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Friday, May 09, 2008

My dear brother, Peter . . .

I have just read the article about your latest roar: "Anglican Church Bans Polygamy."

With this declaration, I believe you have finally earned the distinction of being the one Anglican primate, if not the one man on earth, who is "More Religious Than God."


Which, of course, begs the question of whether or not God is religious. Or, is God spiritual? We know that Jesus had a particular disdain for the religion of his day, but his mother, Mary, certainly knew Torah and was a devoutly religious girl. And, the Holy Spirit, well, "blows where it wills."

Hmm . . . I don't know. It's a mystery to me.

I guess the point is that You are Religious. Very Religious. In fact, you claim to have a "prophetic call to a return to Biblical truth."

Whew! That's large, Peter. Huge, in fact. God bless you and good luck with that.

But, I wonder, Peter, if you've thought this thing through.

It's pretty clear that, even though you're not going to attend Lambeth (don't want to get cooties from those American bishops who laid hands on Gene Robinson), you want to remain scrupulously clear about your "prophetic call."

No poofters and no polygamists for you. Got it.

Except, we'll, I don't know how to tell you this. I mean, you haven't said that your word is infallible - Yet - but it is only a matter of time. Let me give it a go anyway.

Here's the thing: Being LGBT and being a polygamist are not the same thing. You're talking apples and spaghetti here, pal.

Being a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person is a sexual orientation that is a complex result of biology, psychology, sociology and cultural anthropology. It has to do with DNA and identity, intimacy and trust, as well as the I and thou, the 'Ubuntu' of being in community.

I wish I could explain it to you as simply as black and white, up and down, purity and sin, but the human enterprise has never fit into easy categories which can be labeled and safely boxed on the shelf.

Polygamy, on the other hand, is much more simple to define. I can get to the bottom line for you relatively quickly. It has to do with misogyny. Period.

Oh, wait. I will probably have to explain misogyny to you, won't I? It's not a word that translates well from my cultural experience to yours.

Misogyny means, simply, a hatred of women. Right. You don't hate women. Of course you don't. Why, you've even taken one as your wife. I know.

See, we're getting all tangled up in our cultural differences again.

In my culture, polygamy is wrong not just because of the scriptural warrants against it, but because, like slavery, it does not respect the dignity of the humanity of women. Women can't be "owned" like cattle or slaves - even by well meaning men who want to save her from certain poverty.

The Biblical Truth here, Peter, if you'll allow a mere woman to speak in such a bold manner, is pretty clear: We are to follow the example of Jesus who lived and died for the full liberation of the human spirit.

You can't follow the commandment of Jesus to "love one another as I have loved you" and then "own" another person.

That means that you can't ban polygamy without pledging to work to change the social system which brought it into being in the first place.

Furthermore, it is cruel in the main to ban polygamy without the Anglican Church in Nigeria putting into place some agency, some organization, to care for the "extra wives."

See? There are some things that cross cultural differences. It's not just about "Truth" - it's about Biblical truth with Biblical justice and Biblical mercy.

It's about understanding the "Truth" of the ancient texts and listening for the fluttering of the wings of the Holy Spirit as she moves over sacred words and reveals how they are to be applied for us in our time and in our day.

That's what generations of Christians have done throughout the ages, Peter. It's not an easy task - truth by blatant assertion is a much easier row to hoe - but I have no doubt that you are up to the work.

I'll miss seeing you in Canterbury, Peter. I remember talking with you there 10 years ago. Remember me? We were standing near one of the ATM machines on campus. Most of your brothers were simply giddy with the modern innovation of what one of them called The Magic Money Wall.

"Look," he said, "You put a plastic card in and money comes out! What an amazing country this is!" We all applauded and gave thanks and glory to God for inspiring the intellect of humankind.

I was the one you asked to define 'lesbian'. You were confused by the term because in your mind, 'intercourse' had a very clear definition involving the specific activity of the external genitalia of a man and a woman.

Not to worry. A former President of this country believed the same thing.

I'll never forget the look on your face as you earnestly asked me, "But, how can this be? How can there be a 'lesbian' when there is no penis?" you asked.

Ah, you've come a long way since then, haven't you baby?

Then again, maybe not so much.

Tell you what: I'll pray for you and you pray for me, and whoever gets to heaven first will make sure to put in a good word with the 'other' Big Pete. You know. The one who guards the Pearly Gates.

I'm sure he'll be very interested to know what his namesake was up to during time your on earth. And, I have no doubt that you'll delight to be able to tell him.


Your Sister in Christ


marnanel said...

"But, how can this be? How can there be a 'lesbian' when there is no penis?"

Now I have two ways I'm sorry for his wife.

Jim said...

Rev. Elizabeth,

I pray the Spirit as it blows where it will carry the message of love and life to many this Pentecost. Preach it prophetic lady, preach it.


Organ Builder said...

I've lurked on your blog for a long time, enjoying your style. I've never been moved to comment before, but now I have little bits of peanut M&Ms spewed all over my screen.

Thanks for the laugh,

Organ Builder (on SoF)

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

OB - Happy to oblige.