Monday, July 13, 2009

Thanks be for D025!

So I said I wouldn't be blogging about General Convention, but I do want to briefly express my thanks to the many deputies participating today, the day that Resolution D025 passed the House of Deputies! To the 30% or so who voted no, thank you for participating, and for your continued participation, fellowship, and love. To those who voted yes, especially those on the blogroll who will stumble across this message of gratitude, THANK YOU! I am so proud to be a part of such a welcoming, affirming, and inclusive church! May the House of Bishops take the same bold and affirming stance. Even if this move leads to the shrinking of The Episcopal Church, it does help the larger Body of Christ to grow, and that is nothing but a good thing.

For the "uninitiated," the resolution, in a nutshell, says this: One, the Episcopal Church will continue its love, gratitude, participation, and full financial support in and of the Anglican Communion and its various instruments of polity and communion. Two, we recognize the presence of committed, monogamous homosexual couples within our church and the importance of listening to homosexual voices. Three, in a move that more or less overturns the 2006 resolution, "affirm that God has called and may call such individuals to any ordained ministry in The Episcopal Church, which call is tested through our discernment processes acting in accordance with the Constitutions and Canons of The Episcopal Church." Four, perhaps most importantly, we respect persisting disagreements over this issue. Full text of the resolution here.

11 comments:

Jordan said...

Would you mind explaining how you get over 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Romans 1:26?

Nathan Empsall said...

It's a conversation I'd love to have in person one day and may make a full-length post about at some point, but it's too complex for a comment section. I'll keep it to suggesting this link as a starting point. Hopefully you'll have time to read the whole thing, but I think it's the 8th question after the intro that addresses your point most specifically. It's a starting point, anyway, if not a finishing line. http://www.dartmouth.edu/~thepress/read.php?id=1667

Jordan said...

I understand what Gene++ is saying, but he avoids the fact that Paul is extremely explicit.

Nathan Empsall said...

Extremely explicit, but with a different understanding of what homosexuality actually is. The question is, when the understanding changes, do the positions based on the understanding change as well?

Also, point of clarification, it's +Gene, not Gene++. A guide:

Priest+
+Bishop
++Primate (ie, an Archbishop or Presiding Bishop)

Jordan said...

The question is did the understanding change? Also thanks for the note on the + thing, I thought he had two or was there someone else you gave two to?

Nathan Empsall said...

What +Gene was arguing is that the understanding HAS changed - that in Paul's day, homosexuality was seen as a chosen behavior. There was no concept of "sexual orientiation" - when he would talk about natural behavior, the implicit understanding was that heterosexuality was the only orientation. We know differently now that the medical community agrees that people are born gay and that it too is a natural state. Another reason homosexuality was frowned upon was that it put the man in the same position as a woman, and women were seen as inferior. It was wrong to exert power over another man that way. Today, we don't see that position as one of power, and don't view women as inferior. So yes, +Gene would argue and I would agree that our understanding of sexuality has changed in at least two serious ways (orientation and inferiority). To put Paul's teachings in this new light, his message for the modern world is to refrain from using sex as a power tool, to avoid taking advantage of the weaker, and to be true to yourself (ie, it would actually violate Romans 1:27, which speaks of natural and unnatural actions, for a naturally gay person to act unnaturally straight). So thus, the fundamental question is indeed: Which is more important? Paul's teachings, or the understandings of sexuality upon which those teachings were based? I would argue the latter, because it is in his understandings that we find his true message, one his teachings have since lost.

Yes - anytime I've referred to a primate (archbishop or presiding bishop), I've put two crosses (plusses) in front of their name. That would most often be ++Katharine Jefferts Schori of The Episcopal Church, but it could also be ++Peter Akinola in Nigeria, ++Henry Orombi in Uganda, ++Rowan Williams in Canterbury, and so on.

Nathan Empsall said...

One could also use variations on the word "Reverend" in place of the plusses. Same idea - shorthand of shorthand, as it were.

Anonymous said...

in Paul's day, homosexuality was seen as a chosen behavior

That doesn't ring true - Paul clearly saw homosexuality as sin, and he said that we are "slaves to sin" so it doesn't sound like he thought people had a choice about the behaviour.

Nathan Empsall said...

Anon - it's clear murder is a sin. Does that mean murderers do not choose to murder?

Anonymous said...

1) First, a correction: homosexual acts, not homosexuality, were addressed by Paul.

2) I don't think we should set up a parallel between homosexual acts and murder.

3) Paul believed that it was in our nature to sin, but that did not excuse us. We are called to rise above our human nature. So our innate nature does not provide a viable excuse for our actions.

4) Surely you are not suggesting that just because people are born with a tendency (I'm sure you can think of some quite nasty predispositions that seem to be innate to some people) that makes it OK to act out that tendency?

Nathan Empsall said...

To #2 - I am not equating sexuality with murder, merely making the point that you can't say something is not about choice just because it is about sin. A sinful nature does not mean that specific sins and acts are not choices.

To #1 and 3 - Paul also spoke about what is natural. Similarly, the reason he was speaking about sexual acts rather than sexuality is because homosexual acts were understood to be unnatural; now they are understood to be coming from a different sort of natural. He did not draw the same differentiation between homosexuality and homosexual acts that conservatives draw today because he was unaware the former even existed - and yet now we know that not only does it exist, it is intriniscally linked to the latter, just like heterosexuality.

To your 4th point, who's equating homosexuality and violence now? But no, I am not suggesting that, because I do not believe a person's sexuality - including my own heterosexuality - is as simple as a "tendendcy" or an urge.