Editorial: Response to the #Primates2016 Statement

by

by Jon White

 

Yesterday, the Primates released a statement from their gathering in Canterbury where the prophetic witness of the Episcopal Church regarding full inclusion of LGBT persons in the life of the church came under sanction. The majority of the Primates gathered saw our decisions in favor of marriage equality at last summer’s General Convention to be a step that works against the spirit of communion.

 

Much of the immediate reaction amongst Episcopalians have been expressions of anger and hurt. It absolutely is hurtful to be rebuked for seeking justice. Michael Curry, the Presiding Bishop, spoke eloquently of this hurt when he said to his peers; “I stand before you as your brother. I stand before you as a descendant of African slaves, stolen from their native land, enslaved in a bitter bondage, and then even after emancipation, segregated and excluded in church and society. And this conjures that up again, and brings pain.”

 

But really, shouldn’t this be expected? Our work for equality and full inclusion, on a communion-wide scale, is a kind of civil disobedience, and civil disobedience is often met with oppression and further injustice. But that doesn’t mean that we should disengage with the Anglican Communion because a couple of dozen men have sought to censure us. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once wrote:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

In those GAFCON churches are brothers and sisters in Christ who look to our example as a sign of hope and who need our continued support and advocacy and vision of an inclusive Anglicanism.

 

At the same time, however hurtful the language and however oppressive the aim, these “sanctions” are pretty weak tea. We’ve been in this neighborhood before, back in 2010 when TEC representatives to various ecumenical dialogues were removed from those bodies. Behind the hurtful sting though, there is good news; the Communion has not formally split nor has GAFCON achieved their goal of kicking the Episcopal Church out.

 

This statement clearly says that most of the Primates aren’t willing to walk away from us just yet, nor are they willing to support those loud voices demanding our exit from the Communion, and the bonds of affection and mutuality, though frayed, remain unbroken. The basic structure of the Communion has also held, without breaking up into a series of lesser relationships, or a body with tiered memberships. True, our full ability to participate is impaired, but not forever. Further, the Anglican Church in North America, cobbled together from a variety of factions united only in its opposition to the Episcopal Church’s drive towards equality and inclusion, remains outside of the Communion for now.

 

To me, the most troubling reaction has been the call from many voices, suggesting that the Episcopal Church itself walk away from the Communion. How long should we put up with their hatefulness, their hypocrisy many ask.

 

When Peter asked Jesus the same question, his answer was the equivalent of ‘always once more.’

Then Peter came and said to him, “ʺLord, if another member of the church sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?”ʺ Jesus said to him, “ʺNot seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-­‐‑seven times.

The Anglican Communion is a great deal more than this meeting of Primates; it is shared history and traditions, and a shared way of being Christian in the world and a whole structure of formal and informal relationships, as well as a network of mutual ministries, so supporting the work of keeping us talking together – in communion -still seems worthwhile.

 

The suggestion that we should no longer financially support the Communion is a further manifestation of this dismissiveness; it also suggests a weak theology of giving that reduces our relationship with God and the church to the purely transactional – we give because we expect to get.

 

Many have decried such brazen attempts at manipulation on the parish, diocesan, and church-wide levels, so why should it now be ok in our ecumenical relations? It suggests a model of relationship that, had we seen it expressed between two people, we would immediately identify it as unhealthy and unworthy of our Christian name. Matthew’s Gospel reports Jesus saying;

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also; and if anyone wants to sue you and take your coat, give your cloak as well; and if anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile.

 

To walk away, to turn our backs on LGBT brothers and sisters outside in Communion churches where they are oppressed and vilified, to hubristically expect that our money should buy a desired result, or to think we can go it alone, are not only poor policy choices but also inconsistent with our claim to be followers of Jesus.

 

Witnessing to our faith has costs, and frankly, these aren’t too high. We should expect that justice work will require time and our whole selves -­‐‑ all our heart, all our soul, all our mind, and all our strength. The Kingdom of God is near but it isn’t fully realized yet. There is no imminent utopia on the horizon, no Kumbaya moment when we can put our burdens down this side of Christ’s return, just a long slog in a broken world, led by the light of Christ.

 

 

Jon White is the Editor of Episcopal Cafe and a priest in the Dioceses of West Virginia

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94 Responses to "Editorial: Response to the #Primates2016 Statement"
  1. To me this is mixing apples and oranges.

    Of course we should support our Anglican brothers and sisters throughout the world--especially our weakest brothers and sisters, who are discriminated against in their home churches.

    But we can do that directly. We can do that without giving financial support to organizations and structures that discriminate. We can do that without "laundering" our money through the ACC, Compass Rose, or any other intermediary that has the effect of permitting people to take TEC money without knowing that it is TEC money.

    The Anglican Communion is a family--and a dysfunctional and abusive one. It's time for TEC to stop being complicit in the abuse.

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  2. I agree with your thoughts and the values you express. But this Church and our churches have not maintained consistent levels of funding for anything over the last few years. It seems absurd to me that support for the administrative structures of the Communion alone, where we are in fact unwelcome, should forever be taken for granted as a constant. I think think that the very important cause of ecumenism is where our participation will be missed the most, but I can't understand why the Communion should not feel any other consequences from the decisions they have made.

    Question: How long has the Episcopal Church been suspended from participating in representing the Communion in ecumenical dialogues and in the administrative organs of the Communion? Is it over a decade now? Three years by itself is hardly anything, but in actual fact the suspension seems to be indefinite.

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    • There was a previous suspension, but it hasn't been indefinite or ongoing.

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  3. What has been disappointing in the coverage of their statement is little to no acknowledgement that the Primates have no authority or power to enact such sanctions. They also have neither the authority or power to recognize ACNA.

    So if sanctions happen they happen because some other agency of the Anglican Communion acts. But who will that be? If the ++ABC does it we might have one response. If the Anglican Consultative Council acts on this statement there might be a different response.

    However, clear requests were made by a number of leaders that the Primates address and even apologize for their vilification of the LGBT communities in their own Provinces. Indeed our own General Convention has been on record for almost a decade now in opposition to the criminalization of homosexualtiy. Given that such vilification has increased among the Primates, it seems reasonable to me that we, and others who agree with us, should exact consequences upon those parts of the Communion that continue to suport or even allow such hateful violent behavior against their LGBT communities.

    Perhaps Archbishops Welby himself needs to feel the seriousness of our intent to not only "be inclusive" but to structurally press for a uniform change in tone and behavior with respect to the LGBT community. So my response to this statement is to suggest that we press more assertively with the theological and human rights dimension of inclusion. GAFCON Primates need to feel the displeasure of those in the Communion who support full inclusion and an end to hate, violence and criminalization of the LGBT communities in their Provinces.

    To stoically suffer their reproach does nothing for those being actually hurt; violence, imprisonment, and death being of a different order than hurt feelings.

    Refusing to fund aspects of the Anglican Communion that administratively underwrite the Primates seems a reasonable reply. Likewise defunding other administrative aspects, where possible, sends a strong message that we are not prepared to allow the violence and recriminations against the LGBT community to continue without consequence.

    I know this won't happen, but I would implore our leadership to do more than express hurt. If we are to be the principal voice defending this community worldwide, at least among Anglicans, then let's kick it up a notch and not let anyone forget that we are opposing the deliberate verbal, emotional, spiritual, and physical violence being done to the LGBT community in GAFCON provinces.

    We have moved mightily to be inclusive at home, time to extend our range.

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    • Beautifully and powerfully put. This is not about hubris, dismissiveness, or some imagined base transactional motivation; it is about "becoming obedient" to what we have discerned is God's call to us. Philippians 2:8 comes to mind . . .

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    • Michael Russell is spot on and reflects exactly my thinking on the funding question. We as the Episcopal Church can fund any worthy program that we want to, anywhere in the world. But we should immediately cut off any funding to Anglican Communion agencies.

      Kurt Hill
      Brooklyn, NY

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    • Re: The authority of Primates. Appointments to various ecumenical and interfaith dialogues is the remit (as the British like to say) of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and he is free to adhere to the requirements set out by the Primates Meeting despite their lack of canonical legitimacy should he feel it prudent to do so. However, the election of members of the standing committees is another matter entirely. Presumably the Primates can elect or exclude whomever they choose for the Primates Standing Committee. However, they have only a limited say over the composition of the Standing Committee of the Anglican Communion. This Standing Committee is composed of:
      • The Archbishop of Canterbury;
      • The Chair and Vice-Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council;
      • Seven members elected by the Anglican Consultative Council; and
      • Five members of the Primates Standing Committee
      Of the 15 members, the Primates Committee has a say over precisely five. When the Anglican Consultative Council meets in Lusaka in April, they will elect whom they will.

      I'm still waiting for a statement from the PHOD and the Executive Council.

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      • PHoD is out;
        http://houseofdeputies.org/on-the-primates-meeting-a-letter-from-president-jennings.html

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    • Indeed, Michael. Thank you for your eloquent expression of what I wished to say, which you say so much better.

      My thought, not Michael's: What example do we give to oppressed people around the world when we continue to enable our abusers?

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    • Mike? Foley Beach was there, with voice and vote, the entire time. And Welby's smart enough to understand that if he EVER want to have another Primates Meeting (or Lambeth Conference, for that matter) again, he'd better invite ACNA's Archbishop.

      North America now has three Anglican primates. Deal with it.

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      • Foley Beach was there, with voice and vote, the entire time.

        That may be an over reaching assumption. He said that he was handed a voter sheet for the TEC vote, he hasn't, to my knowledge, made the claim he had voice and vote for everything. He also declined the voter sheet because he knew he didn't have any right to vote.

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      • Yes, Foley Beach was there, as he should have been. Although he is not an official primate (yet), he represents a growing group of Anglicans, of which I am a part. Hopefully he will soon have full stature as a Primate. Since the African Church is a majority, and, until recently, he was part of the African Church, it is likely they will do that soon. He is like minded, a man of great wisdom and integrity, and he believes the Bible.

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    • Michael's comment was written before the full communique was issued, including a paragraph concerning ACNA's possible admission to membership in the communion. I quote that paragraph below:

      https://www.episcopalcafe.com/primates2016-communique-in-full/

      "The consideration of the required application for admission to membership of the Communion of the Anglican Church of North America was recognised as properly belonging to the Anglican Consultative Council. The Primates recognise that such an application, were it to come forward, would raise significant questions of polity and jurisdiction."

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    • Michael,

      It is not pressure that will yield fair treatment. It is hearts that have been changed by the Holy Spirit. But I think you make a mistake in assuming that the Primates, because they uphold Biblical marriage, are persecutors of those that struggle with same sex attraction. I do not believe that is a fair conclusion to make.

      As an Anglican, connected to the African Church, I can assure you that there is love and empathy, and not hate for same sex strugglers. But, the logical extension of that compassion cannot be the redefinition of Biblical marriage.

      I can speak for my Church that we are we both welcoming and faithful. We welcome anyone to worship with us. But, at the same time, we are faithful to the Bible and will not overlook sin, but lovingly challenge it, while still offering love. And the role of love is always to lead strugglers to repentance.

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      • There is no African Church! You cannot speak for such an entity as it doesn't exist. You may speak for the church of which you are a part, where you live. There are national and regional Anglican churches in Africa. A number of the primates in the GAFCON associated churches have supported the draconian anti-gay laws in their countries and show no love or welcome to GLBT folks. They have said horrible things about the GLBT folks in their countries.

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      • David, call it what you want. There is a group of Primates in Africa that represent a critical mass of Anglicans. Their numbers are growing. You make accusations about Primates that have committed hateful acts against same sex strugglers. Can you give some examples of whom you are talking about and the specific actions?

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    • Your comment is exactly on the mark. It is more than time to push back against Gafcon hatred and bigotry, especially with regard to the criminalization of LBGT folk in their home provinces. Some pushback against the Gafcon/Communion Partners/ACNA/ACC , ad infinitum and various fifth-column elements in TEC would also be welcome.

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    • Michael's reply should have been the lead editorial. He knows whereof he speaks and understands precisely the polity of the Anglican Communion and of The Episcopal Church. Bishops, in my experience (and I've known and worked directly for a bunch of them), whatever their better qualities, tend to be sloppy about polity, guidelines, boundaries, and regularities. It probably has to do with the "clubby" nature of houses of bishops and episcopal collegiality. (Case in point, Foley Beach, who was invited as essentially an observer to the Primates' Gathering was handed ballots along with everyone else when they were being perfunctorily handed out. That led him and his advocates and "prayer warriors" in ACNA to claim he had been given "full voice and vote" in the meeting, even though that was never intended. He then, knowing full well his vote wasn't needed, said he declined to vote on the issues of TEC out of "conscience," whereas he had no sense of conscience when he grabbed ballots to which he knew full well he was not entitled. So please, dear friends, let us walk in love and charity, in openness and compassion for all. And let us affirm who we are and who we intend to be without falling into a sentimentality that refuses to ask the questions and assert the truths that need to be made.

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      • I think your criticism of Foley Beach is unfounded. You perceive his motives to be wrong. I know otherwise. I am part of the ACNA and know him to be a man of the utmost integrity. Do you know him? Were you at the Primates meeting? If not, to assassinate his character is unfounded. I expect he will soon be a Primate because he is theologically and Biblically in agreement with the majority of the Communion. Likewise, TEC inout of step and will likely be excommunicated, once they have been offered time to repent and refuse to do so.

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  4. Yes, let's be grateful to take the crumbs from under the table. That is how this piece reads to me.

    We have charted our own course and should continue to go down the path that we believe God wants us to. That does not prevent us from participating in or initiated humanitarian mission throughout the world.

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  5. With all due respect to Fr. White, I have not heard anyone talk about "walking away" from any on-the-ground commitments to our brothers and sisters anywhere in the communion ... I've heard people suggest that we withhold funding from the juridical and hierarchical non-entity which is the Anglican Communion, not that we defund the ministries happening in parishes, hospitals, schools, orphanages, etc throughout the world. I agree with him, however, that we should not dismissively remove ourselves from the Communion's conversations simply because a few old men have their knickers in a twist. "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice," as Martin Luther King, Jr., reminded us. It is bending away from the Primates, frankly, and we just need to exercise patience and forbearance.

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  6. Forgiveness without repentance is enabling. Yes, if the Gafcon bossmen repent of their homophobia, sincerely apologize, and seek to atone, they should absolutely be forgiven.

    Until that day, their homophobia must be fought, and a good first step is turning off the money tap. If Christianity expects you to fund your own abusers, time to find another religion. Thankfully, I don't believe that it does so require.

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  7. We need to have some backbone here and stand up for what is right. In addition to no longer funding the committees and bureaucracy we need to more actively support moves toward recognition of marriage equality in Scotland, Canada, NZ, and even in England. We have work to do here. And that means cutting and redirecting some funds.

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  8. Wise council. Well said. Truth always prevails eventually, sooner reached with cooler heads.

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  9. At risk of being politically incorrect, and no, I will not be voting for Donald Trump but will move to Italy if he wins, I agree with Jon. The results of meeting could have been much worse. If you don't believe me, look how angry the folks are at virtueonline!
    Witness sometimes comes with a cost of discipleship. I urge we stop talking at and lecturing those who would exclude and spend the next 3 years showing them how inclusion is not our political agenda, but God's dream.

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  10. I agree with Michael Russell's analysis, in particular, and with those others who agree that we defund the hierarchical instruments but not ministry on the ground, for the reasons Michael gives..

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  11. Please follow the comment policy by posting with your first & last names, - ed

    I don't know nearly as much about this as many of the people who post here, but I don't understand why, if TEC is so "sinful," that the countries that suspended TEC, plan to continue to accept our financial support. Since I don't anybody sending checks our way, I think they should be strongly called out as hypocrites. And I also think it will be much harder for folks to give with an open heart, to support the institutions and leaders who have openly rejected us. I would like to see TEC organize its international giving (whether through UTO or ERD or whatever) to make it clear to us parishioners here in the U.S., that our "treasure" isn't being used to support the people who kicked us out.

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    • "I don’t understand why, if TEC is so “sinful,” that the countries that suspended TEC, plan to continue to accept our financial support."

      Some of them don't.

      But of course we also give money to international anglican organizations that in turn give the money to the provinces that suspended TEC. This gives those provinces plausible deniability.

      I think it's time to stop doing that. If provinces that suspended us are willing to take money directly from TEC, then good. But let's not continue to "launder" our financial support for provinces that discriminate against children of God.

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  12. Please follow the comment policy and post using your first & last names. - ed

    Yes, and in Matthew's gospel Jesus also tells us that "If anyone will not receive you or listen to what you say, then as you leave that house or that town shake the dust of it off your feet."

    I don't think I've heard anyone here suggest we stop mission work in Africa or anything like that. If anything, yes, we even have more work to do there. We, however, are not obligated to fund administrative structures at the same level where we are clearly no longer regarded as an equal. I think our giving there is fairly predicated as being treated as an equal, not as being treated like uncle sugar locked up in the attic.

    And finally,
    "To walk away, to turn our backs on LGBT brothers and sisters outside in Communion churches where they are oppressed and vilified"

    This is just the problem. The reality is an LGBT person is not welcome and is not safe in a church overseen by the GAFCON primates. That is my message to LGBT brothers and sisters there now. We should not be direct enablers of that situation. As you say, we cannot expect our money to buy a desired result, so we need to be very mindful in where our mission giving goes.

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  13. Jon, I agree with you right down the line. Our anger is justified, sanctions are to be expected, the sanctions are weak tea, we should not play the game of withholding financial support.

    (Although regarding expectations, I would have expected many of the conservative primates to have walked out -- what they got was a lot of talk in small groups and purported sanctions no different than have been imposed in the past. They blinked. Talk of schism, including by Welby, amounted to nothing.)

    I disagree with majority of the primates on (1) the authority of their body to make any requirements of provinces (they have none), (2) their reading of scripture and their understanding of justice, and (3) their hypocrisy in accepting our financial support (if we are as evil as they say, why did they not also suspend us as an acceptable donor)?

    I would have preferred the trial balloon floated by Welby that the communion devolve into provinces that formed voluntary associations with no presumption that all recognize all. But of course, the primates gathering could not have implemented this either, only endorsed it for consideration by the Anglican Communion Council.

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  14. We Episcopalian's will sit in our pews for three years as the Anglicans joins us as we lead the world. As we depart this earth, we will hear "Well done". We are called to be inclusive.

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  15. With all respect both to Fr. White and those who met in Canterbury, we are adults. We have chosen the arc of justice and knew full well that these bigoted men would not agree. In a world awash in refugees, millions in dire poverty, climate change, and brutal warfare, this is how they choose to spend their time? These men have a demonstrated track record of irrelevance, and a large number of Britons formally members of Church of England have informally, but decisively, concluded that Justin and his colleagues have no leadership to offer.

    I don't want to walk away from Christians anywhere in the world --there is just so much else to be done, so many other important issues to address. There are many paths for responsible, sustainable action that do not involved these bishops at all. Our LBGTFQ friends need our support, and justice demands that we support them, and so many others.

    Some of my relatives of various ethnic heritages very much disapprove that I am not a member of the one true Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, or the one true Christian Reformed Church. Both theologically and functionally, their disapproval is completely irrelevant to me. I conclude the same about these bishops. When next my church remembers "Justin, Archbishop of Canterbury" in the Prayers of the People, I will gently roll my eyes and commend him to God's mercy. I certainly don't feel any particular warmth on my part. His (and these bishops) appeal to "Catholic" unity is a mockery of the word catholic.

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    • You know, there was a time when I looked forward to visiting Canterbury Cathedral someday.

      I am now reconsidering that sentiment.

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  16. I can only echo what has already been said. There is no obligation to fund bigoted organizations that we have been denied equal representation. This editorial sounds very similar to a conservative preacher telling women they "should endure abuse to a season" and give more money. Take that money and put it towards the relief fund and church planting.

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  17. I believe Jon’s editorial is fundamentally wrongheaded. It is the sort of response I feared in these circumstances. Admittedly, the penalty meted out by the primates could have been expected. It could have been worse. In fact, it is worse than it seems.

    The problem is that the primates have been given no power to make the demands they have. No one authorized them to be the Anglican Inquisition.

    A strong response by The Episcopal Church is not “civil disobedience” because there is no law our church is disobeying. We are being faced with a naked abuse of power. We should act in such a way that makes it clear that (1) we want the Communion to be a fellowship of churches, not an Anglican Church, (2) we want to encourage other churches to follow our lead in inclusiveness, (3) we support persecuted LGBT persons in other churches, and (4) we repudiate the actions of Anglican churches that act as their oppressors.

    No one has suggested cutting back on mission work. In fact, more mission would be possible if we withdrew support for the Anglican Communion mechanisms that have become our own oppressors.

    Although the sanctions against our church seem mild, they are aimed at discouraging sister churches (especially Canada in the near term) from following our lead.

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  18. Thank you Jon for your comments. I am a retired priest, in a wonderful civil relationship, living now in Scotland. I spent my whole ministry in England, much as a hospital chaplain, seeking to offer love and mercy to those committed to my charge. Unsupported by my bishop, although he gave me my licence to officiate, he felt I was not part of his church, as I was not in a parish.
    I have read some of the comments on Thinking Anglicans, I signed the open letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
    Not surprised at the Canterbury statement, but like many priests in the British Isles share the same hurt as yourselves. A very backward step. But we must gird up our loins together, and with God's strength press on to the full implementation of Our Lords Gospel, to all his children. In the collect for this week in the Franciscan Office Book are the words,' may we recognise Him as our Lord, and know ourselves to be your beloved children'.
    Together across the Anglican Communion we must commune, and pray together, and walk forward to spread His gifts, and give to our brethren freedom and light.

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  19. Fr. Jon,

    Thank you so much for this. In much more eloquent and clear words you expressed my sentiments that I submitted yesterday in comments.

    I agree that "an eye for an eye" response is not what is needed. The Most Rev. Michael Curry has shown us the first step. First, we must, as he has done, tell the world about our discernment again, and again and again. We did not come to where we are today without years of internal debate, discussion, debate, dialogue, disappointment and setbacks. We must be clear that it was not some simple "capitulation" to the spirit of the age. Ours was a costly decision, (and I remain humbled at the courage of so many in our church to risk so much for those of us in the minority). We need to show, as ++Michael has said, the Love of Christ on the Cross whose arms are open to all who suffer. We need to express love and forgiveness to even the worst of the homophobic clerics, be they in Episcopal orders or otherwise. We must ourselves follow the via crucis.
    Have we forgotten what we pray in the office each Friday? "Mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross, may find it none other than the way of life and peace.." ?
    In the Rule of Benedict we read, "Your way of acting should be different from the world's way; the love of Christ must come before all else. You are not to act in anger or nurse a grudge...Endure persecution for the sake of justice."

    Only once this response is clear, unequivocal and for all the world to see and hear (if they have ears), can we even consider something about funding. We will serve no interest, including our own, by crippling the Anglican communion structures by withholding support. Even "inhibited" we are better off "at the table" (or at least standing in the corner) than out the door, and we must refuse to be marginalized in the communion. If TEC is a major player now in the financial life of the communion, it should continue in that role. Perhaps that will send a message to the principalities and powers, that we refuse to stoop to their level of sanction which is a scandal to the Gospel. Cautiously steering the direction of those funds from any direct, overt support of oppression should be, I think, our ONLY financial strategy. This will take care/thought/discernment, and any "withholding" of funds needs to be open, public and prayerful. We should divest only from those activities that cause direct and clear harm. A blanket "defunding" of the communion is beneath us.

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  20. Jon, thanks for this. My brain is with you. My heart will hopefully catch up as well. You point of view is both brave and well reasoned. -Rod

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  21. From the final communiqué:
    The Primates condemned homophobic prejudice and violence and resolved to work together to offer pastoral care and loving service irrespective of sexual orientation. This conviction arises out of our discipleship of Jesus Christ. The Primates reaffirmed their rejection of criminal sanctions against same-sex attracted people.

    The Primates recognise that the Christian church and within it the Anglican Communion have often acted in a way towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused deep hurt.

    Where this has happened they express their profound sorrow and affirm again that God's love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the church should never by its actions give any other impression.

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    • "[T]he church should never by its actions give any other impression."

      Sorry, primates. You just did!

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  22. Unless I'm missing something the primate's statement is about TEC's departure from the 2,000 year old traditional teaching of the Church concerning God's definition of marriage. In the entire discussion that I've read so far I've just read how hurt people are,how bigoted other people are etc. What I haven't seen is anything about what God says about marriage. So, as a reminder, please refer to Genesis Chapter 2:24. Yep, there's the one man to one woman requirement. Well that's the Old Testament you say and not applicable to modernity. Well, not so fast. Please refer to New Testament, Mark 10:6-8. Here we see our Lord Jesus Christ himself affirming the Old Testament requirement for marriage to be between one man and one woman. So, the biblical witness is crystal clear on this point and this has been the church's historical and correct position on marriage as a result. TEC has approved a position on marriage that does not exist in the Word of the Living God.
    The primates are well aware of this and how destructive this episode has been to the body of Christ and are now calling TEC to account and to repentance. Our baptismal covenant requires that when we fall into sin that we repent and return to the Lord. TEC must return to faithful obedience to God's word,repent, reject going forward homosexual marriage, and repeal immediately the recent General Convention approved changes concerning homosexual marriage.

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    • It's sort of like you believe that you're the only one who reads the Bible! The OT has a lot of one man and many women as so-called heterosexual marriage as well and more. Let's not cherry pick the passages now.

      As to your dream for next GC, it ain't never ever gonna happen.

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    • Thank you. I don't suppose it ever occurred to any of those who voted to rewrite the sacrament of marriage, that it might be a bit of a problem. (Ya think?) TEC is a Christian church; not a secular or civil body. The Supreme Court has made SSM the law of the land in the U.S. Kicking the extra point was not wise; especially when there are still those in the TEC who are not in agreement. TEC is not the exclusive domain of the LGBT. There are other points of view to be considered; but not in the minds of those who have a single issue agenda they will advance at any cost.

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      • WOW! You speak with total ignorance of the struggle of GLBT folks to get to this day in TEC. This journey has been 40 years of difficult travel. Marriage equality was on the agenda for General Convention last summer long before it came before the US Supreme Court. The work of GC wasn't an extra point, even if it looks like it is those uneducated in how TEC arrived at the point.

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  23. Excellent! I wholeheartedly agree with this, in its entirety and thankyou for your well thought and scripturally sound reasoning.

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    • My statement of support was directed towards the original post , authored by Father Jon White.

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  24. The Episcopal Church has been kicked out for sure, it is highly doubtful either side will change it's position after three years. Soooooo.......

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    • So....life will go on...we'll keep praying, worshiping and doing our work, gays will keep on marrying and creating loving families, will keep on living in committed relationships, no matter of what an African bishop may say or do. I just hope TEC stops funding bureaucratic structures...out of sheer dignity the Anglican Communion should refuse any funding from us, after all our money is sinful and will taint the holiness of their churches

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    • The whole point of the Primates action is to use a Biblical model for dealing with error. So, the censure for three years is akin to excommunication of an individual Church member for habitual sin for which they are not repentant. If, after three years, there is not been repentance on the part of TEC, I think it is likely that they will be removed from the Communion. As they should be, since they will be a small minority that has abandoned the Bible in favor of their own construct of "social justice".

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  25. Thank you, my dear CREDO brother for your response. I was drawn to TEC because of its relationship to the worldwide communion. I needed something deeper, something broader than denominationalism, thus today I am deeply saddened and my heart is troubled. I understand both "sides" and thus the cries of victory on one side and the outrage on the other affects me as well. My hope remains in Christ Jesus for he has overcome the world. We must wait and see what God will do in the 3 years to come, and not pretend to know. Maybe "must" is too strong of a word, but I shall endeavor to wait and pray and do that which God has called me to do - one day at a time. Peace, my friend.

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  26. TEC will always do what it has decided is 'meet and right' and in this case that is bringing same-sex marriage into formal rites of the church. Aligning itself on civil and religious grounds with the US legal view.

    My question is very simple. The Primates have decided this is not a view they can endorse. It is this:

    Can one not any longer disagree with TEC and this view of marriage? Is this no longer possible?

    TEC is not being constrained. They can do exactly as they judge right and proper. This is not in any doubt, unless one is being dramatic.

    What I cannot figure out is whether one is free any longer to disagree with this position on same-sex marriage, for that is all the Primates have done.

    Lots of things I hold extremely dear and at the center of my life's convictions as a Christian, others disagree with. It has never occurred to me that I have a right to demand agreement.

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    • Please follow the comment policy and post using your first & last names. - ed

      I think you flip-flopped the chain there. Actually, the majority of the primates have held that a province cannot disagree with them without them at least attempting to apply sanctions (the question of their authority to apply sanctions being a different inquiry). TEC certainly has taken no actions to force any other province of the Communion to do anything with regard to the practice of marriage (and indeed, even within TEC, per the revised canon, "It shall be within the discretion of any Member of the Clergy of this Church to decline to solemnize or bless any marriage.") So yes, you are very free to disagree and be a member (or a priest, or a bishop) in good standing.

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      • I have done no such thing.

        A province can do and has done exactly what it wants. TEC has done what it believes is God's will.

        The Primates have acknowledged that TEC has acted on its own. TEC has decided that what the Primates or other Instruments hold they are free to object to and pursue their own path.

        And they are doing so.

        The Primates may object and introduce a restriction on marriage so far as the Communion is concerned at its conciliar width.

        But TEC can ignore that, has ignored it, and nothing keeps it from being a free American denomination.

        None of this is in doubt.

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    • Professor Seitz,
      You've basically stated my question, but much more eloquently. As you've noticed I do disagree with TEC position on same sex marriage and believe that I have sound biblical support for doing so. As you can see, any departure from the party line is met with immediate derision in an attempt to silence anyone with the temerity to have a different opinion.

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  27. I would refer Scott to read the entire passage in Mark from which he quotes Mark: 10:6-8. He is referring not to same sex issues (which I doubt he was ever questioned about that at his time, over 1970 years ago), but is instead responding to a question about divorce. He is trying to deal with a question about divorce. Of course, in his time, there was ONLY marriage between a man and a woman. How Scott (or the Primates) could possibly interpret this passage as a reference to same sex marriage is puzzling to me, as it should be to Scott. This is an example of people using the Bible to support their own viewpoints, which (I dare to suggest) is sinful to suggest that they are Jesus when their "quote" is take out of the context in the Bible.

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  28. This is the direction my thoughts an heart have gone, so I am thankful someone else cogently speaks in concert. This is God's truth, lived by his beloved Son and by the disciples as they took of up their cross and followed him:

    If you believe in and work for justice and equity, you will be shamed and punished by those whose power rests on the status quo.

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  29. It might be helpful for people to refer to the work of Robert Gagnon of the Pittsburg Theological Seminary for an extremely complete and meticulous analysis of the biblical position on marriage. He has an excellent website and has written extensively on the subject. Suffice it to say that the biblical witness is that marriage is to be only between one man and one woman,period. This has been the truth for 2,000 years and will be the truth forever. Any other arrangement is simply a human invention by people with an agenda which is not of God. Say what you want,but the position of Holy Scripture is extremely clear on this subject. Our job is to be obedient to the word of God and change our behavior, with the help of the Holy Ghost, to obey His statutes and do His will. Time to act like grownups, repent of our sins and return to the Lord. Thanks be to God!

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  30. Perhaps it might also be useful for people to tone down the hyperbole and drama about abusers and oppressors. No one that I'm aware of is oppressing anyone,but rather pointing out that homosexual practice and/or marriage is incompatible with historical Christian doctrine which is true. Saying that you're being abused or oppressed by people because they disagree with you lifestyle is just absurd and childish.

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    • In several nations, LGBT persons are oppressed - as in jailed and executed by the state and bullied and harassed by the church which supports such laws. Uganda, the nation from which the one Primate who walked out hails from, being probably the worst.

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    • Scott Fisher, are you a moderator here at EC?

      Also, why is Justin Welby apologizing to LGTBI community if no one is being oppressed? Admittedly, the apology is meaningless as the ABC continues to oppress them.

      http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/15/justin-welby-says-sorry-to-lgbti-community-for-hurt-caused-by-church

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    • So, the law that Uganda passed (supported by Archbishop Stanley Ntagali) which makes being LGBTQ punishable by life imprisonment in prisons that have been identified by human rights groups as having official policies of torturing prisoners isn't oppressive or abusive?

      I'm not sure what definition of oppression we're using here; we're literally talking about a nation and an Archbishop that tried to make life imprisonment and torture the consequence for being LGBTQ.

      I find it alarming that you'd try to diminish this by claiming it's merely a difference of opinion.

      I get that you just want to discuss TEC USA, but that's not what the article is about, and that's not what the comments are about. Furthermore, the level of violence against LGBTQ people in America is still higher than the level of violence against cis/straight people, and there are more states where you can be fired for your sexuality than there are states where you can't be.

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    • Historical Christian doctrine also strongly supported slavery and disenfranchising women and non Christians. What is your point again?

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    • It isn't hyperbole Scott. Look it up. Look up each of the GAFCON archbishops and see where they stood or stand on criminalization of gays, and see what actually happens to our sisters and brothers in those provinces.

      The UN, Amnesty International, the US State Department, and many others have identified this as human rights abuse. Yet this is OK with you? Or are you merely in the dark because it really must be uncomfortable to be in league with human rights abusers.

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  31. That's true Mr White,and very unfortunate,but I'm referring to TEC USA. Many of us do disagree with the direction our church has taken and believe that we must point this out as a false teaching and unbiblical. No one is suggesting persecuting homosexuals,bullying them etc. However, we will witness to the truth of God's word.

    edited

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    • Well Scott, listen to +Michael. He is very clear, as many of us here, that the work of Jesus is to welcome all into the church. Seeing as that is the example of Jesus, it's a pretty strong case.

      There's tons of scholarship about marriage and Scripture. You know, for us women, who were treated like chattel, it's a pretty hard sell to say that that was the will of God, as opposed to the culture of the time. What a ridiculous position, culture then was godly? At the time, divorcing women meant casting them out of the protection of a male household, leaving them vulnerable to abuse and extreme poverty. Yes, surely that was more godly than now... 1950 was perfect for straight, white men in the US and a time of horrific domestic violence for women and lynching and whatnot for blacks. Oh yeah, 1950 was so great.

      If you're version of Christianity excludes people who do no harm, then there is something wrong.

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      • Cynthia, the issue that we're addressing is the Anglican Communion's position on TEC decision to add homosexual marriage to the rites of holy matrimony. The AC primates have decided that TECs departure from traditional church teaching that marriage is to be between one man and one woman only is unacceptable.As a result, we have been sanctioned for three years. That's what this discussion should be about.
        The other issues that have been raised such as slavery,women's treatment etc are not germane to this particular issue before us. Certainly these other matters are worthy of discussion,but more appropriate for another venue.

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      • Scott, you're wrong. Your very argument is that marriage has been traditionally 1 man + 1 woman, so that is how it should stay. And we bring up the other issues that at one time were the traditional stance of the church, to the point that folks gave their lives supporting it and the church later realized that the church had been wrong and abandoned the tradition. So you can't tell us they are unrelated and have no connection with this conversation.

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  32. In light of this discussion, it might be helpful to read "Jesus and the Disinherited" by Howard Thurman. He discusses the oppression of negroes (author's usage), the dynamics between the oppressors and the oppressed. And he also call out the churches for supporting oppression, too often siding with the powerful to maintain the status quo. He then compares the radical, for its' time, ministry of Jesus, in ministering to the poor, the powerful, and all the disenfranchise of his time. Where would Jesus be, in our greater Anglican Community today?

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  33. Why, why, why is TEC leadership accepting a sanction from a body that does not have either the denominational, doctrinal, or even scriptural authority to impose it?

    Why are we trying to met out a response to a completely invalid action?

    We don't need to stop funding Communion infrastructure, and we do t need to stop showing up at meetings we have been "banned" from.

    Let the actual instruments of communion legislate this issue.

    We shouldn't be up in arms about the censure. We should be up in arms about the power grab.

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    • From the mouth of the leader of Foley Beach: "Curry said there is no way he would voluntarily withdraw TEC from participating in the structures of the Anglican Communion. He would not voluntarily withdraw despite the prohibitions of the Dar es Salaam accord. Curry flatly refused to voluntarily withdraw."

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  34. For those who advocate and defend the "traditional" and "biblical" concept of marriage
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband's brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband's brother unto her ... And if the man like not to take his brother's wife ...Then shall his brother's wife ... loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face.

    Deuteronomy 25:5-9

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  35. That's a great book! Mr Thurman is a keen observer of the human condition. We're reading it in EFM this year.

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  36. Please follow the comment policy and post using your first & last names. - ed

    If it can be said that the great sin of Sodom was not that of homosexuals in loving relationships but rather the humiliation of strangers thru 'inhospitality' and sodomization , then at some level the American Episcopal Church should perhaps understand that it has been sodomized by its 'brethren' in the wider Anglican Community for supporting loving homosexual relationships. Ironic.

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  37. Let's be clear. The Primates have no authority to impose sanctions on anyone. Any actions taken against TEC will be done by ++Welby or perhaps the ACC. The Primates platitudes of love for the LGBT community and opposition to criminalization mean nothing in the face of continued threats to this community in their own provinces.

    A goodly number of C of E leaders asked ++Welby and the Primates to apologize for their attitudes, words, and actions that put the LGBT communities in greater danger. ++Welby apparently chose not to press the Primates to repent of their hateful language and behavior.

    So I would propose that we take the money which now supports the administrative functions of the Anglican Communion and divert it to direct aid of threatened LGBT communities in the global south. Create an international justice and relief fund and put that money where our convictions are.

    In the present environment, might we not also invite those C of E folks who are fed up with its pandering to the GAFCON primates, to form TEC affiliated communities? ++Welby's succor to ACNA's existence certainly sets a precedent for us to minister to disaffected members of the C of E.

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    • Oh yes, Michael! Finally someone said it. There are members of the Church of England who despise what happened at the primates gathering and would very much like the Episcopal Church to reach out to them. The outpouring of support for our church from English friends warms my heart, indeed. Justin Welby's meaningless apology, even as he continues to support injustice and inequality within his own church, not to mention the poor example he offers LGTB communities around the world is deeply embarrassing to them.

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  38. I said it before the last Lambeth conference and I say it again. If the African provinces wish to whitewash polygamy and condemn us, then we should cancel all TEC participation in global Anglican activity committes conferences etc EXCEPT for humanitarian aid and the PB as the sole presence from TEC. we're not taking our ball and going home, but we won't play their game either. JESUS calls us to more than silly committee meetings.

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  39. I'd welcome the statistics on polygamy amongst Anglican leaders in Africa. How many bishops and priest practice it?

    God bless.

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  40. This is a practical matter as well as a spiritual one, which nobody on either side seems to be addressing.

    Just as the Global South primates face social pressure in their deeply religious and apparently very conservative societies, so do we in our rapidly-evolving and increasingly secular one, where we are seen as anachronism even despite this (glacial) progress (or--as they see it--new-fangled rebelliousness) . We simply can't afford to go backwards or even stand still on social issues if we want to be more than a niche church in a handful of big cities in 20 years. The only reason CofE leadership can afford to drag its feet on this issue is they have the government paying to keep the lights on. What will happen when they, too are forced to get with the times? Will they kick themselves out?

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  41. "if we want to be more than a niche church in a handful of big cities in 20 years."

    Since American culture is already embracing same-sexuality, why would someone want to go to church to have it repeat what they believed before they needed to enter the door?

    When one can show a direct correlation between embracing the contemporary cultural situation and church growth, I'll be anxious to see the statistics.

    The Socinians/Unitarians have their entire identity in "God is Love and the Teachings of Jesus" and their market share is minimal. That doesn't bother them, but it isn't a blueprint for the survival of a declining denomination.

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    • Here's the Professor's quote: "Since American culture is already embracing same-sexuality, why would someone want to go to church to have it repeat what they believed before they needed to enter the door?" Replace "same-sexuality" with "racial equality." Comes out of the same context and the ethical and moral imperative. So what is the difference? I hear and preach sermons all the time that advocate love, peace, and justice for all, which I pray are also cultural values of this society. Should I stop doing that?

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      • Mr. Craig, I guess you missed what our presiding bishop, an African American, had to say to his fellow primates about justice for African Americans and LGBT persons.

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  42. There are many misconceptions in this post. As an Anglican, connected with the African Church, I can offer some insight.

    First, the issue is not “marriage equality” but a rejection of Biblical marriage. The Bible defines marriage between a man and a woman. And the offense is not “breaking communion”, but denying the Bible.

    You mention Michael Curry’s pain about the sins of the generations. Those are real. But, he is privileged and really know nothing of the lives of African Anglicans who struggle literally for their daily bread.

    What TEC is exhibiting is not civil disobedience, but Biblical disobedience and failure to repent of it. Their disobedience is not informed by God’s Word, in fact it is in opposition to it.

    In your mind “the sanctions are weak tea”. That is an odd remark. These are essentially excommunication of TEC from the Communion. The goal of excommunication is always in hope of repentance that will lead to restoration. The response from TEC, sadly, has been defiance.

    This is the reason the Primates are not yet willing to walk away, despite long suffering for decades with the Episcopal Church. Despite error, they are offering TEC grace, with strong hope for repentance.

    You say the Anglican Communion is more than the Primates. Of course it is, since there are 80 million Anglicans. But, this body represents that group and the future of the church. While they value TEC, it is only 2% of the Communion and declining every year. And, the future of the Communion is really with the Global South Churches that still uphold the inerrancy of the Bible. TEC is out of step with this. By 2050, 40% of the Christians in the world will be in Sub-Saharan Africa. So, like it or not, Orthodox Biblical Christianity will be the driver of the Communion.

    Finally, I belong to the ACNA, which is connected to the African Church. You call it “cobbled together from factions”. Not so. They are united by their love for the Anglican tradition AND a commitment to Biblical Christianity. They are both welcoming to anyone, including those who are struggling with same sex attraction but, at the same time, they are faithful to God’s Word. And, they are growing, while TEC is declining.

    Nor, with all your talk of “justice”, do you mention that the Episcopal Church has seized the property of many of these ACNA churches and stripped their priests of their pensions. Such vindictive actions seem a way different picture that the one you paint of “victims fighting for justice and persecuted because of their civil disobedience”.

    I do agree with one thing you said. “Witnessing to our faith has costs”. You do not realize it, but that is what the Primates are doing in their exclusion of TEC. It is standing for faithful Biblical Christianity. You misunderstand fidelity to be hatred and persecution.

    I pray that the Holy Spirit will convict the Episcopal Church and that they will repent of their denial of the Scriptures and be returned to the fellowship. But the defiance of the leadership, with Bishops saying that they will defy and ignore the sanctions, does not speak anything of repentance. Sadly, if such an attitude persists, it will likely insure that, after three years to come to repentance, the Primates will have no choice but to, with sadness, expel them.

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    • Thank you Mr Craig for addressing and explaining this issue in the most cogent way so far. Sadly I suspect that your words will go unheeded,but the fact remains that TEC is in decline while the ACNA is growing as you point out. I share your hope as well that TEC will repent and return the Lord and repeal this apostasy of same sex marriage.

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    • All is well. All shall be well. There is a new world coming and She is on her way.
      I see it. I see it in homosexual marriages. I see it in full exclusion. I see it when we feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the prisoners. I see it in the writings of the original post by Father Jon White. It's much harder to see it in the Episcopal church of my youth , where I wasn't, even as a heterosexual, allowed to fully participate. In those days, my sin was being a women. Come, Holy Spirit come.

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    • John, by all means, let's have a real discussion about Scripture, Tradition, and Reason. Please point out the exact places in the Bible that condemns gay people and addresses our marriages. I guarantee you that for every reference you may find, there is an enormous problem for using it to condemn people, and our marriages.

      Then you will see that we have theological reasons for our inclusion, even if you disagree with them.

      Then we need to try to figure out why the Anglican primates believe that they are a central authority. There has never been a central authority. The Anglican Covenant was about creating a central authority, it was put to a vote and it FAILED.

      The problems here are:
      1. Primates that have no power to make doctrine, let alone suspend a province; they have over stepped their power.
      2. It is easily possible to live together with difference. TEC isn't exporting gay marriage to African provinces. And TEC isn't ever going to adopt a fundamentalist view, we've just done too much scholarship and lived too long with the revelation of liberation from slavery to Civil Rights.
      3. As long as some of these GAFCON leaders are actually human rights abusers, they aren't going to get a lot of respect.

      The Bible is indeed clear. It never addresses gay marriage. Believe what you wish, but the historic Communion never had a central authority making doctrine and punishing those who fall out of line. We left Rome for a reason.

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    • Hi June,
      I'm not sure. I grew up in the Presbyterian Church and have only been in the ACNA for about three years. But anecdotally, my Church is six years old and has already planted a Church that is growing. And, we have more than replaced the people who left for the plant. We are diverse, with all ages represented, including twenty something and some racial diversity, although I wish there were more.

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  43. You know the numbers for TEC, and I, for one, would appreciate knowing the numbers for ACNA, if you can find them and let us know.

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  44. John, you are either ignorant or you are willfully ignoring the fact that we are inclusive BECAUSE of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. And not because of culture. Gays are about 3-5 percent of the population, so we couldn't "pressure" TEC. What happened is that we applied the pillars of the Faith, Scripture (much of it is liberating), Tradition (of including Gentiles), and Reason (continuing revelation, science, anecdotal).

    We remember that Tradition also includes various abuses. The church misused Scripture to support slavery - Leviticus 25:44 and other passages explicitly support slavery. Do you support slavery?

    Tradition includes burning of heretics and witches, even though the Ten Commandments say "thou shalt not kill."

    Tradition includes antisemitism. The Holocaust was a great evil.

    Tradition includes persecuting gays for the story of Sodom, when Ezekiel 16:49 says this: This was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. And any sex was rape, hardly consensual.

    We humans are very fallible. We are going to fail at absolutes, such as you present. Traditional marriage is not as traditional as you think. There are a lot of knowledgeable people on this blog that can tell you about it.

    Marriage has never, ever been included in the doctrine and creeds of the church. You are making it up.

    The Jesus thing to do is get along, with our difference.

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