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?