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Mar 24, 2006


Phil Snyder

I also was troubled by the "fake painting" anology. I think a better anology would be fake medicine. As you probably know, the word "save" and "salve" have the same root. In one French translation of Scripture, (I have been told), we are not "saved" by Jesus, we are "healed" or "salved" by Him. This image is of real use to me because I see us as spiritually sick (that bit about being fallen creatures). Paul discusses our human nature in Romans 7 (particularly the end of 7).

I see the ECUSA, today, giving out fake salve-ation. What they are selling does not call us to repentence and renewal for all our sins. It only calls us to repentence for some of our sins - those sins that are socially unacceptable such as greed, envy, racism or homophobia. Where is the salve against pride or lust? Where is the salve against theological imperialism and against telling the rest of the body "We have no need of you and your opinion does not matter to us."

Phil Snyder

John Wilkins

Well, I think the issue is whether the gospel also works for gay people. liberals are pretty sure it does, and the the transformation means being lifted from the shame of their own humanity. the alternative is to say that gay people are disordered, kind of like someone with a sickeness that can't be healed, or that, it is a deep enough sickness, god could not work the sacraments through them.

Phil Snyder

The Gospel works for gay people too and the sacraments are effecacious for them as well.

Reasserters do not say that homosexuals cannot become priests or bishops. The assert that they should not become priests or bishops.

The question of being disordered is one we all have to face. I am disordered; so are you; so is everyone. When I act out of my disorder, I sin; so do you; so does everyone.

One thing I learned from Thomas Merton is that we surrender to God last those things that are dearest to us. I suggest that our sexual identity is very dear to us, but even if it is the dearest thing in our lives to us, if we express our sexuality in ways that are against God's will, we sin. That is the crux of the matter. The Church has taught for all of its history that homosexual sex in all contexts is sinful. Israel taught for all of its history that homosexual sex in all of its contexts is sinful. If we are going to change the moral teaching of the Church to declare that some homosexual sex is not sinful, then lets have that discussion and do the theological work necessary to make that change. It will take years or decades, but if God is truly behind it, it will not fail. But to put facts on the ground before we have that conversation and before we, as a Church make that change is itself rebellious and sinful and will cause schism. Please, don't divide the body of Christ further because you think you are right in the face of overwhelming rejection of your arguments by the rest of the Church.

Phil Snyder

John Wilkins

As you know, phil, there are a few assumptions you make that I disagree with.

First, I'm not sure about "all contexts," for scripture was not written in our context - a time of high capitalism where death, sex and property have been effectively separated. The biblical culture we inhereit says that homosexual sex is NEVER beneficial. But the evidence seems to indicate that there are contexts where this is not always true.

I think we have a deep disagreement about what sex is. I think of it as, first, a form of communication. In a world where the most important consequence of sex was understood to be children, it makes sense that this would be regulated. I don't think of sex as first about procreation. It is about, I think, creating a household economy based on peace.

I happen to think that, in due time, this will change for a couple reasons. The first is the economic liberation of women. Once women have more choices, they will demand to have partners who truly desire them. When women have less power, homosexuality remains a secret. Even now, we are seeing that Anglican Women have decided that homosexuality won't divide their work together.

Perhaps the thing most dear to us is our own sense of righteousness. In this case, we would both have to give it up, our need for the world to stay the same, and the need to love. Plainly, in individual circumstances, gay people find the face of God in their partners.

Of course, if homosexuality is a disorder then you are perfectly correct. Yet, the church has been wrong before.

Caelius Spinator

A. Phil: Roman Catholics are beginning to say that celibate but openly gay men cannot be priests, that they are as invalid matter as women for Holy Orders (a fact not universally accepted pre-Nicaea) and only in part accepted until about 1000 A.D. I think this is John is talking about when he is talking about the sacraments. I'm glad you disavow this (as I suspect you do).

B. Yes, Phil. Let's do the theological work. Let's do the theological work on contraception, which was sloppy and the theological work on women's ordination, which was sloppier. Let's do the theological work on the episcopate, which seems to be lacking.

But let's not pretend we're the first to do such work. Let's not pretend that the martyrology and the liturgy of the ancient church (and even the most condemnatory texts of the Fathers) haven't tried such theologizing (if sometimes only to reassert their condemnation by restricting their case to the most obvious and the most perjorative). Let not reasserters and revisionists continue to pretend that homosexual orientation is not discussed in the Holy Scriptures, only homosexual acts. And let both sides be clear about context: whether the context is prior to the act or posterior.

For that process I do pray and would be willing to stop some of the silliness on the local level and urge some sacrificial restraint higher up if it could be done. But all I see is ++Akinola calling all gays the slurs reserved for qedeshim , Father Harding+ supporting reparative therapy, and Father wb+ suggesting that any notion of homosexual orientation is Christological heresy. I don't think some reasserters want more orthodox revisionist (reformational, shall we say) theology, they want revisionists to shut up or go away. And that wounds the Body gravely.

But Phil, glory to God for your sake that you are so rooted and grounded in love as to maintain an open mind and put your trust in God to settle this.

Father Gawain--

"It will be very useful proclaiming an "alien gospel." Has anyone ever considered how we would preach to those abducted by our outer-space visitors? After all, there are more abductees than Episcopalians. And eventually, when we want to preach the Word to other planets, an alien Gospel will be exactly what we need."

I spend far more time than I should thinking about this problem and have concluded that we prepare for such distant possibilities by being clear about the essentials of the Gospel and then being ready to understand the liberation that Christ's death and resurrection could bring to the particular experience of an alien species. If one wants to evangelize aliens, one really has to learn how to evangelize human beings first.

J. C. Fisher

The Church has taught for all of its history that homosexual sex in all contexts is sinful. Israel taught for all of its history that homosexual sex in all of its contexts is sinful.

This is simply FALSE, Phil. Not knowing anything of "homosexuality" neither Biblical Israel, nor the Church (for it's first 1900 years or so) knew anything about "homosexual sex" (and therefore, COULD NOT have taught it was sinful).

The question, Phil, is whether you are one of those Christians who is going to continue to willfully propagate this falsehood (speaking of acting on a disordered nature!), or whether you will pause. And think. And study Scripture (this time, without the prejudicial blinders). And pray. And repent.


But in terms like "Choose This Day", John, in looking at more and more stuff coming out of "Lambeth" (generally, inc. the Bp of Exeter's lecture of the HofB), I must agree that such a choice is coming.

Not for TEC: we're committed to following Christ, no matter the cross(es).

But for all other Anglicans, world-wide---will they join us on that Way of the Cross, even as outcasts, or will they stick w/ an AC showing every sign of (as Anglican Scotist says) "spiritual death" even rigor mortis?

Phil Snyder


I will not be so mundane to point out all the places in Scripture that refer to sex between the members of the same sex. You know them as well as I do. I will point out that the only positive example of sex we have in Scripture is sex between a man and a woman - not between a man and one or more men or a man and one or more women or woman and one or more women or a woman and one or more men. My original statement stands. To say that the ancient world did not know about people attracted to members of the same sex is patently FALSE. Plato knew about such attractions and the authors of Holy Scripture knew about them too - otherwise Paul would not have written as he did about the issue.

You claim to follow Christ. How do you know him? Is it the same Jesus that made the law harder to obey, not easier? Is it the same Jesus that indicated that unless we die to our self, we cannot follow him? Is it the same Jesus that the Church has proclaimed for close to 2000 years? I wonder because the "Christ" I see you following is far too ready to break fellowship over this issue and is far too ready to follow the spirit of modern western society.

Phil Snyder

John Wilkins

Phil, you are right about the details, but I'm surprised you don't ask yourself why scripture says it is like so. I think you also assume that sex merely communicates gender.

What did the Jews know about sex in the 1st century? Well they knew, generally, that men are men and women are women. They also knew that sperm was a limited resource, and that women were empty vessels. Gay behavior was, in part because it was wasteful, against nature. Did Jews really think that such relationships were loving? Where do they say this?

Paul says a few things: first is that celibacy is the call of the Christian. Second, he also says that, for the sake of modifying lust, marriage is possible. Why do we decide he would not apply the same logic when we know that same sex behavior is more normal than we had presumed, and that sex communicates many different social characteristics - peace, status, security, to name a few.

Think through this a little, Phil. What was at stake in scripture? Try.

Phil, if you had once choice: secreted priests who acted out, or priests who were open, loving and reliable teachers of the Gospel, which would you choose? Progressives see this as the choice between us.

Phil Snyder

I choose priests who are first faithful to God and then faithful to the Church. I choose priests who are open, loving and faithful teachers of the Gospel. I choose priests who are faithful to their wives or husbands in marriage and celibate in singleness. If a person who is not married cannot be celibate, that person should not put him/herself forward as a candidate for holy orders.

God designed sex for several things. It is a large part of the bonding for husband and wife. Procreation is (or used to be) impossible without it. God designed it to be between the husband and wife. Looking at homosexual sex, I don't see natural design. The parts just don't fit. Homosexual sex is less than what God desires and designed for us.

I assume you are familiar with the modern story that sin derives from an archery term to miss the mark. The way I look at it, we are so flawed as human beings that we cannot hit the mark. We can't stop sinning. The Church blesses us in our lives to assist us to hit the mark - knowing we will miss. However, we must still aim. We must still pull the bow back as far as we can and we must try to hit the target. Homosexual sex is aiming at the wrong target. The Church lacks the authority to bless aiming at the wrong target.

With your stated purpose of sex as being about communication, why is it important that sex be monogamous? Why can't we communicate with multiple people?

Phil Snyder

John Wilkins

Phil, I was inviting you to look at it from the progressive perspective: hypocrisy or opennness. But you don't answer the question. That's fine - but don't expect me to begin defining the "right target."

I note that you do resort to "husband and wife" to resort to sex, which is probably where we begin to diverge. I think reasserters take a very high view of genital activity (and thus, gender), which I don't, as I think the resurrection renders gender morally irrelevant - what is first relevant is our relationship with Jesus. I think focusing on genital activity is a bias, a bias that, in fact, scripture is moving away from. But the relationship about men and women does say a lot about the household economy, which is very important in scripture, to God. God wants us to have abundance, and the first welfare relationship is in the family.

I'm not sure what your question is about communication, but heterosexuality surely does not mean fidelity. In fact, the popular morality of the day is serial monogamy. Most people think that having multiple partners is a bad idea, if only because it's confusing. I find it odd to assume that sexual complementarity magically leads to fidelity. The evidence doesn't indicate that. What is not being asked is what the incentives toward marriage really are, and what they have been.

As the state permits gay marriage, we'll find ourselves in an odd state, for then we'll have two different definitions. I hope you can see the trap gay people will find themselves in. Paul noted that it would be impossible for straight people to stay celibate (unless, perhaps, called). And he did think that homosexual sex was unnatural. But if he is wrong that homosexual sex is unnatural, then we've got a different set of issues.

The problem with your digression into sin is that it suggests that noone is suitable for ordination. if it is true we are all sinners, then we have to choose the best way to manage our sins. Alcoholics abstain. Lusty people marry. The pure stay celibate. Note - I think it is the sincerely called who should be celibate. So we do what is beneficial, as Paul would have it.

When it comes to "the parts don't fit," I admit I'm a bit confused. Studies show that women find that when men do the cleaning, they get aroused. House cleaning is, it seems, a sort of foreplay. People do a variety of things during sex that don't really make a lot of sense, not if we take a procreative view. And it seems that good married sex doesn't rely on the finality or selfishness of the orgasm as its goal but on the giving of pleasure. I think that people "fit" in many different ways - after all, I don't fit with every woman - not in a spiritual or Christian sense. Why should we abstract this idea of gender, and not elevate, instead, the particularity of human beings who seek a journey together.

As far as multiple partners, the bible does tend to permit polygamy. I tend to think that it creates more problems than it solves.

J. C. Fisher

Phil, I've written a dozen angry "where you say 'x', I say 'not x'!" responses, and deleted them all. They're beside the point (and bad for my blood pressure).

I just honestly believe that you don't know Jesus yet.

....but I'm praying you will. (His incomparable love! His boundless mercy! His all-saving grace!)

God bless!

[Wasn't there an entry on LEAC here, John? What happened to it? Or am I going nuts?]

Phil Snyder

JC - I know Jesus. I am filled with His love. Powered by His grace and transformed by that grace.

I served him (like the elder son in Luke 15) for several years. I was a dutiful churchgoer who moved his "Jesus piece" around the "churchopoly" game board. I was an acolyte, a member of the EYC and an EYC officer.

Then, during a retreat, I discovered that none of that mattered. What mattered was having a relationship with Jesus. One where I could participate in the Life that God enjoys within the perichorises (dance) in the Holy Trinity. Not only was I saved from specific sinful acts, I was saved from my own sinful nature! I was transformed from a person who hated and was angry all the time to a person who loves and could come in a join the feast that the Father throws for the younger brother in Luke 15. I no longer said: "This son of yours" but rather "This, my brother was dead and is now alive." I realized those many years ago that I, too, had left home. But God came out to me and called me into Joy. That has not always been easy nor has it been fun, but it has always been joyful. I am being changed from the resentful man I was to the joyful man I will become. I am being tranformed to the image of God that was marred by sins and by sinfulness.

Thanks be to God that He found me and washed me clean in the blood of Jesus. Thanks be to God that, through the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus that I can have fellowship with God and can be transformed into His son.

Phil Snyder

Phil Snyder


The "parts don't fit" comes from my background as a software designer. They just don't fit mechanically. The "interface" is all wrong.

I agree that none of us is worthy of ordination. But the difference is that I repent of my sins as soon as I know them. When I engage in an act that the Church calls sinful, I repent. However, the rappraisers today are trying to call what the church calls "sin" to be "blessed." This is the big difference. Until The Church changes its moral teaching (and doctrine is not the purpose of General Convention, so it lacks the authority to change Doctrine), homosexual sex is still considered sinful by the Body of Christ. We should not put forth a leader who does not teach what the Church teacher and does not live as the Church says we are to live.

Phil Snyder

John Wilkins

The "Parts Don't Fit" however, although useful for software, isn't quite an accurate description of sex. Nor is it an accurate description of what happens in a healthy marriage. At least in my pastoral care I talk a lot about communication.

Your description of the difference between ordination and the laity is interesting. So you are saying and ordained person repents of sins. A lay person doesn't (or doesn't have to, or not instantaeously). And the criteria is awareness. Once you become AWARE you repent.

This is what a gay person goes through - when they read scripture, the awareness is of being a child of God. They do not become aware that - because they are gay they are sinners - but as love by God their sin becomes transformed. They do not become classified as any different, but welcome. The sin they become aware of is the sin of deceit (and self-delusion). The progressives are not "blessing" sin - but rather, this sin becomes part of the category of pollution, rather than a sin of character. Homosexuality, as a sin of pollution, goes the way of other abominations; sexual greed and lust, as a sin, remains.

I admit, I am a protestant when it comes to doctrine and Dogma (in part of my love of Schleiermacher). So, outside of the two creeds, the Lord's prayer and the catechism, its up to us to do the work of setting the boundaries as best as we are able. And this is a good thing. Jesus, himself, was a great transgressor, not eliminating them, but noting that boundaries are for us, and not always for God.

John Wilkins

To be more clear, when you say, "the parts don't fit" you do not describe what exactly are the parts in a marriage. There are several different parts. Clearly "A Part Must Fit" {say that part of, mutual love] but not "every part must fit" [say my wife may love NASCAR and I love poetry].

I encourage you to broaden your understanding of marriage to include things besides genital activity. I don't think of it as the defining characteristic, rathe than, for example, mutual work.


Hear hear salty; I and other gay folks weary of being reduced to what we may or may not do in bed, in a way that no straight couple has to face. I AM MORE THAN HOW I HAVE SEX, PHIL.

Karen B.

I wonder who they paid to do that to a bible.

Ah John, you obviously missed the closing credits. "No actual bibles were harmed in the making of this video".

In November, when I watched the videos, I scared my whole office staff with my uncontrollable hysteric laughter when I saw that line! (Not that I thought it was a real Bible being shredded, but that the video producers felt they needed to include that line... It almost is beyond parody! I'm STILL chuckling months later!!)

Anyway, that bit of over the top "parody-like" seriousness aside, I thought it was a really well-done & helpful series. Good for promoting discussions, anyway, though I doubt many minds will be changed.

Bruce W. Morrison

Well, you two can go back and forth all day, but Rowan William said two years ago that when push came to shove the conservatives would be the ones left in the church. Queen E told the ABC "don't let anything happen to my conservatives." It looks to me like the liberals in America are in for a jolt.


This is all the language of country club membership, and excluding "the other". You know: "we don't want THEIR sort here!"


(Just today visiting your site, John, via titusonenine.)

To both John and Phil:
I have enjoyed the back and forth between the two of you. While Phil and I are of very like minds, it does me good to try to understand where "the other side" is coming from.

Thanks very much.

Brad Drell


I have to tell you that your statement that you preach the Gopsel and people leave is not true. You need to look at what you are preaching and your delivery, but, often, the delivery makes all the difference.

Where he is lifted up, all men will be drawn to him.


John Wilkins

Brad, you are correct. And not simply in the obvious way. I tend to think that the medium itself (the gestures, the rhetoric) has theological consequences even deeper than the words themselves. But how do we even begin to articulate such things? I think the gospel has the map. Our comprehension is child-like, however.

Of course, my statement was mainly to demonstrate the fragility of the committment of Christians in my parish.


i just wish they could have found someone more famous than Grant Goodeve. Grant Goodeve?!? Eight is indeed Enough.. and i adored the show as a kid. But is he the only famous conservative Episcopalian? :)

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