SS. Peter and Paul, Apostles
SS. Peter and Paul, Apostles
Okay, so last time we talked about how the new Presiding Bishop of dfmsT(p)EC[usa] is openly female and theologically just a little bit past her due date (produced by modernity, and launched into paganism by postmodernity) and why that's a problem for some others in the Anglican Communion.
Richard de Chico was kind enough to provide us with the above acronym (again, see the previous post on the matter for our rationale). He also pointed out that we find ourselves with some hilarious dueling archepiscopal metaphors. Outgoing PB Frank Griswold is often fond of referring to that which holds the Church together (yes, something we take entirely on faith) as a "forcefield of love." The new PB has spoken of our Mother Jesus giving birth to the Episcopal Church, which she has also described as conjoined twins, which a doctor ought not ethically separate unless both can live full lives. (Does that mean she's not pro-choice?) So, as Richard de Chico has suggested, our Mother Jesus has given birth to a mainline Protestant denomination conjoined with a funny kind of catholic/evangelical mutant and only Rowan Williams has the skill to separate them.
The operation has taken many years so far, and lots of blood has been lost. And more importantly, money. Souls? Screw that, who cares?
The other Big Problem is that Gene Robinson, the bishop of New Hampshire, is gay. Did you hear me? Gaaaaaaaaay! Specifically, Bishop Robinson is partnered with a man, and the lifestyle of a bishop is meant to be a model for the whole Church, and a focus of unity as well. Accepting Bishop Robinson as someone qualified for episcopal orders is a de facto endorsement of same-sex unions as a valid sacramental category. For the most part, American Anglicans are cool with this. A vocal minority are not.
Note: we get more opinionated from here.
The best logic on the "left" is that for men and women who are faithful Christians and understand themselves to be homosexually oriented, this is a faithful way of living with that reality. It must be remembered that nobody really knows why some people are erotically and emotionally attracted to persons of the same sex. The worst logic comes from folks who insist that it's all a matter of "inclusion" and "exclusion" rather than a question of ethical behavior. I think it's essentially about buzzwords.
For folks on the "right," the best I hear is that heterosexual, sacramental marriage, and celibacy under any other circumstances is the scripturally appropriate way of living in consistency with the biblical witness to the continuity of creation and redemption. Some folks, however, like to talk about what is or is not "natural" (a theological dead end if there ever was one), find homosexuals to be "gross," and with minimal hermeneutical reflection, want to proclaim that they know "what the Bible says," and why, and that's that. I have little respect for those arguments.
It also must be remembered that while some conservatives are conservatives because they are bigots and homophobes and some liberals are liberals because they have no desire or ability to interpret the Scriptures, they aren't usually the people who are having conversations about it anyway, and assuming these very worst things of your conversation partners is the best possible way to kill any fruitful debate. (see also Weekend Fisher: Pet Peeves in the Homosexuality Debate)
Mind you, this is a kind of flippant, Cliff's Notes version of what is actually a complicated and deeply nuanced debate. There's my disclaimer, do with it what you will.
Here's the problem with the rest of the Anglican Communion: Anglicanism on some level tries to understand itself as catholic, which means at the very least that one must consult with those with whom one is in communion, and in mutual submission allow oneself to be limited (protected?) by the consensus of the faithful. Some things people can agree to disagree about, but there must be consensus about the things that can be disagreed upon. The concept is in the Windsor Report (dum dum dum) and it's called "adiaphora."
Folks on the left generally have said, "We can agree to disagree about this development in our sexual ethics." Some say, "This is a question of justice, and we can't actually agree to disagree."
However, most on the right have replied something like, "We can't agree to disagree because one's position on sexual ethics actually affects one's entire vision of the creation/redemption project and how we determine what behaviors are within those boundaries." That is, to what extent does the New Testament dictate to us what those boundaries are, and in what ways (if any!) can we 1) move past it and 2) move in a way that seems to be against it. Conservatives/Traditionalists/Reasserters might be able to work with the first, but can't defensibly work with the second.
However, some conservative evangelicals (and of course lots of liberals) think they are justified in making "pastoral provisions" that allow people to be divorced and re-married and not be excommunicated, but would never dream of making such allowances for homosexual persons. I call that hypocrisy, and have moaned about it at length elsewhere. Serial polygamy is certainly not consistent with creation and redemption.
So ultimately, the American province did consult, but did not allow themselves to be bound by the results of that consultation in the face of a consensus that disagreed with them. That's the problem - not homosexuality or sexual ethics directly.
But who am I anyway? (wink, wink)