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Can we hear each other anymore?

Can we hear each other anymore?

In a recent post New Zealand Anglican pundit/blogger Peter Carrell offers a keenly-felt appeal to continuity unity in Anglicanism and a desire to retreat from the most heated rhetoric.

Writing from his context in New Zealand where the issue of marriage equality is coming before the upcoming General Synod he asks;

“Has our church suddenly become unorthodox because on this one matter of how we understand the gospel in relation to homosexuals we cannot subscribe to a traditional line on sexual morality?”

Though he himself has taken a conservative position on this matter, he doesn’t see it as an issue over which to divide and grants that those who disagree with him aren’t “abandoning orthodoxy,” but see the issue as an imperative of faith.

“There is no conspiracy, deliberate or accidental to de-orthodoxify our church. All the believers in the bodily resurrection of our Lord who also propose that we bless same sex relationships will continue after May to believe in the bodily resurrection of our Lord.

I earnestly ask readers here to take care in what we think about the “other” in these matters.”

He also asks though, that those who support marriage equality and full inclusion might also see those who oppose this movement as being motivated by something other than hate:

“This request works the other way: it is very unhelpful, and not particularly Christian when proponents of same sex blessings zoom to judgment on those who oppose such blessings, using terms such as homophobia and bigotry, and presume that opponents lack compassion and concern for the GLBT community. That, likewise, is unfair, unjust and lacking compassion and appreciation for the concerns and care which lies behind opposition to blessings.”

Carrell’s post, unlike many from the conservative Anglican blogosphere, posits a view of the issues as not being central to a faithful Christianity.  Such openness is a welcome change and one might hope it would spread.  However, to those who have felt the disapproval and oppression of the church, such notions of “good disagreement” could be interpreted as something akin to “pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities” which stand athwart justice.


What do you think?  What is the right path to follow?


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Kevin McGrane

I forget that this is still a big deal outside the US. It’s beginning to “wind down” here, as it has passed the tipping point and is beginning to look like the norm, which is good for all. I am so busy taking care of daily business (much like the rest of us, I suppose), that I forget there are places and people who are still lighting their hair on fire about this. Hope they see the light and join us.

Paul Powers

It was only 8 years ago that Elton John favored civil partnerships instead of marriage for LGBT couples. He later changed his mind and has married his long-term partner. Can anyone seriously claim that in 2008 he was a homophobe?

It’s true that many people who oppose marriage equality _are_ homophobes. But I don’t believe all of them are, anymore than Elton John was in 2008. Some of them simply haven’t caught up with him yet. Calling them homophobes isn’t likely to move them forward on that journey.

David Allen

Since you weren’t Elton John’s psychotherapist 8 years ago Paul, you can’t speak to how much of his support for civil partnerships and not marriage could have been attributed to internalized homophobia.

Yes, calling folks homophobes isn’t likely to move folks forward, but neither might calling someone a racist and yet, they are homophobes and racists respectively.

I can’t think of any reason that someone would oppose racial equality that isn’t ultimately racist at its core/foundation. The same for anyone opposed to GLBT equality.

David Allen

I would suggest studying up more on ancient morality codes, such as is found in Leviticus. Israel wasn’t any different from it’s neighbors when it came to what it expected of the male head-of-household citizen 5000 years ago. Most all expected that he not “debase” himself playing the passive recipient of the sexual attention from another man. It’s based on homophobia, plain and simple, derived from a perverted sense of manhood & honor (patriarchy), regardless of what they did or didn’t understand about human sexuality.

We usually hope that folks who wish to post treatises get their own blog. Your comment was likely caught in the net because of its extreme length.

Paul Powers

Since I wasn’t his psychotherapist, and don’t know him personally, I’m reluctant to attribute his opinion at that time to internalized anything.

Here’s another explanation for opposition to same-sex marriage. For 2000+ years in Western society, at least, marriage was assumed to involve a man and a woman. There were different ideas about who decided which man and which woman could marry each other. There were different ideas about whether having a spouse or former spouse was an impediment to marriage. There were certainly different ideas about the reasons for spouses to get married. But it was almost universally assumed that man + woman was a defining element of the marital relationship. Even where there were people in long-term monogamous relationships (like Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas), these weren’t generally thought of as marriages. And for evangelicals, possibly including Peter Carrell, an additional problem is that even if you remove the “clobber verses,” there’s nothing in scripture that unambiguously supports the idea of two persons of the same sex being married. I know people sometimes cite the story of the centurion and the slave, but that paradigm has its own problems because of the inequality of their relationship.

So what has changed? First our understanding of the nature of sexual orientation is very different from what it was 50 years ago. Second, our understanding of marriage is very different now. I remember a time when it was very difficult for a divorced person to get married in TEC. Nowadays it still requires the bishop’s permission, butit no longer requires what amounts to an ecclesiastical trial.

And most important, I believe, is the witness of the same-sex couples themselves. For example, last year my cousin and his partner were finally able to marry after being together for almost 43 years. Many people are coming to the realization that there’s really no reason that makes sense to oppose same-sex marriages. It’s just that it’s taking longer for some people than for others.

Ann Fontaine

James Pratt– wonder how you would feel if your very being were called into question at every turn. I don’t think you would be thankful

James Pratt

I am thankful to be in a diocese where there is mutual respect among those on opposite sides of the issue. Yes, we have objections raised at the ordinations of married gay candidates; but the language is temperate, and afterwards, some of the objectors have received communion from the hands of the newly ordained. Significant chunks of two parishes left for ANiC with harsh words and accusations, but otherwise debate has been respectful. Two of the conservative priests (now both retired) personally welcomed me to the diocese. Those of us on the more progressive side do occasionally mutter under our breaths, but we do strive to avoid name-calling.
The trouble is (and this can be seen in the submissions to the Commission on the Marriage Canon) that for too many on the side of the status quo, they say “this is the way it has always been” or “this is what the Bible says”, end of discussion, and there is no openness to engage in dialogue. (Certainly the attitude in the latest rant from the GAFCON Primates).

Dennis Roberts

Actually, no. Absolutely not. This sounds oh so reasonable but he is asking advocates of inclusion and equality to give up the most effective tool that we have. What is the one thing that opponents of equality ask for over and over? “Please don’t call me a bigot and homophobe.” Why? Because it hits home. It is powerful and true and it shifts the lack of comfort back on the people who are causing this problem.

What limits a lot of overt racism? People don’t want to be known as a racist. What is a somewhat useful check on anti-semitic words and actions? The history of anti-semitism and the desite not to be added to the list of anti-semites. Of course these people should be called bigots and homophobes. If the shoe fits…

More importantly their neighbors and social connections should hear that they are bigots and homophobes.

Even the polite and sweet-bigots and homophobes like this gentleman need to be called out. They are using their doctrine against our lives. This is my marriage that is under discussion. Of course I’ll fight to the death to save it. You want me to *politely* defend my home and my marriage to my husband of many years whom I love? I’ll use whatever tools I can find and call you whatever brings all the shame and embarassment and public censure you deserve, bigot. It is the best tool that we have to stop you. This is my home and my marriage you are attacking and I’ll do much worse if I have to. Save your polite appeals for someone else, bigot. This is a war to protect everything that matters to me.

Stay away from my marriage. Recognize the rights of others to marriage. And quit pretending that you have some sincere doctrinal issues at stake here. You are destroying lives with your pious bigotry and deserve to be called out and shamed in public, bigot.

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