Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lambeth Noisemakers

Well, Lambeth 2008 has begun. 680 bishops and primates from around the world all at Canterbury. My own diocesan, Jeff Lee, has posting updates on YouTube here, here and here.

The noise of Archbishop Daniel Deng Bul and Bishop Jack Iker, of course, gets all the press. Archbishop Deng, most likely speaking for the Global South, released a statement of his bishops in the Episcopal Church of Sudan. Some snippets:
We believe that God created humankind in his own image; male and female he created them for the continuation of humankind on earth. Women and men were created as God’s agents and stewards on earth We believe that human sexuality is God’s gift to human beings which is rightly ordered only when expressed within the life-long commitment of marriage between one man and one woman.
So much for respecting the dignity of every human being. There are millions of gay men and women living in life-long commitments to each other that the church has actively oppressed, demeaned and even killed them for centuries. This historic position directly conflicts with Jesus' life and teaching, that care for God's people should have priority over any exclusionary or discriminatory institutional policy.
We reject homosexual practice as contrary to biblical teaching and can accept no place for it within ECS.
Oh, silly me. It's not the homosexuality that's at issue, it's the practice. Straight folks can have sex, but gays must remain chaste. Rubbish.

++Deng Bul expresses a flawed theology. He's given ground on homosexuality, admitting it as an emotional condition. He acknowledges that God created gays and lesbians. What kind of God would create them but then restrict the joy of sexual activity only to heteros? He wants us to "respect the authority of the Bible," the book that states that God created his world, saw it was good, and loved it so much he sent Jesus into it. ++Deng Bul's God is a cruel god. That kind of theology doesn't respect the Bible.

"Out of love for our brothers and sisters in Christ," the statement reads, and then asks the churches in Canada and the U.S. to deny rites of blessing or ordinations to our gay brothers and sisters and to stop litigating to recover stolen property. This isn't love, it's the opposite of love, it's fear. The Bible tells us not to be afraid, even in the face of really embarrassing news like the Annunciation, or throngs of angels appearing in the sky over Bethlehem, or an empty tomb.

The ECS statement says that reviving the oppression and discrimination of gays and lesbians is "essential for bridging the divisions which have opened up within the Communion." That's not true. The Archbishop of Canterbury, in an attempt to assuage the anxiety of the Global South, refrained from inviting +Gene, yet 200 or so bishops still boycotted the Conference. They've shown no inclination to listen to anything other than their own prejudices. They want to create a rigid, confessional church and call it Anglican and Episcopal. If they succeed, I'll find somewhere else to worship. I don't feel like being oppressed by a church.

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