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Feb 02, 2006



What is "pron"?

change the middle letters

Jared Cramer

All Mark has done is prove to us that most people don't understand homosexuality. Amen.

Phil Snyder

All Mark has done is prove to us that most people don't understand homosexuality.

Actually, I don't believe that anyone understands homosexuality and I rather doubt that we will ever understand homosexual desire. Heterosexual desire can be tied to the drive all species have to reproduce, but I doubt that we understand what produces that desire either. In terms of sexuality, we are still only a little more knowledgable than our ancestors.

Since we do not understand homosexual attraction and since the vast majority of the Anglican Communion (let alone the Church Universal) disagrees with the ECUSA about the morality of homosexual sex and since this is a change in our moral teaching, shouldn't we wait to be more secure in our understanding of the place of homosexual desire in God's Moral laws? Shouldn't we wait until we hear more of the Church saying: "It seems good to us and to the Holy Spirit...." Or at least shouldn't we wait until the majority of the Communion says that this is not a communion breaking issue? Aren't we called to operate out of agape and not gnosis (I Cor 8:1 and following)?

Phil Snyder

Jared Cramer

The tricky thing, Phil, is that those in the ECUSA believe that we have waited. We believe that we have seen God's fruit in faithful, monogamous same-sex relationships. We can do little but say with Peter in Acts 10, "Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" In other words, we have seen the work of the Spirit among them, can we withold fellowship in the communion of saints from them? We've been listening for 20 years. It was back in 1976 that we first committed to listening.

The real question today is will Christians who disagree with what our province has decided, through the structures and canon of our church, give us enough respect and charity?


Thank you Fr. John for suggesting again quality of relationship. Genitalizing not only comes across as pornographic from here, but as dehumanizing of both the relationship and persons in it. We don't do this to heterosexuals even when we find all sorts of less-than-quality relationships and even acts that though "covered in marriage" anywhere else would be called rape.

Thus far I've experienced an awful lot of gnosis and very little agape on the matter, and too few across the Communion bother to examine in the manner Lambeth has consistently called for, dispassionately, if sacrificial upbuilding love is found in faithful homosexual relationships of practicing Christians. They KNOW it is wrong without a hint of humility or a taste of love. Hell, in some places persecution with Anglican support is the norm.

J. C. Fisher

I want to say "Right on, Jared!", and this is why I have to admit I find McLaren---for all his "gentleness"---troubling.

He's drawing a false equivalence here.

LGBT Christians aren't looking for any "grand moral synthesis", they're looking for pastoral support, in the Here&Now. If he's serious about wanting to "treat gay and lesbian people with more dignity, gentleness, and respect" that means blessing same-sex unions now . . . and waiting for (the over-rated, IMO) "consensus" to come later.

BOTH "sides" have the Bible: that isn't going to change.

But LGBT Christians (and their allies) have the Bible plus something the other side doesn't: spiritual fruits, deriving from their sanctified living as (partnered) gay people. (Whereas the 'phobes can only ASSERT what we supposedly "don't have")

McLaren needs to take another look at that "Church in Laodicea": I spit you out, because you are neither cold nor hot. ;-/

Phil Snyder

JC Fisher
I am not a "'phobe" but I do not support the blessing of same sex unions. Here are what I see as the fruits of those decisions.

1. A huge drop in Average Sunday Attendence in the ECUSA.

2. A crisis in the Anglican Communion

3. Many parishes deciding that they can no longer be part of the ECUSA (and their numbers are not yet included in the ASA drop)

4. Unparalleled rancor within the ECUSA and in the wider Anglican Communion

5. The ECUSA being asked to temporarily withdraw from the ACC.

6. Anger and hatred and calling people names, such as "'phobe."

If the LBTG movement wants to be judged by its fruits, then it should produce better fruit. Their life should be so attractive that ASA is increasing in dioceses that are heavily LBTG friendly. People should be using the LBTG Christians as models of Christian behavior and spirituality. I have not seen either. All I see are people leaving the Church I love and anger and pain entering and growing. I see General Conventions repudiating all previous GC's so that this new innovation can be given sanction and I see the ECUSA thumbing its collective nose at the rest of the Anglican Communion.

By their fruits you shall know them? Come with me to prison where people come to find their need for Jesus and respond to Him and are changed by Him. Come with me to prison where a man I know is guilty of child molestation has had his life so changed that he is one of the most respected men in prison and has let others to know the redemptive love and power of Jesus Christ.

Phil Snyder


It's a popularity match, then, Phil? If more people "approve", it's okay?

WOmen clergy...

they were all popularity contests?

Phil Snyder

Yes, IT. It's all a popularity contest. You cut the the heart of my argument with incisive clarity. You saw through the smoke screen of anger and rancor and splitting the communion and the universal appeal to not proceed and saw the one truth - popularity.

Your wisdom knows no bounds.


Please re-read my post and talk about how the blessing of same sex unions occuring when the universal appeal of the rest of the Anglican Communion and our Ecumenical Partners as well as all previous resolutions of General Convention argued against it. Please discuss how the anger and pain that forcing this issue caused and how that anger and pain bring glory to God. Please show me how insisting on your "rights" (what are those, in relationship to God) shows you to be a servant of him who did not insist on his rights to a fair trial or to his rights as God incarnate. Please show me how splitting the communion brings honor to God.

Phil Snyder


My response, Phil, was driven by your #1 concern

1. A huge drop in Average Sunday Attendence in the ECUSA.

Given what I know about Christianity (and granted that my religious upbringing was many, manyyears ago) I recall that one can never be as wrong practising reckless inclusion, as one is by practising calculated exclusion.

But as I said, my religious upbringing was a long time ago and I've been on the outside for decades. So maybe I misremember that part.


BTW Hugo Schwyzer has some thoughts of this issue recently on his post on Christian obedience. It seems well thought out and as a member of the church, which I am not, no doubt makes the case better.

(My this topic seems to be on all the blogs).

John Wilkins

At some point a careful consideration of the consequences of Gene's ordination should be explored. I'd like to see this done accurately. I personally think that there were already big fault lines, and this merely exacerbated it.

The bad consequences, at this point, may be outweighing the good in terms of perception. But I don't thinnk this will be the case forever. I tend, in my own church, to get visitors who would never have considered intereing a church now intrigued. But think Episcopalians will be competing with people who have been 1) hurt in some fashion by evangelicals or Roman Catholics 2) attracted to buddhism, quakerism or unitariansim. so our competition will not, in fact, be other Christians, completely. it will be people looking at all other sorts of faiths.

But that's another blog entry.

Phil Snyder

IT, I see you don't even engage my other points, but seem to say: "Well, I don't like his first point, so I won't engage the others."

As for pointing me to the post on obedience, I can justify all actions by claiming to be obedient to my own version of what God calls me to, so that is a non-starter. If I am allowed (or I and a small group) to make up my own version of Justice and Righteousness, I can easily obey that. However, that is not what the Gospel calls us to and not what Jesus calls us to. Jesus said: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." He commands us regarding marriage saying it is a man and a woman becoming one flesh. We are given no other arrangement in Holy Scripture for the exercise of our sexuality.

John, I suspect that you are right about fault lines already being in existence - the "Issue" is only what presents us with these existing fault lines. The question is where does our authority lie? Is it in ourselves or is there some outside authority? If it is in ourselves, are there limits to what we can change? If so, where do we find them?

Phil Snyder

John Wilkins

Phil, I think scripture is a bit more liberating than you allow. Of course we are to keep his commandments, of which there are two central ones - love God and one another.

I think you place a higher value on marriage than either Jesus or Paul did, and if anything, the first "sexual unit" is actually of one, not of two.

Thus celibacy is actually the first call of Christians.

I read marriage, for Paul, to be an ambivalent institution that is useful - useful for protecting souls and managing lust. Jesus, in the passage usually quoted, seems to be challenging people on their hard hearts, with sympathy for women who are discarded after divorce. My reading is that there isn't a grand metaphysical claim Jesus is making about "one flesh" - which would be biologically incorrect - but a warning about breaking promises. I don't think Jesus was addressing an issue of homosexual marriage. I think the pharisees might have brought it up, if it was.

The crucial element is that Christians make promises, and are called to be faithful to one another in that promise. Marriage is useful because it increases abundance [of which children are one possibility] and protects souls. "One flesh" is poetically useful, but empirically untrue without the promise, which is bound by memory and public witness.

So in the end, I find the intrinsic claim about a sort genital activity being essential to obedience to be unimportant.


Well, if you put it first, that does imply you think it's most important.

Sorry, Phil, it just seems so one sided--and blames so much on the gays and those who would include them. It's very clear that your version of your church has no place for me and my partner. She hangs on in her church and stays closeted, and I gave up on the whole Church thing years ago.

Phil Snyder


We have several instances where Jesus found the application of the Mosaic Law to be unjust and he corrected it - the Sermon on the Mount being the primary example. Since Jesus did not comment on the laws concerning homosexual activity, one can surmise that he did not find anything against them. Of course, that is an argument from silence and very weak. However, nowhere in Scripture can there be found a positive depiction of homosexual activity - covenanted or not. Likewise, there is no positive depiction of homosexual activity in Tradition. Rather, there are several places (penitential guidelines, etc) where homosexual activity is condemned. The model that Jesus raised for sexual activity is one man, one woman, for life. Divorce is wrong (it may be the least wrong available, but it is still wrong) not just because it involves a broken promise, but because is breaks that one flesh created by marriage - "the union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind...." I know you are familiar with those words and have said them yourself on too many occasions to count. The Church cannot bless anything of its own authority. It can only bless what God blesses. Can you show me in scripture or tradition where God blesses homosexual sex?

Phil Snyder

Jared Cramer

Just as a note to clarify:

When I said you should "judge them by their fruits" I wasn't talking about the LGBT "movement." What I was talking about (and what "To Set Our Hope in Christ" did) was looking at the lives of LGBT members in-our-midst who are already living in faithful godly relationships.

As long as this debate is a struggle against movements (on either side) it is a worldly struggle. True progress at reconciliation and redemption will only be made when both parties engage with the real live people in our parishes who are working this out.



Yes, one thing that troubles me about Phil parsing Biblical texts is that he leaves out the here and now real PEOPLE. What do you offer them, Phil?

Phil Snyder

I offer them friendship and fellowship. I offer them Jesus and his message of love and reconciliation. I offer them a chance to repent and to be forgiven.

I visit murderers and rapists and child molesters. If I can offer them the hand of friendship and call them my brothers in Christ, then why can't I call a person who engages in homosexual sex one too?

The question is not one of fellowship, but of leadership and what does the Church have the authority to bless. I submit that a person who is living a sinful life and refuses to call that life sinful is not ready for the burden of leading the people of God.

It is a fact that we tend to give up to God last those aspects of ourselves that we hold most dear. Our sexuality is very dear to us as human beings. It is a very strong drive in us. I am not surprised that many people who experience homosexual attractions are not yet willing to give that up to God or to recognize it as an impediment to God. That does not mean that God cannot be active in their lives or that they do not bear good fruit. It does mean that God is not active in their homosexual actions - their genital contact with members of the same sex.

I don't know how to make it more clear. IT is welcome in my church - and his/her partner as well. Just don't expect the Church to bless your sexual relationship. Do expect to be changed as a person by your interaction with God and with His people. I have been changed and you will be too. I have resisted that change and I anticipate you will too. That's OK. God is patient and will be there when your (or my) way doesn't work.

Phil Snyder

John Wilkins

although I appreciate your sentiment, Phil, the problem is the comparison with "I visit murderers and rapists and child molesters."

I think there is an intuitive leap, perhaps, that we reappraisers make. We simply don't put these in the same set as gay activity, in part because these violate the "do unto others" test.

Does God's absence [?!] make it peculiarly "unholy"? Even within a marriage one can claim that sex may or may not be holy.

And what of holding hands, or doing what a marriage normally consists of - watching TV together, cooking, caring for children.

Phil Snyder


I did not mean to imply that homosexuality was a sin on the same level as murderers, rapists, and child-molesters. I meant to say that I visit and have fellowship with these men and their sin is far worse than the sin of homosexual sex. I still hold that homosexual sex is sinful - as I am sure you know. If I can have fellowship with some of the worst sinners known in society, what should keep me from having fellowship with people who are beset by homosexual desire and act on it?

Let me be clear (or as clear as possible in this medium). Homosexual sex (particularly in a mutually monogamous relationship that looks like marriage) is probably one of the least sins, but it is still a sin. One of my beefs with my more conservative brethern is that they focus on homosexual sex and blow it all out of proportion. I believe that there is a measure of self-righteousness in this by some people. "I may be a sinner, but at least I don't...." By focusing on others' sins, we tend not to focus on our own.

Having said that, I still believe that the Church does not have the authority to bless a sexual union between two men or two women, nor should it raise up to a leadership position someone who refuses to recognize his or her behavior as sinful.

As to your hypothetical, if that is all that two men did, then I would have no problem with it - as long as it did not involve sexual expression or continous desire.

Phil Snyder


So what about the divorced bishops, Phil? I believe there are quite a few of those.

Or the gay canon in England who was avowedly celibate, but still rejected for the bishopric?

Is straight adultery a worse sin than monogamous homosexuality?

Because we GLBT seem to be picked out as uniquely awful.

Meanwhile my partner is afraid to come out to her priest because she thinks that he will deny her communion and send her away from the church. For the sin of loving me faithfully. I wonder how many adulterers and divorces sit quietly in the pews.

Phil Snyder

For divorced bishops, I would want to know the reasons. "We've grown apart" doesn't cut it. "My wife left me for another man" might.

The gay Canon in England is living with his former partner. If I were a bishop, I would not accept a straight person's assertion that the relationship which was sexual is now platonic - particularly if the two people were sharing a home.

Straight adultery is worse that monogamous homosexuality. It is even worse than monogamous homosexual sex. MHS is analagous to fornication - sex before marriage.

I agree that the GLBT group has been picked out, but the conservatives are not the one who keep pressing the issue. It is the GLBT activists who keep pressing the issue. They claim to undo 3000 years of moral teaching with 30 years of new thinking.

I am sorry your partner is afraid to tell her priest who she sees herself as and is afraid of being cut off from the sacraments. Not all "conservatives" are honest about what they believe, but the vast, vast VAST majority of those I know are and would not cut off anyone from the sacraments for this sin.

Phil Snyder

John wilkins

"undone" 3000 years of moral teaching isn't quite accurate. Rather, its affirming one moral teaching at the expense of another. We prioritize abundance, mutual encouragement and submission, self-control, and joy. If single homosexuality means despair, anger, self-hatred, secrecy and lack of control, then clearly the "closet" or self-imposed [rather than divinely ordained] celibacy dishonors the happiness that God has promised.

The new "thinking" follows practice. Since birth control and the growth of social mobility due to capitalism, the church finds itself on brand new territory.

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