My application to the Master of Applied Theology program has been approved. I'm feeling humbled (latin fixation aside) and deeply grateful for the prayers, support, consideration, nurtue and challenge I've recieved from all the friends who have supported me in this and all the endeavors that came before it.
Meanwhile, the fellow called "I'd Rather Not Say" has published a good and thoughtful essay (from a conversative Christian perspective, no less) on a rationale behind civil partnerships as separate from Christian marriage. It's long, but very worthwhile. Note that the essay begins by discussing a recent proposal by English bishops that English clergy not be disciplined for participating in celibate civil partnerships when the law that allows them in the UK takes effect in December. Check it out:
In his 1997 essay "Christian Same Sex Partnerships," (in T. Bradshaw, ed., The Way Forward?) Rev. Dr. Jeffrey John argued that if the Church is going to call its homosexual members to a state of perpetual celibacy, it must provide some alternative to the apparent sentence of lonliness that seems to be foisted upon all Christian persons who do not enter a state of holy matrimony.
If in the scope of our Christian living and reflection, the only way to be permanently joined and committed to a loving family is marriage, it is because we have not yet formed ourselves into the cohesive and permanent Christian communites that New Testament Christians could take for granted. Our theology of the Community, the New People of God, is terribly stunted if we can only find permanent loving relationships not in the fellowship of the Church, but in marriages that may or may not be Christian.
To put it briefly and succinctly: If we are going to call members of the Community to celibacy (which has historically been considered a vocation, not a punishment), we'd best re-learn a theology of celibacy post-haste.
I'm moving to Lexington this week. I'll continue working at the school for the rest of this month, and then begin a job at a bookstore in town. I must say, I get trendier as time goes on. Ahem.
waiting waiting waiting
Talked about authority with some of the guys last night. Just what does it look like? I've taken seriously Richard Foster's word that the discipline of submission frees of from "the tyranny of self-will." It's how Jesus seeks to free us from a life in which we as individuals must always, on our own, determine the right decisions, for us, and then accept the rewards or face the consequences on our own. To use a cliche, it takes us out of that "Lone Ranger Christianity" bit.
I don't have to worry about knowing "God's will for my life," because I know a bunch of people who pray and talk about that with me. We find direction in our life together. My friends will protect me from doing anything too crazy that way. I don't have to worry about fooling myself as whether I'm obedient to Jesus in my everyday life.
Holy obedience isn't a slavish response to the will of others, but a openness to listen and be corrected. I've known so many people who have much difficulty pressing into life with Jesus in the Christian community, not because they keep making bad decisions, but because they don't make one basic faithful decision - to sit still, to trust and to listen, even when that means hearing uncomfortable things.
You really want to be a Christian? You really want to be refined by the Creator and Redeemer of humanity? Go make some friends. Be friends with them for a few years without giving up because they don't do and say what you want them to, or because you're pissed at them, or becaue you can't seem to figure out how to love them well.
Fights will come. Conflicts will ensue. Learning to live in those with openness, honesty and forgiveness is the primary work we're called to do. This is our specific task. That is how we learn to love. That is how we learn to be loved. And it is in that - and that only - that we bear witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the entire world.
I don't know about the other believers out there, but I am too hurt, too tired, and too hopeful to do anything else.
I'm a library paraprofessional and occasional theology instructor at a liberal arts college. I teach folks how to do academic research efficiently and throughly, and I teach Christian theology at the college level and in churches. I hold the Master of Applied Theology from the University of Oxford.