Thursday, July 16, 2009

Why GC matters outside TEC

From the Huffington Post:
It doesn't matter if you attend religious services weekly or if you have fallen away, if you're atheist or agnostic, if you think religion is the opiate of the people or the road to peace - established religion in America is an important force.

So when the bishops of the Episcopal Church voted this week to affirm gay clergy, it was an important move.

But it IS important to all of us who support gay and lesbian rights, for a couple reasons.

First, the Episcopal Church is seen as the canary in the coal mine by other mainline Protestant Churches. They are waiting to see if accepting gays and lesbians as full members of the church will lead to a breaking away from the international church, or whether different views will be able to co-exist happily.

If the Anglican fellowship survives with an inclusive Episcopal Church, it might lead other denominations - Lutherans, Presbyterians - to follow the example of the United Church of Christ and become fully inclusive of gays and lesbians as well.

And once all Mainline Protestant churches start approving of gay marriage, it will be very difficult for politicians and anti-marriage advocates to make a religious argument against gay marriage, since it will be even more clear that not all denominations agree on this issues.

Secondly, however, the entire issue points out something that those of us who are American gays and lesbians often forget: the rights (or lack thereof) of gays and lesbians internationally has an effect on us here at home.....
The NY Times adds,
The bishops of the Episcopal Church agreed Wednesday to a compromise measure that stops short of developing an official rite for same-sex unions, but gives latitude to bishops who wish to go ahead and bless such unions, particularly in states that have legalized such marriages.....[T]he vote was a momentous step for a church that has been mired in intrafactional warfare over homosexuality for more than a decade..... many Episcopalians at the convention here believe they will have support and will not be ostracized. They are drawing on the testimony of Anglican guests from Africa, Asia and Latin America, who they have brought to the convention here as proof that they have international allies.
And The Guardian,

As it is, this week's Anaheim resolution will probably become the occasion for a split in the ranks of worldwide Anglicanism, the third largest Christian denomination. The Americans insist they don't want it and indeed it has almost exclusively been the church's conservative, largely evangelical, movements and pressure groups which do and have done all along.....

If the Americans are shown the door the consequences for worldwide Anglicanism are incalculable and not just because the wealthy US church largely pays for and sustains the communion, including in those parts of the world where the church's mission would not otherwise survive. In the Church of England there are many who find they have more in common with their American brethren than with the strident, coercive voices they hear from the conservatives.
So there you are. How's the canary singing today?


IT said...

Stephen Bates in the Guardian also says,

As Tom Wright, Bishop of Durham, expostulates in the Times, it gives active expression to any and every sexual desire. This, as Wright – a clever if conceited man – ought to know, is simply not true. The sort of relationship that the Episcopalians might sanction is not any old promiscuous or abusive perversion, but a lifelong, loving commitment between two persons of the sort you might think the church would welcome and which Wright could find any day of the week among the currently ordained clergy of the Church of England. In a church which marries without question promiscuous heterosexuals, sometimes several times, and blesses pets and nuclear submarines without a qualm, you might think the expression of mutual commitment, which may or may not have a sexual element if you are prurient enough to ask, would be welcomed rather than spurned. After all, the church some time ago accepted the reality of divorce (its founder Henry VIII was rather keen on the idea) about which the Bible has much more disobliging things to say than homosexuality.


Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James said...

He put it quite well, I'd say. I'm glad that he's called the Calvinists on the Nigerian e-mail scam they've been playing for nearly 500 years.

But, to say this will lead to the schism is incorrect. That happened at least 20 years ago with Lambeth 1998

Anonymous said...

err, twenty years ago? It might feel like twenty years.

John Sandeman / Obadiahslope

June Butler said...

IT, thank you for the summing up from the secular press. A very good read.

David said...

This, as Wright – a clever if conceited man – ought to know...

A perfectly succinct description of +Durham - who I desperately wish would stay in his own diocese a lot more and tend to his own %$@!$ knitting! :P (as far as that last part, I'm rather feeling that way about ++Rowan these days, too)