Comments: Reform and GAFCON respond to Episcopal Church marriage decisions

Ever since the consecration of people such as Barbara Harris and Gene Robinson, TEC has been a source of inclusive inspiration and example to so many in the Church of England. With the election of gifted Bishop Curry as Presiding Bishop, we see further evidence of the Holy Spirit at work. TEC always seems to be on the right side of history. The fact that our American brothers and sisters have annoyed Reform and GAFCON should be a cause of great rejoicing.

Posted by FrDavidH at Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 4:55pm BST

Nothing unexpected there!

I guess, if you believe that you possess God's revealed will, such unquestioning obedience is justified. It scares me silly, and, given the damage done by ignoring evidence, shows why liberal theology is so vital to the church's health.

The sleep of reason produces monsters. These are they.

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 4:57pm BST

πŸŒˆπŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— 🌈 Love wins!

Fortunately, we have Jesus telling us clearly not to judge. So I find it impossible to believe that His wish is for Reform, +Wabukala, and +Okoh to judge me, my LGBTQ sisters and brothers, TEC, the US Supreme Court, et al. Especially +Okoh, who is a supporter and enabler of human rights violations in his country. "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever." That's from Thomas Jefferson on slavery in the US. It also applies brilliantly to Nigerian "jail the gays laws."

Jesus' supposed "definition of marriage" was primarily a story on divorce. He was addressing the vulnerability of women who don't live under the protection of a man's house; it left them vulnerable to violence, poverty, and abuse. So if we want to take that passage seriously, then please, let us join to work together to eliminate violence against women and girls.

Reforms only reference to the suffering of gay people is about "those who struggle with same-sex attraction." I can rest assure them that it isn't much of a struggle for many of us in the West, now that we have our human rights and are happily married. But thank you for your concern.

πŸŒˆπŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— πŸŽ‰ πŸ’— 🌈 Love wins!

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 5:04pm BST

It won't matter a jot taking this conversation forward across the liberal / conservative divide - but it seems quite a stretch for Reform to take

"Some Pharisees came to him, and to test him they asked, β€œIs it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any cause?” He answered, β€œHave you not read that the one who made them at the beginning β€˜made them male and female,’ and said, β€˜For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

and claim Jesus was talking "to religious leaders who sought to redefine marriage" or to claim that he was offering a "definition of marriage".

Posted by Peter Mullins at Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 5:16pm BST

Cynthia's analysis of the divorce pericope illustrates the folly of stripping away context and universalizing a story bound inexorably to a given time and place. What protected women in 1st century Galilee oppressed them when other options opened.

Jesus wasn't a Delphic Oracle, nor did he claim to be: he was a man of his time, rooted in eschatological Judaism, proclaiming what he took to Adonai's imminent judgment on the world. He wasn't brilliant in spite of that, but because of it; but that being so, his brilliance isn't universal in every regard. In other words, Jesus could be wrong, as regards his own context, and certainly as regards ours, of which he had no knowledge.

To abdicate the responsibility of assessing and reasonably applying Jesus' teaching, as Reform and Gafcon would have us do, is a dereliction of the church's duty. We shouldn't be afraid to say so.

Posted by James Byron at Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 5:50pm BST

Have I missed something here? If our Lord pronounced against divorce and the CofE and CiW allow the marriage of divorcees in church, why have we not been cast out of the Anglican Communion and roundly condemned for departing from Scripture and renting the church asunder?

Posted by Roger Antell at Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 5:51pm BST

"[Jesus} was a man of his time, rooted in eschatological Judaism, proclaiming what he took to Adonai's imminent judgment on the world." -- James Byron on Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 5:50pm BST

Spot on analysis! IMHO

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 8:03pm BST

Roger,the reason is simple because Reform hedge the divorce issue as thee are two schools of interpretation which conflict. One teaches marriage is indissoluble and the other that divorce and remarriage are allowed.They actually leave this out of their it looks ridiculous if they are fighting ssm and they cant agree what Jesus meant as regards marriage.Interestingly Acna and other churches within Gafcon are even more liberal on divorce and remarriage.

Posted by robert ian williams at Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 9:11pm BST

Most people, inside and outside of the church, have decided that the authoritarian religious conservatives don't speak for God. They speak only for themselves and their own insecurities and psychological complexes. So all of this is just words, words, words, of no importance, and only serving to make the declining number of religious conservatives think that their pronouncements have some impact.

Fundamentalism presumes that the rest of us will forget that Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, Pasteur, Einstein, computer science, the rise of clinical psychology, anthropology and sociology, and the trips to the moon ever happened. If religion is going to have any relevance going forward it has to take the new knowledge into account. Our advances in knowledge are the modern expression of revelation, and they are as binding on us as the pronouncements by prophets were to bronze age societies. Our advances in knowledge tell us that same sex attraction is a normal part of human existence, not a "sin," and full access to marriage equality follows from this.

Those who make pronouncements like these two are still living in a pre-modern era when everything could be decided on the basis of dogma without consulting science and human knowledge. The majority of us, living in the modern age, don't have the luxury of living in the dead past with the fundamentalists and the conservatives.

The Episcopal Church is making a valiant effort to live in the modern world. The GAFCON, "Reform" (stealing that term was quite the con, eh?) and ACNA people are still trying to live in the 14th century.

Good luck with that project.

Posted by Dennis Roberts at Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 9:29pm BST

I am in communion with The Episcopal Church and give thanks for its courageous integrity.

If the Bible has to be taken literally, then Adam and Eve had no ancestors, science and evolution are wrong, and God desired the slaughter of the children in Canaan when it was ethnically cleansed.

All the direction of history teaches us that the bible has to be contextualised and interpreted.

Interpreted in the context of the primary command to love.

Scriptural dogmatism, and idolising holy text as God's direct dictation or automatic handwriting is potentially harmful whether it is the dogmatists of the Bible or the dogmatists of the Qur'an.

The bible was written by fallible human beings, writing from within the culture, prejudices, and assumptions of their own time. It is wonderful and it is profound.

But it requires the exercise of our own consciences in each age, as we search for the ways of love and faithfulness.

Gay marriage is one such dedication to faithfulness.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 10:15pm BST

Both Reform (which might better be named 'Stasis') and the Gafcon leadership, when quoting the need to conform to the call of Jesus for Church Unity, ought perhaps to have taken his call more literally for themselves - before their divisive activity which has so largely contributed to the demise of Anglican solidarity around the world.

Jesus had similar problems with the Scribes and Pharisees, whom he denounced as 'Whited Sepulchres'. They, too, resisted Jesus' inclusion of sexual sinners among those He wished to redeem and save. Self-righteousness, in Jesus' eyes, seemed to be a greater problem for the righteous God than those whom they despised as 'greater sinners'.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 7 July 2015 at 11:13pm BST

Don't get me wrong: I agree with the thrust of James Byron and peterpi above, but to say what they have doesn't redefine marriage, but it does redefine 'God the Son'. If he is the very deity, God, then one supposes he has God proclamations. If he is a man, only a man, like ordinary thought would suppose, then he is as time-limited and mistaken as the rest of us, and indeed with his supernaturalism and eschatology even more so. So what then would Reform or the entryists think of that? This is what gives them the definitional trump card, in your communion, once you slip away from trinitarianism.

Posted by Pluralist at Wednesday, 8 July 2015 at 4:36am BST

I think, Mr Roberts, that the problem is a tad more complex. Most evangelicals I know are thoroughly nice and can reconcile themselves to all these scientific advances... but then start doing moral theology as if creationism were true. I can't understand it either, this being said.

Posted by Lorenzo at Wednesday, 8 July 2015 at 9:37am BST

I wonder what pastoral care of homosexual given by the Church of Uganda would actually be?

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 8 July 2015 at 10:00am BST

Weep not for TEC, weep for GAFCON-area LGBTs (deprived of a supportive church, esp. where many need it most: in the midst of a brutally hostile state). Keep them safe, Lord, keep them safe---one day a change gonna come...

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 8 July 2015 at 10:10am BST

Pluralist, surely some versions of kenotic Christology cope with your point?

Posted by John at Wednesday, 8 July 2015 at 1:33pm BST

Fr David, Your comments spot on. You lifted my heart as I read you words

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Wednesday, 8 July 2015 at 3:44pm BST

I'm sick to death of people who evidently believe that because Bronze-Age barbarities are included in "holy scripture," the church ought to be abiding by them.

Posted by Daniel Berry, NYC at Wednesday, 8 July 2015 at 4:59pm BST

"and those who live in cultures where pronouncements from liberal Western church leaders endanger their lives"

"changes which ignore the serious concerns of many others in the Communion, in some cases for their physical safety"

Let's be clear about this. We have here, once again, the argument that gay marriage causes murder.

Welby was excoriated for making this argument last year. Reform and GAFCON should be excoriated for making it now.

Reform makes the actual causal assertion ("endanger"), although where they get this idea is unclear. GAFCON does not go that far, and phrases the argument in terms of some Christians' "concerns."

Which is another way of saying that because some Christians have fears, other Christians should forego the blessing of marriage.

That argument remains untenable.

By contrast, Uganda doesn't mention marriage-causes-murder. Instead, Ntagali likens homosexuality to a disease. Presumably he has in mind HIV, which has ravaged Southern Africa, which lacks gay marriage. HIV is no excuse for poor epidemiology and worse logic.

Ntagali goes on to make theological assertions that are really assertions about how the Church should work--not by voting, he says, but by "receiv[ing] and follow[ing]" whatever people like him pronounce.

For Ntagali the real issue may be clerical power. And the real danger may be TEC's ecclesiological democracy.

Religious fundamentalism is dangerous, yes -- dangerous to people's lives. But that is no reason for anyone not to marry. And it is true of Christian fundamentalism too.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 9 July 2015 at 1:18pm BST

Not everyone thinks that the GAFCON and Reform statements are extreme. Ian Paul, writing here
says of them:

"There are several interesting things about these statements. First, they are actually quite moderate in tone, and they are located not just in a biblicist reading of Scripture, but within the context of previous Communion discussions..."

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 9 July 2015 at 2:59pm BST

I'm a little sick of people with a "Biblicist point-of-view" denying the extensive writings on Scripture that lead to non-bigoted readings of Scripture.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 9 July 2015 at 5:45pm BST

From a distance, the real problem I discern, lately, with the Gafcon protest against TEC's inclusivism towards Same-Sex Blessings, is the fact that the archbishop of Canterbury seems to have capitulated to their exclusivist point of view.He seems to have aligned the C.of E. with their culture of sexism and homophobia, an ethos that many Anglicans have long since abandoned. This makes it difficult for many of us outside the U.K. to defend our connection with Canterbury.

This, in turn, makes more necessary a re-think of what the future of Anglicanism will turn out to be: Maybe, on the one hand, Protestant Conservatism based on moral puritanism (Gafcon, Acna & Reform) versus Anglican Inclusivism (TEC and most Western Provinces).

In the light of Jesus mission to and friendship with 'Sinners' (the whole of humanity), my feeling is that Gospel liberality wins out over puritanism. At least, it acknowledges our need of redemption by the power of God's perfection, not our own!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 9 July 2015 at 9:45pm BST

Ian Paul, quoting Rev Jon McGinley: β€œthe Bible … can be used to say whatever we want it to, or simply be ignored.”

Yes, why DO conservative Evangelicals USE Scripture this way? [Sarcasm/off]

β€œThe other seeks to submit to Scripture as we interpret it and apply it to our lives and trust in its goodness as God’s word to us, even when it is painful and challenging” . . . to others. Got it, clever 'phobes.

Posted by JCF at Friday, 10 July 2015 at 12:59am BST

Simon, how can Ian Paul say that "they are quite moderate in tone"?

Reform says, "In rejecting this definition of marriage, the bishops of the US Episcopal Church have rejected Jesus’ own teaching. As such, they have denied the faith they profess to teach, forfeiting any right to be regarded as true bishops of the church of Jesus Christ."

Moderate in tone? Calling more than 100 bishops in another province, in effect, false bishops?

Moderate in tone? Really?

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 10 July 2015 at 3:52am BST

Ian Paul, in other places, writes of the danger of a 'divided Church'. This reminds me of a placard on the rear window of a car:

"Feeling the absence of God? Guess who moved!" Neither TEC nor any other liberal Province of the Anglican Communion has actually moved out of intentional Eucharistic fellowship with any other province. SO. Guess who moved!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 11 July 2015 at 11:32am BST
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