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July 16, 2004

Comments

joe

There is a part of me that wants to respect the openmindness of the MCEC board-- really; but I couldn't tell you why. Another part of me, my conservative side, says whoa! what is all this change about, am I missing something in the Bible? I think what troubles me is the term openmindness, does it always needs lead to change? Because one sticks to their guns, does that mean they have all the answers or are closeminded?

Tell mom things are changing-- many of us are writing real good.

James

I love this line:
"We believe God is calling us to find our place of meeting in Christ rather than with those who agree
with us in order to stand against those who disagree with us."

I beleive at deep levels that we cannot see the multifaceted beauty of the faith until all the facets are present. Great post!

Orange Hans

Hugo,
I agree with your mother. 'She writes well' just sounds right; 'She writes good' doesn't.

I suppose I am among the Mennonites who simply see homosexual behavior as sinful. I also believe that Christians who are homosexuals should choose to remain celibate, just as single heterosexual Christians should. I just thank God that we are saved by his grace, not our behavior.

Brandon

Hugo,

As I read your postings from day to day I see a man whose temperance, kindness, and wit I hope to one day attain. Thanks for setting the bar so high!

John

To answer your question, I am in a constant state of dialogue. In my circle of friends, I have three neo-pagans, two High Anglicans (one liberal, one not) two Jehovah's Witnesses, a Muslim, a Hindu (whom I treat as family), two agnostics, and two Conservative Christians, apart from me, not to mention my Catholic friends in the Cardinal Newman Society, who dragged me along to Mass. I also have thriving sparring relationships with a Unitarian Jew, the President of the Young Socialists and several members of the Green Party. We fight all the time, offend each other regularly, disagree loudly, and enjoy each other hugely anyway. In our church, however, there are few dissenters on issues of morality. We accept the inerrancy of Scripture, hence many of these are non-issues, but the way we live them out causes a little debate.

Speaking personally, I have found dialogue with liberals to be extremely difficult, and I try it every year. We speak different languages, share different assumptions, and practise different faiths, really. I resent their assumption that I need inclusivity lessons, I'm annoyed by the fact that they assume I am a nasty bigot who wants to kill gays. My experiences with "inclusivity" were summed up for me when the President of SCM asked within a sentence or two of meeting me: "What do you believe" And when I answered "I'm an Evangelical" she said "Why don't you conservatives just leave so we can have an inclusive church?" I've found this in many attempts to be the rule, rather than the exception.

Hugo

Thanks everyone! John, what an awful thing for the SCM woman to say; on behalf of liberals everywhere, my apologies!

ginger

Your mother and I think alike!!

John

Thanks Hugo-You are about the only liberal I have ever met who is truly inclusive. (And I have met many). I have yet to decide whether it is a grace or the result of chronic indecision. ;-)

David Morrison

The trouble I with inclusivity is that it seems to flow from the premise that all beliefs are of equal value just because the people who have them are deserving of equal respect. The latter I firmly believe as much as I disbelieve and disagree with the former.

One of my heroes is G.K. Chesterton who once expressed the opinion that the real usefulness of an open mind is that it stand ready and poised to close down and chew on some idea or another.

Way back when, when I first revealed my same sex attraction and "gayly active" life to my evangelical, English educated, Episcopalian pastor he said, "David, if you need me to affirm what you do in bed, I can't, because I believe that's sin. But if you need me to affirm you as a brother in Christ, I can do that because everyone who welcomes Christ is welcome here."

My problem with the "liberal" side of these discussions is that liberality is usually defined as agreement with the their positions - and if there is no agreement then the charge arises that I participate in oppression or similar accusation.

I remember one heated editorial meeting on my steady path toward orthodox Christianity from so called gay Christianity. One of my frequenet opponents at one point almost growled, "you never listen to me!" To which I replied, "no, I do listen to you, I just don't agree with you, there is a difference!"

My bottom line is that God created people, men, women and children, in His image and likeness and that means we all deserve respect and we are called to respect one another. Ideas however, are not equal and ideas which appear pernicious (for example, in previous ages, Arius' idea that Christ is not really God) deserve to be fought and discredited as much as the people held by these ideas deserve to respected, prayed over and loved.

Hugo

Nicely put, David. But the Mennonites in Canada are not claiming that all points of view are equally valid or truthful; they are saying that all points of view need to be heard and belong in the church. It is possible to say:

1. Most of us believe X behavior is contrary to the will of God.

2. A minority of us believe X is compatible with the will of God.

3. We as a church body will not bless or sanction X behavior.

4. BUT those who do engage in X behavior are welcome here, and we will continue to listen to them as they advocate for a change in our position. We will live in honest loving disagreement, waiting for the Holy Spirit.

John

"How do we know when the Spirit has spoken?"

A: "When it is in accord with Holy Scripture"

The Catechism of the BCP

Hugo

But John, now we're getting circular again! You and I both know that folks in good conscience can disagree about the plain meaning of Romans 1, 1 Corinthians 6, and so forth...

John

They like to think they can. ;-)

David Morrison

This is precisely part of my point. These discussions tend to go anywhere in the end because the left side of the discussion, at least lately, has said "we believe the Spirit has spoken so we are going ahead with what we want to do anyway. Witness the Canturbury Confusion or otherwise known as my former communion, the ECUSA.

Hugo, for the liberal side of this discussion to be in correct, in my opinion, we have to throw away the consistent witness of 2000+ years of Christians as to the purpose and meaning of human sexual expression.

We have to throw away the probable meaning of scripture as well, not only the scriptures which discuss homosex directly, but the scriptures around what it means to be Christ's, what is means to be a member of His body and what it means to be part of his Bride, the Church.

Are we so bold, so arrogant in one view, to decide that we know so much more than St. Francis, St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Paul? Could all the generations of Christians that came before us just been wrong about all this, wrong about what the human body means, wrong about the notion that design indicates function?

I couldn't buy it any longer - and I shock myself now that I ever did. But its only for one side the discussion to proclaim 'the Spirit, the Spirit' and act as it likes...oh, and then when the orthodox Christians object, they are being "mean spirited" and "bigoted" and "oppressive."

Robert

David -

You cannot seem to help yourself? "Canterbury Confusion"? I have presumed that you wanted to be taken seriously based on the content of your ideas, but your regular willingness to hurl insults and loaded word choices implies that you are more interested in winning debate points with witty retorts and ad hominem attacks.

To the extent you are attempting dialogue (otherwise, why else would you post?), your method makes it impossible. The disdain with which you apparently hold those who disagree with you is palpable.

I admire the confidence you have in your perception of the Truth, and I pray for your patience with those who have not yet attained your level of understanding. However, I must say, to me, you offer little in terms of an ability to persuade others.

I mean you no ill will, but I think I need to disengage from further dialogue with you and avoid reading your posts.

Peace.

- Robert

blackkoffeeblues

Wow, this is a great dicussion. My simple two cents...I believe that homosexuality is sin. I believe that distain for God's greatest creation, humankind, is sin. I believe that we are called to reach out to all humankind with God's grace, patience and love, to do otherwise, is sin. We are all born of sin and are sinful in nature...if we were capable of perfection on our own, we would not need God. Our refusal of God in search of our own perfection would be sin. We all desire love and inclusion from someone or something. What we are all truly seeking is God's grace, forgiveness and most of all his love in order to be whole.

My only complaint...when someone gets in my face with their beliefs and tells me that I am intolerant...aren't they being intolerant of me and my faith? Why are Christians criticized for our "intolerance" and those who are critical of Christianity are not?

Hugo, haven't you heard? 40 is the new 30!

Robert

Hi Blackkoffeeblues -

As one who disagrees with your belief re homosexuality, I wanted to note that I agree with you that the immediate labeling and accusation of those who are not gay-affirming as "intolerant", "close-minded", or "mean-spirited" is not fair or accurate. (To be sure, some who are not gay-affirming are all of those things, but, then, so are some on of those on the other side.)

I believe that one can, with integrity and faithfulness, be not gay-affirming. And, I can and do respect that point of view. Indeed, insofar as discussions about homosexuality are taking place in the Church, it is precisely because of your (and others') identification as Christians that I consider such opinions. So, the question remains, are those who are not gay-affirming able or willing to consider those of us who disagree with you as fellow Christians? For me, agreement on this single issue is just not the litmus test I employ to discern the authenticity of another's faith and commitment thereto.

No need to answer, but something to think about.

blackkoffeeblues

Nicely put and excellent question...thank you. Yes, I do believe that gay-affirming people can be Christians. I think that I was hoping to mean that when I said that distain for humankind is sinful. I suppose that I should have said that outright. Thank you for the kind shove in that direction. We are all sinful in nature, regardless of what that sin is...I don't believe in levels of sin. In its simplest terms, I believe a Christian to be one who accepts God's salvation. I don't believe that homosexuality is a more heinous sin than say, impatience. Sin is sin and we all require grace, forgiveness and God's guidance. I happily worship next to Christians who are gay-affirming (that's a new term to me), work with them in church projects, teach children's Sunday school with them...there is only one Judge of mankind and it isn't me.

David Morrison

Robert, I don't feel any disdain for you or any others who disagree with me. I think a read over at Sed Contra would indicate that I try to take all questions with respect.

I believe the term "Canterbury Confusion" (while admittedly tongue in cheek) is, sadly, much more descriptive than it is perjorative, as a brief tour through the different headlines among Anglican bloggers would easily illustrate.

For example, the New Hampshire parishioners of more than a century old Church of the Redeemer who turned their parish building over to the Diocese and worshipped in borrowed quarters rather than accept the governance of a sexually active bishop that defines himself as gay. If anything, Canterbury Confusion might have been a mild term.

Nonetheless I apologize for any insult you might have felt. I genuinely intended none.

Robert

Thanks David for the clarification. And I apologize for my own oversensitivity. I will try to keep my own mind open in the future, rather than being too quick to assign motivations and intentions to others' words.

Perhaps the increasing lack of civility in these discussions has taken its toll on me -- but I'll pledge not to be part of the problem in the future.

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