Friday, October 29, 2004

Episcopalians Anonymous

Hello, my name is Sparky and I'm an Episcopalian.

Hi, Sparky!

The Episcopal Church is dealing with the fall-out of having consecrated a homosexual bishop in New Hampshire. I don't know that there is any Episcopal church that has been unaffected by this, though some have more difficulty with it than others. Some parishs are considering breaking away, some parishioners are leaving for other churches, and some churches are considering affliliating with some sort of Anglican organization, a more conservative branch that opposes the consecration of gays -- I don't know much about this organization (not even its name) because my parish is not among those considering membership.
To read more, click on the Xs

I think all Episcopalians (and probably many others) have asked themselves how they feel about the consecration of a gay bishop. Can you accept that? Under what reasoning?

This is a difficult issue for me but not for the most obvious reason. Its difficult for me because in discussing my view, I have offended people and disrupted a small discussion group at my church. I'm really very ashamed about the whole situation, though I think I'm making more of it than there really was. I'm very reluctant to create any more pain about this issue but I still have wounds that are unhealed, so this is my attempt to find a bit healing and perhaps make a bit more sense of my feelings on the issue.

I don't have a problem with consecrating a gay bishop if the person is not promiscuous -- i.e. the person is either in a committed relationship or celibate. I would expect the same from any unmarried priest. First issue resolved.

The reasoning behind my view is where things get tricky. One line of reasoning might be termed "sin is everywhere." In this view, I say that I realize the Bible makes several statements against homosexuality. The Bible also makes several statements against divorce and remarriage but the Episcopal church has been able to overcome this nasty little problem -- I believe there are both priests and bishops who have been divorced and remarried. This leads me to wonder on what basis gay priests can be denied the opportunity to become bishops. This is where the explosion went off in my small group -- regardless of the obvious fact that none of us were priests and therefore ineligible to seek a bishopric, one person became extremely offended, thinking that I was condemning her. At that point, I realized that I had created more strife when what I was seeking to do was explain my reasoning. Blessed are the peacemakers.

Okay, lets move beyond my issues. If sin is the barrier to consecrating a gay bishop, we must realize that we are weighing sins here. It would follow that we are determining homosexuality to be a greater sin than adultery (which is what the Bible has called divorce and remarriage). I'm not picking on anyone who has been remarried, here -- I'm not judging them. Mistakes happen, people hurt each other -- praise God that they can move on. Doesn't the Bible emphasize the quest for redemption? We're talking about who can be a bishop here. I can't and it doesn't bother me a bit.

Back to sin -- one sin that gets harped on quite a bit in the Bible is the sin of pride. I have a problem with pride. I have met many priests who have a problem with pride. Shall we deem the sin of pride to be less than the sin of homosexuality? Some apparently feel that we should. I think the Catholics even put pride, the love of self instead the love of God, as tops in the Seven Deadly sins. (I may be way off on that, but it makes the list).

Leaving the topic of sin, what other rationales might we find for allowing the consecration of a gay bishop? The Bishop of my diocese reasoned in a New York Times Magazine article last winter that the churches of New Hampshire had elected to consecrate the gay priest, that there had been many votes and this was who the people wanted as their Bishop. The General Convention vote was merely the last vote in a long line of elections. Shouldn't the people have the Bishop they want?

Later, I read an article, or perhaps it was in the same article, where my Diocesan Bishop discussed his Biblical reasoning for voting for the consecration of a gay bishop. He felt that the liberal tenor of the New Testament allowed for the acceptance of homosexuality in the future and that the consecration would not be contrary to that. I'm sure I'm mangling this a bit, but my point was that my Bishop did look at the Bible and consider its message as part of his reasoning.

All of this leads me to what will have to be a future post -- what is the point of a bishop anyway? Right now, all I can think of is that they move diagonally. Chess humor.


Meredith said...

Dear Sparky,
Good question: What is the point? All of this takes us so far from the fundamental presence of God, and the truth and light from knowing this presence in all people, at all times. Regardless of names, roles, status, this presence is the gift - but we must have our hearts open to perceive it. What can you do to honor this presence in yourself and in every person with whom you interact? Whether they are coming from some ego fixated fear, or love?

Maybe that's the question. And it moves straight ahead and through.
In Light,

david said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
david said...

Well if bishops move diagonally then straight bishops are not following the rules.

I guess that one will get me into trouble.

Personally I hope the Anglican communion will weather this storm. As for whether gay bishops are a good thing -- I think that is best decided by Episcopalians -- which I ain't one. But I can witness to the faithful ministry gay and lesbian Chrsitians have given in other times and places.

Meredith said...

Ooops! Note that my 'straight' comment does not have anything to do with sexual orientation! In fact I was referring to the opposite. Sexual preference has nothing to do with our true nature, and the vast potential within us to move and speak from this light and loving presence. In this way, we move 'straight,' as in directly, to the heart of the matter.


david said...

You don't think sexual orientation ahs anything to do with our true nature?

I think I would think the opposite. Our sexuality is so deeply a part of who we are I can only assume it arises from the depths of who God created us to be.

I carry a disabled body around with me in this life. I know my spirit is disabled. I cannot doubt that it is who God craeted me to be and in the resurrection I expect some reminder of that disability to linger in my new life just as the resurrected body of Jesus still bore his death wounds -- even as they could no longer hurt or kill him.