21 September 2007

+Andrus gives the prologue -- where's the finale?

It was widely reported today in the blogosphere that +Marc Andrus from California addressed the Bishops. From Marc's own site, I quote:
With respect to sexual orientation, it must be said that the Episcopal Church is the main refuge for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people who are seeking to lead a Christian life. These people are primarily not natives of the Bay Area, they come from all over the United States and indeed the world. They have come to San Francisco and the Bay Area seeking a life where they are not subjected to discrimination and violence, where they can lead normal lives, and in some cases, Christian lives. It is my responsibility to provide a context for this search for holiness of life.

It is also important to say here that the Episcopal Church in the Bay Area is immeasurably enriched by the presence of LGBT people in our parishes and missions. These are gifted, faithful Christian people, lay and ordained, passionate about their faith and church. It is hard to imagine what the Diocese of California would be like without these great people, but I can get something of a picture by remembering the many places I’ve lived from which they have come to the Bay Area, places where they were barred from employment, pushed out of their homes and families, and yes, found cold welcome in churches, and tragically in some instances, were subjected to physical violence. For every one of these men and women enlivening the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of California there are empty places all over the United States where their graceful presences are missing.
All that is true. However, we cannot expect to talk about justice and experience and think that we will nurture conversion among the wider Communion. We Americans had better start talking about biblical and traditional grounds for our innovation.

Obviously, writing for a blog called by the name "InclusiveChurch" and affiliated with IC in the UK, I favor the full inclusion of GLBT Christians in all aspects of the life and ministry of the church. However, I support this "new thing" because I believe this change -- and it is a departure from the historic practice of the church -- is warranted. I believe this change is warranted on scriptural grounds, and I believe it is warranted on grounds of tradition. And, finally, my experience tells me that it's the right thing to do.

The progressive bishops in the US need to realize that not every conservative is +Peter Akinola. Not everyone who resists this innovation is homophobic. The global moderates (which appear to Americans to be conservatives) want to stay in communion with us. They just need the rationale -- the theological and biblical support -- for what we're doing.

So, keep up the talk Marc, and everyone else. But keep talking right on past experience, and talk about your faith in Jesus Christ. Talk about scriptural grounds and the witnesses from history. We all need to hear that.


bls said...

He did speak of Christ, and of gay Christians' desire to live a life in Christ's light - and of the continual rebuffing of our efforts in this direction.

This is what people continually miss, assuming instead that we are talking about "justice." I very much appreciate this Bishop speaking of the Episcopal Church as "the main refuge for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people who are seeking to lead a Christian life." What else is that about but faith?

I'm not even paying any attention to what's going on in New Orleans, because gay people are not only refused the life of faith but are disbelieved when we say that is indeed our motive. We are looked at as the root cause of all the current "unpleasantness," when all we are seeking is to live as ordinary followers of Christ, like all others. I continually wonder why this is such a sin - yet the very common and everyday verbal and physical violence against gay people isn't criticized or even questioned.

fatherjones.com said...


I think you make a good point, and I neither hear you bashing Marc Andrus nor the cause he speaks for with passion. The trouble isn't really with progressives though is it? Or conservatives? It's with radical fundamentalists (on the left or right) who are the polarizing forces of our times.

Watch out my friend, you will be labelled a homophobe, a heretic, a collaborator, a nazi, a coward, or worse before long if you keep trying to make any kind of moderate sense.

These are bad times to be trying to find some kind of middle ground between the polarities.

Evidence: When folks call Rowan Williams a coward, a conservative, a heretic, a dupe -- you know these are tough times and there's lots of single-minded folks in the crowd.

I've been called a heretic by some lately, and an accomplice to injustice and murder by others.

These are humbling times. But I think you are quite correct in your post -- in all regards.

Scott Gunn said...

bls, I think you are right -- it is about faith. But ECUSA as a refuge won't persuade those in the "Global South" and it won't sustain the church. Read +Rowan's sermon for more on that. Like you, I'm grateful to be part of a church that welcomes everyone, and that among Christian churches in the USA is generally accepting of GLBT people.

I for one do not view GLBT people as the root cause. That's the radical fundamentalists (see Fr. Jones, below) who are using GLBT issues as a wedge to accomplish their means.

There is no doubt that +Gene Robinson got it right in his Integrity Eucharist sermon at GenCon in Columbus: Jesus is the "gay agenda." I believe that is true for many. It's just that we progressives need to do a better job of saying that, in my opinion.

Your choice to ignore New Orleans is probably a wise one. The bitterness and discord does make it hard, at times, to discern the Christ in Christianity.

Thanks for your comment. My hope is that somehow the church will know God's healing love in all this.


Scott Gunn said...

Fr. Jones,

Thanks for your comment too. I can tell you my inbox has never filled with more hate mail (yes, hate mail) than when I have criticized the far left.

I am committed to an agenda of change and inclusion. Too often, I think, ECUSA has turned a blind eye toward much of the world, which does not share our cultural context. As a result of our (perceived) attitude, our global mission is imperiled for no good reason.

To my way of seeing, we can pretty much hold the positions we hold now, and go the direction we're going now. But we need to do that with great integrity, great empathy, and great faith in Jesus Christ's power to save.


P.S. I mean "save" in the last sentence in its Greek (sozo) fuller sense.

bls said...

Fr. Gunn, the entire focus of the "Windsor Process" has been the "sins" of TEC in re: gay persons in the church.

There has never been a call for "repentence" aimed at the "Global South" (et al.) - or, indeed, repentence asked of the church as a whole for its continued tolerance of anti-gay hatred. See Steven Bates' last religion column for more on that; he says quite openly that "watching and reporting the way gays were referred to, casually, smugly, hypocritically; the way men such as Jeffrey John (and indeed Rowan Williams when he was appointed archbishop) were treated and often lied about, offended [his] doubtless inadequate sense of justice and humanity." He says that gay persons are "condemned for who they are, not what they do, despite all the sanctimonious bleating to the contrary, men and women despised for wanting the sort of intimacy that heterosexual people take for granted and that the Church is only too happy to bless."

And the church as a whole lets it all pass, never pressing for any change of heart on these attitudes and actions. Some few Bishops, like Marc Andrus, and some priests (I think like yourself) understand this, but I must disagree with you that this is a problem only of "radicals." It is systemic in the hierarchies of the church - although locally, thank God, things are changing.

I recognize that there are political realities at work here; we're not blind. If somebody would simply say this out loud for once, instead of offering sanctimonious platitudes (I'm not saying you're saying anything like this, BTW), I think everybody would be better off.)

BTW, I really didn't mean my above post as an attack on you in any way; it seems to have been taken that way, but I was just disagreeing on a particular point - which is what I'm doing here, too. I do appreciate you writing about this, really.

Robert said...

Has everyone forgotten "To Set Our Hope on Christ," TEC's biblical rationale for the steps it has been taking which was presented to the ACC? We HAVE offered a biblical rationale. It was explicitly rejected by the dissidents and their GS allies.

I hope the HOB will give a measured, humble, reconciling response to the DES requests without yielding on the core biblical issue of bringing all persons into the fullness of Christ's Body as the Church.

Unfortunately, those like ++Akinola who are determined to set up another AC will go ahead with it. There is no indication that anything he said in his latest interview with Gledhill that he has any other aim in mind. Alas!

Scott Gunn said...

bls, in response to your latest...

I didn't take your comment as an attack. Sorry if my reply suggested otherwise.

In any case, you're right. This is an issue for the Body of Christ, not just for the extremes. However, the agenda is being pushed by the extremes now, which is sad. Not enough people are willing to move past rhetoric and platitudes to substantive conversation. Not enough people are willing to set a course and do the navigating through the world we inhabit. It's well and good for ECUSA to want to do this, but *how* we get there determines whether the Communion stays together, like it or not. Of course, we didn't choose this -- it's a crisis driven by American money and global cultural difference (among other things). Humility and charity would do us all (both left and right) a world of good now.

We must stand up and insist on a place for GLBT people at the table. The WR and other documents actually say that. If more people read the documents themselves (and I'm not implying you haven't) instead of having them spoon-fed by the secessionists, we'd see that.

The WR is actually about church unity, and the breach between ECUSA and much of the Communion is a symptom of a deeper problem. The WR was intended to help us move past that into a place where ECUSA could acknowledge its innovation(s) and the Communion could discern the Spirit at work here. Sadly, we've missed that all around.

Hmm, I need to write more about this outside the comments, I think.

Well, thanks for your comments, and thanks for reading this little corner of blog-land. Glad you're here.