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  1. June 20th., 2007
    PHARISEES?
    Some years ago, following a reception for George Carey at Wycliffe College, we were standing outside with Charlie Masters, our rector, and I asked him whether the response of Essentials to the blessing of same-sex unions may be perceived as Pharisaic. He said he hoped not, because they were defending the authority of Scripture. I said I hoped not too, because at that time I stood 100% behind Essentials. I did tell him that I had a cousin living in a homosexual relationship, and knowing his background I didn’t think the relationship to be sinful. Since then my cousin has died, and we discovered at his funeral, that he and his partner, both with impeccable Anglican backgrounds, were members of a Baptist congregation, where they had been warmly received. I was saddened that there was no Anglican church in their town, Oxford in England, which had done the same. I had always classified Evangelicals (with a Capital E) as Black and White churches (You’re either going to heaven or to hell), but there I may have been wrong.

    In the real fallen world, which is neither black nor white, I see homosexual relationships as a symptom, rather than a sin. I think homosexuals are more sinned against than sinners. I remember a boy in my medical practice in Moncton, an only son, who would have to protect his Mother from being beaten up by his Father, who was often drunk. He was in the air cadets, and wanted desperately to join the RCAF. However, he was turned down on the basis of a psychological report, in spite of a letter on his behalf from me. He went to Toronto at 18. There he joined the gay community, and within about 5 years was back in Moncton with AIDS. His Mother told me that he had chosen another doctor, but asked that I look in on him. I spoke with his new doctor, who was agreeable, but when I went to see him he wouldn’t look at me and just mumbled a few words. I read by his body language that I was not welcome. He was too ashamed, I thought, to face me, and sadly I didn’t know how to relieve his anxiety. He had never told me about his homosexuality, although I knew it from his Mother. He died soon after that, grieved by a lot of people, myself included

    Another boy who did discuss his homosexuality with me was a member of St. George’s, Moncton. He used to come home for lunch as we had open house after church. He was never my patient, but I always remember his wondering why they called the gay life style gay, as for him it was anything but. When I last saw him on the street he looked so ill that I thought he had AIDS, or he may have been on heavy doses of anti-psychotics, as his symptoms sometimes bordered on psychosis. I don’t think we can help a homosexual live a celibate life until we’ve walked in his shoes, and even them I’m sceptical. I have only known one saved by the power of prayer, but he was very exceptional.

    From my observations there are three precipitating factors that lead to homosexuality; one, a dysfunctional home, two bi-polar disease, and three, schizophrenia. They all seem to spend a lot of time on the lonely streets, and are taken in by well wishers of the same or opposite sex. For the price of the ‘hospitality,’ an emotional bond develops, and then a physical one. Is one more or less sinful than the other? The heterosexual relationship may end up in marriage, though perhaps an unstable one; but to the other, marriage is forbidden.

    I agree that the practice of homosexuality is not compatible with Scripture and tradition, or even with reason, as it can lead to sad consequences. However, I feel it’s now our duty to determine the spirit of Scripture, rather than just the letter, and I applaud the liberals in our church for making us face up to this issue. To distinguish between the letter and the spirit of Scripture is an age old problem. ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ said God in the O.T.. Jesus reinterpreted the Law, so that Christians do not observe the Jewish dietary laws. Also, Thanks to Paul, Gentiles like us don’t have to be circumcised. In our own day we have reinterpreted Jesus’ prohibition of divorce and Paul’s warning against women speaking in the church. We have interpreted God’s command ‘to be fruitful and multiply’ to allow contraception, unlike our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, who are not facing the problem we are today. In each case the church has determined the spirit of Scripture, rather than just the letter. Those who believe the letter of the law, or Scripture, have fought the spirit, perhaps even the Holy Spirit, all the way to the wire. They drove Jesus to the cross. I don’t think the church has a good record in discerning the will of the Lord, and our church councils in the past have not all made good decisions. Which ever way the motions go, I don’t think they will make the slightest difference to Anglicanism. We’re all a bunch of anarchists, having no central authority, (the Bible has only authority over what we teach about salvation, and we may have misunderstood its teaching about even that.) Some sadly will leave us, but others from the Black and White churches will join us, once they realize things aren’t so black and white, and we’ll carry on, as the spirit moves us, no matter what the Global South think.

    What can we do positively? I think we can create warm, hospitable environments, where homosexuals are accepted without any strings attached, and definitely no judgement calls. This may mean opening our homes to people we may consider undesirable. It may mean opening safe havens, as Sister Christine has done here in Guelph. It takes our resources, but this is better than spending money on lawyers in order to divide our congregations. Seniors can play a great role in befriending people with emotional and/or psychiatric disorders, and there is always the power of prayer. I think those who wish to leave the ACC should spend more time, energy and resources in these things, than nursing their wounds over ‘impaired relationships’ within the church. I may have an impaired relationship in my church, St. George’s, Lowville, for writing this, but I have to say it. Such impairments, and what we do about them, add excitement to life.

  2. Jude says:

    I am confused by your viewpoint. You state: “I agree that the practice of homosexuality is not compatible with Scripture and tradition, or even with reason, as it can lead to sad consequences.” Isn’t that a good reason to discourage people from participating in that lifestyle? And the only way to do that is to sit with them, to love them and to offer the good news of salvation, mercy and healing that is available to anyone who asks it of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

  3. Dave says:

    Michael: I’m with Jude here. As soon as you said “however” you lost me. We, as fallen sinning humans continually want to say “however” when God says “sin”. Somehow that has the unmistakable ring of we know better. As for loving and accepting…Jesus is in fact the perfect example. The people of His day (which I would assert are not really that much different from us today when it comes to what drives them) tried to get Him to condemn the woman at the well amongst many others. He did not and we must not. But unfortunately, many folks using this Scripture stop there. He said I suspect without taking a breath and leaving room for “enlightened interpretation” to infer a disconnection, “Go and sin no more.” He did not negate/dismiss first the person, and the sinful action.
    Michael; I see you have the glass half empty already. I don’t believe anyone “wants to leave the ACC”. But if it comes to following this initiative in the ways of this new interpretation/ommission or the faithful Anglican Communion worldwide in the ways of Scripture, I know which way I want my Lord and Saviour to see me go. I too grieve for all the time and effort a few have brought upon the WHOLE church, not just the ACC, with this agenda of human blessing of something that they have no authority to bless; namely the sacrament of marriage as defined by God. It’s akin to me saying I’m going to make a law redfining the speed limit on the highway…As I didn’t define the law in the first place, it isn’t within my authority to change it. I didn’t create the law that says a child will endure great pain and harm by touching a hot stove element. (I hope you as a medical doctor will appreciate this anaolgy.) But what is more loving to that child?: 1)based on our knowledge of flesh and physics, to tell them not to touch it or 2) simply say “I love you. Go ahead and touch the burner.”? I agree it’s much harder to convince the child that what they are doing is wrong. We will hear (and I still hear it from my kids) “You don’t love me, because you’re telling me what I WANT to is wrong.” Although we are not privy to her reaction, because the important message had been conveyed, I suspect Jesus told the woman in such a way that she KNEW He loved so much that he would not steer her wrong. I believe her reaction was not “”You don’t love me, because you’re telling me what I WANT to is wrong.” So our real test is if we can convey this to to homosexual person in such a way that we don’t hear this.
    As for your impairment with St. George’s (my church also)…not in my case!

  4. Gillian says:

    The problem with your reasoning is that you’re arguing from different sins, such as the woman at the well, then equating that to someone living in a long-term loving committed relationship with a beloved partner and saying that’s a sin that God condemns too. Well, the Bible says otherwise. And it’s pretty clear on the subject. Despite those favourite few, the 6 passages that seem to say homosexuality is wrong [but also say wearing mixed fibres is wrong (Leviticus), that's it's okay to offer your 16 year old virgin daughter to be raped (Sodom & Gomorrah), or that temple prostitution is wrong (Paul)], the Bible says clearly that “All who love are born of God and know God.” (1 John 4: 7) All people. Not just heterosexuals.

    As a straight, happily married woman with a Ph.D. in Religious Studies, who has studied the Bible both academically and as part of my faith, let me tell you, the Biblical view of marriage is deeply troubling. I really don’t want us to follow it, as I don’t actually want my husband to have multiple wives and concubines, the way the Old Testament Kings and other people did. And they were approved by God, according to the Bible.

    Leave judgement to God. Love God and love your neighbour as yourselves. That is what we are commanded to do by our Saviour. And let us not tear ourselves apart over what is God’s to decide!

  5. Peter says:

    “Well, the Bible says otherwise. And it’s pretty clear on the subject. ” Please do elaborate as this is a generalisation with no content.

    I hear the mixed fibres argument again, but there has been clear distinction made between moral law and purity codes. After all, extending your argument would mean that we could just as easily discard the prohibitions against adultery or murder.

    Let me include a quote from the Rev Donald Alcock. “No longer did I see my same-sex attractions as something created by God; rather, I understood them as something I had created to soothe my wounds”.

    If you do not want to follow the biblical view of marriage (as outlined by Jesus), then that is well, but do understand what it is you are saying. Some of us still want to follow that New Testament model that Jesus provided.

  6. Jude says:

    Gillian,
    The woman at the well may have been content with the relationship she had established. It may have met her emotional, physical and financial needs and been an exclusive, loving relationship. The man with whom she lived may have loved and cared for her children and provided well for the family. Does that change the fact that shew as living with a man who was not her husband? Not one iota. She was an adulterer, a sinner, whether it made her happy or not, and Jesus, I think, made that pretty clear.
    You can’t argue that any behaviour that makes you or someone else happy is good and worthy of God’s blessing.

  7. Gillian says:

    I did not make a generalization without content. I stated: “the Bible says clearly that “All who love are born of God and know God.” (1 John 4: 7) All people. Not just heterosexuals.” I could just as easily point out the passage in Genesis where it says that God created us in His own image, male and female He created us. Doesn’t say heterosexual.

    There has been so much science on the origins of homosexuality and on how it is NOT a choice. As just one example, read the following on how homosexuality is found in at least 1500 animal species as well as in humanity. Are all the animals sinning too? I think not. I think it is final proof that this is just part of God’s glorious creation. Let us celebrate love wherever it occurs instead of looking for reasons to oppress it!

    AGAINST NATURE? An exhibition on animal homosexuality
    INTRODUCTION
    On Thursday October 12 2006 The Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, opened the first-ever museum exhibition dedicated to gay animals.
    Today we know that homosexuality is a common and widespread phenomenon in the animal world. Not only short-lived sexual relationships, but even long-lasting partnerships; partnerships that may last a lifetime.
    The exhibit puts on display a small selection among the more than 1500 species where homosexuality have been observed. This fascinating story of the animals’ secret life is told by means of models, photos, texts and specimens. The visitor will be confronted with all sorts of creatures from tiny insects to enormous spermwhales.
    Sadly, most museums have no traditions for airing difficult, concealed, and possibly controversial questions. Homosexuality is certainly such a question. We feel confident that a greater understanding of how extensive and common this behaviour is among animals, will help to de-mystify homosexuality among people. – At least, we hope to reject the all too well known argument that homosexual behaviour is a crime against nature.
    The exhibition has received financial supported from the Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority (www.abm-utvikling.no/).
    The exhibit will run to August 19 2007.

  8. Dear Jude and Dave,
    I know that Sin is Sin and abhorrent to God. I’ve often asked whether the Lord’s love would still be for the lady caught in adultery, if she continued in an adulterous relationship, and I believe he would, because he went to the cross on her behalf. Also he was lowering his reputation by even being caught in her presence, and speaking to her, and I think we should do the same with a homosexual. We’re not Jesus Christ and have no right to judge anyone. Recently I listened online to Harold Percy speaking to his congregation on this subject, and here is the link to it. http://www.trinitystreetsville.org/Audio/June%203%20blessing%20same%20sex%20unions%20-%20what%20they%20are%20thinking.mp3

    Dave, I stood with Essentials till the Vestry meeting of 2005 in which the letter was sent to the bishop. If the letter had stopped at the third paragraph, I would be still be with Essentials, and so would everyone else. It would have been unanimous. By claiming that we are ‘orthodox’ and ‘faithful to Scripture’ we’re saying no one else but us is. Like Mr. Bush’s saying, ‘If you’re not for us, you’re against us.’ Look at us, Lord; aren’t we good little boys and girls. That’s why I think our church and Essentials is being Pharisaic, because I know we’re not good little boys and girls, least of all myself. Since 2005 I’ve felt an ‘impaired relationship’ at St. George’s, but have stuck it out, unlike others.
    Love and blessings,
    Michael

    Gillian,
    I too have studied the Scriptures academically, before I studied medicine, but more importantly, for the past 50 years, or so, I’ve read them, rising most mornings at 5.57 to do so. I’m that obsessive compulsive. This morning I slept till 6.06. I agree with Jude and David that homosexuality is a sin, but I would be the last person to tell a homosexual that. I see it as a symptom of our fallen world. I think there are much greater evils in our world than the blessing of same-sex unions, but my church has become fixated on this one issue, and I have to say that I think the Lord is not that concerned which ever way the vote goes.
    Blessings,
    Michael

  9. Steve says:

    I feel that this is no longer a debate about same sex blessing but has become one of Political will and which “group” will win the battle for control over the ACC. This battle has been fought on many fronts already and both groups have won battles at different denominations. It is now our turn and which group will prevail?
    If you look at the results of previous battles you can see that when the Homosexual issue is prevelant and has led their church in that direction, the church adopts a very socially accepted consciousness and it is very difficult to discern a belief structure.When you ask “do you belive in Jesus’? the response is “Yes”, and then hear in the sermon that no words are mentioned of “Salvation” or “Forgiveness of Sin” and anything about the life and work of Jesus. The sermon has become a bland monologue with a few jokes inserted.
    I went and worked in the United Church of Canada for 10 years and fled that church when the hymns started to change and began worshiping the Goddess Gia. My wife and I found the Anglican Church and its liturgy and we rejoiced as it was founded in Scripture and spoke to our hearts about the word of God through his Son Jesus Christ. The whole ceremony and build up to Christmas and Lent where a revelation to us and we grew spiritually as a result of it.
    Now this taint is starting to creep in and we fear all will be lost again. We will have no choice but to leave immeadiately as we know what is to come as a result of a favaouable vote for same sex blessing.

    Where do we go from here?

  10. Gillian says:

    Blessings on you too, Michael. We disagree but I thoroughly respect your love and kindness and charitableness toward your fellow human beings. I applaud you for your love.

    By the way, I had the wrong website in for the Oslo exhibition on homosexuality in the animal kingdom. It can be found at:
    http://www.nhm.uio.no/againstnature/index.html.

    And a wonderful sermon, given at Westminster Abby by Archbishop Ndungane, the Archbishop of Capetown, addresses a similar point to yours. You can find it at: http://www.cpg.org/onlineresources/acns.cfm. It is so wonderfully moving – I felt my faith strengthened immensely!

    Praise God we can find so much in common to share!

  11. James says:

    Gillian,
    For me, I’m afraid your argument does not hold water and appears to contradict itself. Saying that the Bible states clearly an acceptance toward homosexuality, you appear to quote John as the definitive passage. But in doing so, you are stating by implication that anyone who loves anything or anybody knows God. You contradict yourself.

    With respect, these are pretty astounding assumptions. John was not talking of heterosexual relations or homosexual relationships in the passage, so please don’t try to place it in that context. By your own definition of this passage, you(on the contrary) tell us that, if your husband does love another woman, than he should be free to love her as he wishes (even if he wants to marry her as well) because he does so out of love. I don’t think John is saying this any more than he is saying that if I love my 7-year niece (or my goat for that matter) it would be okay to marry her, because I do so out of love.

    We cannot debate this issue by searching for the best quote from scripture that, out of context, we think supports what it is we are trying to communicate. But what we need to do is look to scripture not as our source for arguments, but as a means of understanding the source of love (Jesus) and sin (Satan). Love and Sin have been and always will be seperate entities. Good and evil cannot co-exist in the same space at the same time. This what the Bible makes clear.
    I think that if we begin to closely look at the source and reasons for our feelings on this or any other subject, we may all begin to actually learn more about each other and who we are as disciples of Christ.

  12. John Wright says:

    As I read through these blogs I am struck at the lack of any real understanding of ‘sin’. We serve a Holy God and sin is not just a feeling but actions that separate us from God.
    There is the very strange idea that since we are all sinners and we are called to love and accept each other so we should also accept the homosexual then some go to say say that we must accept the sinful actions and bless the ‘life style’ as one amoung many. This would be much the same as accepting both a seriel killer and his or her life style of killing. The issue is centered on certain actions as being sinful or not. If they are sinful then we cannot bless such actions. The church also cannot bless what God does not bless. To assert that a sinful action is infact an expression of God’s love and should thus be blessed and accepted is a monumental contradition. If it is infact sin then what we are calling love is more likely a display of selfish me centered gratification. It is people seeking to have their needs met other than in God. How are actions that bring harm to others while meet my needs showing those others love?

    All people are sinners and all in need of salvation and healing. The church is to be that place that demonstrates and upholds those standards and teachings that lead us from the world to God. The church like a hospital accepts her patients in whatever condition and provides the treatment needed. A hospital is not supposed to tell a sick patient that all is well. To bless unhealthy relationships, such as homosexual relationships, would be like a hospital that serves poison for medicine and shoots its patients in the name of kindness and love.

    God is a Holy God, a God who desires the fulness of life for us. Jesus Christ came to open the path back into the Gardin, into God’s rest. Sin, the taking on the role of God, tears us from God’s presence and love. Sin is love turned in on itself. We do not know what real love is. It is not afirming people in their sin or trying somehow to say if it is done in love it must be ok. Love is a cross that calls us to a different way of being human. Love is Jeus the Son of God nailed to a cross not to make sin to be not sin, but to take sin into himself and deal with the reality of our brokenness before God.

    I must say I am tired of reading about how the Bible contradicts itself or says this or that horrible thing is ok. Such arguements usually make a mistake of catagory and read the Bible as if there was no context or style of liturature or any distinction what-so-ever between one passage and another.

    The church and any of us can try and make up our own morality and do what is right in our own eyes and bless same sex relationships and whatever else we deem right. Perhaps at this synod we will vote Jesus a pumpkin. All the voting in the world will not change reality. I will follow the historic teaching of the Church and scripture and yes that does mean that those who turn their back on the bible and the tradition are no longer traditional orthodox christian but some other new religion, and thats ok, just let us not pretend otherwise.

  13. Jonathan says:

    Dear Gillian,

    I appreciate what you have written in 4 above. However when you say that the Scripture only refers to homosexuality half a dozen times, you neglect to mention that the most important text is in Romans chapter 1. From the clear continuity between what we read in the Old Testament and the New Testament the case cannot be supported that likens the wearing of mixed fibres with same sex coupling.

    Romans 1 says nothing about the qualitative difference between a committed same sex coupling and a multiple partner coupling. Paul is comprehensive in his rejection of homosexual practice. You say that we should let God decide this. I would argue that he has already done so, and it is clearly revealed at the beginning of the Pauline letter that articulates most comprehensively the redemptive work of Christ. Romans one makes the case that because of idolatry and the practices that stem from it (Romans 1:26ff) Jesus came to die for all of those who have fallen short of the glory of God.

    To confirm same sex blessing is such an important topic for debate because it gets to the heart of what redemption and forgiveness means.

    Regarding the polygamy referred to in the Old Testament there is a strong critique in 1 Kings 11 about Solomon’s many wives. There is nothing to speak favorably about what David did in marrying Bathsheba. As for the story of the virgin daughter offered to the people of Sodom, the text in no way approves of this act. Here are recorded the misguided actions of Lot, who in a desperate time takes a desperate action.

    When we look to the New Testament and Ephesians five, here is a text that so honours the marriage bond that husbands and wives are to show mutual reverence and respect for each other. Here is an ethic that surpassed anything seen as normative in Roman society and is still a mandate for marriage that is worthy of my growing into as I learn to love my wife the way Jesus loves the church.
    Looking forward to more conversations,
    In Christ,
    Jonathan
    Calgary

  14. Peggy says:

    I would love to see this debate hammer out a vision of sexuality that turns our eyes to Jesus as he is revealed throughout scripture, not just in isolated ‘proof texts’. We all agree that the Old Testament revelation was incomplete without the Word Made Flesh and that there were many laws of holiness (dietary restrictions and prohibitions against mixed fibres are poplar examples) that could be set aside the way training wheels are set aside once we manage the constant balancing of a bicycle. Jesus call to holiness is much more like riding a bicycle than writing exhaustive rule books, he didn’t want our nose in a book, he wants our eyes on him.

    John’s Gospel points to the Word made flesh. God’s witness in scripture, the Word, wasn’t set aside but was given muscle and sinew so that it could move closer to us and invite us into relationship. Starting with creation God spoke us into being with two complementary words, Adam and Eve. With Jesus’ incarnation we learn more about the complementarity at the centre of the Trinity, there are three persons, all distinct whose williningness to serve each other is the source of all life. In Matthew 19:5 ff Jesus tried to communicate his expectations for sexuality in his sole explanation of the sexual journey: that a man leave his mother and a woman her home (not any two consenting adults) and the two shall become one flesh. I think He is calling us to see our sexuality as one way to reflect the image of the Trinity. Part of what makes sexual expression holy is its dedication to imaging God’s revealed character. It takes two genders to reflect his image, and the two amazingly complementary genders must learn self sacrifice, to leave their places of safety and nurture, and journey to become one flesh. The fertility that can only bless the cleaving of a heterosexual couple, is the third part of sexuality’s reflection of the Trinity, and of course opens the door to even deeper self sacrfice in the relationship. The sexual journey begins with faithfulness, progresses to intimacy and cleaving.

    This is of course not the only life task where we can reflect God’s image, all the moments of our days can be devoted to magnifying the Lord’s character in every action, but when discussing sexual ethics I think we need to lift our eyes to see his purpose, to articulate it in a way that inspires us to dedicate our sexuality to him whether we are single, married or intentionally chaste.

    What if this vision does not inspire us? What if we do not find within ourselves the longing for this model of sexuality? Are we second-class citizens or weak willed? We all want to say of course not, and affirm those who love Jesus as members of his body. But what then shall they do with their sexual desires? I think we can agree that homosexual orientation may not be a choice but there is still the question as to whether homosexual orientation is God intended or God-permitted. Scriptures clear prohibition of homosexual behaviour prevents me from seeing it as God-intended, there are many ways in which we suffer from our broken creation and broken sexuality, I think is one of them. But, thanks be to God, even within God-permitted disabilities there is such scope for revealing devotion to Jesus. As a mother of a disabled child I do not understand his genetically based developmental disabilities as God-intended, nor can I affirm some of his ‘natural’ impulses of self expression when they harm others. One thing that living with someone who stretches you daily teaches you very quickly is that we are all disabled or broken in some way, and as we bear one anothers burdens we open our hearts to be filled with grace. In the context of a broken sexual orientation (not chosen, anymore that other disabilities are chosen) as with developmental disabilities that impair relationships there is an exciting opportunity to grow in grace and devotion to Jesus. If the longing to cleave and become one flesh with another cannot be fulfilled within God’s will, then that drive can become a gift for intimacy and faithfulness in other ways. My son cannot string words together in a consistently meaningful way but his desire to communicate and be included are powerful and we have found many new ways of building intimacy and faithfulness as a family through music and play and quiet companionship. His longing for Heaven is real, his limitations in the flesh turn his eyes to God with passion and trust that God is faithful and this earthly body is not the end, heaven is like a wedding feast… what does that prepare us for? Consummation; we the church, are to be Jesus’ bride

    May the Spirit of the Lord bring us new freedom in our struggle to understand the gift of sexuality, and the way intimacy and faithfulness can be expressed outside the cleaving of flesh. And may we embrace in our church families those whose longing for a new body that can cleave to our bridegroom, Jesus, turns our eyes in worship to Heaven where we will neither marry nor be given in marriage is an inspiration to us all. Chastity can be like a lamp unto our feet in which the love of God is a flame

  15. anon says:

    There is a bias in the Anglican Church of Canada that only wants to hear the stories of those who are trying to live in same sex relationships and the care we are to offer them.

    I have a same sex story to share that dates from my years as a teenager. I grew up in a church where in the Men and Boys choir in which I sang, from 11-21, there were at least half a dozen homosexuals who had a significant influence on the lives of boys and young teens. These were not positive influences.

    The choir master was also the music teacher for a number of the boys in the choir. As we were entrusted to him for lessons, many of the boys, including me, were sexually abused by him. When the choir director in question was discovered he was not disciplined as he should have been. He is still licensed as a priest in a Canadian Diocese.

    So my question for you who want us to celebrate same sex relationships in the church, what do you say to those of us who suffered such abuse during our teen years at the hands of a homosexual? A man who even after being convicted is allowed to hold a license as a priest in the Canadian Church?

    How can this be?

    Where is there justice in this?

  16. Gillian says:

    I am glad for this chance to discuss with you all, but must say, I find it sad the way my words are not actively engaged with. I did not say that ‘all who love are born of God and know God.’ The Bible says that. And I am absolutely certain that John was not referring to child abuse or bestiality when he wrote it. The Romans passage, as you point out, Jonathon, is about idolatry, and temple prostitution, as I said.

    But as for equating those who love someone of the same gender to serial killers, as one writer does?! Well, all I have to ask you to consider is what are the fruits of the Spirit. Do you see the fruits of the Spirit in the actions of a murderer? No. But they are so abundant in faithful loving relationships. Shouldn’t we be overjoyed that our homosexual brothers and sisters long to have their relationships blessed in God’s sight? Shouldn’t we be celebrating their love instead of seeing it as a disability?

    Some say we can’t cite Scripture because of categories, some say we must. Some say we need to look at the meaning of sin. But not one of you has explained to me just why a deeply loving God would object to His children living lives of committed faithful love.

    And not one has engaged with the article on homosexuality in the animal kingdom. Do you really think God created over 1500 sinful animal species?

    Oh why do you even think you must be your brothers’ and sisters’ policemen? Do you not remember what Jesus said about the mote in your own eye? Why should you want to tear the church apart over people LOVING each other? It seems so absurd – so sad – to me. And so contrary to the Kingdom of God.

    Please, can we not find a way to love God and love each other as neighbours? And judge not, as Jesus asked us to?

  17. Gillian says:

    Dear Anon,

    My heart goes out to you for your suffering. I too was raped as a child, but by my parents. Yes parents plural. My mother abused me when I was a child. No, I don’t think she was a lesbian. And no. I have never held it against lesbians.

    Child abusers come in all forms, all genders, all sexualities. I trust God will wreak his vengeance on them. I pray for your healing and for the healing of all children still suffering.

    And I pray the priest who abused you does lose his license. He does not deserve to have it.

    May God comfort you and bless you.

  18. Jude says:

    Anon,
    There are monsterous men who are interested only their own personal gratification without regard to those they use to acheive it – boys, girls, wives, sons, daughters. They should not be permitted to be in positions of influence or authority over our children. But please lets all be careful not to be painting all men with the same brush. I hope we can all acknowledge that not all homosexual men are child abusers any more than all men are rapists.

  19. anon says:

    Dear Jude,

    I agree with you whole heartely. The point I am wanting to make is that we are church all for wanting to include active homosexuals within the life of the church but will not openly discuss how homosexual practice within this church has damaged people.
    There is a dark side to this life style that is proportionally much more destructive than you would find in the heterosexual community. I know that the situation I was in is not an issolated case.

    It is also the case that there is very little room to hear from those within Zacchaeus (people who have come out of the gay life style). hurch. I am glad that at least on the Essentials blog there is a place where we can talk about this.

  20. Gillian says:

    Anon, as I said, I am deeply sorry for your suffering. But I’m afraid, as Jude says, you are painting with too broad a brush here. There is no disproportionate destructiveness in the homosexual world – I’ve read study after study and the proportions seem to be about the same for pedophilia.

    As for the gay lifestyle, well, having observed many gay and lesbian friends over the years, it seems to be pretty near identical to my husband’s and mine. They too make and eat breakfast together. Call each other at the end of their work day to plan supper. Mow the lawn on the weekends. Go shopping for groceries, pet food – you know, the tremendously exciting things of life. And they are committed faithful Christians, so they do volunteer work as part of their love for God. They lead simple, loving lives.

    I am aware of the work of the Zacchaeus Foundation and I respect people’s right to do what is right for them. But that respect should be extended back toward those who lead absolutely normal lives, but who want their love blessed as mine and my husband’s love was blessed.

    Please let us not put people down, but instead get on with doing God’s work and sharing His Good News. Together…

  21. Jonathan says:

    Dear Gillian,

    I think I have engaged with what you have said. But the point you are making is one that is categorically contrary to Scripture. What is the biblical basis on which you can support the blessing of same sex relationships?

    Jesus said very clearly that God’s intention from creation was for a man and a woman to be joined together. (Mark 10:6-9) To bring in the argument from the animal kingdom is a spurious argument. What kind of biblical support is there to lend validity to this? The Bible is very clear that when we are separated from Christ we will act in all sorts of ways.

    As we are being redeemed in Christ we are now to glorify God in or bodies. Homosexual couplings does not glorify God.

    To say that we can bless same sex marriage is to contradict the clear teaching of scripture. The passage in Romans 1 has not to do with temple worship/prostitution but with the effects idolatry has within the context of society. Therefore the ordering of same sex relationships does not reflect our restored humanity in Christ but is further evidence of our need for grace and redemption.

    I know you and I will not agree and I accept this. This is not about being policemen. It s about saying that we have an authority that has been entrusted to us in the Bible and to move in a direction that will bless and then marry same sex couples goes against God’s revealed will.

    For me this is an issue that touches close at home. I have a brother who is in an active gay relationship. It would be much easier for me to say, “you know the direction of the church is right. ” But the Scripture does not allow for this and so I have to live with the tension between both loving my brother and my love for the Lord and his revealed will.

    Jesus said that we show our love for him by how we listen to him and obey his word.

    Jonathan
    Calgary

  22. Sad says:

    Dear Anon, Gillian whomever
    What a sad state we Christians find ourselves, I believe there is no arguemnet on eith side of the debate that is truely perfect and perhaps if we Anglicans spent more time fighting the corruption , things like Anon expressed could be rectified or at least dealt with on a real level. To me it seems Synods, Bishops, and Clerics would rather dwell on such things as same sex blessings, and ignore the suffering of Christs children. Has the “church” become a place for judgement ? A silly question really because that is what I see ,one judging another, condeming , criticizing digging for fault. Is there any wonder the membership of the church is in constant decline. I say let this synod be the end of the issue, let us accept one another, embrace our differences and celebrate our diversity. The Body of Christ is , I believe, strong enough to follow His will, sometimes His will is not our will, but then thats Faith. Let us have enough faith to follow Christ to the end of time , instead of trying to blaze the path ahead of Him. Never has there been a time when man could figure out God’s intention, what makes us think this time we are able?
    How much time and energy has been put into the Essentials movement at the expense of Pastoral care, and Parish Ministry?
    My opinion elementary perhaps, but I can see the efforts of the Communion being better focused then they are right now.

  23. Jonathan says:

    Dear Sad,

    As an essentials committed priest I am one who is also very committed to a vision for the congregation where I serve as rector. The work goes hand in hand. At St. Augustine’s we are very clear on saying that we are a place where people want to first of all know they belong. Out of that sense of belonging we hope people will grow in believing the Gospel and in time this will help to change how we all behave.

    As we have used this model within our corporate life we have seen gradual but continued growth. People, when they come to St. Augustine’s comment often on how at home the feel when they visit us. And many say that when they become part of our family they experience a sense of coming home.

    Pastoral care and parish ministry have been at the forefront of how we live our life. Therefore we can be attentive to
    Essentials while cultivating a place where growth is happening.

    Jonathan

  24. The Sheepcat says:

    Gillian,
    This is not a matter of “putting people down.” It is a matter of submitting to scriptural authority, whether we like it or not, that declares certain acts sinful. There is a difference. I recall a story about Tony Campolo speaking to a gay audience and telling them he wished he could assure them that what they were doing was all right–but couldn’t. With scattered and very regrettable exceptions, the orthodox position affirms the inherent dignity of all people irrespective of their sexual inclinations.

    It isn’t news to most of us in the orthodox camp that gay couples do lots of ordinary things together, just like you and your husband. But mowing the lawn on the weekend, and even volunteering at church, is no more evidence for the moral probity of gay couples than it is for the moral probity of adulterous couples or of couples who shack up together before marriage. I know plenty of people in the latter situation, and most of them are very nice people, just as are most of the people I know in the gay community–and even, ahem, most of the men I’ve slept with. But Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15), and he came not to abolish the Law but to fulfil it. There is simply no scriptural warrant for overturning two thousand years of constant Church teaching against homosexual acts. None.

    The burden of proof is on those who would say that anything the Church has warned against so firmly for so long is actually morally acceptable, and it is a very heavy burden of proof. How heavy? According to all three of the synoptic gospels, it would be better for a millstone to be hung around someone’s neck than for that one to cause one of Christ’s little ones to sin. If, Gillian, you are wrong about same-sex blessings, then how will you escape that fate which is worse than being dragged by that millstone to the depths of the sea? May the Lord have mercy indeed, but we are really not meant to take lightly his warning against leading people into sin.

    With regard to the Zacchaeus Fellowship (of which I am an associate member, though not writing in any official capacity here), you “respect people’s right to do what is right for them.” Well, I do appreciate that; it’s way better than suggesting we’re deluded or repressed. But we’re making a claim that abstaining from gay sex isn’t just what’s right for us, it’s what’s right, as a matter of universal moral law. I for one would have preferred not to accept the existence of universal moral law against homosexual acts but ultimately I couldn’t get the revisionist claims about homosexuality to hold water in light of all the historical, scriptural–and yes, also psychological and sociological–evidence. So I ask you to consider more deeply the implications of the testimony of those of us who have turned away from gay lifestyles. What do our lives reveal about what is true?

    As for serial killers, John Wright was not equating gay people to them. He was using a reductio ad absurdum to show that the same line of reasoning that is used to justify leaping from acceptance of gay people to acceptance of same-sex unions could be applied with equal force to leaping from acceptance of serial killers as people to acceptance of the practice of serial killing. The latter is absurd, in that we can see plainly the distinction between persons and behaviour in that case. The crucial distinction between persons and behaviour remains valid too for the former, and your argument regarding the fruits of the Spirit, whatever its merits or demerits in its own right, does nothing to challenge that point.

    As for animal behaviour, this proves far less than you would have it prove. Another reductio ad absurdum: Cannibalism is found in some animal species; I don’t suppose you would argue on that basis that human cannibalism is morally justified.

    But in fact, the whole “homosexuality is found in nature” argument is based on a misunderstanding of what “against nature” means. The term comes from natural law. The philosopher J. Budziszewski has a terrific explanation of natural law here.
    http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=18-06-022-f

    Suppose a young man is more interested in using his lungs to get high by sniffing glue. What would you think of me if I said, “That’s interesting—I guess the purpose of my lungs is to oxygenate my blood, but the purpose of his lungs is to get high”? You’d think me a fool, and rightly so. The purpose of the lungs is built into the design of the lungs. He doesn’t change that purpose by sniffing glue; he only violates it.

    Likewise sex is designed for procreation, and intimate union is the not a separate purpose for sex but rather the intended context of procreation. For this reason, a whole host of widespread behaviours, among which gay sex is only one, are against nature. And when some benighted soul proposes a rite of blessing for vasectomies, I’ll kick up a fuss about that too.

    Alan Yoshioka

  25. The Sheepcat says:

    Small clarification: orthodox Christian doctrine affirms the inherent dignity of all people irrespective of their sexual inclinations; in mentioning exceptions, I meant not to suggest exceptions to this position itself but to acknowledge that some Christians fail to live up to the high standard of charity to which we are called.

  26. James says:

    Gillian said….”As for the gay lifestyle, well, having observed many gay and lesbian friends over the years, it seems to be pretty near identical to my husband’s and mine. They too make and eat breakfast together. Call each other at the end of their work day to plan supper. Mow the lawn on the weekends. Go shopping for groceries, pet food – you know, the tremendously exciting things of life. And they are committed faithful Christians, so they do volunteer work as part of their love for God. They lead simple, loving lives.”

    Respectfully, I must advise that you cannot make your point on a specific issue by accouting for generalities outside the argument. It is not good rhetoric. Your statement can be used to describe anyone… heterosexual, homosexual, priest, missionary, mass murderer, thief, … etc. That’s like saying the neighbour who keeps stealing my car isn’t really commiting a sin because he’s a pretty normal guy otherwise. I cannot see where your statement addresses the specifics of the controversy.

    As for your “animal analogy”, I might only consider that the human being is created in the image of God. This is what separates us. Addionally, none of God’s spiritual laws were created to protect and encourage the righteousness of a goat.

  27. Gillian says:

    Dear Jonathan,
    There are so many passages I can cite to support same-sex blessings – or rather to show that God made and loves all His children and includes them all in his great love.

    Let’s start with Peter’s dream in Acts 10: 9-29. The conclusion? “Peter went inside and found a large gathering of people. “27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found that many had assembled; 28 and he said to them, “You yourselves know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or to visit a Gentile; but God has shown me that I should not call anyone profane or unclean.”

    Jesus said not one word against homosexuals. Not one word. If it is such a grievous sin, why would he not say so? And look at his attitude toward people: even when they were sinners, he never shut them out, he never ostracized them. He even invited Judas to the Last Supper and gave him the bread and the wine.
    And then there’s the woman who washed his feet with her tears and dried them with her hair, then anointed them with precious ointment. She was a known sinner, undoubtedly a code word for prostitute. The Pharisee (religious authority) whose house Jesus is having dinner at, is outraged. (See Luke 7:36-50 for the whole story) Jesus outlines all the woman has done for him, the little his host has done, then concludes: “47 Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” … And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.””

    I’m not going to cite all the other passages. There are too many. And I think you must know them already, just as you are already familiar with all the rebuttals of the 6 passages that seem to speak of homosexuality but do not actually speak of committed faithful loving relationships.

    I do find it fascinating that you would cite Mark 10:6-9. Enlighten me, Jonathan, please. In this passage, Jesus is very clearly teaching about divorce, not homosexuality – he is responding to a question about heterosexual divorce. Please tell me why Essentials is not spending every last bit of its energy going after divorced people and making sure they have no place in church committees, no right to remarry in the church, no right to become priests – and by heavens, if they do, you’ll all leave the Anglican Church of Canada and form your own province because it goes against the Bible’s clear teaching! And furthermore, it’s a sign the church has left behind the authority of Scripture!

    I’m sorry if I’m sounding sarcastic, but I find this approach quite trying. We no longer practise all sorts of things found in the Bible: we don’t allow polygamy or concubines, or insist that women don’t wear gold jewelry or must wear head scarves in church. We don’t take our first born sons out to the town limits and stone them when they sass us. We do eat meat from animals with cloven hoofs. And we do allow divorces precisely because we recognize that Jesus was talking to a particular situation where women were being abused by the divorces. Now, we know that God wants to protect those who find marriages abusive.

    Jonathan, I pray for your brother. I pray for his pain and suffering because of your rejection of who he is. Can you not be like Jesus and love your brother because he loves?

  28. Saul says:

    Gillian,

    If I may, I suggest you read Alan’s comment and this.

    In my humble opinion, given the scripture as it is, it would seem to me far easier to doubt the divinity of Jesus than the orthodox sexual ethic the Bible espouses.

  29. Gillian says:

    No time to respond now. But Alan mentioned Tony Campolo. So I offer this to everyone to read and reflect on. It’s a piece by Tony and his wife.

    http://www.bridges-across.org/ba/campolo.htm

    Tony Campolo does think homosexuality is wrong, a sin, but he has a very interesting and, I think for this forum and for Essentials in general, an important point to make.

    Let those who have ears to hear, hear.

  30. Dave says:

    Good Afternoon: I had no idea that this blog caled “Blog Rules” would develop into this.
    Gillian: I was at the Niagara Synod this year and I came away in tears because my summation was “They just don’t get it”. The topic of “FEAR” was so prevalent. (BTW I now see it coming in to statements at GS 2007) The Bishop said the word fear I think I counted 11 times and Jesus not once in the preamble. We were forced to be a part of a round-table discussion to talk about our “fears”. It was suppossed to be about our fears of embracing homosexuals and their lifestyle by blessing (God’s realm not ours BTW) marriage of them. The thrust was to foster and perpetuate this fear so that anything would be accepted for the sake of love not fear. I raised eyebrows at my table when I said my fears were not about homosexuals but how The Lord sees our obedience, or lack of, to Him. This is a very common thread for those pushing this agenda, namely “If you disapprove of my actions, then you disapprove of me.” I think I pointed out that Jesus was the best example of how NOT to do this. He exposed sin. He got mad at sin. He admonished sin. But I challenge you to find where he did and does not continue to love the sinner.
    Recently a well researched, documented and written paper came across my e-mail blowing every argument I’ve ever heard for condoning sin in the name of love. It’s http://robgagnon.net/ArticlesOnline.htm . I am not one being normally prone to read professor’s papers, but this is so well written it kept my attention span past my normal 3-4 pages for this type of in-depth discussion.
    A distinction that the author makes (and has been making for some time now apparaently) is that between HOMOSEXUAL and HOMOSEX. It’s important because the difference is trying to be put aside/silenced/negated by those wanting to be inclusive of more actions, but not by those truly wanting to be more inclusive of more people. I pray as I think you do, that more of us, like Jesus did, fall into the second category.

  31. nathn says:

    My heart goes out to all involved in this debate.
    All of our hearts’ cry is to know God. Disobedience/sin separated us from God in the Garden. Jesus gave us back the option of purity through His death and rez, so that we could come back to God. The church needs to be pure and spotless to know God and experience His Presence, and His Blessing. The church is to love the sinner, and to show the love of Christ to all the world, while staying obedient to God in purity.
    If we the church want to know God and have a relationship with God, we must consistently come to the cross and search our hearts and allow God to purify us — thus keeping the relationship between the Almighty God and us open, unhindered, pure. Psalm 15.
    I agree that we must fear what God would say to us. Not what man would say to us. God is eternal. Man is mortal.
    We cannot afford to go back to a state of separation from God.

  32. Thank you very much Bishop Don. My prayers are with you. . I am no longer a lost sheep without a shepard.
    Sheila

  33. Paula Valentine says:

    To ask God to bless any sexual relationship outside of marriage is asking Him to bless sin. And since the bible says that a marriage is between one man and one woman then it is the only sexual relationship that we can ask Him to bless. That being said – I know people in homosexual live-in relationships and likewise with unmarried heterosexuals. Does this mean I don’t love the people involved? To jump to that conclusion would be preposterous. But I cannot – in God’s Name – bless what they are doing.

  34. Kate says:

    God loves us all and includes us all in His great love – but he doesn’t leave us as we are. He purifies us, and expects us to live in a godly manner.

    Jonathan, I pray for your brother. I pray for his pain and suffering because of your rejection of who he is. Can you not be like Jesus and love your brother because he loves?

    My goodness, how dare you? You don’t even know Fr. Jonathan, and yet you accuse him of rejecting his brother? What arrogant nonsense.

  35. Maya says:

    Gillian,
    Does eternity figure in your thoughts for those living active Hmsxl. lifestyles. What profit for eternity having received fleshly gratification in this life? The span of this life is so short and that which is to come is forever.
    In Christ’s own words, we are asked to “be Holy even as our Father in Heaven is Holy”. He is not just Holy but is addressed as Holy, Holy, Holy. His holiness is a consuming fire and we can only come before the Father through the blood and sacrifice of Jesus. Christ has taken their burden upon Himself (even as He has taken ours )to set them (and us) free. It is up to them (even as it is up to us) to accept this and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to walk in His light in Christ’s holiness.

    Who is the greater lover? Those who want them to be gratified on earth or those who want their joy to be without compare in the presence of our God for eternity. Who we are told will rejoice over His beloved ones even as a “groom rejoices over His bride”.

    In Jesus love.

  36. dave g says:

    homosexuality is not the only thing that is breaking up the Anglicn church of Canada. In fact for me it is secondary. Its the attempt by some to get totally away from scripture which includes homosexuality. I recall several years back a woman who is now a priest and has assperations to become bishop talked about putting Jesus in a box and get Him off the pedestol that we put him on. this article was printed in the Anglican newspaper. these are the things that scare me and many others. tell me what is the point of having expensive conferences such as Lambeth when if the bishops come back and go their own way. w3hat is the point of having the house of bishops gather together if some are going to go one way and others another. Ask yourselves honestly who is breaking up the Acoc. those who have left to join a group of Anglicans who believe in the Bible and preach what is and has been and still is the word of God. or those who feel they can do what ever they want with agreements that have been set in place for the benifit of the whole Anglican Communion. who feel that they are I dont know I guess above others. if your family gets together and makes a decision where majority rules. Do you say nuts Im going my own way I say go ahead but dont condem those who cant go with you.
    dave g

  37. Robert says:

    This evening I discovered the ANiC webpage. There is such an abundance of material that it will take months to digest. However, in the meantime I would like to share a point of view that has helped me put our present turmoil into perspective.
    The ACoC seems to have descended into mental secularism! We have all too often retreated from uncomfortable situations and un-ashamedly allowed the church to fall headlong into a secular cesspool- i.e., our aspirations, our thinking, our analysis and our prayers reflect a set of values and criteria that have at their roots “worldly” objectives and principles. I’m not saying that we don’t have a Christian ethic, practice, spirituality, morality or worship because we do. Our regretful behaviour is that we have rejected the view that sees all earthly things within the context of the eternal. We have been corrupted by secular thinking – a world devoid of eternal truth. How often have we been told to get our heads out of the clouds and be practical. If we accept this secular viewpoint we take another step in the destruction of our church. Our lives and our church must be based on the truth no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel.
    Christian truth is supernaturally grounded, not developed within the minds of men or found within nature, it is a divine revelation and not a construction. Truth is not discovered by scholarly investigation, panel discussions, majority votes, opinions, or the collective inclinations of humankind. Truth is a God-given revelation – just as God revealed himself through the incarnation. The rock of truth can only be discovered by scrapping away the soil of human prejudice and passion.
    What I see coming from the ACoC is a secular religion – yes, we have Christian worship, morality, scholarship, etc – but, essentially a system of values and judgements that puts mankind and his ultimate comfort first. For instance, I am appalled when I hear church leaders suggest to you that your conscience is the ultimate arbitrator of issues such as same-sex blessings, etc. Your conscience belongs to you and it may change from morning to night but God-given truth is immutable, it is not yours! It is revealed to you and no one should ever ask you to give it away.
    Our church desperately needs to discern the differences between the echoes of our biases and revealed truth.

  38. Chev James says:

    I usually don’t comment on old blog postings, but I am new here and the reason I am here is that I am dissatisfied with the present day Anglican Communion.

    I see the Anglican Communion absolutely tearing itself apart in order to accommodate one particular sexual “fetish,” if you will. I would go so far as to call it a perversion.

    Now, if we really accommodate the people who engage in this perversion, and go beyond tolerance to exaltation, what are we supposed to do about the other “sexually abnormal” groups? Do we accommodate pedophiles, and perform marriage ceremonies between adults and emancipated minors? Do we also perform marriages between people and goats or sheep? And how about those who desire sex with the dead? Do we marry a living person to a dead one, perhaps using a “medium” to say, “I do”? The point I am making is this: if you accommodate one deviate group, you must accommodate them all. We must do that because they all use the very same argument: “I cannot help myself. I was born this way.”

    The Bishop of Atlanta was known to remark, “I cannot find anything in the Bible that speaks against homosexuality.” This statement, now was from a bishop–and a bishop who was nominated to be the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church USA! To say you disagree with the Bible is one thing, but to actually deny that the Bible says something is quite another.

    I am a sinner. I am not better than a gay or lesbian person. I am simply not asking that my sins be treated as anything other than sins. I know, all too well, that not every desire that proceeds from the human mind is a wholesome one. To maintain our integrity, we must reject scores of untoward thoughts every day. Lust is one of those. We must keep lust within bounds. And the last thing we should be doing is having a “Lust Pride” march around our cities!

    Sin is sin. If God declares chocolate ice cream to be sinful, then we are not to eat it, no matter how good it tastes, and no matter how many other people are eating it. We must obey God. And God is clear on homosexuality. God called it an “abomination.” Now, can anything that was an abomination ever be a virtuous thing?

    The traditional Anglican Communion has truly lost its way. That is why I am here. I am not here because God loves me more than He loves gays or lesbians. I am here because I know that accommodating a particular sin is not the answer.

    I hope we can save the Anglican Communion, but right now I have grave doubts about our prospects for success.

  39. Marvis Heyn says:

    This is the WORST post i’ve ever read!

  40. Jack S. Pratt says:

    That was the BEST post I’ve ever read!

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