So, the following is a response to Ted, who asked: “What then should TEC do when others refuse to walk with us or alter the “level of communion” i.e. tiers?” It just keeps getting longer.
Tedâ€¦ Bear with me. This is too long, I know. I am doing a bit of â€œprocessing out loud,â€ which will drive some people crazy.
We should listen and act like a global group of Christians that aren’t myopically centered on our own parochial interests. All of our councils do err and our understanding is limited; this should cause great humility within us. This is what I’m thinking…
Surveying our socio-religious TEC landscape, it seems to me that we have allowed ourselves to be so â€œtaintedâ€ by the cultural zeitgeist and accept its precepts uncritically that we have lost sight of the Way of Christ. Much within our culture works against the kind of life we are called to by Christ. Whether it is the schismatics with regard to TEC nationally or the schismatics with regard to the Communion globally, we need to step back and consider the greater goal and that our Christian reality is long-term and for all, not just for the next several years and not just for our own little group.
I am more than willing to forgo some of my â€œrightsâ€ as a Caucasian, as a male, as a gay person, as a priest, for the sake of those less fortunate than I am or in places where our influence is vitally needed for the safety of those in trouble. No matter what some say, the voice of the American Church in the Communion does have a life-saving impact on places like Nigeria, Uganda, et.al., where LGBT Christians at present have options of only silence or violence. Without our presence in the Communion, those primates are far freer to do and advocate for whatever they want â€“ the extremists win. We have a long way to go in this country, but our plight is nothing in comparison to theirs. If those provinces want to absence themselves from the Communion, so be it. We, however, do not need to. As a matter of fact, it is vital that we donâ€™t, particularly if it happens because of our stereotypical American hubris and self-interest.
The way we are thinking, IMHO, is wrong. For example, over the last 30 odd years, we have taken on a more psycho-therapeutic or a political-activist way of thinking in ministry (both are important, but neither are the way of the Churchâ€™s ministry). As a Christian who happens to be gay, firstly, and as a priest that happens to be gay, secondarily, I do need the â€œvalidationâ€ of others to understand my worth. It is nice, but I donâ€™t â€œneedâ€ it. When we believe that being able to be considered for a bishop position is somehow the way we are to validate personal worth or importance, we leave the realm of the way of Christ and enter into the realm of our socio-political cultural zeitgeist. My validation as a Christian or priest, gay or straight, male or female, black or white, has nothing to do with whether I am eligible for consideration to any office or order of the Church. My or my ministryâ€™s worth is a result of the veracity of the ministry I do in the name of God â€“ and my security resting in the love and care of God, not other peopleâ€™s opinion of me.
To believe that being a bishop is a â€œrightâ€ that validates oneâ€™s existence or importance is incredibly â€œcleric-centricâ€ to the point of almost denying the vital nature of the laity and the distinct ministries of each Holy Order. (The danger of the above way of thinking, of course, can go too far and result in people justifying the use of orientation, sex, or race as criteria for exclusion from leadership or orders. The solution, however, is not to go so far as to say that validation of personhood or ministry can only come from the ability to have a position within an institution.) I believe this is where we are, however, at this time. The Episcopal Church seems to be saying that as a gay person/priest that my ministry or personhood is only validated if I can be considered for a bishopric. I disagree. Likewise, I donâ€™t need my relationship validated by the blessing of an organization (church or otherwise). It is nice to have, but certainly not necessary to my understanding of God and Godâ€™s transformative and healing work within us.
We are not an island unto ourselves. For our Church to be so consumed over whether a gay person can be a bishop or have a same-sex relationship blessed or not to the point of not caring whether we are part of the greater Church or Communion (whether intentionally or as a result of our unwillingness to compromise) when other LBGT people in other countries can conceiving of not much more than staying alive is just too myopic and nationally self-centered for me.
We must think differently, because the way weâ€™ve been thinking and doing has resulted not in a good end but rather in anger, bitterness, hatred, and division in the Body of Christ. None of us are innocent. The current way of thinking and doing, both by the liberals and conservatives, has not presenting to the world a way of Christ that brings peace and unity. We need a third way.
Saying all that, I think we should for a few more years abide by the moratoria. I know that certain segments of the Communion have already determined that they donâ€™t like us and reject us. So what? Does that mean we act just like them, but from a different perspective? Will we take the high moral road or just take our marbles and go home to our little patch of the globe? We must understand that we cannot simply act like those we accuse of acting wrongly, whether within the local, national setting or within the global setting.
Thanks what Iâ€™m thinking, for what it is worth.
Bob | Homepage | 09.04.09 – 12:24 pm | #