can't believe anyone still tries to argue this, really.

So again: I'm perfectly willing to sign a "celibacy-for-life" contract - no exceptions, no matter what - right alongside any heterosexual who'd agree to it also. Any takers?

You, Neil?

Posted by: bls on Thursday, 21 April 2005 at 3:12pm BST

Careful, bls: if Neil doesn't "agree" to your request, I'm sure some other having-vocation-to-celibacy/wanting-to-make-a-point heterosexual will take you up on it.

No, the difference is, no heterosexual's *righteousness* hinges on whether or not celibacy is agreed to (even a vowed celibate can be released from their vows, and still hope for salvation).

The heterosexual is offered *celibacy OR married life* as their vocation to holiness, whereas the homosexual is offered only one way . . . and the only defense for this blatant unfairness is "God wills it so: accept your cross."

Except, maybe God doesn't.
Except, the proofs against the sanctification of same-sex relationships, are NO OLDER THAN same-sex couples seeking that sanctification in the first place!
Except, that power never willfully concedes itself (except once---on Good Friday 2000 years ago), especially when letting go of that power means the probability of having to ask oneself (and others) deeply uncomfortable questions.
Except, having "tasted and seen that the Lord is Good", some of us are unwilling to settle for "graves in Egypt."

*That* is what Neil, and Ian (et al), don't understand: many LGBT Christians are already *living in the Promised Land* (or at least we've got a clear-eyed view of it: Maranatha!), and just aren't willing to skulk back into Egypt on the basis of the say-so of anyone who demonstrates no markedly better faith, or (S, T & R) formation, than we have (and is unwilling, if not unable, to prove otherwise).

Pharaoh can huff and puff "For umpteen hundreds of years it has been accepted . . . " about how subjugation is good, and fit, and natural, but the slaves have already *crossed* that Red Sea (w/ "unmoistened foot," no less!). You're Too Late! :-D

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Friday, 22 April 2005 at 5:52am BST

Bis wrote: "Good grief, Neil. This is a very simple point: nobody else is asked to be celibate for life, no exceptions. ... And I'll try to get the other point across one more time, too: "sex" is not what gay people are asking for.... So again: I'm perfectly willing to sign a "celibacy-for-life" contract - no exceptions, no matter what - right alongside any heterosexual who'd agree to it also."


Hi Bis, I listed several groups of people who are committed to "celibacy-for-life" contracts, above, but you just claimed they were all exceptions!

On the "sin" issue, one important thing that you are missing out is that the ideal for marriage is that one member of each half of the human race joins together emotionally, physically and in a societal commitment, and the two halves become "one flesh" for life. That produces a human family; something that is greater than the sum of its parts. It is societal and generational as well as inter-personal. That is God's stated "order" for human sexuality

As JCF said earlier, slightly mis-quoting: "What if I want to marry my neighbor's wife? What if I want to marry my neighbor's six year-old? What if I want to marry my Golden Retriever?" There are attractions, including homosexual, that are outside this "order", for different reasons, and have consistently been labelled "sinful" by the Bible's writers and the church. We are all asked to abstain from these for life. (I might add "I want to have several spouses"; "I want to have sex with people besides my spouse")

Why should homosexuality be an exception ? Aren't you arguing that something ceases to be sinful if you can identify a group of people who desire to do it !! Or does showing that the attraction is strong, relatively exclusive and almost unchangeable, so that it can be labelled an "orientation", suddenly make the action ok ? (So in that case what is "sin"? Doing something you DON'T want to do? Denying yourself?)

It isn't fair that many evangelical women can't find a spouse and have to remain single - because of their belief that they should only marry a Christian, and the imbalance in the sexes in many Churches. Jesus said that some are eunuchs because they were born that way; others were made that way by men; and others have made themselves eunuchs because of the kingdom of heaven, when his disciples were talking to him about marriage (husband and wife that is!)

But there is more to life than sex, and there are other satisfying relationships besides sexual ones. I think another part of the equation is that western society, particularly anglo-saxon culture, seems to have lost the platonic "togetherness" and emotional attachments that make you feel wanted, valued, and part of a "family". In France people are, in my experience, much better at connecting emotionally, expressing emotion, being physically demonstrative, valuing relationship etc. I think this is true for many latin countries (I only lived in one other). In Arab countries people seem in some ways even more connected - straight men do lots of touching and even kissing (!) and I saw Tunisian men walking round holding hands long before New Yorkers!

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 22 April 2005 at 7:13pm BST

[Counts down, till someone indignantly queries w/ counter-examples" "What if I want to marry my neighbor's wife? What if I want to marry my neighbor's six year-old? What if I want to marry my neighbor's Golden Retriever???" {sigh}]
Posted by J. C. Fisher at Thursday, 21 April 2005 at 5:04am BST]


"As JCF said earlier, slightly mis-quoting: "What if I want to marry . . . We are all asked to abstain from these for life. (I might add "I want to have several spouses"; "I want to have sex with people besides my spouse")
Posted by Dave at Friday, 22 April 2005 at 7:13pm BST"


. . . and the count is 38 hours! (So help me, I should start a pool. If I have to have my intelligence and integrity insulted, at least maybe I could win a little money at the same time?)

Eh, I can feel myself starting to lose it . . . ("Starting to" folks at TA all ask??)

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE? For the love of God, why can't you recognize that a *marital relationship*---a *Christian marital relationship*---stays a way of HOLINESS, regardless of whether there's *one Y chromosome* in the couple, or *two Y chromosomes* in the couple, or *no Y chromosomes* in the couple! For the love of God, get over your bodily-plumbing fixations (and/or facile Platonism: "the ideal" is blah-blah-blah) already!

MARITAL LOVE IS MARITAL LOVE IS MARITAL LOVE!!!

[I'm out of this thread now, Simon: promise! ;-p]

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Saturday, 23 April 2005 at 5:46am BST

>I'm out of this thread now, Simon: promise! <

Thank goodness! This rambling was getting tedious.

Posted by: New guy on Saturday, 23 April 2005 at 2:24pm BST
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