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A commitment to Dialogue

15 September 2009

Bishop Breidenthal comments on the controversial outcome of this year’s General Convention in Anaheim:

This General Convention passed many wonderful resolutions having to do with mission to the poor, to children, and to young adults, but the resolutions that have gained media attention are the ones dealing with our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters within the church. What about those resolutions? What really happened in Anaheim?
First of all, we strongly affirmed our desire to be part of the Anglican Communion. But we also affirmed that same-sex unions can be holy, especially when they are entered into by faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
Well, I don’t agree that same-sex sexual relationships conform to God’s standards of holiness, but the bishop’s remark come as no surprise.  No surprise at all.  What I’m wondering is, will there still be a country for traditional Episcopalians in DSO?
Bishop Breidenthal anticipates the question:
What does this mean for the Diocese of Southern Ohio? This will have to be worked out the way we work everything out – with a lot of conversation, study and prayer.
In other words, “We’re Episcopalians!  We’ll have a dialogue about it!” 
Good news for Traditionalists, right?  We know we’re in serious trouble already, but it’s not REALLY serious trouble, ‘cuz y’know.. the bishop will at least talk to us. 
Bishop Breidenthal continues:
General Convention has obligated us to take seriously the pastoral needs of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. At the same time, it has left the interpretation of this obligation up to each diocese, since each diocese faces its own unique challenges in this, as in every area. How we engage this work of interpretation and discernment will require a great deal of consultation, not least with our own  lesbian and gay community. I do not yet know what form this consultation will take, since I have not yet had the opportunity to discuss this with you. I welcome your suggestions by email regarding a process we might follow.’
That’s odd..  I didn’t notice him mentioning that Traditionalists would be included in that conversation.  At least, they weren’t mentioned along with gay and lesbian brothers and sisters.  Does that mean that Traditionalists won’t be included in the conversation?  Should we be weighing our options?
Surely not.  Revisionists are always compassionate to all people (er, brothers and sisters) under their care.  Right?
Right ??
– Elder Oyster
  1. episcopalienated
    16 September 2009 at 10:48 PM

    Dear Elder Oyster:

    Congratulations on the new website, it’s most impressive! I was struck by the quote below from Bishop Breidenthal and wanted to leave a (rather lengthy) comment.

    “First of all, we strongly affirmed our desire to be part of the Anglican Communion. But we also affirmed that same-sex unions can be holy, especially when they are entered into by faithful followers of Jesus Christ.”

    I’m afraid the good bishop has it quite wrong. A same-sex union involving homo-genital activity of any kind is precisely the type of relationship that “faithful followers of Jesus Christ” can never enter into, regardless of the circumstances.

    As a person who has never experienced anything other than same-sex attraction, I am certainly not indifferent to the plight of those who seek to find fulfillment with a partner or a lover. I understand some of the pain and anguish they’re going through for it has been my own, along with a desire to be loved by someone, somewhere, somehow. I do know where that comes from, and why.

    However, if we are Christians we cannot presume to identify as “holy” that which Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Church invariably identify as gravely sinful. We may accept that or we may reject it, but there simply is no way around it.

    We are often told that the experience of those in monogamous same-sex relationships (what few there really are) provides evidence that the Holy Spirit is at work in their lives and their relationships. But what about the radically different experience of those of us who have arrived at an opposite conclusion? Does God say different things to different groups of miserable sinners? How many “gospels” can the Church proclaim?

    When I first became a Christian, it was powerfully impressed upon my mind and spirit that everything associated with my past lifestyle would have to go. Not because the Christians who evangelized me caused me to internalize their homophobia (there wasn’t any of that anyway), but because God Himself spoke to my heart and placed me under conviction.

    Did I hear from the wrong Jesus, the wrong Holy Spirit? I heard from the Jesus who speaks to us in the 19th chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel, and if that was all I ever learned about the proper governance of my sexual appetites, it would be more than enough for all time.

    Are we hearing from a different Jesus now, one who thinks that the pursuit of sexual chastity is no longer an absolutely necessary part of the Christian life? If we are, then we are not hearing from the Jesus of the New Testament and our beliefs and practices are not being informed and influenced by the same Holy Spirit who has guided the Church for 2000 years. And I cannot and will not accept the message that this new and very strange “Jesus” has to offer.

    The Episcopal Church is making a terrible mistake. It has unwittingly embraced a very subtle form of homophobia itself by essentially denying that persons who experience same-sex attraction can truly respond to the gospel and be transformed by God’s grace. That would be too difficult and too challenging so, like the “children of a lesser god,” they must be left where they’re at and be held accountable to a lower standard. How very sad!

    I refuse to accept that. God Himself calls sinners to repentance and He makes no exceptions in our case. He loves us too much for that, and what He calls upon us to do He also equips us to carry out. That is the message which must be restored to our Church if we are to be about His business and truly remain faithful followers of Jesus Christ.

  2. Elder Oyster
    17 September 2009 at 1:06 AM

    Hey there, episcopalianated!

    If an entreprenuar saves the first dollar they ever earned, then a blogger must save their first comment. It seems that you done that for me.

    Always good to hear from you, buddy.

    That one line, “Did I hear from the wrong Jesus, the wrong Holy Spirit?” sends shivers down my spine. Bp. Robinson hits the nail squarely on the head, in my opinion – it pretty much comes down to what you believe about God. http://www.standfirminfaith.com/?/sf/page/23976

    In other artcle over on StandFirm, he declares Christians like you and I to be idolators. I think that there is wisdom in that – not that I agree that he’s right about God’s character, but that I agree that one group has to have it so wrong about God, that they are in fact idolators.

    Peace and Favor,
    – E.O.

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