Monday, June 23, 2008

Demonstrative church?

While I've been off on an unwired holiday on Colonsay there's been a great conversation over on Kenny's blog about same-sex marriage ceremonies. At least, it was such a ceremony which started the discussion, but having entered it rather late I felt like thinking here as well.

I can see that it seems provocative for a couple of male priests to celebrate just before Lambeth what looks to all intents like a wedding. I can see that there's a good old demo involved in inviting Bishop Gene Robinson to St Mary's Cathedral at the same time as the Lambeth Conference to which he's not invited. I can see why a cool head might suggest that such actions will only serve to drive the wedge further into the riven Anglican Church, and that better progress might be made by a softly, softly approach.

But I see also, and far more clearly, that to pussyfoot around and advocate subtlety can only really be advocated by someone who cares more, perhaps, about the whole than about the parts. Does it not come down to putting the Anglican Communion before common justice? Do we really care about staying in the same tent as people who would deny the humanity of their fellow-Christians? Perhaps it's because I was not a cradle Piskie that I don't really care about the worldwide Anglican Communion - at least, not nearly as much as I care about affirming the rights of all God's people to answer the call to serve God as priests, to demonstrate their love for one another in the way that everyone else does, and to celebrate that love before God and among their friends.

I suspect that it’s harder for men than it is for women to accept gay men, and harder still for ordained men to understand the frustrations of people who have for reasons of gender or orientation been denied what they have attained. But that doesn’t make it all right. It just means more self-examination and self-awareness – and the self-discipline never, ever to allow themselves to dismiss the struggles in this area as unimportant in the face of whatever horrors the world throws up. That, I’m afraid, is too easy.


  1. Well, now then! "Seems provocative" is a bit of an understatement. The form of the service, the timing and the location, plus the fact it was extremely public (a landau from the Church to the Ivy Resturaunt for crying out loud! My Presbyterian upbringing thinks it is not at all meet for the clergy to splash out so ridiculously - where is St Francis's Sister Poverty? On holiday and replaced by a Sister of Pertpetual Indulgence!)meant it was very provocative indeed.

    But like you, I see also the need to challenge the staus quo visibly. Sitting quietly and meekly at the table or doing a Syro-Phoneician Woman act does tend to be what the genuinely sympathetic, often male, frequently ordained and inevitably heterosexual "moderates" would like the LGBT's in the Church to do. "Be quiet, be good, be pastient and we'll get you what you want in God's good time". Just as with uppity wimmin over ordination, they get very flustered and angry when the grateful and downtrodden gays don't do it the way they want them to. "Stuff this for a game of soldiers, we're not waiting for you in your straight largesse of freedom to graciously condescend to give us a crumb from the table when it's convenient and won't hack off the homophobes too much. We are made in God's image, beloved of the Father, redeemed by the Son and led by the Spirit. This is God's promise, our right by divine adoption and we are claiming it NOW! Not at the ABC's convenience."

    Trouble is, I also love Africa and the Ugandan Anglicans I met there and have links with. Quite how you resolve the tension between your inner militant, your sensible middle aged Rector and your law abiding berliever in Epsicopal order who really disapproves of that bloke at St Bart's ignoring the clear instructions of his Bishop I am not sure.

    But blithely breaking the Law sits ill with my natural tendency to proceed through the proper channels in order to make the changes permanent not temporary and for all not just for some who are lucky enough to live in the right Province of the Anglican Communion. Ptrobably why I am a Liberal in politics, not a radical socialist!

  2. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Too much softly-softly leads to a state of play where ++Rowan wiggling his eyebrows is taken as approval or otherwise.

    I see what you're saying about the relative value of the AC versus justice; however, there is one twist in the tail: if either Nigeria or TEC were to leave the AC, there would be less redress against the parasitic operations of CANA.

    Besides, if we believe in "maximum positive" (what I got from both Faith&Order board's response to the covenant, and from what I read about Synod recently), then we *must* hang in there on the offchance of persuading the Global South and related folks to see sense.