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Saturday, February 24, 2007

How long, O Lord, how long?

The Primates who met at Windsor, Dromantine and Dar es Salaam continue to uphold the Lambeth resolution on human sexuality to be the "standard" of the church, which conservatives want "enforced" so that all are in "compliance."

They have apparently forgotten, these princes of the church and teachers and guardians of the faith, that words like "enforce" and "compliance" are absolutely antithetical to the long tradition of the gracious Anglican Spirit of Accommodation.

In her conversation with the staff at the National Church Center, Our Katharine points out the incremental progress of some Global South Primates who can now no longer claim not to have met LGBT people. She muses that it's simply a "matter of time" before the rest of the communion allows "reason" to take it's place along side classical Anglicanism of scripture and tradition.

So, here are my questions. There are three:

1. How long, exactly, does it take, for the church to correct its "standard" when the church's standard is at least significantly different from the experience of others in other parts of the world, not to mention that the scientific evidence in the West is significantly different from that of the church?

Stop me if you've heard this before:

For centuries, the church's teaching about the shape of the world was that it was flat, in accordance with what was written in scripture, despite scientific evidence that it was not. People were excommunicated - not to mention tortured and tried and sent to jail and murdered for disagreeing with the official church "standard" of teaching.

For centuries, the church's teaching about seizure disorder was that it was demon possession, in accordance with what was written in scripture, despite scientific evidence that it was not. People were excommunicated - not to mention tortured and locked in asylums because the outward manifestation of their lives were contrary to the official church "standard" of teaching.

For centuries, the church's teaching about left handedness was that it was the sign of evil, in accordance with what was written in scripture, despite scientific evidence that it was not. People were excommunicated - not to mention tortured and shunned and exiled because the outward manifestation of their lives were contrary to the official church "standard" of teaching. (My beloved can tell you stories that will raise the hair on the back of your neck about the abuse she and others suffered in Roman Catholic elementary school because of their left handedness.)

2. If we agree that the colonialism and cultural imperialism perpetrated by the North and the West on the Global South were evils of which we repent, why are we now allowing the attempted ecclesiastical colonialism and imperialism of the Global South Primates to be visited upon the churches of the North and the West? I never remember Jesus teaching that "two wrongs make a right." Then again, I don't have a King James Version of the bible, so I may be missing something.

3. Who will take responsibility for the emotional, psychological and spiritual damage done to the church and her people for perpetuating the evils of this deficient standard of teaching? And, let's be clear: it's not simply LGBT people who will suffer. As we have learned from the evils of slavery, racism, sexism, and the ignorance which once taught that the world is flat, people who have seizure disorders are possessed of demons and left-handed people are the Scribes of Satan: when the dignity of any human being is compromised or insulted, a mortal wound is created in the Body of Christ.

I think our Baptismal Covenant has something to say about "the dignity of every human being," as does the Outline of Faith (Commonly called The Catechism).

Who will take responsibility for the damage that is done while a deficient standard is upheld and promulgated in the church? Knowing what we know about the irrationality of prejudice, who could claim innocence? Knowing what we know about LGBT people and social sciences and lived experience, why isn't the church's "standard of teaching" being challenged - if not absolutely rejected? And, what would the consequences be if they were? Could anyone live with the consequences if they were not?

How long, O Lord, how long, must we wait for reason to prevail over errant teaching? And, what price are we willing to pay for the damage done to the Sacred Body of Christ while we wait?

If nothing else, these questions underscore what I see as the need for a Season of Discernment, Study and Prayer so that we are very, very clear what it is we are being asked to do.

6 comments:

Mike in Texas said...

My dear Elizabeth, "Who will take responsibility for the damage that is done while a deficient standard is upheld and promulgated in the church?"

The growing sentiment I've been reading elsewhere can be summed up by the words of a popular television commercial from a number of years back.

"Let Mikey do it."

LAG+ said...

But did we really expect anything else from a rigged meeting that was set-up from the get go to be more gay bashing? That ++Katharine has set her name to it when it was her option not to disturbs me more that I want to say. That ++Andrew of Canada was disturbed by the communique says much more than ++Katharine has said. Granted I feel poleaxed, but that isn't going to stop me from speaking out!

Lauren

Suzer said...

Interesting that you mention seizure disorders. For the past several years, I have (first with the help of my former church, now on my own) provided epilepsy medication for a small boy in Sierra Leone, West Africa. I met him on a mission trip to that country in 2004. He was adopted by the mission leader in S.L.

This boy had been cast out of his village because the villagers thought him to be possessed with demons. Certainly, not everyone in Sierra Leone feels this way about seizure disorders, but it shows what a long way we have to go in education and understanding between cultures.

So, if some folks in Africa still believe epilepsy to be demon possession, how long will it take to educate and inform about the lives of GLBT people? I love the people I met there, and I am committed to continuing to help them, but they did not know I am a lesbian. I like to hope that, if they did know, nothing would change between us.

Deborah Sproule said...

Dear lag+,
Your voice is heard. Fear not, see the Mothers modelling Christ's will for us in this conflict.
Mom Elizabeth 'let's' Mike in Texas spout "standards" of the church; according to Mike "damage" is done in doing the work of Jesus (meaning Jesus was inclusive, not a guard at the gate to God). Seriously, Mike I want to know the Bible source you lean on to fortify your stong back as it is turned against God's children. Love has a standard? Oiyyh! Lord forgive us.
See also our pB Mom Katharine stand tall and strong in her committment to live like Jesus. She does not stay away from The Table just because "undesirables" are present :( meaning those Mike-like guards at the door trying to keep God's children away from God's Table ): She walks the road of the cross which requires us to Love our Enemies (: Surely by now we have learned that one persons enemy is another persons saint?!? Ours is not to judge but to love. I will follow the Mothers, they are leading us in the right way to God through Christ. God's will is that we LOVE CREATION.

Mike in Texas said...

Deborah Sproule, I'm not sure I understand your question to me. I think that since you probably haven't had a chance to know me, you probably weren't unable to understand my rather cryptic message. So let me try to explain myself. In doing so, I may answer your question.

First, please take note that the first bit of my post was within quotes, a repetition of the part of Elizabeth's post I was responding to specifically. The references to "standards" was from Elizabeth's post.

At the time I wrote it I was very discouraged by what I'd been reading on a liberal and supposedly pro-inclusion Episcopal blog. It had become clear to me that the majority of the people there are not willing to do anything behond give lip service to the cause of justice. Sadly, they have no intention of sharing the "fast" or doing anything else that would make a strong statment in favor of bringing the justice of Jesus into the Episcopal Church and the WAC.

They all think it's just fine to throw the hot potato to another generation and don't seem to have any problem with another of the church's great sins of the past, its inadequate response to the problem of slavery. They see nothing wrong with delaying justice now because apparently they think it's some sort of church tradition to delay justice.

And that's where my reference to the television commercial came in. Do you remember it? Three children were presented with a new breakfast cereal. The two older ones were afraid to try it. So they said "Let Mikey (the youngest) do it."

While straight liberals find the thought of themselves being inclusive rather appealing, I'm finding more and more that they stop at the self-congratulatory thoughts and are not willing to do anything or make even a small sacrifice to help bring it about.

I hope this makes sense to you now.

Bill said...

Obviously much of the Church leadership will never take responsibility which leaves it up to the people to be responsible for bringing about the much needed changes.