Monday, 16 June 2008

Woe to you, you Pharisees...

An article posted at by the Diocesan spin-doctor on June 13 the diocese claims GAFCON is “about gospel not gays”. Yet in a piece by the same person posted today (“A buzz about the future”) I counted no few than 9 references to Christians in same-sex relationships or the Church’s response to them – no mean figure given it's only 24 paragraphs long. So tell us all again why we should believe homosexuality has no bearing upon Sydney’s decision to participate in GAFCON?

Is it any wonder the masses aren’t queuing up to buy what the Sydney Diocese’s mission has to offer? The last thing a confused and despairing world wants is more political double-speak. If church leaders really want to waste parishioner’s money on attending a homophobic hate-fest they could at least have the integrity to be honest about what they’re doing. Would you buy a used car - let alone an entire way of living and believing – from anyone this duplicitous?

I’d initially planned to start this post by claiming that as a heterosexual man of reasonably mainstream theological inclinations I have no vested interest in the issue. I’m not part of any ‘gay lobby’ (whatever that is); my opposition to homophobia in the Anglican Communion arises purely out of my faith in Christ. But realising this is no truer than Sydney’s denial of the unquestionable fact that homophobia has been the GAFCON’s primary motive I soon dismissed it.

That’s because as a Christian I do have a vested interest; as followers of Christ we all do. If – as is happening today – the name of the One in whom we trust is being hijacked to justify persecution, oppression and exclusion every believer suffers. That which we hold as dearest and most precious is devalued by the tainting voices of bigotry. In dismissing as ‘unclean’ those who have been called and cleansed by God; those who are now our very brothers and sisters in faith, the angry men of GAFCON miss the entire point of the account of Peter’s vision in Acts 10. Having done so they want to continue by dragging the church back into a pointless imitation of the Council of Jerusalem – which itself seems to have been something of a non-event the first time around.

In the process they are guilty of doing the very thing against which we were constantly warned at Moore College – “bringing the Gospel into disrepute”. Think I’m exaggerating? Then ask the next unbeliever you meet what they think of the church spending money on forcing homosexuals out of the church. Ask them what they think about rules preventing women from being ordained or becoming bishops. Then ask them if they think the church stands for justice, equality and God’s love of for all humanity. I’ll guarantee in the spray that follows they’ll offer a clear explanation of why they won’t come along to the marvellous outreach meeting you’ve got planned for next Sunday in conjunction with the Dept. of Evangelism’s finest spruiker.

Perhaps the last word should go to the Rev. Rick Smith of Cammeray/Naremburn (diocesan policies have been so successful in this area – which was once part of the heartland – that two formerly successful parishes are now individually unviable), who is quoted:
"You don’t have to be that clever to realise that the worldwide Anglican communion is in a bit of a mess. It seems we have reached the point, in many places, where practices historically and biblically rejected as harmful sin, are now paraded as good. And doctrines historically and biblically rejected as error are embraced as truth."

Nor evidently do you need to be clever enough to have any awareness of broad range of historical and biblical attitudes to something as ancient as humanity itself before pretending to speak with authority on the subject. If it wasn't so tragic it would be amusing to see Rev. Smith lacks the courage to actually name the “practices” and “doctrines” to which he refers, which are presumably in some way related to people sexually attracted to persons of the same gender as themselves. The bigotry that dare not speak its name?

Perhaps I shouldn’t be so surprised. We have close friends who live less than five minutes walk from one of Rev. Smith’s churches. They pass it every day; but when I just spoke to one of them (he called as I was writing this) he had no idea what goes on there – “I thought that place was closed: nothing ever happens there”.

Solutions to the “mess” which the Anglican Communion allegedly faces might have more to do with how we relate to those living on the next block than it does with those attending a (hopefully) one-off event on the other side of the world. But that sounds like hard work, doesn’t it? Who’s going to buy the Rev. Rick Smiths of this world an airline ticket to visit people living just around the corner? And where’s all the fine-sounding rhetoric going to be when word gets around that God loves them just as much as us?


Deborah O'Hara said...

Greetings from Seward, Alaska. I appreciated the common sense of your post. I, too, am a heterosexual who is not part of any official "gay lobby" per se. I don't think Christ meant for us to spend such an inordinate amount of time judging in the minutest detail what we perceive to be sin on the part of other beleivers, who, like us have received forgiveness for their sins. I don't claim to know exactly what God's view toward homosexuality is, it doesn't matter to me. If it is a sin, it's certainly not more unforgiveable than any of the numerous sins I'll commit today or tomorrow. Hopefully, there won't be an international coalition of my brothers and sisters lined up to point them out to me.

Christopher Orczy said...

I like you am not part of any "gay lobby". My opinion is quite simple; an Biblical:
God is love;
and he that remains in love
remains in God,
and God remains in him.
1 John 4:16
I cannot see how if God is Love, how would he be able to discriminate between same or opposite sex unions. It is implausible, yet it seems to be the way of things here.
I recently moved to Sydney, as an an Anglican, I have been appalled at what I have witnessed here. Fortunately, there are some catholic islands in a sea of fundamentalist evangelicals.

FranIAm said...

That makes three (not part of a gay lobby) - but I will admit, which I did in a post I put up on Saturday, that this is an issue for me.

As someone who felt disenfranchised and "pushed" away from the table for other reasons, I feel a particular kinship with LGBT people being rejected by any church.

It is the opposite of any understanding of Jesus Christ that I have.

Raatu said...

My issue is that in order to judge homosexuals as unclean, aren't we thereby judging their sin as worse than our own. And isn't God explicit about the dangers of seeing grades of sin? It just can't be done.

Robert said...

You all might not be part of the official "gay lobby" but you are all part of the great gay conspiracy for mercy and justice for all of God's children! I thank God for that.

gerry said...

"...a great gay conspiracy for mercy and justice for all of God's children!"

Now that is a conspiracy I'll happily enter into.

Another heterosexual working for the inclusion of all God's Children, writing from Binghamton, New York, where we all get to welcome the folks the Kennedys and their followers have driven out.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Robert, well said!

FWIW, my nearest and dearest, Grandpère, thinks I've gone off the deep end on the issue. I am being persecuted! Not really. Just catching some flak. He truly does not understand.