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Aug 07, 2006



"Next to me was a Very Hot Episcopalian."

Ah! Just what we're looking for to enter our Babelicious Bishops competition to find a suitable candidate (as in WOW!) to become the first female bishop in the Church of England. If she's not doing anything for the rest of her life and fancies a seat in the House Of Lords, tell her to get in touch.


If I may, I'd like to get your impression on a variation of the question the gentleman asked you. Please know that this is absolutely not an attempt to beg a question or to drag anyone into yet another meaningless debate. I'm just looking for people's perspectives for my own reflection.

With that in mind, "Why should a gay or lesbian person go to an Anglican / Episcopal church?"


John Wilkins

Hi Jeffrey,

This is a good question, but it is hard. It presumes, of course, that there is something objective, a peculiar identity that would be inviting to gay people. Since I have some trouble with the concept of "gay" or "straight" identity - especially in Christ- we'd have to come to some sort of description about what "gay identity" is that would be relevant to what an "episcopalian" is. I think that the reasons to join the Episcopal church are good reasons for everyone, including gay people. I think we have, in short, the right ecclesiology and a very pragmatic and reasonable view of scripture and prayer. I think this means that the Episcopal church is able to hold conflicting views with some talent. The reason why we are having such a challenging time now is that, in my view, the issue is settled: gay people are, in fact, a part of the church.

We're just trying to find the right language that recognizes this fact, but also attends to the deeper fears that some in the communion have.

I will say that in practice, most individual Episcopal churches don't dwell much on issues of sexuality or sexual behavior. So those gay and straight people who aren't asking those sorts of questions might find the Episcopal Church a bit more comfortable.

Granted, the national church is trying to manage this, but this is because it's not being addressed much locally. In my moderately liberal church, we take a fairly tolerant view, but if I were to start talking about recent hookups and wearing mascara, people would be uncomfortable. This would happen if I were gay or straight. Likewise, if I were to take a very strong view against orientation or about gay relationships, I would be challenged.

So if I were to pursue your question I would probably work on the idea of "identity" both in homosexuality and as a church; and then I would work, I suspect, on the practice / reflection / theology movement [we practice, we pray, we theologize and then we practice again]. Right now, the Episcopal Church practices a very inclusive view. It prays that. It is working on the theology.



Thank you for a very well-reasoned reply. What you mention in your first paragraph regarding identity and it being rather moot regarding our identity in Christ (I hope I correctly paraphrased your intent) is exactly the reason I belong to the Episcopal Church. While I may, as an individual, have a particular sexual orientation, as an Episcopalian, I am Christ-oriented and that eclipses everything else. One of the joys of the parish where my family and I are members is that we are not "that gay couple and their son", rather we are just another family in a congregation of souls.


Oh, if you don't mind, would it be permissible to (should time and occasion allow) incorporate your comments on my blog as an example of the inclusion that is available to all people regardless of their orientation?


After that erudite discussion on identity, I feel a bit more humble in offering that "knowing the story of Jesus" involves a lengthy traipsing through the Hebrew Bible that I, as a cradle Episcopalian, educated in an Episcopal boys' school, didn't get until my first year of EFM. Many (most?) clergy seem to take for granted that we plain-collared folk are conversant with the major and minor prophets and Torah. Were it so!

John Wilkins

My comments here are public. I am also flattered.


Sounds like you were witty enough, John! Way to go!

David Huff

So back to the most important* part- did you get hot, blonde Episcopalian's phone number ? ;->

* yes, tongue planted firmly in cheek...


Sounds like you were conversing with people whose only exposure to "God" was as some kind of dangerous demonic Moron. That's probably most people in this "Christian" country. I am not sure we can talk with these people. We can simply BE among them and hope that God gives us the grace to exemplify something that causes them to ask questions.

Realize that is harder since you are clerical -- you're stuck playing the pincushion for their resentments -- but suspect that it is still true.

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