Bear with me.
Accept, for the moment at least, that 90% of Anglicans in ACANZP believe the creeds, including the bodily resurrection of our Lord. That is, with some notable exceptions of clergy and others who publicly proclaim their doubts and uncertainties, we are an orthodox creedal church.
Imagine that the vote(s) at General Synod in May reveal - surprise, surprise - a divided church on human sexuality, and for arguments sake let's suppose it is a deadlocked synod re blessings of same sex relationships at 50:50.
Has our church suddenly become unorthodox because on this one matter of how we understand the gospel in relation to homosexuals we cannot subscribe to a traditional line on sexual morality?
In my perambulations around the intersphere, sharply so in a Twitter exchange last night, I have been reminded that many Anglicans deem holding to that traditional line a matter of "orthodoxy".
I want to suggest here that doing so is simply unfair, unjust and lacking compassion and appreciation for the concerns and care which lies behind proposals to bless same sex relationships.
Yes, I can name one or two Anglicans in our church who are wildly "liberal" on various doctrines and for whom the support of blessings is one more step along the way we go to embracing change, affirming the zeitgeist, etc.
But only one or two. In all my years of conversing about these matters the length and breadth of our church, the overwhelming experience I have had is of people concerned about their gay children, their lesbian sister, their best friend who has recently and bravely "come out." Concerned, that is, to be part of a church which shows in word and in deed, in "headline" message as well as in not so public messages, that our church is a church which is compassionate and caring AND ORTHODOX.
There is no conspiracy, deliberate or accidental to de-orthodoxify our church. All the believers in the bodily resurrection of our Lord who also propose that we bless same sex relationships will continue after May to believe in the bodily resurrection of our Lord.
I earnestly ask readers here to take care in what we think about the "other" in these matters.
This request works the other way: it is very unhelpful, and not particularly Christian when proponents of same sex blessings zoom to judgment on those who oppose such blessings, using terms such as homophobia and bigotry, and presume that opponents lack compassion and concern for the GLBT community. That, likewise, is unfair, unjust and lacking compassion and appreciation for the concerns and care which lies behind opposition to blessings.
Again, my conversations over the years have revealed colleagues who oppose blessings with close family members and lifelong friends who are gay and lesbian. Their compassion has not changed one whit because, after long and serious consideration of the matter (including, let us never forget, consideration of the salvific issues at stake), they (I) continue to hold that the church cannot claim that God blesses such relationships.
So, as debates intensify in the next few weeks (and, no doubt, thereafter) could we please:
- refrain from charging proponents of blessings as "unorthodox"
- refrain from charging opponents of blessings as "unloving".
Thank you. I know you will rise to the challenge!