Friday, December 26, 2008

Who is Distracting Whom?

One of the arguments leveled against reasserters (those who hold traditional teaching on sexual morality among other things) is that our focus on who is sleeping with whom detracts from the work of the Church.

First, we have to ask what the work of the Church is? Basically, the work of the Church is to make disciples - students - apprentices - of Jesus Christ and to prepare those souls for eternity with God. The Eastern Orthodox refer to this as "theosis" and it is growing in the new life that the Holy Spirit gives us in Baptism and which we receive in Holy Eucharist.

Whether this work is done within the Church by building up those who already follow Jesus Christ or if the work is done outside the Church by bringing those who do not follow Jesus Christ into a relationship with Him, both are important and part of the Work of the Church. And, just as an aside, every Christian should be involved in some way both in work within the Church and work outside the Church.

Works of corporal mercy - caring for the poor, the sick, the homeless, visiting those in prison, empowering people in society through things like ESL (English as a Second Language) or GED courses or other charitable works are important and are part of the work of the Church, but they, themselves and by themselves, are not the work of the Church.

After we have determined the work of the Church, we need to determine if the fight about sexual morality is distracting from that work or not and then who is distracting whom.

I would say that fighting in the Church today is distracting from the work of the Church and reasserters play a part in this. But the majority of the guilt from distracting from the work of the Church can be laid at the feet of the reappraisers.

My reasoning is two fold. Before General Convention 2000, the Church had discussed and debated blessing same sex unions and awlays said that it was not appropriate or that we would not move forward on this until the communion as a whole changed its mind. In 1998, all the bishops of the Lambeth Conference said that blessing same sex unions and ordaining those involved in same sex unions were outside of the teaching of the Church. The 1998 resolution was not a new teaching - it simply affirmed and codified the existing teaching.

So, it is not the reasserters who kept bringing this issue forward for debate. It is the reappraisers. So after two or three General Conventions, we who think this "new thing" violates the teaching of the Church should simply fall into line?

Second, the debate is not about sex or who sleeps with whom or about homosexuality vs hetersexuality. The debate is about the nature and place of authority in the Church. Does a single person have the authority to change teaching on something that the bible and the universal church so roundly condemned? How about a diocese? A province? Does even the Anglican Communion as a whole have that authority and still be considered a church based on "Scripture, Tradition, and Reason?"

Now, I am a reasserter. I believe that God does not bless homosexual sex and further I believe that He considers it sinful. I base this belief on what I read in Holy Scripture. So, if you want to convince me (and other reasserters) that God does bless homosexual sex, then you have to make your argument out of what our Presiding Bishop, Katherine Jefferts-Schori, as said to be our primary source of authority - Holy Scripture. Show me where God blesses homosexual sex within the Holy Scriptures.

Phil Snyder

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Maybe that's why there is such a rush for TEC to change the practices of the church. It then becomes the "New Tradition". A precedent is set and then one can appeal to (new) tradition. By the way, Scripture, Tradtion and Reason mean quite different things to Reappraisers and Reasserters.

Dcn Dale