July 28, 2008
I have received a number of comments from friends in
Bishop Peter Lee of
“Archbishop Deng Bul made it clear at the press conference. He was asked what he would do if he were Gene Robinson. It was a speculative question and he said if he was Gene Robinson, he would resign. It was not a formal call from the Sudanese bishops. He did not repeat that to us as a demand at all.”
I have shared my thoughts with Archbishop Daniel who tells me he respects my views and hopes that I respect his as we are both coming from different backgrounds.
What I respect is him and his extraordinary Episcopal ministry in Port-of-Sudan and then Renk before being elected Archbishop and with it, the see of
What I know from a visit to the
I assume that we understand that by the grace of God we are brothers and sisters in Christ who have been brought into relationship as a sign and work that is itself building for the kingdom of God, and extension of the blessing that is Eucharistic community in which we are al transformed by the Holy Spirit around the Table of the Lord. I assume that we can share and discuss our readings of Scripture and would be most surprised (and suspicious) if they were the same in every instance. All of this is reality and I can have full respect for those who differ from me in background and culture.
I also recognize that I too live in a different culture with different mores norms and assumptions than that with which I grew up, --especially with regard to the existence and status of gay and lesbian Christians. I have been changed and shaped in that same Eucharistic community and challenged to respond to the extraordinary love of Jesus, especially for those whom the powers that be would cast out. In this respect I am a convert to something that I freely admit is a development and one that is clearly unsettling to many. I happily bear witness to the fact that we have nothing to fear except the consequence of trading in the love of God for human law, desires, taboos and prejudice. I fully accept that the Sprit works in different places on different timetables and in differing ways. I think it unlikely that homosexual relationship will become truly ‘normal’ and accepted in my lifetime in the
There is one part of this debate that I cannot respect and which I believe to be profoundly wrong (even for followers of the utilitarianism of John Stuart Mill) and that is the tendency to make political calculations that do not appear to understand the full humanity of the people that are part of that calculation. I do not respect arguments that say that Gene Robinson should resign so that the church can be at peace. I do not respect arguments that say that church unity can only be achieved at the expense of gay people. This IS deeply personal, all protestations to the contrary notwithstanding. Every bishop who makes a pronouncement that seems to trade gay people for the pipe dream of peace on some other issue is failing to care for the whole people of God. The current version of this kind of argument that I find most tricky is the one that implies that Christians would not be targeted by Muslims if it wasn’t for some churches affirming gay people and their relationships as such. Muslims who wish to persecute Christians have always found an excuse to do so. I believe and hope that Christians would do better to proclaim God’s grace and love as a better way than any law and especially the code of Sharia. I could well be wrong on this point, but I still do not respect the arguments of Christians that would condemn a whole class of people for the sake of some kind of church unity.