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Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Incarnational Defiance

Spouses at Lambeth 2008
Just so I'm clear at the outset before I get myself tangled up in the weeds and in case you've been out of the Episcopal/Anglican news cycle: The invitations for Lambeth 2020 have been sent out to all the bishops in the 77-million member world-wide Anglican Communion.

And, wonder of wonder, miracle of miracles, the one bishop who is gay and the one bishop who is lesbian, and, no doubt, the one bishop-elect who is a gay man, have all been invited to Lambeth Conference. You will remember Lambeth 2008 when the lone 'out' gay bishop, Gene Robinson, was pointedly un-invited. But, you will also remember he went anyway.

So, the black-eye at Lambeth Palace has finally faded from that, but the good bishops just can't seem to get out of their own way. They have made it clear that the spouses of those bishops are not invited.

You can "read all about it" here: Same-sex spouses not invited to next year's Lambeth Conference of bishops.

I'm trying not to go off on too much of a rant here but, Sweet Baby Jesus and all the angles that rock him to sleep! Remember just a few weeks ago when some of us, on the issue of marriage equality, declared "The strife is o'er, the battle done; the victory of life is won; the song of triumph has begun"?

And so, here we are with the Purple Princes of the Church declaring, "Okay, so we see what happened last time, and we don't want to seem inhospitable so you gay bishops can come but you have to bring your closets with you - not your spouses."

I understand from other conversations around the internet that one UMC pastor from Kenya is quoted as saying about his denominational issue over matters of sexuality,
“In Africa, we have people in polygamous marriage and others who practice female genital mutilation, but we have never advocated for such issues to be universal,” he said amid cheers of ‘Amen’ from congregants. “We don’t want the issue to be included in the church because it’s a sin. God forbids it.”
Polygamy and Marriage Equality? FGM and Marriage Equality? Talk about your basic false equivalence. 

It won't be long before we hear "the slippery slope" argument which goes something like, "What's next? Marriage to dogs?"

Shortly after that will be the "Chicken Little School of Theology" which will proclaim, "The Anglican Sky is falling."

Haven't we been enough times around this part of Mulligan's barn? 

Look, I'm as tired as the next person of this issue which ought not to be an issue at all. 
We should be outraged that last night, millions of children around the world went to bed with their tummies growling and right now, thousands of elderly in this country are trying to figure out how to pay for their medicine like insulin AND their heating bill while Big Pharma executives are drinking a $12 martini before eating a $30 lunch.

Right this very minute, the POTUS has declared a state of emergency and 16 states have filed lawsuits while our Congress grinds to a halt.

And, in all probability, there's someone out there right now working out his rage and plotting to take his guns into a school or a theater or his old work place and kill a whole bunch of people before he commits "suicide by cop". 

And, as I write this, some Black girl or boy is getting ready to walk home from school, praying not to be stopped for Walking While Black.

And, here we are, splitting hairs over what to do about the fact that two gay men who are bishops and one lesbian woman who is a bishop can't bring their 'lawfully wedded spouse' to Lambeth Conference next year?

At least, not yet. Our Presiding Bishop hasn't yet spoken on the matter. Neither has the House of Bishops or the Executive Council. 
My take? This is a decision which first needs to be made by the three spouses. If they want to show up, anyway, just the way +Gene Robinson did in 2008, then that changes the whole thing.
I'm calling it "Incarnational Defiance". Showing up anyway, even though your presence confirms that yes, these three bishops are not celibate; they are married, legally and sacramentally, just like all the other bishops who have their spouses in attendance. 
This is what +Mary Glasspool and her spouse have done. +Mary asked her spouse and now she is taking the conversation to her colleagues in the House of Bishop. 
I'm sure one of the options will be what I call The Three Musketeers approach: "all for one and one for all". If one doesn't go, all don't go. 
Entre nous: I just don't think that's going to happen.  It's just not. I've got stories from my attendance at Lambeth 1998 and Lambeth 2008. Trust me on this. The bishops are not "all for one and one for all". Why would we think their wives would be? 

Besides, we have eight (8) bishops who made Resolution B012 necessary: When a priest in their diocese wants to preside over the marriage of a same-sex couple, that priest has to appeal to his/her bishop for DEPO (Designated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight ). In other words, another bishop must be called in to assist with the pastoral needs of that clergy and that couple.  

You may remember that the Bishop of Albany has even declined the limits of B012. 

And, there are others who are none too pleased with any of it, but they stay below the radar screen, much in the same way they do with the ordination and employment of women. 

So much for "all for one and one for all".

So, buckle up, buttercups. The wailing and gnashing of teeth has begun. Some people are already threatening to leave - The Episcopal Church, Christianity, all of it. 

We're a long way from any final decision. I hope we can all keep our powder dry and let these three spouses discern what it is God is calling them to do, hoping that they have the support and love and encouragement from their spouses and enough of the other bishops and spouses to feel supported in whatever it is they decide. 

Meanwhile, I'm praying for Incarnational Defiance. 

As Jack Spong famously said, "The Church will die of boredom long before it dies of controversy". 

Meanwhile, there are mouths to feed and sick people who need access to affordable health care and  epidemics of opioid addiction and gun violence to tend to and walls to bring down (or prevent from being built) so that justice roll on like a river and righteousness like a never-falling stream.


karred4 said...

First, the Bishop of Kenya needs to stay home and take care of his diocese. He needs to provide the leadership to disuede polygamous marriages and stop the unholy FGM.

This is deeper than just having gay and lesibian bishops excepted. This is nullifying one of the basic premises that my chuch is formed on. How was it that Bishop Curry put it "if it is not love, it is not God". Are we trying to be Episcopalians or trying to be like Christ? Which is more important?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, you probably know how I will answer your question.

It's important to remember that we have 8 bishops (and spouses) who are part of the Continuing Church movement. In other words, they wanted to leave after +Gene Robinson was elected and consecrated bishop but are "continuing". They are the reason B012 is in place - allowing them to call in another bishop to provide pastoral care when someone in their diocese wants to marry a same-sex couple.

Yeah, so how many bishop spouses are going to forfeit going to Lambeth in solidarity with three L/G spouses? I'm not holding my breath.