Saturday, January 28, 2012

Archbishop of York not listening to the Holy Spirit

The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu is being reported as telling the British government not to change the definition of marriage as being between a man and a woman. Unfortunately, according to at least one regular commenter here at ADU, this means the Archbishop of York is not listening to the Holy Spirit who is currently guiding the church into new truth on marriage. It being a grave offence for senior church officials not to heed the direct guidance of God, I look forward to reports that the ABY has been disciplined if not ejected from office. Alternatively there could be reports that various liberal/progressive Anglicans around the Communion are revising their estimation of the Holy Spirit's intention to undermine Scripture ...

While on the topic of Anglicans listening to the Holy Spirit, we should all be very clear that great cost may come to those who faithfully listen to God and obey God's directions. This is precisely the place to which TEC, a leading listener to the living voice of God through the Holy Spirit, has come. Curmudgeon pulls together a number of reports which show that TEC's Executive Council is facing the dilemma whether to propose to the forthcoming General Convention that TEC should cut its budget by 5.9 million or 19.3 million dollars for the period 2013-2015. The courage of TEC in facing the consequences of its faithfulness to God's leading, extra courageous because it is against the grain of Scripture, is heartrending.

POSTSCRIPT: Many Western denominations are having their troubles with finances, attendances numbers. There is nothing special about TEC facing economic constraints relative to what many other denominations are confronting. What is special is that TEC has made a particular point in the past few decades of trumpeting its inclusiveness in response to its perceptions of the leading of the Spirit. Ordaining Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool have been the actions of a church choosing one particular way to observe the dictum of John Spong that Christianity must change or die. Choosing Katherine Jefferts Schori to be its current Presiding Bishop (remember there were others to choose from, all of whom (from memory) were more experienced pastors and bishops than her) was a choice precisely to have an eloquent and fearless exponent of the new TEC way, and she has not let her voters down. What may be unfolding in the deliberations of the Executive Council (check in here, here and here) is the reality check when one realises that having undertaken a major change of direction, no is paying attention, no turn around has occurred. Titus One Nine underlines the reality check that may be occurring with this post. Again, the internal business of TEC should not be nosied around here Down Under, it is their busines etc. Except in this respect: we here have among our number those who would have us advance down the TECian way. Why would we want to do that?

UPDATE: Well, I am glad they (Bonnie and ++Katharine) got that sorted out and the Executive have sorted themselves out re the draft budget. But I am going to keep a watch out for what Mark Harris has to say. He will give us the low down.


Father Ron Smith said...

Peter, it is very likely that there will be a form of Civil Marriage for same-sex couples in the U.K. - despite the Archbishop of York's plea to reserve marriage for heterosexuals. An openness to Same-Sex Marriage seemingly is what the British public wants - and, being a democratic state, it will in all liklihood happen.

In Abp. Sentamu's haste to limit legal marriage to heterosexual couples, he is probably going to alienate even more couples from any thought of a Church Wedding.
What coulkd follow is that the government might consider making a Civil Marriage obligatory - like several other European countries - so that a couple would have to go through two separate ceremonies if they wanted a Church Blessing.

This would be the only way to ensure that Church Weddings were for heterosexual couples, but only those really choosing the option.

This would allow same-sex couples to be legally married in a Civil Ceremony, without the Church being 'Forced' to offer a Blessing

The Church would then have no legal right to embargo Same-Sex Weddings in the civil arena.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,
Your understanding of the possibilities of changes in the laws of England is interesting but the point of the post is whether or not the Archbishop of York is walking in step with the Holy Spirit or not. What do you think? Is he in step or not? If he is not, should he be dismissed?

Suem said...

I agree that the issue for the British Government is not whether the Archbishop is listening to the Holy Spirit or not, but whether he should be allowed to tell the Government that they cannot introduced equality for homosexual and heterosexual partners in secular society because of his personal perceptions of what the Holy Spirit is saying. The workings or otherwise of the Holy Spirit is not a concept that has any standing in British law.

In the Church it is an entirely different matter. The issue of where the Holy Spirit is leading us in these matters is, as you know, hotly debated within the Church and there is a range of opinion and conscience. So, perhaps Sentamu and Anglican bloggers should confine themselves to considering where the Holy spirit is leading us both in this issue and also in other areas - such as how we can still live with and respect each other graciously when we disagree. I believe we have had that debate many times?

Suem said...

To answer your last question, Peter. I believe that he is out of step with the Holy Spirit in this respect. Should he be dismissed? Of course not, what a preposterous suggestion! There exists a range of views on this subject, and we don't cull people from the Church on that basis! We do not, I hope, dismiss people from the Church when they, in honest truth, follow their consciences and judge as seems right to them?
Nobody has a "hot line" to the Holy Spirit, and her workings are often very gradual and gentle, transforming our understanding and love for God, ourselves and others as and when we are ready.

Pageantmaster said...

Fr Ron Smith hangs around an English Episcopalian blog so may have a distorted view of what the English want [as opposed to what some politicians want]. While some of us see some argument for the merit of civil partnerships [myself included for the legal support they provide over inheritance issues] that is different to the issue of religious and civil 'marriage'.

Do we view the traditional relationship of marriage as having a distinctive and positive role for the family, or are we prepared to extend its definition to include a number of other relationships? Is there any merit in the traditional view of marriage that relationships have lost in the modern free-for-all of loose and innovative relationships? Do we have the right to say that God blesses other sorts of relationships? Well it depends on whether you think the leading of the Holy Spirit may trump Scripture, or the Word of God.

The question is, it may be the case that people are listening to a spirit's leading, but how do we know that it is the leading of the Holy Spirit? Over quite a period, certain characteristics of the Holy Spirit have emerged: it builds up rather than creates division; it does not contradict itself, or the Word of God, and it is recognised by its fruit, from the barren harvest of other spirits.

So when assessing anyone's claim to have a leading or new 'revelation' of the Holy Spirit, it is wise to test that in relation to its fruits, and in relation to its consistency with Scripture.

TEC has in following the leading of the 'spirit' ditched its regard for Scripture, regarding it as provisional, or open to new revelation, a view not supported by the Bible. In terms of the fruits of this 'spirit' TEC is riven by division, engaged in a frenzy of feeding upon itself [witness the attack on South Carolina] and its attendance figures and its finances are diving through the floor at an accelerating rate.

They are certainly following some spirit or other, but there is little evidence that it is the Holy Spirit that we can see.

Shall we in the Church of England, just about holding our own in attendence and finances follow TEC down the pan? I think we would need rather more convincing than what we see happening over the pond with our troublesome cousins in the US and indeed not forgetting Canada.

Father Ron Smith said...

One question here for Pageant-master, from his lengthy dissertation on the 'leading of the Holy Spirit' : If all of Scripture has been led by the Holy Spirit; why has the Church had the temerity to review the Scriptures' teaching on the treatment of slaves,women, the 'children of Ham' and the practice of usury?

Can God change His/Her mind? Read the story of Ninevah!

I heartily agree with Suem, in her understanding of the reality that we human beings (even Archbishops) can sometimes mistake the out-workings of our own prejudice for the 'working of the Holy Spirit'

(e.g: the Bishop of Rome on Anglican Orders and the Ordination of women). Or is it only Rome that makes mistakes?

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church has provided a narrative justification for "full, unfettered gay and lesbian rights" in which she places embracing those rights on the same moral trajectory as the abolition of slavery, woman's suffrage, the Civil Rights movement and desegregation. It follows that failure to embrace "full, unfettered gay and lesbian rights" is morally analogous to opposing the abolition of slavery, the right of women and African Americans to vote, and the abolition of racial segregation. Which is evil. And the Church cannot and should not tolerate evil.

So if one accepts the moral logic of TEC's Presiding Bishop, then yes, the Archbishop of York should be dismissed because he's endorsing evil.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Commenters,
My not-so-hidden provocation here is that we double up our work on epistemology: if the Holy Spirit is leading in a different direction to what the ABY is proclaiming, how do we know that?

If we do not KNOW that the Holy Spirit is leading against the grain of Scripture, to say nothing of against the teaching of the ABY, then could we use suitably hesitant language.

If we do KNOW that the Holy Spirit is leading etc, then (a) could we please explain how we know this, and (b) follow through consistently with seeking the dismissal of the ABY. Bryan Owen rightly points out that if the Holy Spirit is leading here as in the same way as with slavery etc, then the ABY is supporting the evil of not permitting the definition of marriage to be changed.

After all, if the ABY said that the Holy Spirit was leading the C of E to resubmit to the authority of Rome (something all Romans would agree was the leading of the Holy Spirit) then we would want him to be dismissed.

In short: conservatives here would like to see some consistency between logic and action on the part of liberal/progressives who believe that the definition of marriage should be changed to include two men or two women.

carl jacobs said...

Father Ron Smith

Can God change His/Her mind? Read the story of Ninevah!


Totally. Utterly. Amazing. But unfortunately it is neither shocking nor unbelievable.

FRS, have you never heard of the exegetical concept called 'anthropomorphism?'

God is neither a he nor a she. God is Spirit. God however refers to Himself as 'Father.' Exclusively. All the personal pronouns are masculine. Why is this? God created the role of father so that He could reveal something of Himself. He gave authority to the role of father so that we could understand something of His authority. God didn't look around creation and say "I think I'll call myself father. That would work." To call God 'she' is to defeat this entire typology. And, yes, I know very well that this spits in the face of egalitarianism.

To say that God 'changes His mind' is to say that God Himself is a liar since He flat-out declares the He doesn't change. If God could change then He would be subject to His creation through His interactions with it. He would be bound in time for time is a necessary precondition of change. He would be neither perfect nor omniscient since change precludes both. All of these things are contrary to God's self-revelation.

Unfortunately, humans are limited creatures bound in time. We cannot comprehend existence outside of our limitations. We cannot understand the timeless decree that God works out in creation and by which He ordains both the means and the ends. So God in His revelation to us speaks to us according to our limitations. He 'lisps' as Calvin says. When God says He has a hand, we aren't supposed to think that God has an actual hand. We naturally assume an anthropomorism. The same rule applies when dealing with God's behavior with man. We aren't supposed to apply the limitations of man to God simply because of the use of an anthropomorphism. Man is the analog of God and not the reverse.

If you want to know God's nature, you go to those parts of Scripture where God specifically intends to reveal His nature. You don't infer it from anthropomorphic descriptions of God's interactions with man. And you certainly don't do it to set one part of Scripture against another for the sole purpose of justifying what Scripture condemns.


carl jacobs said...

Peter Carrell

if the Holy Spirit is leading in a different direction to what the ABY is proclaiming, how do we know that?

I have asked that exact question of FRS perhaps six times by now. He doesn't answer. The reason he doesn't answer is because the true basis of his knowledge is introspection. He has looked within himself and found enlightenment. He recognizes enlightenment in kindred souls who think as he does. He is ultimately his own authority.

All this talk of 'being lead by the spirit' is a euphemism for 'being lead by the enlightened.' It's a way to apply a patina of divine authority to that which finds its origin firmly in the will and desires of man. In point of fact, the Spirit never leads contrary to Scripture for God is not the author of confusion. It is Scripture against which we are to test all things, and not the imaginations of the mind of man.


Father Ron Smith said...

From his above comments, Carl Jacobs is keen to dismiss any idea of God being described as 'She'. Granted that God is Creator and therefore logically immune to precise anthropomorphic description, one has to remember that, person-wise, we human beings do have the need to be able to understand something of God in anthropomorphic terms. This is why Christans are able accept the description given to us, by the human Jesus, of God as *Father*.

However, Carl may remember that an acclaimed, important woman mystic, Blessed Julian of Norwich - in order to try, more understandably and more fully, to describe God's affinity with us - as more than merely a masculine characteristic; attributes to God some of the more nurturing, feminine, aspects of human love - by using the title of Father/Mother God. This helps us to a fuller human understanding of God as capable of more than a merely patriarchal persona.

Here we must remember that humans - not only the male of our species but also the female - are created *in the divine Image and likeness*

Jesus, in the human frame, did not only represent the human male, but the fullness of our wholly common humanity - otherwise, women may not have been redeemed.

Patrirchalists, like Carl, would like to think of God as only being represented by the male of our species, but a few moments logical thought would allow that females, too, represent the same 'Image and Likeness of God' as males.

I am now used to Carl's abuse of the privilege granted to him on this blog which he sees as an antitlement to accuse me of having my own private hot-line to God - not realising that his own blank statements reveal that he thinks he is privy to a superior one.

Each of us who claims to be a baptized Christian ought to have the Holy Spirit living within her or him - allowing some insight into the mind of God for our own faith journey. Otherwise, where does all this urge to theologise come from?

A little common sense is often more useful than a lot of esoteric theological speculation. This is a charism exhibited by Mother Julian, and for which she is celebrated by the Church.

Suem said...

"If we do KNOW that the Holy Spirit is leading etc, then (a) could we please explain how we know this, and (b) follow through consistently with seeking the dismissal of the ABY. "

Tut, Peter, this is truly unworthy of you in its bitterness and pettiness.

As I have said already, none of us has a hot line to the Holy Spirit, or a hot line to God. Therefore when it comes to these issues that divide many of us - and those which have divided us through time (slavery, civil rights movement, emancipation of women, abortion, women in ministry, sexuality, divorce and remarriage) we must use our reason, our compassion, our understanding of scripture and tradition, our knowledge, our conscience - and the Holy Spirit works through all of these to guide and enlighten us.

I think that when we in touch with the Spirit then we see her workings in our behaviour (and words to each other.) So love, joy, peace, faithfulness, goodness, patience, kindness, gentleness, self control will be seen there. Has it ever occured to you that God might not greet us with a "tick list" and check out how far our opinions were right , but that he might be more interested in how we treated others - with love and gentleness and integrity irrespective of our views.
Have you ever thought that God does not necessarily want clones but rather people who think and have had to judge and - sometimes- have got things wrong but have truly tried to get them right. Have you ever thought that we may have been put in this world, full of moral complexity and dilemmas, not just to pass a "tick test" of our opinions but to truly grow as people and to grapple with difficult ideas and to learn from each other? Have you thought that process might be more important than product, here?

I am sorry to rant somewhat, but this arid approach - and also the bitterness and hostility that informs it truly saddens me.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Suem,
I am truly sorry that my response above came across as bitter and petty. I was genuinely seeking some epistemological substance and logical consistency but I accept that it came across in a different way.

I would distinguish between two states in the church: (1) in our fellowship together we pray, discuss, study, reflect upon issues of the day whether ethical re our life together in community or theological re our understanding of God and the gospel, all in an ongoing conversation in which viewpoints are held in tension, people are held in respect, and we understand that God is more interested in the quality of our relationships than in ticking boxes on an ethical or doctrinal survey. What you say in your most recent comment is not a rant but a helpful reminder of the way things should be in this state (1). In state (1), it seems to me, we converse well when we remain hesitant in our epistemology, genuinely open to all points of view.

(2) the state in which discussion gives way to decision and/or respectful conversation gives way to judgment: in this state the church might (say) determine a new definition of marriage, or (say) reaffirm traditional teaching on a matter, or contain a party within it which feels emboldened to declare with certainty that (say) another party within the church are bigoted/unAnglican/revisionist/take your pick of current judgmentalist epithet.

In state (2) I think it a fair thing to ask upon what grounds the church might come to a determination or a party within it might pronounce judgement on another party (hence my emphasis on the word 'know' based on my dissatisfaction on grounds currently being given by those pressing for the church to move from discussion to decision).

For the record I have not found you to be a person liable to pronounce epithets on those who disagree with you.

Suem said...

Thanks, Peter, fair enough. I am kind of careful not to use harsh language about others, although when we someone does express genuine evil or violence, prejudice against other, we must speak out. This cannot be said for John Sentamu. Much as I disagree with him and question whether he should tell the state what to do (although there is a case to say that he should if he feels he must speak out) he is not generally immoderate or unmeasured. Indeed, he gave a recent radio interview in which he said we must not demonise same sex partnerships and that those bringing up children in such unions should be supported. He said that unions other than marriage can offer excellent outcomes for children and we should recognise that. I am afraid he was criticised by right wing Christian groups for these statements. I don't agree with either liberal or conservative voices which pillory others just for holding a contrary opinion to themselves.

marionettesyndrome said...

Father Ron Smith

I have abused nothing on this weblog. I have accurately represented your position. I never accused you of having a 'hotline to God.' I stated that you establish your opinions on your own authority. I stated that you have self-identified yourself as enlightened. Over and over and over again you make pronouncements on things spiritual and moral. Over and over and over again I ask you the authority by which you make those pronouncements. And you refuse to answer. It is easy enough to prove me the fool, FRS. All you have to do is state the authority. In the meantime I shall re-read Suem's description of how we come to conclusions on matters:

[W]e must use our reason, our compassion, our understanding of scripture and tradition, our knowledge, our conscience - and the Holy Spirit works through all of these to guide and enlighten us.

And I ask myself. How do I know when I have been guided? How do I know when I have been enlightened? What standard do I use? What authority allows me to make the determination?

But that is where this thread started. Fourteen posts and counting. Still no answer.


Fr. Bryan Owen said...

I think, Peter, that you have touched on a very important point in this posting. It goes to the question of what will "progressives" in Provinces of the Anglican Communion that officially adopt (via approved liturgies, etc.) "full, unfettered gay and lesbian rights" do with folks who insist on limiting the definition of marriage to the traditional understanding of one man and one woman.

As I've noted in my previous comment, my Presiding Bishop is quite clear that accepting "full, unfettered gay and lesbian rights" is a non-negotiable part of a moral trajectory that includes full, unfettered rights for African Americans and for women. Just as opposing the rights of African Americans and women is morally vicious, so, too, opposing the rights of gays and lesbians is morally vicious. And that includes the right of gays and lesbians to have their unions blessed by the Church.

So how in the world can a Christian Church that embraces such rights ever accommodate persons - no matter the office they hold - who reject those rights? Would we ever be willing to make room for persons in positions of ordained leadership to openly say that African Americans should be second-class citizens and that racial segregation should be the norm? Or that women shouldn't be entitled to vote? Of course not! So if accepting "full, unfettered gay and lesbian rights" is morally equivalent to rejecting slavery, segregation, and inequality for women, then the moral logic of the "progressive" position requires disciplining and/or dismissing someone like the Archbishop of York as a moral imperative.

Father Ron Smith said...

In part response to Bryan Owen's last comment, where he asks how opponents of the LGBT community can 'live with' those who embrace them; my answer would be that they haven't. Most of them have moved themselves out of the Communion, seemingly unable to 'live with' their fellow Christians who happen to be gay.

Perhaps a more eirenic way of dealing with our opponents would be to live with the contradictions that Unity in Diversity requires.

Each side, has to learn to 'live with' the complexities of our common human condition. Is that too much to ask?

Suem said...

Has the Presiding Bishop actually said that opposing the rights of LGBT people to have their unions blessed by the Church is "morally vicious"? Are those her actual words, Bryan Owen?
As to rejecting slavery, segregation, and inequality for women - well, the last of those, namely inequality for women is still alive and kicking in the Church (it would be untenable for us to have a female Archbishop of Canterbury.) If you read this link
then apparently the ABC and John Sentamu are planning to protect those who openly oppose equality for women in the Church. So, by your definition above, most of the hierarchy of the C of E should be dismissed!

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Hi Fr. Ron. I think you are missing my point. I'm not talking about the conservatives who've left churches like The Episcopal Church. I'm talking about conservatives and moderates who remain in The Episcopal Church who are not willing to embrace the "new revelation" that is driving the push for "full, unfettered gay and lesbian rights" by blessing same-sex unions. If my PB is correct that such rights are on the same moral plane as the rights of women, African Americans, etc., then it would be morally wrong to "'live with' the complexities" of persons who reject such rights by allowing them to be in positions of moral and religious leadership.

Anonymous said...

Your logic, as always, is unassailable, Peter.

I even hear of people who seek to change the definition of marriage as being for life, and allow marriage after divorce. Unfortunately, according to at least one regular commenter here at ADU, this means some people are not listening to the Holy Spirit who is currently guiding the church into new truth on marriage. It being a grave offence for church officials not to heed the direct guidance of God, I look forward to reports that these have been disciplined if not ejected from office. Alternatively there could be reports that various liberal/progressive Anglicans around the Communion are revising their estimation of the Holy Spirit's intention to undermine Scripture ...

I also hear, I know you may not believe it, of people who seek to change the definition of ordination and preaching as being for males, and allow women to preach to mixed-gender groups, including congregations! Unfortunately, according to at least one regular commenter here at ADU, this means some people are not listening to the Holy Spirit who is currently guiding the church into new truth on ordination. It being a grave offence for church officials not to heed the direct guidance of God, I look forward to reports that these have been disciplined if not ejected from office. Alternatively there could be reports that various liberal/progressive Anglicans around the Communion are revising their estimation of the Holy Spirit's intention to undermine Scripture ...


Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Hi Suem. My PB is too politically astute to actually say what the moral logic she's laid out requires if "progressives" are serious about what they purportedly believe (after all, that has potential for looking really bad!). I'm simply pointing what that moral logic, in fact, requires. So yes, if "progressives" get the upper hand throughout the Anglican Communion, and they are confronted with people who are throwing up road blocks to the ordination of women, the blessing of same-sex unions, etc., then the moral logic they espouse requires them to discipline and/or dismiss such persons from positions of leadership. Failure to do so suggests that they don't really believe what they say they believe!

Peter Carrell said...

You are indeed correct, Alison, that my logic is unassailable ... so long as it is the logic of the Holy Spirit.

Father Ron Smith said...

Pewter, re your last argument - in response to Alison's attribution - your reply is hardly 'chicken or egg' is it? All we can assume is that you are admitting that, sometimes - like the rest of us - your arguments can be 'wrong'.

Join the club!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron,

I would go further, Ron: I am often wrong.

Suem said...

If she didn't say such things were "morally vicious" Bryan Owen and should lead to dismissal, then the fact you wish to jump to this conclusion and ascribe these opinions to her by proxy, is neither here nor there.

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Suem, I'm not "jumping" to anything, nor am I ascribing opinions by proxy. I'm simply making the conclusion that follows as a matter of course in the moral logic espoused by the PB and others in the "progressive" camp.

If one accepts that slavery is morally vicious, and if one accepts that denying the civil rights of African Americans and women is morally vicious, and if, by extension, one says that embracing "full, unfettered gay and lesbian rights" (including the right to marriage and having one's union blest) is on the same moral trajectory of progress as rejecting slavery and segregation, and giving women the right to vote, then it necessarily follows that opposing "full, unfettered gay and lesbian rights" is just as morally vicious as supporting slavery and segregation and denying women the right to vote. It follows that allowing someone who opposes LGBT rights to exercise a position of moral/religious leadership in the Church without disciplining and/or dismissing them would be wrong. That's not jumping to a conclusion. That's coasting smoothly to the only conclusion that can possibly and consistently follow as a matter of logic.

Suem said...

No, because context is everything. Queen Victoria opposed the right of women to vote, for example, didn't mean that she was morally vicious! You have to look at the historical and social context. If our present Queen were to oppose votes for women there would be an outcry- not sure she would be seen as "morally vicious" but she would be considered very strange and it would be deemed "unacceptable". You need to look at the context, at people's words (are they vicious) and their actions (are they vicious.) John Sentamu is rather moderate and often very gentle in his words - although I think him misguided here. Certain organisations such as Anglican Mainstream are morally vicious, that accusation could not, in all justice, be levelled at him. He is misguided (only my opinion) but he is not, by any logical conclusion, vicious.

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Suem, perhaps the problem is less one of context and more one of terminology. I've been using the classical distinction between vice and virtue (morally vicious as opposed to morally virtuous). It may sound kinder and gentler to say "morally wrong" as opposed to "morally right."

If the Queen were to oppose votes for women, even if her character were otherwise virtuous, her position would be morally wrong.

If the Queen were to support slavery, however, I think we would rightly characterize such a position as not only morally wrong but also as morally vicious (given the horrors entailed by slavery).

At the very least, the "progressive" moral logic requires making the judgment that persons who oppose "full, unfettered gay and lesbian rights" are morally wrong. But if such opposition is on the same moral plane as supporting slavery (which the narrative trajectory noted by the PB and other "progressives" claims), then that's frankly too kind of a judgment, regardless of how moderate and rather gentle someone's words and personality may be. The "progressive" moral logic requires a stronger condemnation: that opposing "full, unfettered gay and lesbian rights" is a vicious position. Indeed, given the narrative trajectory of "progress" cited by the PB, the moral logic entails the view that such opposition is degrading to the personhood of LGBT persons in a way analogous to slavery.

It may well be the case that many "progressives" will not draw that conclusion. My point is that if they don't draw that conclusion, then they have failed to be consistent with what their own moral logic dictates.

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

One more comment and then anyone else who wishes to may have the last words.

The "progressives" simply cannot have their cake and eat it, too. If they don't draw the only conclusion that follows from the moral logic the narrative of progress from the abolition of slavery to "full, unfettered rights for lesbians and gays" entails, then their inconsistency suggests a depth of incoherence to their position matters such as the blessing of same-sex unions than perhaps even the more vocal conservative critics have discerned.

Back in the Fall of 2010, when the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of The Episcopal Church met with representatives of Province I for hearings about people's experiences with same-gender blessings, Bishop Stephen Lane of the Diocese of Maine said this:

"I think it is heretical and immoral to have different standards for different groups of baptized people," he said, adding that he fears the church will "lose its nerve" and settle for something that is "separate but equal."

Now there's a man who understands the moral logic of the "progressive" agenda! Note the language of "separate but equal." In my context, that speaks to racial segregation, and the way Bishop Lane used it equates opposition to the "progressive" agenda with being on the wrong side of the Civil Rights Movement (which makes this a very serious accusation to level). Note also the language of heresy and immorality - heresy being a dangerous deviation from God's truth, and immorality being ... well, immoral! (At times even vicious?) So anyone who opposes the "full, unfettered rights for lesbians and gays" is advocating for equivalent of segregation, is immoral, and is a heretic. Those are strong words of judgment and condemnation. But Bishop Lane understood that his position requires nothing less than for him to draw such a conclusion.

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

My apologies, Peter. I think I forgot to include the link to the Episcopal News Service story that quotes Bishop Lane:

"Liturgy and Music commission hears call for openness, equality for same-gender couples"

Father Ron Smith said...

Bryan, looking at one of your comments above - about what is and is not 'morally vicious': Do you think that the Church in Uganda is 'morally vicious' is supporting the State's persecution of Gays?

Similarly, would you say that TEC's advocacy for the LGBT community is 'morally vicious'? And how, in your opinion, do these two compare in 'moral viciousness'?

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Hi Fr. Ron. I had intended to leave the rest of the comments to others since I've probably had more than my fair share of say, but since you've asked questions directly to me, I will respond.

Do you think that the Church in Uganda is 'morally vicious' in supporting the State's persecution of Gays?

Yes, absolutely!!! I think that singling out persons for persecution, imprisonment, torture, even murder, is about as morally vicious as it gets! Rejecting such actions, of course, doesn't mean embracing the "progressive" agenda in sexual ethics and sacramental theology.

Similarly, would you say that TEC's advocacy for the LGBT community is 'morally vicious'?

I have to give this a more nuanced response. General Convention has not yet approved rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, so we have not reached a point in our common life in which those who refuse to do so as a matter of principle can be officially or even canonically disciplined and/or dismissed (many fear that day will eventually come, however). But insofar as the support of some "progressives" for these rights has meant that persons otherwise qualified have been denied entrance into the process leading to ordination and/or written off as candidates for jobs because they do not support same-sex blessings, then I would characterize that as morally wrong, and in some cases it could well be vicious, too.

And how, in your opinion, do these two compare in 'moral viciousness'?

Well, the United States of America is not Uganda, and the Episcopal Church is not the Church in Uganda. In that respect, Suem's point about context is important and accurate. But there are other ways of dealing with one's opponents than what the Ugandan legislation would allow for. Those ways are, no doubt, kinder and gentler. But I doubt that those on the receiving end will say, "Well, at least I didn't get thrown in prison and tortured for my beliefs. I just got shut out of seminary, blackballed from serving on diocesan committees, passed over for jobs that I'm qualified for, and had others in positions of authority generally make my life miserable. No big deal, right?"

Suem said...

From Bryan Owen's post
"Do you think that the Church in Uganda is 'morally vicious' in supporting the State's persecution of Gays?

Yes, absolutely!!! .

Similarly, would you say that TEC's advocacy for the LGBT community is 'morally vicious'?

I have to give this a more nuanced response"

And when asked if I think Sentamu's opposition to gay marriage is morally vicious, then I also say that I have to give this a more nuanced response.

Simple really, isn't it?

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Suem, the nuance to which I refer is different from the one that you refer to. I'm pointing to a difference in methodology between anti-gay Ugandans and anti-traditionalist Episcopalians. You are pointing to the ABY's opposition to gay marriage and the response you would give to that opposition. From what I can tell, your response is to disagree with him but to do so in a manner that doesn't make strong judgments about the vice or virtue of his position or character.

If I've understood you correctly, I find that commendable. But that is also a deviation from what the "progressive" moral logic employed by others who support "full, unfettered gay and lesbian rights" requires.

The "progressive" moral logic I've been citing maintains that insofar as opposing gay marriage is analogous to affirming slavery, such opposition is not merely morally wrong; for if such opposition is, indeed, akin to supporting slavery, it is necessarily morally vicious also.

Simple really, isn't it?

Father Ron Smith said...

I'm glad to see, Bryan, that you seem to agree with me on the 'moral viciousness' on the part of the Anglican Church of Uganda's suppport of their government's persecution of Gays.

I do also, on the other hand, see your point in questioning - from your point of view - TEC's desire not to enshrine homophobia in the Church by encouraging the admission of anti-Gay candidates for ordination. However, that is not persecution, but it is admittedly, 'discrimination' - that I would consider 'positive', and you, presumably, 'negative'. Fair enough. But at least not 'Morally vicious' - and therefore open to nuanced response.

Thank you for being reasonable.

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Thank you, Fr. Ron.

Perhaps I've misunderstood, but how exactly is the belief that marriage is between one man and one woman homophobic and anti-gay? And how exactly is a refusal to preside over a same-sex blessing homophobic and anti-gay? (I note, BTW, that some clergy are unwilling to preside over same-sex blessings - not because they think such blessings are intrinsically wrong - but because they believe that doing so would further fracture an already deeply divided Communion.)

Perhaps it would be helpful to clarify the definitions of "homophobic" and "anti-gay." Are they the same thing? Do they differ?

Father Ron Smith said...

I suppose, Bryan, in answer to your last question, that the quaslifying noun 'phobia' attached to any other word might indicate a charcateristic of both fear and opposition - such as xeno-phobia, which measn fear of and opposition to, foreigners.

In the context of homophobia, I think homophobes may have what I would consider to be, not only a cultural opposition to homsexuality, but also a fear of their own insecurity on this issue. Fear often arises from a problem with the unknown.

If you have a near relative who is intrinsically homosexual (or LBT), you learn to live with the reality of that - rather than judging them for what they experience as their natural God-given sexuality. You simply couldn't talk them out of it if you wanted to - or if your, or their, life depended on it. That is my experience.

Once one recognises the reality, there is no need for opposition to, or fear of, the copndition.

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Thanks again, Fr. Ron. Although I'm still not clear from your response as to the exact meanings of "homophobic" and "anti-gay," much less how they are similar and different.

Speaking of the term "homophobic," I've come across a blog posting that may be of interest entitled "Why the Term 'Homophobic' is Bogus." The author may be on the wrong track, but it's an interesting posting nonetheless.

But to get back your comments.

Fr. Ron, what would you say about a pastor who has a friend, parishioner, or near relative that is intrinsically homosexual, who befriends and ministers to that person's needs, who does not spurn or reject that person because of insecurity or fears of the unknown (especially given that this person is in a close and loving pastoral relationship with this particular homosexual person), and yet who still opposes the blessing of same-sex unions. And furthermore would be willing to refuse to bless the union of the particular homosexual person that he/she was in a close pastoral relationship with should that person ask for such a blessing.

Is the pastor in question "homophobic"? Is he/she "anti-gay"?

Father Ron Smith said...

Well, Bryan, I don't know whether this is some sort of trick question but here goes:

If the person you speak of - (the pastor) is refusing to bless the same-sex union of his gay friend, then he is simply not in favour of blessing same-sex unions - most probably because he hates the whole idea of gays having their own special relationships OR, his particluar demonination forbids him to bless gay relationships.

It may be a case of what he sees as Love the 'sinner', hate the 'sin' - But that would be his view - and the view of his denomination, that he feels he must respect, more than he cares to respect the innate, natural sexuality of his Gay friend.

In either case, he's still phobic about gay sexuality - whatever you might like to call the problem.

Suem said...

Maybe you know more about "progressives" than I do. I guess there are different shades of "progressive" just as there is not just one type of "conservative". I am not sure I support "unfettered" LGBT rights - I support equal rights for LGBT people. Is that the same thing? I don't think opposing gay marriage is "wrong" in the same way that supporting slavery is wrong, although it would depend how someone opposed gay marriage and how they supported slavery. (You might argue we all support slavery by buying food and goods that have passed through a chain that involves sweat shops and unfair wages tantamount to slave labour and often involving the exploitation of children?) Moral questions are difficult to judge, at times they are context bound. As to your hypothetical pastor who loves and supports the gay person but won't (out of conscience) bless his or her CP - I don't necessarily think such a person is "homophobic" and I would hesitate to call them that. (I think you would have to understand that it would be a great act of grace and maturity on the part of the gay person to not feel hurt or rejected though.) I do actually know people who are opposed to gay relationships and I know gay people who feel the same (and so are celibate.)They include some very dear friends and I can't go bandying words like "homophobic" or "self loathing" around concerning them.

Fr. Bryan Owen said...

Thank you, Suem, for such a gracious comment in response to my comments/questions. And my apologies for taxing everyone's patience. I appreciate the help in the midst of my own struggles.