Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Threatened Identity

Susan Russell has posted a fine essay by the Right Reverend Sergio Carranza, retired Bishop of Mexico, titled "Threatened Identity." It is is a clear and succinct statement of what many Episcopalians have been trying to say as we reassert the core of our Anglican identity.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit this essay got up my left nostril. I find it annoying because there isn't any effort to engage with evangelicals to find out why they have an issue. No, they have a private agenda and are clearly unscrupulous in pursuing it. The list of culprits is bizarre, especially in the inclusion of the Anglican Communion Institute (which is moderate, I point out. I mean if someone can't tell a moderate conservative from an extremist, I really start wondering about the possibility of dialogue here).

Come on, can we just drop this demonizing the other side and actually realize that both sides may sincerely believe what they are saying and doing is right? If we can't even manage that, than I give up.

Peace,
Phil

11/08/2006 2:46 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

I'll be with you, Phil: You disavow the Network's insidious Choose This Day video, and get some folks to agree with you that it's a disgusting piece of hatemongering ... then I'll join you in chastising the Episcopal Majority folks.

11/08/2006 10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

scott;

I haven't even seen that video, so I can't comment. Is it on the web? If it is, I'll review it.

Peace,
Phil

11/09/2006 5:48 AM  
Blogger revsusan said...

"Choose This Day" in on the web at: http://www.anglicandecision.com/

For contrast, please consider also viewing "Voices of Witness" -- also online at:
http://claimingtheblessing.org/GC06/VoicesofWitness.html

11/09/2006 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

scott;

I had a look at the Choose This Day video. I could use some clarification on what you expect me to disavow, but I'll do my best to comment without that clarification. I should note that, if you expect me to disavow the theological concerns of the video, then you're out of luck. I think TEC made an error in GC 2003 and compounded it in GC 2006. I think liberals have failed to mount an effective Scriptural defence of their position, which I think is essential to convincing myself or the conservatives. I think we have to be clear about this.

Now, do I think that Choose the Day reflects a polarized position. Yes, it does. I don't think that this is a conspiracy to hide a change to a pagan religion in TEC. I honestly think that liberals believe they are being faithful. I'm not even sure that I would say that liberals dismiss the authority of the Bible because they do pay attention to how Scripture supports their position about the social justice due gays and lesbians.

Now, that might not go far enough for you. Okay, then that is what is it is. My interest is not to follow the easy road of polarization, but to seek to understand why we are polarized and to see to deal with the wounds in our communion in an honest way. That is not helped by screeds or by unfair characterizations by one side or the other. That is my main point and I'll stick to that.

revsusan- Thanks for the addresses to the videos which was quite helpful. I listened to the Voices of Witness video incidentally. It is a good reminder that gays and lesbians have faith and that most gay Christians are committed to monogamy. Yet, it entirely misses the point.

The thing is that, while faith and monogamy are definitely good things, we have to ask what is the fullness of God's call. That means a recognition that sin in whatever form weakens our connection to God. Let me clear. I am a sinner. Even if my sins may be different from my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, I am a no better Christian or more righteous. Yet, God forgives us and calls us to turn from our sins. He does that because it is our sins which separate us from Him. So, the question comes back to whether homosexuality is a sin. I really can't see how we can read Scritpure as reading that it is not, so I have to conclude that, while faithful and monogamous gay Christians are experiencing the fruit of good things in their relationships, they are missing out on the best connection to God. That is astonishingly presumptuous of me (who am I, who is manifestly not God and manifestly a sinner, to know what is best for anyone?), but I really think this is what Scripture teaches. I'm open to be proved wrong, but I just haven't see an argument which has worked yet.

Peace,
Phil

11/09/2006 9:34 PM  
Blogger bls said...

So, the question comes back to whether homosexuality is a sin. I really can't see how we can read Scritpure as reading that it is not, so I have to conclude that, while faithful and monogamous gay Christians are experiencing the fruit of good things in their relationships, they are missing out on the best connection to God.

That's all right - I can't imagine how anybody can read in Scripture that homosexuality is a sin. Because there simply isn't any condemnation of lesbianism in the Bible, you know; there's nothing, as far as I can see, in Scripture about the topic at all, in fact.

Before you get going on Romans 1, let me assure you that both Augustine and Clement of Alexandria wrote on that passage, and both believed it addressed "unnatural" heterosexual sexual relations. And, BTW, even if Romans 1 had been addressing lesbianism, that would make it the one and only verse, out of literally hundreds of thousands in Scripture, that - perhaps - says something about female homosexuality. And of course, the central theme of the passage is idolatry in any case; that always seems to be overlooked in these sorts of discussions. So gay women really wonder why we ought to turn our lives upside down in order to conform to one very brief and ambiguous passage of Scripture that even several very prominent Church Fathers didn't see as referring to us? (Maimonides admitted that punishment for lesbianism was "neither Biblical nor rabbinic." In case you're interested, the punishment prescribed was horsewhipping; the violation in question was "disobedience to the husband.")

Whatever's being discussed in Scripture, the topic is certainly not "homosexuality." (This is now approximately the 734th time I've written this, BTW; I wonder if anybody's ever going to address it?

And let's not even get into some of the modern evidence that's being accrued even now: that "reparative therapy" doesn't work and in fact is often quite harmful and damaging; that science is beginning to find biological evidence of the inbornness of homosexuality in at least some people; that gay people can and do make very strong contributions to the welfare of society; etc.)

11/10/2006 11:10 AM  
Blogger bls said...

(In fact, it's entirely possible that this entire episode is indeed meant to point out the sinfulness....of the Church itself, and of the tremendous damage that the unquestioned premises/prejudices of the majority group can do. Wouldn't you say?

And perhaps, in that case, it's Christians who can't seem to get over the idea that homosexuality is sinful who are "missing out on the best connection to God"? Just a thought.)

11/10/2006 11:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bls;

It sounds like we've both been through this issue a few dozen times, if not a hundred, so I'm really only going to make a few comments from my perspective.

First, I will grant your point on Romans 1,26 in the sense that the Greek is ambiguous and the nature of the unnatural intercourse is vague and may not relate directly to female homosexuality. I would, incidently, be interested in the patristic citations you note from Augustine and Clement, but more because I'm mostly blogging on patristics these days, so I'm interested in their argument.

Second, I do wonder if you are rather conceding the point about male homosexuality implicitly in this argument. Could you explain why you are separating female and male homosexuality here because I would think that, despite the obvious anatomical/biological differences, the effect of the orientation and the practices which result from that would be essentially similar.

Third, even though I grant your point on Romans 1,26 (I don't quite, but I concede it has some cautionary force), the conservative case doesn't stand or fall on that passage. Starting with an interpretation of Genesis which seems to me to suggest a heterosexual union as a norm, followed by other OT and NT passages which explicitly condemn homosexuality which assume the context of Genesis. In that view, and withouta compelling reason to separate out male and female homosexuality, I'm not sure that your argument holds much weight because we can extrapolate from this more full position.

Lastly, I am fully willing to concede the possibility that I am missing out the best connection to God because of my position on homosexuality. In that case, I suggest that we pray for each other; not that the other will be proven wrong (although I hope that if I'm wrong, God will grant that I'll find out), but that I connect with God more fully. I will, of course, do the same for you. Perhaps we might just find our way through this morass we find ourselves in throughout the Anglican Communion. God knows our best human efforts haven't had much luck.

Peace,
Phil

11/10/2006 4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bls;

I had a second look at the Romans passage and realized we both missed something which weakens your case.

While Romans 1,26 is ambiguious, it is clearly tied to the much less ambiguous Romans 1,27 which deals with male homosexuality. Let me cite the passage, highlighting the relevant passage.

"Their women exchanged natural intercourse for unnatural, and in the same way also the men, giving up natural intercourse with women, were consumed with passion for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in their own persons the due penalty for their error."

So, even that passage isn't helping your position.

Peace,
Phil

11/11/2006 5:19 AM  
Anonymous J.C. Fisher said...

Lastly, I am fully willing to concede the possibility that I am missing out the best connection to God because of my position on homosexuality. In that case, I suggest that we pray for each other; not that the other will be proven wrong (although I hope that if I'm wrong, God will grant that I'll find out), but that I connect with God more fully. I will, of course, do the same for you. Perhaps we might just find our way through this morass we find ourselves in throughout the Anglican Communion. God knows our best human efforts haven't had much luck.

This is quite irenic, Phil, and I thank you for that.

What you describe is, I believe, a good example of what ++Katharine said (in her inaugural sermon) about the "not yetness" we live in.

...but the only caveat, of course, is that while we all pray that the Other Side will see The Light (and that we, ourselves, will see The Light much clearer than we currently do), there is the issue of Power-Over: the "Homosexuality is Sin" side will use power to enforce their views (1998-present), while the "Homosexuality is God-given" side has not (to date. I know you may dispute this, Phil, in TEC's internal workings, but I would argue these are questions of canonical polity, not questions of homosexuality).

And so we struggle on.

More Light, Lord: Grant Us More Light! Amen.

11/13/2006 12:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for your comments and your good wishes. You are right, of course, I do dispute your suggestion that the Homosexuality is God-given party has not used power to enforce its decisions. It has blown through conservative opposition at GC 2003, at the very least. Some bishops (not all, by any stretch of the imagination) have used the canons against conservative parishes as well which is a use of power, even if it were justified (and some cases were).

I think conservatives have a bit of an issue over this arguement about using the canons in this way because they tend to point out that the canons mattered very little when the ordination of Gene Robinson came up, so why do they matter now? Perhaps that is a lazy attitude in regard to the canons, but one wonders why canons have all of a sudden become so important.

What I'm saying isn't conservatives good and liberals bad. Both sides are using power when they need to be using prayer. That is my problem with both this article and conservatives who choose to split.

Peace,
Phil

11/13/2006 6:12 AM  

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