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Aug 21, 2006


Chris T.

In my opinion, these civil outcomes are more important than church blessings


Matrimony isn't just an official recognition by some fallen human institution -- it's a Sacrament. Which is why some GLBTs in the church find it at least AS important as the civil recognition. Telling them to go someplace outside their church home to get that Sacrament, which is a right of all Christians (at least in reappraiser theology--my view, anyhow), is a failure of the church. Of course, the ministers of that particular Sacrament are the couple, but the presence of the priest and congregation are powerful and important for most couples.

I'm sensitive to everyone's frustration about this, and recognize that being outside TEC I'm armchair-churching here. But I don't see how a priest can claim civil partnerships are more important than the Sacrament of Matrimony. I certainly don't approach Matrimony that way...

John Wilkins

A couple things: First, I am a bit skeptical of holy matrimony, especially as celebrated in our culture. It seems to be an elevation of romance - I'm on the side that thinks churches shouldn't do weddings in the first place. Because of this, I'm wary of using the word "right" to matrimony.

but in practice one could still gather the community, have a priest who is present, and still include blessings. I didn't say one could not use the church. I just don't see why the church imprimatur is crucial - or as crucial as the congregation? Why does the congregation, gathered in the name of Jesus Christ, need the institution's approval? I'd even preach the homily. But I might, however, lead the blessing as a deacon - a servant of the community rather than as a representative of the bishop.


This is pragmatic tosh, Salty.
And you, unless you're gay, have no right to be pragmatic.
Apply your argument above to a different situation, in which you have an involvement, and you probably would not be so eager to capitulate to stupid people, and they are stupid people. If you read those books you mention, you know their arguments are not "real."
We resent the ABC because he refuses to be honest. This ridiculous thing he has about not being allowed an opinion of his own is crap. What other head of any org. has such silly ideas about leadership. Even that nice Tibetan bloke says what he believes. You're a leader in a little way - you say what you think, especially if it is a matter of integrity. Or does pragmatism rule everything in your life?

John Wilkins

It would be better, perhaps, if the ABC simply said what he believed. If the ABC were sent into exile somewhere he might be a bit more honest, but presently he seems surrounded by conservatives who are very loud. Where should we send him?

I'm not exactly sure if I would act differently - taking ideological positions may be, in itself, a tactical move. Also, do you assume that those most invested in a situation make the best decisions or have the strongest moral claims? Possibly. It depends, I think, on the outcome in part.

Note that I'm not advocating a "wait, wait" position. I think that the battle has been won in the west, and that we are in a position to step back - a far better place than we think we are. I also don't think we've accurately parsed what Akinola's true interests are (money? Sex? Religious power?). I'd like to have those revealed.

It does sound as if you are using the word "pragmatist" has a negative connotation. Actually, I am a pragmatist (in the US it is a philosophical school), although I think there are clearly situations when we must act aggressively to break a situation open.

Personally, I might be furious with the ABC if he were head of my own church, because that is where is authority is truly located. He could do the following: invite everyone to Lambeth; refuse to support flying bishops of any kind. This would deflate the work of many conservatives. And that is, after all, what he should do as Archbishop. As an aside, I'm more interested in what he does rather than what he says.

I wish I were a bit more pragmatic. :) But I spend far too much time on this blog!


I am an idealist. I am not naive about this - I know I will never achieve what I ideally want. I have no problem with the idealists over in that corner who oppose everything I stand for, but I do have problems with those boring pragmatists in the middle who screw up the synthesis. I also think pragmatists lie and have no integrity, although they would say they are just being pragmatic.

John Wilkins

To be precise, I tend to use the word "pragmatism" differently - I think for you it seems to be a political tool, whereas for me it is about the imperfect status of human knowledge.

I do think that there is some merit to stating very clearly what the vision - the kingdom - looks like. I don't hear much of that, these days. It's hard to answer that question "pragmatically."

As far as being honest, it would be interesting if Rowan said what he thought as Rowan and not as the Archbishop. But that's another problem, isn't it: how do our roles frame our identity? I probably state what I think a lot more than I would if I were not a priest because that is my role. I'm still fairly strategic, however, in how I work.

Of course, I appreciate the Hegelian reference. Very much.

John Wilkins

I would also add that you are right that it would be different if I were "capitulating." But I don't think we are.

I think we, in the US, have won the battle. Gay priests will still be ordained, and local dioceses still may consecrate gay bishops.


Yes, pragmatic in colloquial English means accepting the best you think you can get and working with that. It gives rise to statements like "that's just how life is, we have to accept it."

You in the States are miles ahead of us here in England and light years ahead of people in developing countries. If you do your usual isolationist thing because you're happy with what you've got, then that will stop us at the stage we are now, not the stage you are now.

So, your responsibility is not only for your gay brothers and sisters but also for the rest of the Anglican Communion. I really don't think you (plural) realise how much the rest of us have invested in your situation.


MadPriest, to my mind it's about strategy. Americans are more influential on world culture than they really "ought to be," by most measures of fairness. This is a great advantage economically, but when talking about pushing for changes to people's moral worldviews, I think it's actually a disadvantage. My impression of developing Christendom, as it were, is that there's a lot of resentment toward America for this reason. Pushing people too far before they're ready can produce the most awful backlash. I'm an outsider on the church issue, but were it my fight I would argue for caution because I do see an upward trajectory and think it's very important not to blow it.

It's interesting to me to hear you say that America is ahead of the UK on this matter -- I assume you must mean ECUSA rather than America-the-political-entity. It's been my impression that legally we're a fair bit behind most of Europe, including you, where gay rights are concerned (but perhaps more tolerant in daily social life? I've heard mixed things on this, but definitely seen a lot more open gay-mocking in Europe than here).


Getting bogged down in the detail (remembering the devil is always in the detail) detracts from the real issues to Christainity of accepting rather than tolerating Homosexuality (their is a massive difference).
If we accept one sexual deviance you have to accept ALL deviances (bestiality, paedophilia etc) can't use 'no descrimination' against one and then discriminate against another!
That's why we should NOT ACCEPT any deviance as normal...or a modern thing to do. There is no benefit at all to Christianity in changing our core beliefs...just the opposite as the Church will collapse...and with it the core beliefs that made it a world religion!!

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