Anglicans Online
 Worldwide Anglicanism    Anglican Dioceses and Parishes
Home News Centre A to Z Start Here The Anglican Communion Africa Australia Canada England
New this Week News Archives Events Anglicans Believe... In Full Communion Europe Ireland Japan New Zealand
Awards, Staff Newspapers Online B The Prayer Book Not in the Communion Scotland USA Wales World
Search Official Publications B The Bible B B B B B
This page last updated 28 August 2003
Anglicans Online last updated 20 August 2000

Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.

We edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to English orthography. On occasion we'll gently edit letters that are too verbose in their original form. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

Letters received during the week of 17 August 2003

[Editor's note: It was again a busy week for letters. We publish a representative assortment.]

'I wondered why my mother had to go through that pain and doubt'

ON TODAY's AO HOME PAGE: 'Many of us probably know people who were denied the sacraments as 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 allow divorced 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.

Back 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!

I continue to be a faithful member of ECUSA, but my brothers are not. I can understand their reluctance, even though I have explained that the Church has changed its stance for the good.

James Vos
Cathedral Church of St Paul
South Burlington, Vermont, USA
18 August 2003

Painfully and slowly, justice is being done, love is being shown

I WOULD LIKE TO RESPOND to Ellen 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.

The 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.

There 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 to God.

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.

If we are seeing changes, this is not because of 'public opinion polls', though one might interject that public opinion brought an end to slavery, child labor, and the exclusion of women from public life, or because 'the 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.

Nathaniel R. Brown
Trinity Episcopal Church
Seattle, Washington, USA
18 August 2003

'More heat than light in the local press'

APPARENTLY THE GENERAL CONVENTION of the Episcopal Church in recent weeks has generated more heat than light in the local press. There are some facts that seem to have escaped notice, such as:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 sin apparently is that he is 'openly gay', as if a deceptive life-style makes it all OK.
  4. The 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 the Pharisees, of consorting with 'harlots and sinners'.

How refreshing 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!

The Reverend Benjamin B. Smith
St. Stephen's Episcopal CHurch
Charleston, South Carolina, USA
18 August 2003

Not hatred, just disapproval

I'M AMAZED AT THE NUMBER of gays who write feeling that they are hated. I believe that 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 acceptable.

I've only been Episcopal for over a year; however, have come to love my church. 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.

Cyndee Lowe
St Gabriel's Episcopal Church
Boyertown, Pennsylvania, USA
18 August 2003

We don't want to see the catalog, thank you very much.

THE FACT THAT WE'VE FOUGHT over other issues offers no solace and really is irrelevant.

I've really heard no arguement FOR the elevation of a gay bishop other than 'why 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 and Reason.

I'd 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.

History may not prove this action to be wrong; it will certainly not prove it was right.

Matt Pastell
Trinity Episcopal Church
Escondido, California, USA
19 August 2003

Weren't the laity are set aside to be holy, too?

I 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.

Yes, 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.

The Reverend G F Reid
Swinderby, Lincoln, England.
20 August 2003

Can we do it?

I LOVE YOUR PAGE! THANKS SO MUCH. I'm distressed that we are in high denial of the fact that we seem to be fussing and fuming over some high profile (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 visibly working.

How 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 you most'? (From Good Goats by Matthew Linn.) Who would want to bother seeking a God who simply wants to find you guilty, crush you, and produce a community of judging people? While some may, hordes flee such a choice.

The 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 humans, people 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.

Can we do it and still be Anglo Catholic, Broad Middle, and Evangelical? Can we do it and still be intelligent, discerning, and challenging? Can we do it and still keep mystery and have passion for Gospel-rooted peace and 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 that.

Reverend Elisabeth A. Seeger
St. Peter's Episcopal Church
Seattle, Washington, USA
22 August 2003

Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our archives.


This web site is independent. It is not official in any way. Our editorial staff is private and unaffiliated. Please contact about information on this page. ©2007 Society of Archbishop Justus