20 February 2010

Further on what we think we are doing and changing canon

Fr. Michael Russell who is a deputy to General Convention recently posted this on the semi-private Bishops and Deputies discussion board. It is quoted here with is gracious permission.

If we spend time doing some "careful" theological study and then adopt it, for whom are we doing it? Not for ourselves because we've already committed to a path. Not for the opponents, they will never be convinced. Perhaps for people who can be swayed one way or the other, and for that reason it may be worth doing.

But in truth I think we can reduce this whole enterprise to a series of affirmations or principles and let it go at that. Those might include:

1) Scripture has no definitive teaching on homosexuality as it is practiced by couples in the Christian family. Even Peter found parts of Paul's letters hard to understand! The use of scripture to stir up hysteria, to create scapegoats or ot justify viloence against any group of
people is anathema.
2) While there are commands in parts of scripture, the overall purpose of scripture is not to be a legal code or a guide to all things simply. Those who seek to make a new law from the Gospel have failed to understand it at all.
3) The traditional understanding of marriage was as a political, economic, or procreative union, sometimes unions, rarely consensually or freely entered into by women.
4) All people are children of God regardless of their genetic construction and the Church is free to place in leadership anyone who loves Jesus and has gifts for ministry.
5) Reason and Nature are sources of divine revelation (do read Hooker to understand this one) and while sin hampers, it does not destroy human capacity to learn new things that our ancestors could not have known. These things are as much a reflection of God's will in the universe today as such things were for our ancestors.
6) Only once commandment survives with any authority, "Love one another as I have loved you." The rest is hash.

In my correspondence with Fr. Mike I told him I had a single problem with the 6 primary propositions he offered. I think number six should be
This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
Or at least the two his original and the Mathew verses should be combined. He agrees that the Mathinian quote is important too. But we are both interested in what others think so he gave me permission to quote him and solicit your opinions.

I know I have a few readers if even fewer commenters. I am hoping you will consider the affirmations, offer any additions, deletions or suggestions. What needs to be in the core affirmations that guide us when we think about (among other things) sexuality issues? These have much broader application I think, which makes thinking about them worth doing. Please consider that and leave me a note.



Leonard said...

‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’

I wish I could. I do (mostly) but I have such anger at injustice...these years it is focused clearly against those that gladly harm LGBT people, our families and friends (is it really about sex?)...these years it is focused against the greedsters who sacrifice human life and take sides, and turns, telling bold lies while exploiting people and pretending it´s ok...routing for self-imagined holy ¨patriotism¨ but making it a swet/blood sport and boasting of yet more difference, exclusion and the promise of more genocide...I almost have no stomach for the reality that we have seen from those who are the sickest of the flock...it´s so hard for me to love them even though I understand the emotional and spiritual disease that running way out of control.

How? I always want to STOP them and take their fear, hate and greed away...I can´t look away, no more denial, no more pretend, there is no place left to hide from the ugliness of it all.

Lord, have mercy

JimB said...


Loving is not the same as accepting error or ignoring evil. Loving is helping people grow.


Erika Baker said...

I prefer your version.
Too many of those who disagree with me will say that they do love us as Jesus has loved, but the story of the woman in adultery and the "sin no more" proves that this love is somewhat conditional and cannot be taken as acceptance of what we are.

To make a quick point, your version works better.

JimB said...

Erika, I like a fusion of the two for a couple reasons. First if these are the premises from which we do our theology of relationships I want to be comprehensive. Second, Jesus said both of them so it is worth saying loud and long that we are honoring His intent.


Christal said...

I think you said it best, "your neighbor as yourself" is one of the greatest of Christian principles we can apply. We are all his children, and he died for ALL of us.

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