Thursday, May 12, 2016

Justice delayed till 2018?

OK it seems pretty official now (11.43 am), pending absolute confirmation via a Taonga report, that the Way Forward report and recommendations will "lie on the table" until 2018. Various Tweets and Facebook posts from those at #gsthw16 are locking into a solid confirmation of this (non!) development. UPDATE at 12.23 pm: Taonga now confirms.

Already the social media recriminations are beginning and, naturally, conservatives are being rounded upon as guilty of holding the church to ransom, denying justice, unity placed ahead of justice, etc. Nelson, Wellington and Christchurch Dioceses are culprits, apparently!

Do I want to belong to a church which is driven by justice, by individuals determining what are sacramental actions and what are not? What price revelation, catholicity, unity? They seem very cheap today, or expensive, depending on your perspective!

Equally, and oppositely, I am already seeing "do I want to belong to a church which denies justice" comment. Some people are furious with what has now not happened. One person's post I have read has already committed to leaving our church.

We do need a way forward. Can we find it? It does sound like Pakeha are the ones who need to do most work on finding this way.

Update: (focusing on response around the world)

- Vigorous discussion at Episcopal Cafe already!

25 comments:

Sarah Behan said...

It is just a really, really hard situation. It's very distressing seeing the pain and anger from those who really fought for this motion to be put through. Real people with real desires are stuck where they are.

But I am also so relieved. Just relieved. I know I will be hated, and that is fine {well, not really, but I can't change that}. But I feel like in their desire to do what they believe is right for homosexuals {understandably} the absolute enormity of passing this motion could be missed. I'm relieved because how can we be absolutely sure, beyond a Sola Scripture view of the Bible, that we are right? How can we be sure?

I feel a sense of relief for our church that, for a little bit longer, there can be a grace period. I feel relief for my brothers who have endured much {and I know many of the tears spoken of in the articles were from them}. I feel relief for our witness to Jesus.

But, I am also genuinely sad. This great dark hole between the sides is one we can't seem to find enough pieces to make a bridge. We want to meet somehow in the middle, but we're missing too many pieces.

Anonymous said...

Wow....I find myself very much relieved, and surprised actually at how relieved I am and how much internal stress I was subconsciously carrying about this. Feels like the church has dodged a bullet in many ways and I am thankful to those who contended for the faith we signed up to in the face of what I imagine was a huge amount of pressure to buckle to culture. THAT is integrity.

It places us in step with the work of the Spirit in the Anglican church around the world too at this time for which I am also thankful.

It has been suggested at Synods before, but I think there is real merit in it, that it might not a bad thing for liberals to seek to establish their own church network where they can pursue and test their sense of discernment and call and see if God is in fact in it. If they are discerning correctly then their church will thrive and flourish with God's blessing. If it fades into obscurity then they will at least not have taken the rest of the Anglican church in these islands with them.

Thanks for the updates and thoughts Peter

Ben

Anonymous said...

Oh no! Not that I wish to trespass on your Church's internal matters, but the thought that this blog will now be sidetracked into discussing you know what (hereafter referred to in my comments as YNW) for another two years. All sides of YNW would agree, I'm sure, that there are more pressing issues for the Church than YNW. Can we dwell on those? How about this: we Catholics are praying for Christian unity this week. Isn't that odd when we won't let you share the host? Funny old world.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Thanks Sarah, Ben and Nick.

I shall try to be disciplined over the next two years. Only posting once a week ... that kind of thing.

Meantime, Nick, why is it that we cannot share the host? It is not because of baptism. It is not because of the unwilling spirit of the current Pope. ... :)

Rosemary Behan said...

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son!
Rudyard Kipling

Peter Carrell said...

The following comment comes from Ron. I have redacted one word which ill-befits our talk about one another in the life of this still united church:

""“We are aware of the considerable pain that this decision will cause to those most affected.
“But we are confident that our determination to work together across our differences will bring us to a place of dignity and justice for everyone.”
- ACANZP Archbishops -

Just another bout of 'Anglican Fudge' - where the Conservatives have won a respite in which to gather their [allies] for a full onslaught on our Church's fumbling attempt to respect those in the body of christ who happen to have been created with a God-given same-sex attraction and desire to be loved.

I guess most people on this blog got what they wanted - especially those from our diocese who (together with the diocese of Nelson) asked for a delay in carrying out the intentions of motion 30. A sad day for justice and our Church. I sometimes wonder why we bother to think that we are ordained to further the Good News of Jesus Christ to ALL people - including sinners like ourselves. Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison. Jesu, mercy; Mary, pray!
"

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I wouldn't say I got what I wanted from this decision.
I would have liked "a way forward" FOR ALL!
But the report was flawed and the recommendations unworkable, as I tried to point out here at ADU.
It is very difficult for a synod mid-flight to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

Father Ron Smith said...

"It has been suggested at Synods before, but I think there is real merit in it, that it might not a bad thing for liberals to seek to establish their own church network where they can pursue and test their sense of discernment and call and see if God is in fact in it.' - BEN -

Well, Ben, it may well be that the reactionary forces in just two of our ACANZP dioceses have scuttled what promised to be an exercise of 'love and charity towards our neighbours' professed in a well-known Anglican Collect.

Sadly, you seem to think that the majority is with you on this matter of bringing justice to gay people in the Church. However, it is amazing what a little concerted backroom planning can do amongst a small minority of conservative people who are fearful of the prospect of sharing their lives with the 'Unclean' can do to Church Officials.

I am disappointed that our Church, having come so far along the road of dispelling the sins of sexism and homophobia - as required by the Primates at their recent Canterbury hoe-down - is still held back in its proclamation of ther gospel to the poor and marginalised of society. God help usd all.

Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, with your kind permission, might I answer the poetry of Kipling with the religious poetry of one of our great English hymn-writers - Fr. Faber.
Here, I believe, is a response to all those who have problems with sinners:

There's a wideness in God's mercy like the wideness of the sea
There's a kindness in his justice which is more than liberty.

There is no place where earth's sorrows are more felt than up in heaven;
There is no place where earth's failings have such kindly judgement given.

For the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind;
And the heart of the eternal is most wonderfully kind.

But we make his love too narrow by false limits of our own;
And we magnify with strictness, with a zeal he will not own.

There is plentiful redemption in the blood that has been shed;
There is joy for ALL the members in the sorrows of the Head.

There is grace enough for thousands of new worlds as great as this;
There is room for fresh creations in that upper home of bless.

If our love were but more simple, we should take him at his word;
And our lives would be all gladness in the joy of Christ our Lord.

Hymn 461 The New English Hymnal

It seems to me that this is truly consonant with the Gospel of O.L.J.C.

God has gone up with a merry noise, alleluia.
He has gone up with the sound of the trumpet, alleluia!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I am prepared to publish your hymn above only on the basis of this qualification re your phrase, "problem with sinners:" we all have problems with sinners. I have never read a commenter here who does not have a problem with sinners! Mostly starting with the sinner each of us knows best ...

Sarah Behan said...

Ron's comments just reaffirm to me that both sides continue to misunderstand one another {whether purposefully or ignorantly I don't know}. Conservatives can get the idea that liberals are all about forgetting about Jesus and wanting to do whatever they want/follow culture. Liberals, on the other hand, think conservatives are self-righteous Pharisees who want to be cruel to people genuinely struggling. Sure, there must be a few who are like this on both side; but the majority does not rule in either case, I am sure.

Ron, I do have a problem with sinners and I don't. I have a problem with all sinners because we are sinners and screw every single gift God gives us up. I don't have a problem with sinners because we are all sinners and in the same boat. We all need Jesus, no matter what.

What I do have a problem with is the inability and/or choice to disregard Scripture because it doesn't speak to what seems to be 21st century issues {as if, homosexuality took God by surprise}. I have a problem with making exceptions in Scripture for one group of people but then holding fast to Scripture on other issues {ie. homosexual love is blessed but not fornication or incest or polygyamy}.

I also have a problem with the obvious hateful stance you have towards me and others of my theology.

Lastly, we are not afraid of "Unclean" people - gay, murderers, swindollers or whatever. But we are afraid of God, and it is His opinion of us that matters. That is what drives the very few conservatives in the face of opposition and dislike.

I think of those three men, in the face of King Nebuchadnezzar and his golden idol, who refused to bow down and worship it:

"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.” Daniel 3:16-18

And of the words of Gamaliel to the Sanhedren about Peter and the apostles:

"When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” Acts 5:33-39

If the conservatives are wrong, we will turn out to be nothing. But if we are right, we won't go away.

Anonymous said...

Peter, some of the baptised have not kept unity or communion with the successor of Peter. Rome only gives holy communion to those with whom it is in communion. There are exceptions in rare circumstances. Catholics who have not made their first communion (through sacramental preparation) are also ineligible.

Nick

Father Ron Smith said...

"I have a problem with making exceptions in Scripture for one group of people but then holding fast to Scripture on other issues {ie. homosexual love is blessed but not fornication or incest or polygamy}." - Sarah Behan -

Dear Srah, your insistence on equating homosexuality with 'fornication, incest and polygamy' would be hateful if it were not so ridiculous.

'Fornication' as biblically described - is something which most heterosexual couples indulge in BEFORE their marriage (Perhaps you need to talk to some clergy about this reality) Now, the very fact that monogamously related same-sex couples (even outside of the family of the Church) actually WANT to be 'married' should give the lie to this canard of yours. However, you seem not to want this sort of commitment from S/S Couples - which, however, is now perfectly legal in the world outside of the Church.

Incest is more likely to be committed by heterosexuals than by homosexuals.

Polygamy (resognised in some conservative Provinces of the anglican Communion0 was practised in Biblical times Surely you were aware of that?

And then, fo course, you may have forgotten the biblical injunction for women to keep quiet in Church, to wear hats in Church and to not eat shellfish. Or are those not rules that apply today? Let's get real, here.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick
I have experienced those rare exceptions!
An hospitable Abbot, a determined matriarch, oh, and a kindly priest.
But no names. Need to know basis.
I know Francis won't mind but I worry about the long arm of the Curia.

Sarah Behan said...

Ron,

Homosexuals are real people with real desires to be in a relationship, just like heterosexual people. I don't, and have never, not believed that. I have said before that if Scripture were clearer regarding people's feelings on a matter, rather than what God has said is morally right, then I would be all for S/S marriage. If our body make-up was physically different to accommodate inter-gender attraction, that would be obviously okay with the Lord above. But it isn't, and neither is Scripture clear, and so, because of my love for God and how He has revealed Himself to us in Scripture {how else would we know He existed without this source? - other than nature, of course} I cannot go forward. It has nothing to do with hating people or wanting to destroy their earthly chance for love and family. I want that for them.

Outside of the church, I'm happy in many ways for there to be S/S marriage - they don't profess to follow Christ. Being Christians makes us different. You know that. I know that. We're supposed to be different to the rest of the world, otherwise, why bother?

In terms of the other real issues you brought up, I have mentioned before my struggle with head-coverings etc. Currently, the reason I do not is because - ironically? humorously? - I am obeying my husband's desires. Yes! I obey him, I even committed I would in our marriage vows in front of over one hundred people {including many feminists and an All Black, though they aren't connected}! And I am quiet in church, it would be rude of me to yell out when Jay is preaching. Besides, I would rather hear what he has to say about the Bible. He is my church authority. So, before you accuse me of being inconsistent, I live - as much as I can - to what I confess to believe.

And shellfish? Is this moral? Hardly. If it were, I would live outside our house when I menstruate. #justsaying :)

Jean said...

Good Morning!

I think the outcome was the only sane one for the Anglican church in NZ at the present time. Clearly Motion 30 was not standing up under scrutiny and to pass an unstable motion would be unwise to introduce on an issue with the potential for so much division. No one likes to wait and even less so in today's world. I hope, however, as a church we are able to see this waiting time not merely as an opportunity for continuous debating but as a real opportunity to pray about the situation. This way is better I believe than ending up in a mess, for example like the Presbyterian church in Scotland whereby you can be a supported ordained member of clergy in a civil gay marriage but not a church based gay marriage - imagine ironing out those wrinkles! Prevention as they say is better than a cure, better to iron out the wrinkles before you wear the garment.

I have actually also thought of the passage you mentioned Sarah regarding, if this is not God's will then it will eventually pass away. In the long run this will be the case. And while we have differing views on the role of women I respect your efforts to live what you hold to be in-line with Scripture, yet to do so with grace towards others. I would urge you to consider context and interpretation in respect to Scripture as this helps in understanding when discerning differing viewpoints. For example Paul did say women should not teach men but when he said they should be quiet and learn this was, as I understand it although a person more scholarly than I may correct me, a phrase often used of those being taught to be teacher's. So was Paul then saying that woman who had previously under Jewish law been restricted in teaching should learn before they teach? Or was he saying they should not ever teach men?

An under 25 said to me recently - even one who attended the education courses on Motion 30 - he gets that this is a topic that needs deliberation and an eventual outcome he just doesn't get why they (they probably meaning anyone who is older or in leadership!) are spending so much time on it, out of porpotion to the other concerns for Christian's and the church in general. So I am glad Peter you will limit your posting to one per week (smile) and I pray we as a church may also keep perspective in what we focus on.

Blessings
Jean

Father Ron Smith said...

"Peter, some of the baptised have not kept unity or communion with the successor of Peter. Rome only gives holy communion to those with whom it is in communion. There are exceptions in rare circumstances. Catholics who have not made their first communion (through sacramental preparation) are also ineligible." - Nick -

Nick, you really need to get about more - especially in the larger arena of your own Roman Catholic Church.

The Roman Catholic Church cannot build a wall around the Sacraments of Christ. That must be obvious from the abundant life available in Sacraments of other Churches of both East and West. Unless of course, those sacraments are not of Christ, but only of the 'church' that attempts to prevent others from accessing them.

For the record, when I was in my Auckland parish, we were friendly with a local convent of R.C. Women, who invited me to the Celebration of the 50th Anniversary of one of their Life-Professed Sisters at their Mother house in the city. When I suggested I might take a low profile, the Sisters informed me that I was expected to sit with them and to receive Holy Communion from the Bishop who would be presiding at the Mass,

So you see, Ben, not all Roman Catholics are as guarded as you about the sacraments of your Church. Even Bishops may think differently from you! Praise be to God! The Sacraments belong to Christ, not solely to His Church

Father Ron Smith said...

" The conservatives were not being asked to participate in such blessings. They were not being asked, even, to personally approve of them. But nevertheless the mere fact of their recognised existence somewhere in our church was so offensive that they said they would have no choice but to leave.

The Maori and Polynesian parts of our church, despite their general theological conservatism, were convinced of the need to move ahead on this issue. They recognised that the call of Jesus to unity, which is strongly scriptural, trumps any call to split over matters of sexuality, and despite the misgivings of some of their number, unanimously and strongly they opted for approving the recommendations of the A Way Ahead report; that is, the sanctioning of blessings of same sex marriages. We Pakeha were deeply divided and we were told, ominously, that up to 4,000 people were on the brink of leaving. Their departure would have been difficult for all the church, but especially for a diocese as small as ours or as traumatised as Christchurch, so in the end we agreed to give it a couple more years, and have another shot at it in 2018." - Bishop Kelvin Wright - Dunedin -

I appreciate the honesty and integrity of Bishop Kelvin's comments on his blog - about the situation where our Church was threatened with schism. I fond it sad that this threat came from a minority in our Church who are unhappy about monogamous Same-Sex relationships - so much so that they had to scuttle the change for ACANZP to proclaim to New Zealanders and to the world outside, that we reject the sin of sexism and homophobia.

I very much doubt whether more 'in depth' conversations will make any difference at all to the implacability of the members of F.o.C.A.N.Z., whose membership has had a lot to do with this threat to our church, of schismatic breakaway if they do not get their own way on this issue. I'm only too sorry that bishops of such integrity as +Kelvin has had to sacrifice his own consicence on this matter, in the interests of a Unity based on the threat of disunity. May God forgive us all!

Anonymous said...

Fr Ron

I suggest that you read the context of my comment, though I accept that the context might have been inconvenient for the point you were keen to make. Peter asked me why we have closed communion. I gave him the official church reason. That is all. Your comment has no obvious connection with mine.

Nick

Anonymous said...

Father Ron,

I am tired of the way that you constantly refer to all who are theologically opposed to your stance on homosexuality as homophobic.
For me personally I have spent much thought and prayer and study on this issue. I have longed for God to say yes this is okay. Accept it, bless it, celebrate it. I would be far more comfortable standing in this position than in one that says homosexual relationships and behaviour are not okay. I am uncomfortable in this place.

Yet, I have been unable to find a way to a theological position of integrity that would allow me to support homosexual behaviour and relationships. I have read lots and lots from both sides of the spectrum and it seems to me that however one approaches scripture, as a faithful Christian we cannot entirely abandon it. All the theological arguments in favour of homosexuality seem to me to be either a) so contorted as to be hard to justify (and I don't think God makes things unnecessarily complicated for us), or b) to completely abandon scripture as anything other than a pick and choose book of quotations for appropriate moments.

I would very much like to understand more about a liberal stance on this issue - in a way that is not just about throwing around emotive words. What does it actually mean to submit ourselves to a life of discipleship? What is authoritative for us - how do we decide what God wants? Do we just get to decide that on the basis of what we feel or is there something greater than our own opinions that helps show us God's perspective? I would appreciate your thoughts.

I truly believe that we are all children of God and all sinners. No sin is beyond the grace of Jesus, yet this does not mean that there no longer is any sin. We are called both to love others unconditionally (and often we have failed in this), but we are also called to be disciples who enter through the narrow gate.

I hope that you can understand that there are many of us who fall on the conservative side of this issue, not because we don't care (we do deeply), not because we don't know people of differing sexualities (because we do), and most of all not because we think some people are better than others and some people are not okay. ALL people are loved by God and created in his identity.

I am not homophobic. What I am is trying, as best I can, to listen to God and to follow what I think he is saying.

Teri

Sarah Behan said...

Really well said, Teri. The majority of the conservatives are just like you, in thought and deed.

Father Ron Smith said...

"...we are also called to be disciples who enter through the narrow gate."
- Teri -

Your 'narrow gate', Teri, can be countered by a more merciful outlook, in the verse of a hymn (EH461) that I have already quoted on this web-site:

"For the love of God is broader than the measure of man's mind
And the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind"

I suggest you might read the full version of this hymn, written by a very rerspected Anglican theologian and hymn-writer, Fr. F.W.Faber (1814-1863)

My task, Teri, and an Anglican priest, is to give comfort and spiritual help to ALL people, sinners like you and me, who feel threatened by the legalistic mind of a Church that seems more bent on the Law of Condemnation that Christ's Law of Love. In Christ, the Law has been overtaken by Mercy - a Divine attribute that many conservative Christians seem to find difficult to comprehend.

This was explained quite fully by Saint Paul's 2nd Letter to the Corinthians (chapter 3: verses 4 -18) the 2nd Lesson for Evensong on Pentecost Sunday. See verses 6ff: "(God) is the one who has given us the qualifications to be the administrators of this New Covenant, which is not a covenant of written letters (the Law), but of the Spirit, The written letters bring death, but the Spirit gives life......."

Bryden Black said...

But Ron ... to continue with Paul’s two covenants theology, his two dispensations of 2 Cor.

The Law kills - and so does baptism into Jesus’ death, which thereafter we too are called upon to emulate/parallel - by putting to death in the power of the Spirit. So that the New Life that the Spirit brings and its commensurate freedom (Gal 5:1, after chs 3 & 4) may characterize the original intent of the Torah - to reflect the Holiness of God. Just so, this is what it means to walk in newness of life, to put on the new, and over all Love (Rom 6, Rom 8, Col 2 & 3).

We may not dissect out bits of Paul we like and disregard the rest ...

Anonymous said...

Hi Father Ron,

Thanks for replying to my comment. I do feel a little frustrated that you bypassed the genuine questions I have and so I have included them again below. These are a genuine attempt to understand more about your perspective, so I would appreciate your thoughts.

> What does it actually mean to submit ourselves to a life of discipleship? What is authoritative for us - how do we decide what God wants? Do we just get to decide that on the basis of what we feel or is there something greater than our own opinions that helps show us God's perspective?

P.S. I would also just like to note that the 'narrow gate' is not mine but Jesus' (Matthew 7:13).

Teri

Father Ron Smith said...

In reply to your question, Teri - and I do appreciate your quandary - in the light of the fact that conservative Christians often point to the moral difficulties of following Christ, rather than the joy at finding Jesu, Friend of Sinners, much more loving than the pharisaic application of the rigours of 'Church Discipline'. In his own day, Jesus was often wont to criticise the putative righteousness' of the Scribes and Pharisees. We only need to read the 23rd chapter of Saint Matthew's Gospel to realise this, that Jesus loved sinners into the kingdom, rather than threatening them with Hell-fire.

What seems not to have been quite grasped by the earnest proponents of God's instruction to early human beings to "Go forth and multiply', is that the earth then needed a population, in order to produce its own fruitfulness.

Jesus, however, in his discourse of what faithful marriage is about (Matt.19 3-12); brought in another dimension of fruitfulness - that of the extension of God's Kingdom. This would be brought about, not only by multiplication of the human species (through heterosexual marriage), but by the proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ in the Gospel: through those 'eunuchs' disposed not to marry; 'For the sake of the Kingdom'.

What I find very interesting is the fact that, not so many of those most earnestly conservative Christians who claim the priority of Christ's Kingdom in their own lives are prepared to remain unmarried (as 'eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom'). Most married hetero-sexual clergy in this situation want to enjoy the full benefits of a married relationship - together with the privilege of Christian ministry. St. Paul would have preferred all disciples to remain unmarried, but he realised the fundamental grace of sexual relationships, saying "It is better to marry than burn".

Our Roman Catholic friends are the most faithful to this paradigm, in their insistence on unmarried clergy, although not many protestants would be prepared to go that far - not even the conservative ones!

Perhaps this is why heterosexual married clergy are seen to be hypocritical when they criticise gay clergy who would like the joys of marriage. They expect 'them' to be celibate while themselves having the joys of marriage.

Perhaps, in the light off the current discussions, I could suggest one of 'The Narrowest Gates' might apply to those who choose to become eunuchs 'For the Sake of The Kingdom'. Probably not, but it make yer think, dunnit?