Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Velvet Reformation

The place of gay people in the church is one of the bitterest disputes in Christianity since the Reformation. The Anglican Church is trying to have it both ways—affirming traditional notions of marriage and family while seeking to adapt its teachings to the experiences of gays and lesbians. Presiding over the debate, gently—too gently?—prodding the communion toward acceptance of gay clergy, is Rowan Williams, the brilliant and beleaguered archbishop of Canterbury. He’s been pilloried from all sides for his handling of these issues, but his distinctive theology and leadership style may offer the only way to open the Anglican Church to gay people without breaking it apart.

Take time to read this article in the current Atlantic Monthly.


MadPriest said...

If the ABC does have a cunning plan he has done nothing to reassure gay people that he has. Perhaps this is part of his plan. However, against this is the fact that he has done much, especially towards his former Affirming Catholic friends that any reasonable person would interpret as hostile. He has also appeared to have bent over backwards to appease all who have threatened the church if they don't get their own way (actions that are rarely, if ever, taken by gay people in the church, other than those strange Anglo-Catholic gays who have got into bed with those who hate them most).

I've been thinking about this recently and have come up with a question. If one gay person said they were going to leave the church because of their non-inclusion in the church, what would the ABC do? In fact, if only one anti-gay person threatened to leave the church what would Rowan do? The answer to this would tell us whether the ABC is simply playing a numbers game or if he is truly trying to keep everyone together in what he believes to be a Christlike manner.

Fr. Jeff said...

I agree. I serve a very diverse parish with a good many gay communicants who are very active in the life of the Church...It pains me everytime these pontifications come out from the pointy hat club.

But one has to hope that all God's children will one day be truly welcome. As priests, we have to hope...sometimes we are the only ones who do even when we are being beat up.

Bob G+ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bob G+ said...

Of course, I always come back to the question of, "Who are God's children?" as opposed to, "Who are God's creation(s)?" Sometimes, I wonder if we get the two confused.

Anyway, because Williams is pilloried by both sides, me thinks he is doing what needs to be done. He acts and reacts in "different" ways that satisfied no one in these strange days. We, who sit as armchair Archbishops of Canterbury, often sit with rules dictated by the "Systems-of-this-World" rather than by the principles laid down by the Gospel.

He is acting like an Anglican! We want him to act like a Fundamentalist for the victory of our own "absolutely correct" side of the argument - decisive, cast the stone, make the declaration that "they" are the ignorant bigots or the godless heretics. Thank God we are not like "them!" Thank God Rowan does not act the worst of our natures.

Within our current American (or perhaps Anglo, Anglo-American, Anglo-Nigerian, etc.) cultural proclivities, we demand action NOW. It doesn't work that way - not in the Kingdom of God. God will not bend to our will, but will slowly, slowly, every so slowly transform us out of our hubris and sickness-of-soul into our better natures that reflect His will. He lovingly does this for Peter Akinola as much as for Gene Robinson - as much for that bigoted, racist, homophobe sitting in that pew over there as for the grey-matter-spilling-out open-minded henotheist in that pew. Be an Anglican for our cause, not a Fundamentalist for our cause.

If God is this patient with us (with me), if God casts out no one who imperfectly seeks after Him, then how can Rowan do so? How can we do so, unless our goal is nothing more than the imposition of our position and not the hope of seeing the fulfillment of God's will within even our most hated enemy? Take up the cross…

We have to approach all of this in a different way, because the way we are doing it right now is not working!