My wife and I belong to a Bible-study group. The group consists of about 10 couples in total. We meet at the parish two Friday evenings per month.
We all have kids of varying ages. The young kids stay with a babysitter in one of the parish classrooms; the older ones help look after the younger ones.
When the babysitter’s time is up, the kids join the adults for a brief worship service. We typically wind up with a dozen adults and at least that many kids in the room. We spread a white cloth napkin on a coffee table to serve as an “altar cloth"; place three candles on the napkin; and a couple of the older kids light the candles. The “liturgy” is centered on the Prayers of the People Form VI, together with a couple of excerpts from Psalms and the Book of Common Prayer. We exchange the Peace, and some of the youngest kids blow out the candles (big thrill, of course). Then we all head out to a nearby family restaurant for dinner.
We've been doing this for years. We also do the occasional social get-together, and once in a while we’ll participate in a service project of some kind. We make an effort to go to each others’ baptisms; confirmations; school plays; and eventually, I'm sure, weddings and funerals. It’s a wonderful bond among our families.
We’ve had our disagreements, certainly. But on the whole it's been a joyous experience, and amazingly helpful, to participate in each others’ lives as our kids grow up together.
I submit that there are lessons here for the member churches of the Anglican Communion.
As I say, once in a while our Bible-study group will have disagreements. For example, in our group discussions, and at the restaurant afterwards, the adults’ conversation regularly drifts into family issues. We ask for and give advice. Once in a while, my wife and I will compare notes later and find that we disagree with something another family has done — for example, with something that the parents let their kids do. I'm sure some of our friends sometimes disagree with our decisions, too.
When we disagree about something, we don't pretend otherwise -- but we still love and support one another. A disagreement would have to be really, really serious for the group to choose to "walk apart" from a member family.
In fact, I imagine that our group would never choose to walk apart from a member family unless that family were clearly and willfully disregarding the welfare of others [update: in a serious matter], for reasons that clearly do not amount to good cause. (And I can’t imagine that ever happening.)
That, I submit, is how the member churches of the Anglican Communion should deal with the question of walking apart.
What might warrant walking apart? In my view, support for slavery, or genocide, or unjustified war would certainly satisfy this test.
Support for same-sex unions, however, doesn't satisfy this test. Sure, traditionalists argue that by blessing same-sex unions, the church is encourages sinful behavior that puts souls in mortal jeopardy. But the salient fact is that we simply don’t know for sure how God will judge people — and it’s certainly not our place to make that determination for God.
Consequently, when it comes to the North American churches’ support for same-sex unions, I submit that the churches of the Global South would be mistaken to choose to walk apart from us over that issue.
(This is a long-winded response to a comment by Bill Matz in a discussion at TitusOneNine.)
You're wise to say we don't know how God will judge- but you are entirely wrong conserning same sex unions. The Bible can't be any clearer on the topic of homosexuality: ABOMINATION. PERIOD. Wwhere does the confusion about judgment of same sex unions come from?
Posted by: Mike | May 24, 2005 at 03:28 PM
It's hardly clear at all.
Most Jews believe that the Leviticus prohibitions cover one specific kind of homosexual act: male-to-male anal sex, rather than "homosexuality". Secondly, it is found in a list of forbidden acts done by followers of Molech and Canaanites, who are referenced at the beginning of the chapters which contain each reference. Even discounting that this is a purity code used to distinguish Hebrews from Molech followers or Canaanites, and one wants to take the Leviticus literally (which no one seems to do in any other case) bless same sex unions but condemn male-to-make anal sex. And while you're at it condemn heterosexuals who have sex during a woman's menstral cycle. (Lev 18.19)
ALL the references in the Bible refer to homosexual acts done in the context of idolatry. Romans 1 makes the clearest juxtaposition between the two (see Romans 1:23 and 25). Nowhere does Scripture discuss loving and committed gay relationships amongst Christians.
I encourage Mike to study a bit further. He'll find that it isn't clear at all, which is why Christians of goodwill disagree.
Posted by: daninbigd | May 24, 2005 at 03:49 PM
Not to mention (yet again!) the lack of reference to female-female sexual relations.
Or did you think only males were homosexual?
Posted by: bls | May 24, 2005 at 04:02 PM
That's a great story, really liked it. I'm also afraid it won't matter in the least.
There are too many "conservative" Christians out there who absolutely need for there to be "abominations" to be against. Their very core beliefs center around the fact that, "We're not like those people." To ask them to consider another way is tantamount to asking them to not BE Christians at all.
Sorry, but it's not going to work - though I desperately wish it were otherwise...
As an aside, I think this is a central issue as to whether Christianity will continue to flourish in the modern world or slowy decline into a small, minority sect. If the majority of Christians continue to fall in line with the Jerry Fallwells and James Dobsons of the world, we'll be irrelevant in a generation or two, a secular nation like the EU (which I'd certainly pick over the "Dobson option" w/o a moment's hesitation).
Posted by: David Huff | May 24, 2005 at 08:56 PM