Friday, March 2, 2012

Making second class Anglicans, even without a Covenant to assist

A recent objection here (and much made around the traps) is that the Covenant will divide the Communion into first and second class member churches (to say nothing of dividing Anglicans into two classes). A few notes might be made in response.

(1) There are 'relational consequences' envisioned as a possible (not certain) outcome of one member church raising a matter about another church. But do 'relational consequences' amount to dividing the Communion into first and second class churches? Currently there are some relational consequences for TEC but I do not see TEC feeling it has become a second-class church as a result. (Incidently, one of those consequences has been unstitched according to this announcement here).

(2) Feeling uncomfortable about the possibility of first and second class churches throws an emotive argument (which is no argument) into the debate, but the argument is about whether the Anglican churches of the globe wish to make common accord in a serious manner and what might enable churches committing themselves to that common accord to be accountable to one another. If that is what we want to do, then we do it, whatever the consequences may feel like. I do not object to our church having a disciplinary canon on the basis that if I incurred its force and received a disciplinary measure as a consequence then I would feel I had become a second-class priest. I either object to it because I do not believe in such a canon or I accept it (and do my best to avoid incurring a charge on the basis of it).

(3) There is a variation in the complaint, which focuses on a comment the ABC once made about a two-tier Communion (where one tier are signers and the other tier are non-signers). Fairly often I have made the point here that I do not see this as a realistic possibility: if insufficient churches sign up (i.e. below 80% though I suggest 90+% signing up would be much better) then the Covenant is a dead duck. I guess, in a sense, I agree with this complaint: there should not be a two tier Communion. But my reasoning is not about the existence of the Covenant but about the commitment to it required to make it viable.

(4) A grizzle about two classes or two tiers of Anglicans overlooks the current situation in which there have been relational consequences to actions with the result that two classes or tiers of Anglicans have been created. Take the situation in TEC since 2003: whether we look at the coming into being of ACNA alongside TEC, or the way in which conservatives remaining in TEC have been pushed to the sidelines (and in some cases, especially +Mark Lawrence and the Diocese of South Carolina, harried and pursued as a kind of quarry in the sights of the PB's gun), two classes and/or tiers of American Anglicans have been created. Of course the complainers about the Covenant will never admit to these facts about the situation. Here in New Zealand this is where we are heading: those who do not agree with the blessing of same sex relationships or the ordination of people in same sex relationships will be marginalised if not excluded from our church.

We have a terrific challenge as Anglicans, in North America, in the Communion and in these islands: how to be a genuinely inclusive church. It saddens me that advocates for the (so called) full inclusion of the LGBT community offer no recognition that they way in which the advocacy for this is framed it necessarily means the marginalization if not exclusion of those who wish to maintain a biblical and traditonal teaching re sexuality.

Even without an Anglican Covenant there is plenty of scope within contemporary Anglicanism for the creation of first and second class Anglicans, for the dividing of Anglicans into first and second tiers. Or should that be 'tears'?

20 comments:

Shawn said...

"Of course the complainers about the Covenant will never admit to these facts about the situation. Here in New Zealand this is where we are heading: those who do not agree with the blessing of same sex relationships or the ordination of people in same sex relationships will be marginalised if not excluded from our church."

Exactly. The Liberal claim to "tolerance" and being "inclusive" is simply false. Once into power liberal pro-gay activists have persecuted and excluded anyone who disagrees. The experiance of many faithful TEC memebers such as Mark Lawrence is proof of that.

Father Ron Smith said...

My concern is that the 'relational consequences' - about which, Peter, you are not concerned - would place TEC and the A.C.of C. outside of the 'top tier' of the Communion.

I know that the exclusion of Bishop Gene Robinson from the last Lambeth Conference has already been one of the relational consequences of TEC's action in ordaining him, and I'm not sure that there may not be further 'relational consequences' (per the Covenant) that would mean Bishop Mary Glasspool would also be excluded from the next Lambeth Conference. This injustice needs to be corrected before nay further action is taken to restore koinonia within the Anglican Communion.

If you are suggesting that there has to be an inbuilt policy of excluding Gay Bishops from the First Order in the Communion, then I, for one, could not endorse it. I would not like to be in a 'second order relationship with TEC and the A.C.of C. on such a concern.

The Lambeth Conference is one of the pivotal Instruments of the Anglican Communion. TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada may be excluded from it; while the GAFCON Provinces have already opted out.
What does that say about the ethos of intentional loyalty to the Anglican Communion - which, presumably, is what the Covenant wants to preserve?

Edward Prebble said...

Peter
I must commend your persistence in championing the Covenant in this way, and I am not being remotely sarcastic in doing so. I do think you are wrong, but you argue your case well.

Forgive me for moving just a wee bit from the specific points you make here, and onto some more general issues about the Covenant, as raised on a different thread a week or so ago.

I believe the Covenant as drafted creates a radical change in our Anglican way of doing things. You believe it does not, and simply puts some shape around what we do already. My suggestion last week was that if I am right, then we do not want the Covenant, and if you are right, then we don’t need it. Your response gave me pause for thought; if I have no problem with legislative structures at parish, diocesan and national levels, including some quite strong disciplinary provisions, then why would I object to rather milder ones at an international level?

Well, Peter, we have those legislative structures, canons, etc at parish, diocesan and national level because we want and need to church to take various actions on our behalf. We need to own property, erect and maintain buildings, train (sorry, form) clergy, hire and fire when required, and conduct mission as appropriate at all levels of the national church. Apart from the totally appropriate constitution of the ACC, allowing them to regulate their meetings and employ some staff, we have never felt the need to do this at an international level. What is it that you want the international communion to do? What will the covenant allow and equip the communion to do that it cannot do now?

I have heard two possible answers to that question. First, it might allow various outside bodies (typically the RC church is cited), to have a clearer idea of whom they are dealing with in having contact with “Anglicans”. My response to that is that if they cannot relate to us in our current rather messy state – but surely no messier than the Eastern Orthodox – then that is their problem. Why should we organise ourselves more in the way that the RC’s do just to facilitate that ecumenical dialogue?

The second reason is that we will for the first time have a structure for deciding what are the acceptable bounds for being in unimpeded communion with each other, and a procedure for setting in place ‘relational consequences’. You object, Peter to the word ‘punitive’, and in this thread you take issue with talk of second class Anglicans, but is there really any function for this covenant other than to punish and exclude? I quite agree with you that we have far too much ‘secondclassing’ going on at the moment, so I remain quite opposed to a new structure that will give legislative structure to such un-Anglican, and in my view unchristian behaviour.

I also agree with your comment on this thread that majorities ( a liberal one in New Zealand, a conservative one in Nigeria, and internationally) must face a gospel imperative to guard and protect minorities. The challenge for us, on both sides of this and any similar debate, is to find ways to extend that protection, without allowing the views of the minority to prevent us from actions that stem from our understanding of the message of Jesus.

Juan Kinnear said...

Dear Peter

I really have no means by which to test whether Anglicans in New Zealand who oppose same-sex marriage and gay ordination will be marginalized and/or excluded, as you suggest. I do sincerely hope that it will not be the case. (We do not by default have to follow the American model.)

As matters stand, I worship and minister in a parish and diocese in which there is no consensus on these matters. We differ on issues of sexuality and quite a lot of other things as well. None of this particularly motivates me to wield the pruning shears. For one thing, I don’t have the authority to do so, which is the point I am trying to make.

If, at the heart of the matter, the argument for the covenant is about securing a future for those Anglicans who ‘who wish to maintain a biblical and traditional teaching re sexuality’ let us dispense with Section 4 of the proposed covenant text. No one gets issued with pruning shears or the authority to use them.

This suggestion will not go down well with some, particularly those who insist that we need a covenant with ‘teeth’ – clear rules, standards & consequences for those who step out of line. This approach will no doubt result in a much neater Anglican Communion with - all the unruly bits nipped off.

I for one, think we will be poorer for it.

Regards

Juan

Rev'd Stephen Donald said...

Peter, you wrote:
“We have a terrific challenge as Anglicans, in North America, in the Communion and in these islands: how to be a genuinely inclusive church. It saddens me that advocates for the (so called) full inclusion of the LGBT community offer no recognition that they [sic] way in which the advocacy for this is framed it necessarily means the marginalization if not exclusion of those who wish to maintain a biblical and traditional teaching re sexuality.”

Oh dear, the old ‘oppressed by our inclusion’ argument again – which assumes that those who come into leadership positions through ‘widening the tent’ will play the same patriarchal ‘power-over’ games that have marginalised women, sexual and racial minorities, the disabled, divorced persons (well, mostly women), those with mental illness etc in Church and society through the centuries. This hasn't been the case where women, divorced men and even gay and lesbian men and women have been become bishops, as witnessed by the ministry of Bishop Gene Robinson within the Diocese of New Hampshire.

Last night I watched the 20/20 documentary on a Mormon plural marriage family in Utah; I have lots of questions about their theology and ethics, and hesitate to recommend their lifestyle. But as a gay man I can empathise with their sense of marginalisation, hostility and vilification, and would defend their right to make their own sexual arrangements as fits with their practice, experience and conscience.

Continuing to argue over the nuances of particular passages of scripture penned in a different time and place has taken us down a blind alley; what is needed is respectful conversations and genuine dialogue between all parties. During our Waiapu synod debate last year on sexual orientation, ordination and blessing of same-sex unions, I was seated with some vocal lay opponents to the motion. In the breaks we talked openly and honestly on a level which, while not uncommon for those of us accustomed to having continually to justify our life experience as LGBT people, was new for those whose only knowledge of sexual minorities was as some distant ‘Other’ who indulge in unspeakable and debauched practices.

Yes Peter, we do have a terrific challenge as Anglicans to be a genuinely inclusive church, but this will never be achieved through pulling up the drawbridge and deciding for God who should be in or out through some legalistic process locally, nationally or internationally. Keep raising the issues, but do so with an open mind and heart.

Kind regards, Stephen

PS: Thinking of you all in Christchurch diocese this day when hard decisions on the cathedral’s fate have been announced. Kia kaha!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Juan and Stephen
I appreciate that NZ is a different place to the USA and our church is different to TEC; nevertheless I cannot view with sanguinity our church moving steadily towards embracing the full inclusion of the LGBT community in respect of blessings/ordinations without a commensurate plane to retain the inclusion of those who disagree. In the end conservatives here have had too much experience already of being excluded from appointments and ordinations because of not going along with a diocesan position on such matters. For our whole church via canonical change to embed blessing/ordinations etc in our statutory life would be to raise many questions for conservatives.

I am glad that neither of you would be wielding the pruning shears but could you guarantee that the structure/system of our church would be neutral in its attitude to conservatives?

PS I do not want to argue that "your inclusion" is "my oppression", what I want to argue is that we ensure that inclusion means inclusion.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Edward,
The reason for offering other churches a clearer view of who we are as Anglicans (and/or cleaning up our messy state) is to offer a better view of what closer relationships might be ... which we would do to answer Christ's prayer ut unim sint; not to satisfy RCs. Indeed we might help ourselves by doing this!

As for the only purpose of the Covenant being to punish and exclude ...really?! Is it not obvious that the primary purpose of the Covenant is to call member churches of the Communion to greater, deeper oneness in Christ, and to do that in respect of the teaching of Christ rather than in respect of historical obligations and other feel good factors?

In the end I have a vision for the Communion being what 'Communion' means, a fellowship of Anglican churches bound into Christ undergirded by a common understanding of the doctrine of Christ. The Covenant is an aid to this fulfilment of the plan of God for the world to be united in Christ. What is not to like?

As for a radical change in the Anglican way of doing things???? Really!? I take it for granted that you support our Three Tikanga constitution, to say nothing of Henry VIII leading the breakaway from Rome: both radical changes to the way of being Anglican. Are you consistently against radical change in the Anglican way of doing things? It seemeth not to me!

Peter Carrell said...

This edited comment is from Fr Ron Smith:

"" In the end conservatives here have had too much experience already of being excluded from appointments and ordinations because of not going along with a diocesan position on such matters" - Dr. Peter Carrell -

I'm not sure that this only goes in one direction, Peter. I know of at least one person [...] whose application for clergy training was side-tracked by one [...] who actually disapproved of the applicant's views on the Gay Issue.
And that was not because of 'going against the diocesan position - [...] "

I am editing this towards a general illustration of the point. The original comment is too specific.

Anonymous said...

Stephen Donald has finally expressed what many of us have said for a while now: that accepting homosexual relations on a par with marriage logically entails the acceptance of polygamy.

Western institutional Anglicanism is inching toward oblivion, as the relentless decline every year demonstrates - less dramatic than an earthquake but just as destructive. Betrayed by its own sexual urges. Tragedy or farce?

#Martin

(My new prenominal is a reference to what liberals have done to the Gospel of Christ.)

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Martin // Stephen

I have no inclination to defend any polygamous arrangements in any peoples, marginalised or otherwise.

I find it a bit strange, Stephen, that you have many questions about polygamy yet wish to defend it's being practised. Wouldn't it be better to sort out the questions first?

Father Ron Smith said...

Specificity is sometimes painful Peter. However, you mentioned 'dioceses ' where clergy have been marginalised because of their known opposition to diocesan 'position'.

What I was conerned about was prospective ordinands being turned down - not because of a diocesan position, but because of those person's affirmation of Gays.

Anonymous said...

Hi Peter / #Martin - I think you have missed my point about marginalisation. However polygamy, along with slavery and other practices we now find abhorrent, unjust or just downright strange, can be defended by selective use of scripture.

A Gospel of radical inclusion does mean a different sort of church from that which we are accustomed, but I trust one which values all parts of the body of Christ. Arohanui Stephen

Father Ron Smith said...

#(?) Martin is saying that the marriage of same-sex partners in some ways equates with polygamy. There is obviously some blatant misunderstanding here.

The very point of encouraging monogamous faithful relationships between same-sex partners is that they are - what is the opposite of polygamy, In other words: monogamy.

Those of us who are advocating that the Church consider blessing a Same-Sex relationship (marriage), is to avoid the 'serial monogamy' that is often undertaken by heterosexual couples. Faithfulness is the catchword for marriage! It is surely to be encouraged.

Revd Stephen Donald said...

Hi Peter / #Martin - I think you have missed my point about marginalisation. However polygamy, along with slavery and other practices we now find abhorrent, unjust or downright strange, can be defended by selective use of scripture.

A Gospel of radical inclusion as preached by Jesus himself does mean a very different church from which we have become accustomed, but one I trust with room for all parts of the body of Christ.

Arohanui, Stephen

Anonymous said...

"However polygamy, along with slavery and other practices we now find abhorrent, unjust or downright strange, can be defended by selective use of scripture."

And so can homosexuality, once you have selected out the NT passages you disagree with.
I am not sure what a "Gospel of radical inclusion" means - it isn't a phrase I find anywhere in the NT. I do find a call to radical holiness there - "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect" - which is very different from moral pluralism. Anyway, my point was that if the specificity of the NT teaching on Christian marriage (a man and a woman covenanted for life) is ignored, then ANY mutually agreed relationship of love and commitment can be championed and even given a Christian gloss in the name of "love". It could be homosexual or it could be polygamous. Who's to judge?

There was a very good reason the Mormons had to renounce polygamy before Utah could be admitted ot the Union. Sadly that reason has been forgotten since.

#Martin

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Stephen // Martin

I think I get your point re marginalization well enough, Stephen, but suggest there is no neutrality about marginalization (e.g. sometimes gangs in NZ are justified/supported because they offer santuary to the marginalized ... yeah, right).

On selective use of Scripture to justify polygamy I suggest there is no selective Christian reading of Scripture which can justify polygamy (i.e. a Christian reads both OT and NT). I part company from Martin, at least a little, in that I would acknowledge there is a reading of Scripture re homosexuality which works on the grace and mercy of God to offer space to people to commit in faithful, monogamous partnerships. (That last sentence is succint re a complex possibility; and is not offered by me to start a debate). By contrast polygamy is just greedy! And the Bible says a lot against greed.

Anonymous said...

"By contrast polygamy is just greedy!"

That's a bit of a slur on those far from wealthy Mormon pioneers. Not to mention Elkaneh.

Thee is NO "reading of Scripture re homosexuality" except rejection of the behavior. This does NOT mean that same-sex partnerships don't have some good features about them. Friendship, loyalty and mutual support are all good things. The mistake comes in (homo-)eroticizing friendship, whichi s contrary to God's creational will.

#Martin

Father Ron Smith said...

"ANY mutually agreed relationship of love and commitment can be championed and even given a Christian gloss in the name of "love". It could be homosexual or it could be polygamous. Who's to judge?" - #Martin -

Well, you said it, Martin!

Rev'd Stephen Donald said...

Hi again Peter

You wrote: "That last sentence is succint re a complex possibility; and is not offered by me to start a debate"

Don't worry, starting another debate is not my intention - I just hope sometime we can meet face-to-face and have a proper conversation as I suspect we agree on much more than we disagree.

Arohanui, Stephen

PS I seem to have posted twice last night - Samsumg Tablet touchscreen has a different way of dealing with the dialogue buttons...

Anonymous said...

The key, for the observant reader, is in the concluding question 'Who's to judge?'
The point is that, according to the Scriptures, God has already spoken on the subject. Liberals like Stephen Donald and Ron Smith deny this claim. That is why Stephen Donald - quite logically, in my view - cannot find definitive objections to alternatives to Christian marriage, including polygamy.

I have no wish to follow that trajectory that will lead (as it has for Richard Holloway and Diarmid McCulloch) to the abandonment of the Christian faith.

All kinds of social arrangements are possible in the world which bring certain benefits (humanly speaking), including cohabitation, polygamy, concubinage, group marriage, same-sex partnerships, and now even fixed term marriage, the latest invention of the secularists in charge of Mexico City. There is great variety out there!

But Christian marriage is not a human invention, as any study of Ephesians 5 shows, and the single life committed to Christ is not a tragedy. If any Anglican clerics don't understand this, they need more help than I can give.

+Martin