Thursday, June 29, 2006

Le Divorce

(Press Association)

One of these subjects which, even after some thought and when it comes to writing, I still find that my thoughts are jumbled and I am not sure how to unscamble them for this blog, but unscamble them I must, so here goes.
Put basically, the Archbishop of Canterbury has stated that the Anglican Church should be split into different sections in order to try and resolve the issue of homosexuality in the Church.
I wish I could disagree with him, but I can't see any other realistic way that this issue can be dealt with head on without the usual fudge, compromise, and the causing of hurt and distress to all concerned. The Anglican Communion (for whom I have warm regards because, whilst I am a nonconformist, I owe a lot in my growth and spirituality to their presence) should be the Church Millitant. Challenging us all, Christian and otherwise, for the lifestyles we live with regards to wealth and greed and D.I.Y. approach to faith. Not nit picking over differences and wanting to settle points and have a fight to the death within the Church.
Some would argue that, in behaving as they do, they are following God's Will as laid down in scripture. To both Liberals and Conservatives on such a point, I say:-"Be very, very careful!" St.Paul may have taken a harsh approach to things, even in a way we don't understand and which seems to go against rhyme or reason, but he was also more gracious and forgiving than some fundamentalists have been. If the Corinthians existed today, I wonder if those same fundamentalists would have shown the same love as St.Paul did? I suspect that they would have wanted them cast out into the outer darkness. What is it St Paul says in Chapter 13 of that 1st letter he wrote to Corinth:

If I speak with the languages of men and of angels, but don't have love, I have become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but don't have love, I am nothing. 3 If I dole out all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but don't have love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love is patient and is kind; love doesn't envy. Love doesn't brag, is not proud, 5 doesn't behave itself inappropriately, doesn't seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; 6 doesn't rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known. 13 But now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. The greatest of these is love.

It worries me that I see very little of that in the current row in the Anglican Church.
I really don't see it going anywhere, if both sides are so determined to follow their dictates that they believe that they are following God's Will without listening to others. This is not to slam everything they do, but rather a plea that they listen.
Because I think the whole issue here is not about homosexual/heterosexual priests or male/female priests etc.. I think this is more of an issue of fear of God and how we understand scripture (Of course some on the fundamentalist side are being downright homophobic, because there was less talk of a split when some Bishops in the last forty years questioned the divinity of Christ, or when some disagreed about the nature of the cruxifiction). I remember once chatting over coffee with a friend of mine who is Christian, and a practising lesbian and we ended up having one of those conversations where we ended up talking about nearly everything about Life, the Universe, and Everything, and she pointed out that the reason some get wound up about the sexuality issue is because the fundamentalists fear that if they give ground there, what will they have to question next? They are frightened that their whole theological outlook will crumble down!
I disagree with the fundamentalist outlook there, although, speaking as an Evangelical I can see their thinking, but God is bigger and better than that.
But it means that the Anglican communion, and maybe all of us, should, without fear, gently challenge our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ about how we view scripture, how we come to the theological positions that we do, and be open to what each side has to offer. One of the great moments in my life was when I had the oppurtunity to have a brief chat with the Archbishop of Canterbury at Greenbelt a couple of years ago. You know the "If you found yourself in a lift with so and so, what would you ask them?" Well I met him (not in a lift, but in the market area) and got to ask my two questions.
One of them was how, as Archbishop, he could deal with the mass divides that are growing within the Church? He replied that he felt that they should be made to talk to each other and to keep talking. Admittedly my second question was who his favourite Simpsons character is?
Apparently it's Homer, because he is so human! ;)
But such is the clamour at present, and the desire from the extremists on each side to deal ruthlessly with the other, that I feel that the Archbishop's current suggestion is the right one!
But I ask that they don't view each other with malace and that they work at their fractured relationships.


Jonathan said...

Paul, I agree with you that how we interpret scripture is the primary reason for the disagreements over homosexuality. By hiding arguments about the Bible behind same sex relationships we cause huge pain, mistrust and anger to people who are gay, both Christian and non Christian and do a great disservice to the church.

Christians are often too frightened to question the Bible in case our faith unravels. Surely we are more confident in God than that! Let's be brave enough to have an open, honest debate about our approaches to the Bible and move forward from there.

Paul Burgin said...

Agreed! It's through seeing the distress from people on both sides of the argument and the easy way we can all get tied in knots that has made me wonder about what the real arguments are about!

rosegenie said...

Hi Paul, Yes I agree with your balanced approach to this sensitive issue!
I think that is the right view for Christians to take, along with enough humility to not judge other people's private emotions.

Paul Burgin said...

Well I think that's a major problem there; too little humilty, not enough pride! C.S. Lewis once described pride as a major unspoken sin and I believe him.