Sex and power? Or power and sex?

Beliefnet is featuring an essay by Robert Bruce Mullin, a professor at the General Semiary in New York arguing that the conflict in our Church is not about homosexuality, but about power.

I’ve disputed this elsewhere, and this piece, while valuabe, doesn’t change my mind. We are attempting to deal with the sexual panic that male homosexuality engenders in much of the world by moving towards a more authoritarian system of church governance. A different issue would have resulted in a different, and I suspect, less radical response.

That said, the piece contains a number of solid points. Mullin concludes:

Is centralization a good or a bad thing? This is a question that is far larger than the current debate over sexuality. It is not, contrary to what one hears, a “conservative” victory, but rather an institutionalists’ victory. Such a covenant would be adjudicated by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a group of advisers. And clearly, a transnational authority could cut different ways depending upon who controls power, and could impact “conservatives” as easily as “liberals.” The Windsor Report was as critical of African bishops extending their jurisdiction into the American church and claiming oversight over dissenting congregations as it was of the actions taken by American Episcopalians and Canadian Anglicans, and such oversight is what the conservatives are asking for. Such a covenant is not the quick fix desired by dissenting Episcopalians.

The question of such an authority has not been really raised, to date, among Anglicans. It is by no means certain that when called upon the independent churches will back this shift in sovereignty.

Archbishop Williams has now put the issue forward. Let the debate begin.

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