Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Keeping Up (2)

Wesley Hill is an Episcopalian theologian, involved in TEC, a self-identifying celibate, gay man who does not agree with same-sex marriage (which TEC is rather keen on, recently deciding at its GC 2018 that rites for same-sex marriage must be available in all Dioceses where same-sex marriage is a civil right). Here he explains, in a manner at least agreeable to me, noting his focus on family and witness, why is is staying in TEC ... here.

Speaking of TEC and staying in it (or maybe not), the Communion Partner bishops have published a statement responding to changes for TEC as a result of decisions made at GC 2018, here.

Thinking about staying in the church and not leaving it, here is a fascinating article on ordinations under Delegate Oversight in the Diocese of London ... now they have a female Bishop of London. I post it here without comment - it may or may not be relevant to ACANZP's present situation. (In one way it is not relevant: each ordinand accepts the authority of the Bishop of London, whatever the gender of the Bishop of London.

Then, on a question of keen interest to some Christians - mostly "conservative" ones - Christians keen to conserve the power of Scripture and its authority in the church, sometimes we should think carefully about what doctrines underpin (explicitly or implicitly) our belief in the authority of Scripture. One such doctrine could be "the plenary verbal inspiration" of Scripture. Australian evangelical theologian Michael Bird critiques this doctrine here.

As previously noted in posts below, do not comment on the specific situation(s) the Diocese of Christchurch is working through at this time.


Father Ron said...

Dear Peter, I do recognise, and profoundly respect, Wesley's situation as a celibate gay Christian Teacher in TEC. Having once been a member of a Religious Order myself, I am acutely aware of the reality of most Religious, and, of course most R.C. clergy whose whole lives - after religious profession - are lived in celibacy.

May I suggest that this is just one reason why gay men who were faithful Christians in the past (I know this from personal experience) who felt a call from God into ministry opted to test their vocation to the Religious Life or, in some cases, to the celibate priesthood. If such men ended up in this situation - which was probably more common than most people realise, believing that this was the only way they could serve in the ministry of the Church - then this was how they found themselves able to live their lives effectively, but unfortunately sometimes at great cost to their individual wholeness and personal fulfilment

For a few people, this act of perpetual self-denial caused Untold suffering which could sometimes led to spiritual and mental breakdown. This situation, which was more common then some people might be able to understand, led to an inability to cope with the exigences of day to day life in the community, with consequent loss of confidence and capability of the individual concerned. This situation sometimes led to a loss of faith in the individual concerned and release from his ministry.

I can quite imagine, that for those who have stayed in ministry as celibate gays - or in a Religious community - there may well be a sense of being undervalued by the Church, as people who have borne the heat and burden of the day in Community, while other gay people are now free to openly acknowledge their sexual orientation without having hide it from both the Church and the world.

Unfortunately since the church has come to an understanding of human sexuality in a way that is conducive to gay people being encouraged to exercise a full and useful life in the community, without prejudice, there has been a tendency on the part of some gay clergy and religious, that their's is the only way of life that should be followed by all gay Christians who want to work as ministers in the church.

Wesley, here, appears not to follow that trajectory. H is remaining celibate - because it is his conviction that this is what God has called him, personally, to be and to do. His view on Same-sex Marriage is consonant with his own view that gays are not entitled to enter into the traditional married state. However, Wesley is prepared to acknowledge that there is another - contrary - point of view now being pro opted in TEC, which he can live with.

I would want to assure him that I, myself, having shared the vocation to celibacy (though that celibate life is, for me, within a happy heterosexual marriage) do still respect and honour those who - though intrinsically gay - are content to uphold the celibate lifestyle as their particular gift to the Church and the world, that they, uniquely, are equipped to offer.

The lovely thing about Wesley's article for me is that he is not willing to abandon his part of the Church Universal - in this case, TEC - in the belief that the unity of the Church is more Important than his own private view of its theology.

Anonymous said...



Jonathan said...

I recently read Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy (Garrick / Merrett, eds) in which Michael Bird is one of the contributors. It is one of the most engaging theology books I've read.