Easy EWell, all it takes is a little Christian homosexuality to get everybody all wound up around here! I thought I'd take a few minutes to share a few thoughts before I got out of town.
I'd like to break down a few issues here. First, I think there's an assumed answer to this question, at least on this message board, but I will ask it anyway. Is homosexuality a threat to the sanctity of marriage? I will go with the consensus and answer yes but I would like to broaden that list. homosexuality is only one amongst many threats to the concept of marriage including: materialism, workaholism, jealousy, self-centeredness, hedonism, American culture, etc. It's important that we understand this in a much broader scope. It often seems as if the church thinks that to "fix" marriage we need to first eliminate homosexuality.
Second, media/evangelical responce. To Ty's disapointment, the Episcopal church is not conservative, sorry buddy. The role of the media in this, I believe, is somewhere closer to what Dusty was getting at. I'm not sure that this is a "wait until they screw it up thing" as it is a public expression of the question of Christian identity in American culture. The media is simply asking the church the same question everyone else is; what is the church in relation to homosexuality? (substitute whatever you want for the last word.) The question posed to us non-episcopalean is how do we respond as the body of Christ? A news update, the whole thing is on hold because there has been some reports of inapropriate behavior. My guess is that these reports, true or false, surfaced because some conservatives were hoping to slow down the initiation. But the question is, how do we respond? Do we bust out hate mail? Do we get really mad? Do we boycott episcopaleans?
Finally, there are two theological issues at stake here. Brian brought the first one up- Christian sexuality. Dusty brought the second one up- the nature of the church. To the first, I believe there is a heavy temptation to act dogmatic (x is right, y is wrong.) I'm not saying there aren't right and wrong in the area of sexuality, I believe there is. But how do we arrive at our knowledge of these things? Are we simply inheriting it from the bigotted mindsets of previous generations within the church or are we learning how these issues are presented in scripture? Indeed, homosexuality is treated as sin in scripture. But we must remember Jesus' dealings with the sexually immoral, specifically the woman caught in adultery. Indeed, the road to recovery for her included a following of Jesus. Let us not be the first to cast a stone, for these issues should be understood in the broader theology of sin. Brian made an interesting comment about a person living in sin and being an administer of the Gospel. I think that's an interesting point to think about. Brian, how have you done with remaining pure in mind and heart since you became an administer of the Gospel? How are we doing as Christian leaders at remaining pure from the sins of lust for power, self interest, and pride? While I'm well aware of there being a distinction between sin that is called sin and sin that is not, let this be a chance for us to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.
This brings me to my final point, toward a broader understanding of the nature of the church as a whole. What are we as the church? I suggest we are the body of Christ. What does this mean? It means that we are one in the death of Jesus Christ. This is a death that strips away all of our attempts to cover ourselves of our impurities. When we stand together, confronted with the death of Jesus we are forced to face the truth of who we are. We are forced to face our own personal shortcomings as well as our failures as a community. We are forced to be honest with ourselves and face the fact that we are indeed worthless beings. But we are also faced with the truth that because Jesus was these things for us, we have meaning and value. Because us as the body of Christ is a sign of Christ bearing our inequities and our moral failures, we can stand confident of the hope of forgiveness. As the body of Christ we should be interested in love, not hate. We should have faith that the Holy Spirit convicts the heart's of those who follow him, not necessarily doing this ourselves. A model of the church that is centered around the body of Christ is quick to point out the fact that we are all equal in sin, suffering, and death. If this were a model for the church, the sins of the homosexual would not be degraded as the lowest form of human existence, similar to the way women who had abortions were previously treated. Instead, standing side by side is the homosexual to the greedy pastor and we all say that yes, indeed, we are sinners who are saved by God's grace and allowed the opportunity to adminster the Gospel. Together our sinfulness as the very administers of the Gospel stands as a sign for all; if God is willing to use even him or even her then surely God loves me!