Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Something Is On My mind...

...and I'll tell you what it is: What has me bothered is the continuing unrest in the American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion, which we refer to, in the United States, as the Episcopal Church. A Church body that is in full communion with my own. You see, the American branch of the Anglican communion has taken a courageous, and wholly Christian stance (in my view) by not only ordaining women, but electing openly gay people to serve as priests. This has caused a great deal of unrest in American church, as you might imagine.

It was reported, three days ago, in the Washington Post, that Colorado's largest Episcopal Church, Grace Church & St. Stephen's academy (est. 1872), in Colorado Springs, Colorado, has elected to leave the American Episcopal church, and enter into association with an ultra-conservative Anglican church body from Nigeria.

Why? Because various congregations in the United States want to use the word of God to codify their bigotry.

This isn't a new thing, unfortunately. In recent years, the Episcopal church has done some things that don't sit well with it's more conservative members. First, in the 1970's the U.S. church started ordaining women as Priests, Next, in 2003, an openly gay Priest, The Reverend Gene Robinson...

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...was elected and consecrated as the Bishop for New Hampshire. In 2006, a woman, Bishop Kathrine Jefferts Schiori, of Nevada, was elected as Presiding Bishop for the entire American church.

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That did it! The conservative elements had had all they were going to take. Many Parishes left after the consecration of the gay Bishop, and over the past year, dozens parishes had elected to leave the church with Jefferts Schori's ascension and the determination of the national church body to continue to bless same-sex unions and refusal to exclude gay members.

I, for one, applaud the action of the Episcopal church. At a time when many churches are taking the stand of exclusivity, as if the church is some sort of country club that needs to keep out the rabble, and in some cases deciding to not decide, the Episcopal church has taken a stand, that I consider to be in line with the theology of Jesus Christ: That all are welcome.

I mean, I could get deeply scriptural here, but I won't... there are plenty of places you can find that if you want. Here it is: Why is it that churches will split over homosexuality, but not over adultery? over homosexuality, but not over lying; sexual infidelity or "sexually inappropriate" behavior by the Pastor; theft; spousal abuse; and on and on? I'll tell you why... because people like having another group to hate... and it is particularly helpful to hate a group that you can get the clergy to agree with you on. You see, we Christians like to feel holy when we sin.

I'll say that again: We Christians like to feel holy when we sin.

It isn't fashionable to be openly racist in America anymore, especially in the church, but thankfully we still have one group that we can openly attack, and we can even try to use scripture against them You guessed it, gay people. Isn't that great? black people, white people, Latino people... we can all hold hands, sing Kumbaya, and exclude gay people from the body of Christ! AMEN!

I'm ill about it.

My oldest sister is gay. She is an ordained minister. She is leaving her church. She has to, before the congregation that loves the way she preaches the gospel, finds out about her love life. I have friends, some of whom read this blog, that no longer are active in their churches, because of the stances of their churches. I have a friend that is seeking ordination in the very same denomination that is struggling on this issue, and I am very proud of the courage that she has shown in the face of all of this furor.

People the world over have tried to cover their hatred of gays by quoting a few passages from the Bible while conveniently forgetting the most important parts of the Gospels: "For you are saved by grace through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast." **Please note that this passage from the second chapter of Ephesians doesn't add the caveat "unless you are a homosexual"**

If nothing that I have said makes any sense to you, let me close with this: Excluding someone from your church or it's sacraments because of their sexual orientation is not only a sin, but it's un-American.

That's what I said, un-American. You see, we claim to cling to the notion that "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

You see, the pursuit of happiness, which includes matrimony, is an American right. A right. A right that the church shouldn't be able to ignore because of the bigotry of some adherents.

American slavery began to be abolished in 1863, and it took until 2000 for the last prohibitions against interracial marriage to end in this country. It may take a long time, but I say to those who are waiting... be of good cheer, history is on your side.




Nanette said...

Beautifully said!

Zanne said...

Dear friend, I am so very sorry for your sister! Makes me want to scream and cry at the same time! You are a profound encouragement to me because I know that in this fight I have you standing there with me. Bless you bless you!

soccer mom in denial said...

I grew up Unitarian. Had a lesbian couple for our youth group leaders in the early 1980's, talked about gay sex in our sex ed classes (as a 6th grader) and cannot for the life of me understand the hatred and bigotry towards gays.

Thank you for the thoughtful words. I wish the ones who need their eyes opened would read it.

Redneck Mommy said...

Well done.

Your sister must be very proud to have a brother who supports her.

Anonymous said...

Amen to all that. Excellent post.

Isn't it something that people can label themselves Christian and that somehow is carte blanche to voice their hatred over those who are different? So many things to say... so much nausea that prevents me from starting.

Bent Fabric said...

As I said over at Zanne's, brilliantly articulated.

Queen of the Mayhem said...

Eloquent post!

I agree with you. Just when you think everyone is embracing differences of all types, you hear about things like this and you realize that we are not as evolved as we might have hoped!

I want a preacher who will inspire me to be a better christian, encourage me to pass this on to my children, and show me how to find strength in His word.....I could care less if this preacher likes men or women!

Anonymous said...

GF: Well, you know I'm in 100% agreement with you.

In a world and nation where people are starving; where the rich are getting richer and the poor, poorer; where we're polarized in hate and self-congratulations over our "chosenness," our "Christian" President and Vice President have built a legacy on an unrighteous war, Congress and state legislatures are dead set on constitutionalizing discrimination, and people are more worried about the color of our skin--be that black, female, or gay--than the content of our character.

I think we have bigger things to worry about than whether our ecclesiastical leaders are gay or support gay rights.

Jesus said, "Come to me, those who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest." He said, "Love one another as I have loved you." He hung out with prostitutes and tax collectors and lepers. He made a place at the table for everyone, including Judas Iscariot. He was, and is, THE best example of what a peace-filled, non-judgmental world should look like. To my dying day, that is how I will live my life and how I will embrace others. No if, ands, but, or not-yous about it.

Good post, GF!! Very good post!

Alex Elliot said...

I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

Great post, friend.

Saying things like this, out-loud, is important for two reasons. One to give people cause to examine their own behavior. Two saying it, loudly and without apology, reminds people that no matter that, ''they, personally, would never, ever do x, y or z'' that there remain people in the world who do and ignoring it doesn't make it stop nor does righteous indignation of the, ''I would never'' sort benefit anyone but the martyr's own ego.

Terri@SteelMagnolia said...

My own 24 yr old son is gay ... I just found THAT out about 2 years ago right before my baby was born. I truly had no idea ... I used to brag that I had "gaydar" but apparently I don't!

I was raised a very strict Roman Catholic ... so I was/am so worried about the whole God/afterlife thing.

I love my son's partner... our entire family loves him....
in fact they just moved into their first home today....

but ... I just pray for him and Joel... they are such wonderful people. I just worry about what the Bible says.

Janet Kincaid said...

GF: I know this is your blog, but I just have to respond to Terri's comment. May I? If you want to delete this, please do.

Terri: We all--gay and straight--grew up with the Bible and what it says. Some of us had a lot of what the Bible says proverbially beaten into us from the pulpit and, as a result, it's often hard for many of us to outgrow some of the negatives. For example, I grew up Mormon. Believe me when I say there are a lot of things I still struggle to let go of. Like the idea about having to be perfect or always being "the nice guy" at the sacrifice of my own needs or interpreting scripture literally.

As we each walk through our personal discernment processes, we are faced with traditions and texts that sometimes rub against and conflict with what we experience in real life. Case in point: your gay son and his partner (real life) rub up against your Catholic upbringing and what you were told the scriptures say about homosexuality. That's a challenge and a struggle.

I can't tell you where your struggle will lead you, but I want to point out something you said in your comments. Very simply, you say "I love my son."

For your son who is gay and who no doubt struggled in his coming out and who knew in his deepest heart and mind how hard it might be for you to learn that about him, knowing that you love him is key. Full stop. Period.

In loving your son, you are living God's highest law. God loved His Son, too. And He loves us--gay, straight, black, white, Catholic, Mormon, male, female, pick your label... God loves us.

Like I said, I can't tell you where your struggle will lead you, but your honesty is a good starting point.

Gunfighter said...

"Pomous One"?

Have we met?

Anonymous said...


I'm Roman Catholic, Not that it is really important.. But it helps to know that my Catholic school background taught contextualism.

I choose to believe that all of this is man's interpretation of God's will. As it is OUR interpretation, it is inherently flawed because we as humans are flawed.

It is up us ( people of faith) to examine ourselves, challenge our communities/parishes etc to do better.

Anonymous said...

What has happened to sin? The same Jesus who loved sinners, also commanded them to sin no more.

Is homosexual activity a sin or not?

Me. Here. Right now. said...

I appreciate every straight person like yourself speaking out on this issue. We all know someone gay...we may just not know it...and there's usually a reason we don't know if we don't...keep up the good fight her gunfighter...every little bit chips away at this festering sore that uses the name of God as its shield.

Gunfighter said...

Steve said:

"Is homosexual activity a sin or not?"

Well, thats a good question, Steve, and I invite you to answer it for yourself.

Is it a sin?

I believe that people that hoard their goods/money, and bitterly complain about "rendering unto Caeser" (paying taxes) are guilty of grievous sin, and yet in the most conservative of religious circles, being miserly is practically a virtue. I would never consider cutting them of from fellowship or from the Eucharist for that. Likewise, I would never tell two like-minded people that I would refuse to bless their union, should they decide to commit to one.

Which doesn't answer your question, does it? Here is that thing: I believe that the knowledge of wrong/sin/evil is often only gained through thoughtful discernment.

If I thought that all of the people who are guilty of any sin were people that should be expelled from the church, then all of the churches, including yours and mine, would be empty.



jafabrit said...

thanks for visiting my blog. cool you have music :) and an interesting blog.
It is a sad thing that your sister has to leave her church :(

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Gunfighter! Excellent!

God is the one who is meant to judge us. We don't need to do it for him.

Anonymous said...

When you reprinted the post that I wrote for Alex on FF&FP in favor of equal marriage, you claimed that I am a "far better writer than" you. This post disproves that. You write with great passion and power, and "Something Is On My mind" is one of the most articulate pieces of writing that I have ever seen on the subject. Bravo!
-The Big Giraffe (Mr. Alex Elliot)

Gunfighter said...

Big G,

My humble thanks.

Jackie said...

Wonderful post. Beautifully written.

Anonymous said...

Being in China, sometimes I forget about all of the stuff that is going on in the US. Sometimes I think I block it out, because it is easy to here.

Thanks for reminding me how totally crazy it is.

Micky said...

About 3 years ago I dropped into a black hole – four months of absolute terror. I wanted to end my life, but somehow [Holy Spirit], I reached out to a friend who took me to hospital. I had three visits [hospital] in four months – I actually thought I was in hell. I imagine I was going through some sort of metamorphosis [mental, physical & spiritual]. I had been seeing a therapist [1994] on a regular basis, up until this point in time. I actually thought I would be locked away – but the hospital staff was very supportive [I had no control over my process]. I was released from hospital 16th September 1994, but my fear, pain & shame had only subsided a little. I remember this particular morning waking up [home] & my process would start up again [fear, pain, & shame]. No one could help me, not even my therapist [I was terrified]. I asked Jesus Christ to have mercy on me & forgive me my sins. Slowly, all my fear has dissipated & I believe Jesus delivered me from my “psychological prison.” I am a practicing Catholic & the Holy Spirit is my friend & strength; every day since then has been a joy & blessing. I deserve to go to hell for the life I have led, but Jesus through His sacrifice on the cross, delivered me from my inequities. John 3: 8, John 15: 26, are verses I can relate to, organically. He’s a real person who is with me all the time. I have so much joy & peace in my life, today, after a childhood spent in orphanages [England & Australia]. God LOVES me so much. Fear, pain, & shame, are no longer my constant companions. I just wanted to share my experience with you [Luke 8: 16 – 17].

Peace Be With You

Grimm said...

Truly powerful post. Any comment that I have could not add anything to how well done this post was.

JoeC said...

Great post. You were asking if homosexuality was a sin. This is just my opinion, and I respect others interpretation, too. But, scriptures can be found to argue that anything is a sin. For example, Hitler found scripture to convince people that being Jewish was a sin. There's scripture that says eating pork is a sin. Heck, not resting on the Sabbath is a sin...and the Sabbath is the seventh day of the week--SATURDAY, not SUNDAY.

Most of the verses in the Bible that command against homosexuality can also be interpreted as commanding against excessive sexual activity--putting sex and lust above love of God. Same with heterosexual lust...if it's getting out of hand and causing problems in your life, then it's probably a sin, too. But just being heterosexual is not a sin.

The apostle Paul seemed to think it would be better just to not have sex at all, but if you were too weak to do that, get married and have it with one person. But Paul wasn't Jesus, was he?

I've seen gay people in loving, good relationships, and I just don't see how adding strong, caring love into the world in any form can be a sin. Again, that's just my opinion and I know there are people who disagree, and it's ok with me to agree to disagree. Variety is the spice of long as it's not hurting another person.