Comments: ECUSA developments

Sexual orientation is not an issue. We have a lay minister here in Ottawa who is a faithful Anglican struggling with celibacy because of his homosexual orientation.
Orientation is not the problem. Orientation is a source of temptation not a lifestyle. A person with a true calling will recognize what the restrictions of the ordained ministry will impose on them. Acting on the temptations of a homosexual orientation are not in accordance with the standard of holiness required of ordained ministers.
By openly confessing his lifestyle choice, Gene Robinson has put God in second place in his life. This is clearly unacceptable and he should have the courage of his convictions and resign from the episcopate.
By accepting him as a fellow bishop, Frank Griswold et al have abdicated their responsibilities as shepherds of the Lamb’s flock.

Posted by Bill Sanderson on Monday, 29 March 2004 at 2:37 PM GMT

Many of us in the Episcopal Church — certainly in my parish anyway, are deeply moved by the courageous and sacrificial leadership of our Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold. I am inspired by the charity he continues to exhibit, even to those who have most uncharitably and publicly castigated him. I am grateful for a leader who, in these highly polarized and politicized times, is willing to speak with firm conviction of our disagreements, not as an impetus for easy retreat into camps of our own loyalties, but as an “invitation or opportunity to live the mystery of communion at a deeper level, as difficult and costly as it may be.”

Posted by Edgar Wallace on Monday, 29 March 2004 at 11:18 PM GMT

Dear Edgar
I agree with you. The Wise and Glorious Leader is indeed leading us into a deeper place…deep and quite hot.

Posted by Matt Kennedy+ on Tuesday, 30 March 2004 at 12:18 AM GMT

If Matt actually believes his disrespectful and uncharitable comment, then why does he remain in such an obviously (to him, at least) ungodly church?

Posted by David Huff on Tuesday, 30 March 2004 at 1:19 AM GMT

Dear Mr. Huff,
I do indeed believe what I have written is true. For the moment I’m staying to protect my flock from false teaching and false teachers, such as the PB.

Posted by Matt Kennedy+ on Tuesday, 30 March 2004 at 1:34 AM GMT

Oh dear. Mr. Kennedy, I hope you realize that it is Jesus’s flock, not yours. As for your comments about heat, I was reminded of that lovely verse in our hymnal (one which my own diocesan bishop includes in every email he sends):
“Pray we then, O Lord the Spirit, on our lives descend in might: let your flame break out within us, fire our hearts and clear our sight, till, white-hot in your posession, we, too set the world alight.” Yes, deeper and hotter! I am grateful that our P.B. trusts the Savior who leads and protects us in the fire of His love.

Posted by Edgar Wallace on Tuesday, 30 March 2004 at 3:30 AM GMT

Mr. Sanderson, if sexual orientation is not an issue (w/ yourself), why is the sacrament of marriage open to a couple w/ heterosexual orientation, but not homosexual orientation? The idea that an attraction to members of one’s own sex is some kind of veiled vocation to celibacy is deeply offensive. It impugns Our Lord, the Creator of homosexual and heterosexual orientations, the Author of both celibate and marital callings. Mark Andrew is not a “lifestyle choice,” he is a beloved child of God . . . and the person to whom Gene Robinson+ feels called to covenant for life (and vice-versa). This is NOT to “put God in second place in his life,” but to honor the God who called him to this (marital) manner of life.

Matt Kennedy: if the Devil can quote Scripture, I guess one who so closely resembles the Prince of Lies can put a ‘+’ after his name. But your lies hold no sway here. Unless and until you give your life to JESUS CHRIST—-the Way, the Truth, and the Life—-be gone, troll!

Posted by J. Collins Fisher on Tuesday, 30 March 2004 at 6:51 AM GMT

Dear Edgar and J Collins,
I’m not a troll. I apologize for my flippancy and sarcasm. It was uncalled for. I do think that ++Griswold has refined the art submerging the true nature of this debate beneath a smoggy haze of episcobabble. Just one example from his note to ++Eames. ++Griswold relates an exchange he had with a leader of another “ecclesial community” and in that exchange, he brought up the issue of honesty. He portrays the results of the 74th General Convention as a collective attempt to be honest about human sexuality and portrays the other “ecclesial community’s” method of dealing with the same in terms of dishonesty. He knows very well that no one is encouraging dishonesty. The real debate centers upon whether or not homosexual behaviour is a sin. If it is, then repentance demands honesty. If it is not, integrity demands honesty. Both sides agree on that. However, for the PB it seems that “honesty” is defined by the unqualified acceptance of homosexual behavior. If you accept homosexual behavior as good and blessed, you are “honest”. If you believe it to be a sin that must be confessed and dealth with (privately with your confessor or publicly) then you are “dishonest.” Pure sophistry.

Posted by Matt Kennedy+ on Tuesday, 30 March 2004 at 1:29 PM GMT

Mr. Fisher -
The term “sexual orientation” is not an unproblematic one. Despite many claims to the contrary, it is not a discovery of science. Science merely describes biology and behavior. It gives no aid at all in determining what constitutes appropriate moral activity. It describes what the monkeys are doing, not what it means to be one. The notion that one is of a particular sexual orientation may have some tie to science. What one is supposed to to about this reality is a matter for other disciplines.
The study of identity or self-understanding is called ontology and is a species of philosophy vice science. The claim that one is in any meaningful way heterosexual, homosexual, or what have you, is a philosophical assertion, not a scientific fact. In the Church, philosophical assertions have universally been the products of particular theological understandings, which in turn are grounded in what God reveals of Himself, found most clearly in Holy Scripture and His leadership of His Church over the last 2000 years.
In neither of these places will one fine the teensiest hint that one ought properly to understand oneself in terms of one’s sexual proclivities. That particular assertion is an invention of 19th century atheist ideology. It appears to these eyes to be a thing passing curious that such ideological claims should be given so prominent a place in our Church’s life by her American leadership.
In short, I’m not a heterosexual; I’m a married man. Mr. Robinson’s error was in not so seeing himself as defined by his covenants (it really doesn’t matter one whit to his married state that he was tempted to commit adultery with men vice women) rather than his temptations. The former view is consonent with Christian witness and God’s self-revelation. The latter is clearly not.
Homosexuals who reject God’s definition of marriage (please note that the sacrament is as available to them as to anyone - they just have to marry someone of the opposite sex just like anybody else - indeed, if a homosexual man marries a homosexual woman it would indeed be a homosexual marriage) suffer from a false self-understanding, one borrowed from atheist ideology vice given by God. It is the Church’s duty to oppose such false understandings and to encourage her children to see the world as God sees it, not as is sees itself.

Posted by Daniel W. Muth on Tuesday, 30 March 2004 at 10:03 PM GMT

Reading the conversaton between Kennedy, Fisher, Muth, et al leaves me with something of the feeling of being a patient on an operating table. You see, I am one of the homosexual Episcopalians about whom so many seem agitated. I suppose I could wait to see whether those discussing my condition decide whether or not I need treatment or have been mistakenly admitted to OR. However, my inclination is simply to get up and leave as the discussion seems to be less about me and people like me and more about struggling with learning how to love one another as Christ has loved us - by laying down his life for us in a shockingly unselfish way.

Posted by Alex Kirby on Wednesday, 31 March 2004 at 5:21 AM GMT

Alex,

There is an aspect of your analogy that is absolutely right on. Sin does not define you. It does not define me. It is like a malady, a cancer of sorts. As Christians, filled with the Holy Spirit, God is in the process of performing surgery on our spirits. He hates our sin as much as a doctor hates a malignant cancer. But he hates our sin because he loves us. God makes a distinction between the sins I commit and who I am and he died in the person of Christ to take away the cancer of my sin (an ongoing operation). Well if indeed homosexual behavior is a sin (which it clearly is), then you are right to feel somewhat disconnected from the conversation above. In loving you as my brother I must necessarily hate the sin that has brought damage to your body and soul. That means that when we (orthodox believers) talk about homosexuality, we are not really talking about you as a person. And vice versa. I am a sinner. I would hope that were you to find an aspect of my soul in need of surgery, that you would point it out in love. In fact, if you look above, you will see that I can be sarcastic and rude. That is a sinful aspect of my character. It needs to be rooted out and destroyed. It is not a constituent part of who I am as a person. It is a cancer. I do not celebrate it. I am not proud of it. I hate it and so does God. He loves me not my sin. Likewise, brother, I hate the sin that has you in its grip, but at the same time I love you and pray for you.

Posted by Matt Kennedy+ on Wednesday, 31 March 2004 at 11:04 AM GMT

Fr. Kennedy, I hate the sin which has you in its thrall. I hate the sin which has me in its thrall. I can identify my sin because it?s mine. You can?t identify my sin and you can’t identify Alex?s.
You should read and apply Romans 2 to yourself before applying Romans 1 to others.

Posted by Roy Murphy on Wednesday, 31 March 2004 at 7:47 PM GMT

You’re right,
Original sin blinds. But the Word of God is a guide to my feet and a light to my path. If I were to say, based on my own understanding, that homosexual sex is a sin, your criticism would have merit. If God, however, reveals that homosexual sex is a sin, then it is a sin regardless of who engages in it. Romans 1 and Romans 2 apply to all equally, no exceptions or exemptions.

Posted by Matt Kennedy+ on Wednesday, 31 March 2004 at 7:58 PM GMT

We can argue until we drop about what is a sin and what is not. We can debate until the end of time whether the Bible condemns all homosexuality, or only some homosexual relationships as it condemns some heterosexual relationships. What is perfectly clear to me when I read the Bible is not so to others and vice versa. I can condemn as heretics those who disagree with me and seek out an ever narrowing circle of purity or orthodoxy. Of course, it would not be orthodox or pure, because I am a sinner — sometimes repentant, but not always, and often not for the right things. Furthermore, to stand all alone in a little circle of my own making is the very hell that Jesus has given his life to save me from.
Instead, I can open my heart to others, no matter what I perceive their sin or error to be, and love them simply because God loves me. We are not saved because we are able to free ourselves from sin. Nor because we figure out the right list of sins to condemn, or the right confession or sacrifices to atone for them. “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of he whole world. We are saved by grace through faith. That is the astonishing Gospel truth. As long as we keep debating about what we have to do or not do, about who is a sinner and who isn’t, about whether the church is ‘blessing sin’ or not, as long as we insist on labeling and excluding one another, we can never come to faith in the salvation we’ve been given. In fact, only when I accept the free grace and enter the party with all the other sinners (which means being “in communion” with a lot of people I disagree with and disapprove of) can I begin to live the Kingdom life God intends. Until then, I am simply a miserable little son standing outside complaining that the Father’s love is too indiscriminate.

Posted by Edgar Wallace on Wednesday, 31 March 2004 at 10:59 PM GMT

Why are you americans always obsessed with sex? Our world is filled with wars, starving children, millions dying with hiv-aids etc, and what is the ECUSA focussed on…sex!Get a grip guys!As Anglicans..wether evangelical or catholic or Liberal, we have a gospel of good news to share with the world…lets get on with it!

Posted by jeffrey carr on Thursday, 1 April 2004 at 1:13 PM GMT

Let’s be clear about what the “Word of God” is here Fr. Kennedy. The Word of God IS JESUS CHRIST. TO say otherwise is blasphemous.
John’s Gospel is clear about how in the person of Jesus Christ, God’s Word became Incarnate and was made flesh.
A bible did not pop out of Mary’s Womb. A Bible was not crucified at Calgary.
The Bible is not the Word of God. It bears witness TO the Word of God which is JESUS CHRIST.
All of this is about Incarnation. To say that the Bible is not the word of God is to trust that Jesus Is the Word of God. In short, do you trust Jesus? As a gay man, I have no choice but to trust Jesus, especially as most people condemn me with a Bible. Trust Jesus! That is what this boils down to.

Posted by Kurt Ellison on Thursday, 1 April 2004 at 4:41 PM GMT

Griswold’s statement, “I made it clear that I could not [oppose Robinson] because of the canonical realities by which I am bound, and that it is my responsibility to uphold the decisions formally made by the church” is intellectually dishonest.
Griswold should just say that he is happy with the outcome, and quit being two-faced about it. If bishops cannot correct errors in their own church, than what good are they? If the 2006 general convention voted away the Trinity and the Resurrection, would Griswold say, “it is my responsibility to upold the decisions of the church”? Does not a bishop have a moral duty to oppose error?
Truth be told, Griswold and his supporters only uphold what they want to uphold. Cafeteria Christians all, they pick and choose what part of the Bible, sin and everything else they worship on any given day.
Must be nice to have such cheaply bought grace.

Posted by Bryan Stewart on Thursday, 1 April 2004 at 7:45 PM GMT

Kurt Ellison writes:

> The Word of God IS JESUS CHRIST. . . .
> John’s Gospel is clear about how in the person
> of Jesus Christ, God’s Word became Incarnate
> and was made flesh.

People have asserted countless things about God, his nature, his will, his creation, etc. In that regard, Deut. 18:21-22 counsels an almost-scientific scrutiny of such assertions: “If a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.” (Emphasis added.)

Mr. Ellison, with that in mind, can you please explain why we should accept your assertions about Jesus? Is there any reliable, real-world evidence in support of your view? The various writings of the New Testament would not seem to qualify. There are too many evidentiary problems for comfort there, such as:
  • internal inconsistencies, e.g., why didn’t the disciples expect to see Jesus after his execution, or why wasn’t John the Baptist one of Jesus’s disciples;
  • indications of author bias — see, e.g., James and John’s jockeying for primacy during Jesus’s lifetime, or the early church’s bitter dispute whether Gentile converts needed to become full-fledged Jews.
  • Posted by D. C. Toedt on Friday, 2 April 2004 at 12:25 PM GMT

    Reading this I am sickened but am glad that I left the Episcopal Church. It’s funny the attitude I pick up on is not unlike the attitude that was displayed against those who for catholic reasons were against the idea of female priests and bishops. The attitude is throw out traditional, ecumenical dialogue to hell with the scriptures or maybe we should rewrite the scriptures and God forbid if someone questions the leadership on any point. It was this attitude that drove me out of the Episcopal Church when they began enforcing the idea of women priests and bishops something they said earlier they would leave to conscience of the diocese and local parish. The same will happen everyone who opposes will be driven out like myself and gnosticism and relativism will rule the day. I am now Roman Catholic but am sadden at wreck I see for the Church that taught me liturgy and appreciation for Christian history.

    Posted by Jaan Sass on Friday, 2 April 2004 at 6:01 PM GMT

    The simple truth is that Mr. Robinson violated his obligation as a Bishop the very minute he took it at his consecration: Bishops promise not to commit activities that would lead the church into schism or hersey. Mr. Robinson knew what he was doing to the church he was supposed to be a shepherd of, and went on TV and said that we would get his way, or else. He cried crocodile tears until he won, and then dismissed conservative Anglicans and said that they could leave if they disagreed with him. Not very bishop-like, and not very shepherdlu.
    If Robinson truly loved the church, he would have “played the man” and stepped down when he saw that the church would be ripped apart.
    It doesn’t matter to me that he is a homosexual. If he were a heterosexual that threatened the unity of the church, he should go as well.
    For what have the people of New Hampshire profited, if they gain Gene Robinson and lose the entire Episcopal Church?
    FOR THE GOOD OF THE CHURCH, ROBINSON MUST RESIGN. PLAY THE MAN, MR. ROBINSON!
    God Save the Episcopal Church (from itself!)

    Posted by T.J. Wilkinson on Friday, 2 April 2004 at 7:52 PM GMT

    Mr. Kennedy,
    With one comment you display your lack of comprehension of the entire debate. “Well if indeed homosexual behavior is a sin (which it clearly is)…” There are a good many of us who believe that it is not. By outright dismissing many people’s years of prayerful consideration of this issue, you committ a far more damaging act than the ordination of Rt. Rv. Robinson. This refusal to accept the views of your ecclessistical opposition as valid is the root of our division (this is true of BOTH sides of the issue, by the way). Only by returning to a full and heartfelt compassion for those whose views differ from our own can we prevent schism.

    Posted by C.E. Setzer on Friday, 2 April 2004 at 9:06 PM GMT

    While I would very much like to see schism prevented, this unfortunately does not make the acceptance of homosexual behavior a valid viewpoint. To say, “the view of homosexual behavior as acceptable is valid because to declare it invalid will divide the Anglican Communion” doesn’t work. It does not address the question of whether some within the Anglican Communion have accepted within Christian thought an invalid viewpoint; it simply presses those who question it to accept it as such because of the dire consequences if they don’t (argumentum ad consequentiam). That doesn’t work. The most one who exercises the differing opinion could do would be to recognize that some sincere Christians believe that same-sex activity within certain limits is acceptable.

    Posted by Russ Booton on Saturday, 3 April 2004 at 1:02 PM GMT

    Mr. Setzer,

    Please tell me how “prayerful discernment” trumps the revealed Word of God?

    The people who hold viewpoints in support of Bp Robinson are, of course, made in God’s image and therefore their thoughts are to be taken into account as are the thoughts of any human being. They are “valid” then in the sense that they are human thoughts. Their arguments, however, are indeed not valid. That is why I oppose them. There is a correct and an incorrect position on this matter. To hold one opinion or the other necessarily means that you believe the other position to be incorrect and thus, “invalid”.

    As for the “Word of God” comment by Mr. Ellison, well, I think that has already been dealt with sufficiently by Mr. Toedt. You should not apply “Jesus Christ” as an interpretive criterion to the very book that provides the only concrete information about “Jesus Christ”. Its circular logic. You only succeed in invalidating your own criterion.

    Posted by Matt Kennedy on Thursday, 8 April 2004 at 7:50 PM GMT

    I am suprised that educated people(s) allow their ego’s to cover their eyes, but even more so their hearts. It appears to me that there is a certain degree of revelry here that needs to be addressed. Admitting to a ‘sin’, ‘character defect’, or whatever you choose to call it is only half-stepping the process of healing. I would like to believe if someone writes something that is ‘sarcastic’, ‘rude’ or ‘judgemental’ that in re-reading something with that kind of malice, would wipe the slate clean and re-think their thoughts.
    We are all human and fall on the human side of error, but to continue to judge ANY of Gods’ creatures to make ourselves feel more comfortable and superior is quite the error and a fall from grace.
    Hate is not a word I have ever read in any of the bibles and many translations that I’ve read, so when someone mentions God ‘hates’, I am unsure as to whether they are really on any kind of goodly path, for themselves or anyone else. If God want’s us to love one another and the sinner alike, are we then suppose to separate, with prejudice, naming and blaming other’s sins? I’m not saying that we need to put blinders on, however, I do believe that opening our hearts and adding inclusion and by-passing seclusion would be more of a loving nature that what is being said here. My prayers are with you. Dennie

    Posted by Dennie Boettcher on Tuesday, 4 May 2004 at 3:54 PM GMT

    Well, all this posturing about the “revealed Word of God” and the prohibitions against homosexual sex (et al) just leaves me wondering if our more qua-fundamentalists and their fellow travelers are also planning on:

    A) Boycotting their parish’s next delicious Lobster-Boil… or

    B) Foregoing that nifty Linen-Cotton alb…

    while they busily lay-up the proper stockpiles of doves & heifers to burn on a regular basis, and otherwise attend to the myriad of tasks from the endless list of Levitical must-do’s (to say nothing of the rest of vast breadth of other Scriptural rules, regulations, and obligations)

    After all, if you must live by the Word revealed, then dangit all, live it totally and completely so! To pick out the parts you want to observe is a HUGE disrespect for the totality of the teachings themselves. Take the whole as it is, or understand it in the Light of the ever-revealing One who guides us always to discern the Truth in love.

    Don’t simply ignore those rules which happen to contradict your own other wants/needs/realities - don’t selectively excerpt Scripture to suit your prejudices and feelings. You are using Scripture for your own ends, NOT God’s!

    It’s as simply understood as the riddle a wise friend once put to me. He asked:
    “What’s the opposite of Faith?”
    I answered:
    “Well, disbelief of course.”
    And the response (which opened my eyes like nothing ever has)
    “Nope… the opposite of Faith is CERTAINTY. “

    For any human being to claim to know every answer is to abrogate that which is God’s alone, and in which we can only but trust. It’s not easy, nor is it simple, nor is it always comfortable - particularly when one delves beneath the superficialities and trite legalisms that our more fundamentalist fellows spout out as the “final word.”

    Putting our own self-interepreted limits on God and His Love is inherently blasphemous, and to presume otherwise is foolhardy, unfaithful, and small-mindedly human indeed. And to say that “it’s all been done & said” is inherently defining God within our own puny ability to understand, much less comprehend.

    This “argument” I am offering isn’t relativism - it’s a completely different paradigm; an understanding of God’s awesomely transcendent Wisdom, and the fact is that God has been very much alive throughout history and time, guiding and shaping our lives and our world. And that God will continue to do so.

    Read the messages here reminding us that the message of the Gospel - where the rubber really hits the road for Christians - is about Love, and Welcome, and Opening the World to that clarion call.

    Wake Up! God is alive in the world, and acting even as we speak. God is guiding the Church even now, and leading us ever closer to a truly full understanding of what it means to be truly faithful Christians.

    Leave off the pontificating and finger-pointing - self-righteous posturing comes is too much a product of hardened hearts, encumbered souls, and pointless fear-mongering. Open your hearts and minds to the loving call and true service of our Lord and Savior, or you will indeed miss the boat!

    (This whole situation reminds to wonder that f only we had had the Internet when women’s ordination first hit the fan… whoa - we’d still be hissing and spitting, and probably 2,000 times more ardently than some folks still feel they need to do!)

    Posted by Bill Cosper on Thursday, 6 May 2004 at 4:47 PM GMT

    C’mon Bill,

    Ever heard of the “New Covenant”? While Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross fulfilled the sacrificial system and the ritual/purity laws associated with it, Jesus and the writers of the NT did not supercede but everywhere upheld the moral laws of the OT. Especially those listed in Leviticus 18.
    Jesus, indeed, does not address homosexual behavior as distinct from other illicit sexual
    behaviors (Paul, of course, does in Romans 1:24-32 and 1 Corinthians 6:9), but he condemns it all the same by his negative application of the word “pornia” in Mark 7:21-22 and Matthew 15:19. The Greek word “pornia” in the context of 1st century Judaism referred specifically to the sexual laws found in Leviticus 18, (homosexuality is specifically mentioned in 18:22). The rabbis of the first century often used shorthand phrases to refer to the law. For example, Jesus often used the phrase “the law and the prophets” to
    refer to the whole of the Tanahk. “Pornia” was another shorthand word that, again, was used to refer to all the illicit acts and behaviors listed in Leviticus 18 from incest to bestiality, from adultery to homosexuality. Therefore, when Jesus says “But the things that come out of the mouth come from the heart, and these make a man unclean. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality (pornia), theft, false testimony, slander….”(Matt 15:18-19), he indicates very clearly that all the acts considered sexually immoral in the levitical law code, from heterosexual promiscuity to homosexual partnerships, are to be considered immoral
    by his disciples as well. The laws found in Leviticus 18 are, in other words, moral in nature and thus eternal.

    The very same word, “pornia” is used in Acts 15:20 by the church council in Jerusalem. They command Gentile believers to abstain from “pornia” again, a direct reference to and a clear endorsement of the levitical sexual code.

    It would be wise if revisionists would drop the “why don’t you fundamentalists keep kosher” argument. It reflects quite badly on their biblical scholarship.

    Posted by Matt Kennedy+ on Friday, 7 May 2004 at 12:44 AM GMT