received during the week of 17 August 2003
It was again a busy week for letters. We publish
a representative assortment.]
wondered why my mother had to go through that pain and doubt'
TODAY's AO HOME PAGE:
'Many of us probably know people who were denied the sacraments
a result of remarriage after a divorce as recently
as the 1960s.' My
mother was married and divorced before she married my father
in a civil ceremony in 1947. In the early 1960s,
she was becoming
more involved in our parish, even elected Sr. Warden. She was
never refused the Sacraments, her dilemma was about her children
(my siblings and me),
whether in the Church's view we were legitimate or not, her
marriage having been a civil ceremony since the Church did not
persons to remarry in the Church. Our very mindful
and gentle priest told her it was hogwash, she was married
and God recognised that, no matter the Church's teaching.
then, as a 15-year-old boy, I wondered why my mother had to go
through that pain and doubt about
her own remarriage to my dad!
continue to be a faithful member of ECUSA, but my brothers are
not. I can understand their
though I have explained that the Church has changed its
stance for the good.
Cathedral Church of St Paul
South Burlington, Vermont, USA
18 August 2003
and slowly, justice is being done, love is being shown
WOULD LIKE TO RESPOND to
Morris’ letter 'In Desperation,' because it contains
two common confusions which need to be addressed. The first
is the confusion of homosexuality with pedophilia, murder, or
adultery. The latter three are damaging, exploitative activities
which lead only
to destruction. The former is an innate state which like heterosexuality,
can lead through shared love, to growth, joy, and life lived
more abundantly. The two categories simply do not compare.
second is that [God] calls the sin of homosexuality 'an abomination.'
God does not call the state of being homosexual anything. He
may call some homosexual
acts 'an abomination,' but he condemns no one for being what
he/she is. This distinction cannot be made too clearly or too
often. But we need
also to examine what the word 'abomination' means. It is a translation
of the Hebrew word toevah, which refers to acts of ritual
impurity, and applies to touching a dead body, eating forbidden
foods, mixing threads
in clothing, etc. As the ancient world had no concept at all
of loving, committed same-sex partnerships, this kind of argument
is as irrelevant
in our discourse as discussion of Sabbath-day travel or what
God might think of flying in airplanes.
is another issue as well: When we daily do things, even approve
of things which
are forbidden by Leviticus, Deuteronomy, St Paul, why is this
one issue the test case for true belief? If we lend money at
interest or cease
to believe that a woman is unclean after child-bearing, if we
no longer accept slavery or believe that women should be silent
in church (with
their heads covered) why do we then condemn homosexuals? It is
selective application of scripture, and I suggest that it is
nothing more than
learned prejudice. We have learned and moved on, seeing that
these things are irrelevant and am impediment to growing closer
I, too, have
been in desperation. But my desperation has been that so many well-meaning,
good people, pick this one thing to condemn, while they seemingly ignore
so many injunctions to do justice, and continue to condemn and exclude
a group who have been systematically excluded for so long. My desperation
has been that love has so long been denied, support withheld, violence
countenanced, and ignorance taken as truth.
we are seeing changes, this is not because of 'public opinion
one might interject that public opinion brought an end to slavery,
child labor, and the exclusion of women from public life, or
American Episcopal church [is] just too desperate to bring in
new members' —
indeed, it seems to be having the opposite effect, as Mrs. Morris
shows — but
because again, painfully and slowly, justice is being done, love
is being shown.
Trinity Episcopal Church
Seattle, Washington, USA
18 August 2003
heat than light in the local press'
THE GENERAL CONVENTION of
the Episcopal Church in recent weeks has generated more heat than light
the local press. There are some facts that seem
to have escaped notice, such as:
- Some 1,000
elected Episcopalians gathered, prayed for the guidance of the Holy
Spirit, and in a very civil, democratic process, voted for what they
believed the Holy Spirit called them to do.
- By a large
majority, voting as three separate bodies consisting of lay people,
clergy, and bishops, they chose to allow the people of New Hampshire
the freedom to choose their own bishop, a notable example of a time-honored
commitment to states rights.
- The bishop-elect
of New Hampshire is most probably not the first “gay” bishop
of any denomination in the history of the church; his particular
is that he is 'openly gay', as if a deceptive life-style makes
it all OK.
gospels portray Jesus as one who repeatedly shocked his disciples
by his habit
of honoring the outcasts of society, such as women, tax-collectors,
Samaritans, lepers, and children. He was continually accused
by the upright citizens of his time, notably the Scribes and
of consorting with 'harlots and sinners'.
it is that the church today sometimes shows the courage to follow his
example. And how risky to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit. We
might just get what we pray for!
Reverend Benjamin B. Smith
St. Stephen's Episcopal CHurch
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
18 August 2003
hatred, just disapproval
AMAZED AT THE NUMBER of gays who write feeling that they are
the Episopalians who are against the acceptance of homosexuals
in leadership positions in the church are in no way expressing
hate towards gays, rather
disapproval of their choices. If you choose the sin (and yes,
I can point out at least 14 scriptures which indicate homosexuality
is againt God's
law, New Testament and Old) then you either must repent or at
least realize that you choose to continue to sin. No one who
willingly continues in
sin should be permitted leadership roles in the church. All are
welcome, all are loved (yes, I love even the gays) but that
doesn't make the behavior
only been Episcopal for over a year; however, have come to love
I feel hurt and saddened over the recent turmoil and am unable
to attend a church that I feel rejects biblical principles. I
cannot take my children
to a church that feels that the only sin is being judgmental,
everything else is okay. I'll continue
to pray for my church and closely follow the coming meetings
and, hopefully, I will be able to return to the church that I've
come to love.
St Gabriel's Episcopal Church
Boyertown, Pennsylvania, USA
18 August 2003
don't want to see the catalog, thank you very much.
FACT THAT WE'VE FOUGHT over other issues offers no solace
and really is irrelevant.
really heard no arguement FOR the elevation of a gay bishop other
not?'. A change like this really ought to have good reasons FOR
and not 'Why
nots?'. There's 3000+ years of Judeo-Christian tradition and
Scripture that argues against. I'm not against but I've heard
no convincing argument
for except 'love and togetherness'; 'it's time'; and 'why not?'.
All are inadequate for a church that stands on Scripture, Tradition
like to see a current 'catalog of sexual sins', as we seem to
have redacted my earlier list. Of course, we no longer even frown
on sodomy; indeed, you
might say we've endorsed it. If that is going too far, we've
certainly declared it unsinful. The only logic in the whole mess
is that it can't
be a sin because we've authorized the elevation to the bishopric
of a non-repentant former-by-fiat sinner. What's next?
Polygamy, group-marriages both of which seem to fit the criteria established
by the convention.
not prove this action to be wrong; it will certainly not prove it was
Trinity Episcopal Church
Escondido, California, USA
19 August 2003
laity are set aside to be holy, too?
AM NOT HOMOPHOBIC OR JUDGEMENTAL, but there
is one point missing. The world can choose how it lives, behaves,
and treats others, but for those
in the ordained ministry, it is different. We are set aside to
be holy in God's
sight, to be a fragrant offering to him. How can we worship if
we willingly disobey Gods covenant?
We are called
to be an example and set apart from the world and yet part of it. God
does not ask us to follow the world. Homosexuality has always been with
us and always will be, just like all the other sins of humanity. This
is not to say that it is 'all right with God'. Jesus says that he came
not to obolish the Law but to fulfill it. You
can, of course, argue away God's law, but in the end it is God
that we will face.
I do have compassion for those who feel sexual love for the same
sex, but that does not mean that they should be ordained
or become bishops.
Reverend G F Reid
Swinderby, Lincoln, England.
20 August 2003
we do it?
LOVE YOUR PAGE! THANKS SO MUCH. I'm distressed
that we are in high denial of the fact that we seem
(and, of course, important) issues while the church is quietly
failing. We don't seem to dare to make our great tradition
— our best-kept secret
— known and accessible to young professionals, teens, and children.
All the while our fundamentalist brothers and sisters are
really out there
do we think our congregations are going to continue when we do
not dare to
share our faith with strangers or let seekers know that there
is a powerful God who is 'at least as loving as the one who loves
(From Good Goats by Matthew Linn.) Who
would want to bother seeking a God who simply wants to find you
crush you, and produce a community of judging people? While
some may, hordes flee such a choice.
church of the future may not really even be in a church building.
Can we deal
with that? Are we ready to become a people who are inviting?
Not only inviting, but going out to seek wild kids, homeless
of all colors and ethnicities? Are we really ready to cease being
comfy clubs and let our doors be open? It's not easy, I know,
but I sure hope
so! I hope that our love will cast out our fear and get us going.
we do it and still be Anglo Catholic, Broad Middle, and Evangelical?
do it and still be intelligent, discerning, and challenging?
Can we do it and still keep mystery and have passion for Gospel-rooted
justice? I'd love to see our bishops and our conventions fussing
and feuding and focussing the church on just how we can help
each other do
Elisabeth A. Seeger
St. Peter's Episcopal Church
Seattle, Washington, USA
22 August 2003
We launched our 'Letters
to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our