Something to offend everyone

The Episcopal Call to Love, by the Rev. Rob Gieselmann has something to offend Anglicans of every sensibility. That’s what makes it worth reading. In six relatively brief chapters, Rob gives us his take on the current conflict in the Communion and suggests a way forward.

Here is a sample of this thinking:

You might defend your actions by noting how harshly Jesus spoke to the religious leaders who imagined they owned the truth. But, let’s be clear: you aren’t Jesus. What gives you the right to claim truth? And worse, if you listen closely, you might hear in your own voice echoes of the same religious leaders Jesus excoriated.

It is time for each of us to stop sounding like we own the truth. And just so you will know, as I so arrogantly write these sentences, I fall to my knees (at this moment, I bow my knee, even as I write), and ask for forgiveness, and God’s grace, and for the truth of Christ to emerge despite my cold heart.

Some of you will say, when a human right is at stake, stake a claim. I’ve heard that argument, and I’ve heard the comparison to slavery and civil rights. First of all, not all homosexual behavior is about human right. Indeed, I’m still waiting for apologists to stop lumping all homosexuality into the same pail, as though all homosexual behavior activity is acceptable. At the least, we can and should agree that some homosexual activity is patently unacceptable, just like some heterosexual activity is patently unacceptable.

To be sure, a human right may be at stake, and if so, a claim is worth staking. However, I’m looking for those who will promote the cause like Abraham Lincoln promoted freedom to slaves. He agonized over the division of the Union. He prayed passionately before issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, and he genuinely lamented the fracture of the Union and absolved the South at the end of it all.

To the homosexuals among us I would say, Isn’t patience in order? After all, how long did it take you to come to terms with your own sexuality? Can you reasonably expect heterosexuals to make the transition faster than you did?

Others of you will say sin is sin, and God says homosexual behavior is sin. I’ve heard that argument, and I’ve heard that God won’t bless the Church that condones egregious sin. Okay. Why is it, then, that we don’t talk about more popular forms of sin: cheating on taxes, adultery, fornication, or – watch out, here – keeping holy the Sabbath? Even if you are right, and all homosexual behavior is sin (a discussion worth continuing for many reasons, but not here), the issue shouldn’t split the church, unless you’re ready for the Church to split over these other issues, as well. I’m looking for honesty among the more conservative among us, an admission that, for the most part, Scripture is being manipulated to hide prejudice—plain, good, old-fashioned prejudice (a/k/a homophobia). It is time to own it.

Have a look.

Rob, a former lawyer, has served at St. Luke’s in Cleveland, Tennessee; St. Paul’s near Chestertown, Maryland; and is now rector at Christ Church in Sausalito, California.

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