Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Updates From the Anglican Wars

An editorial in today's NY Times draws attention to the movement afoot in Uganda to impose the death penalty for homosexual behavior. The Times suggests that this move is less than enlightened, and I would expect even my more conservative readers (do I have any conservative readers?) to agree that this is, shall we say, an extreme position.

Uganda rang some other bells for me though. Oh yes—the Anglican Church of Uganda has been aiding dissident American Episcopalians. Almost a third of Ugandans are Anglican, and it is a big thriving growing church, like a lot of the African churches. They are biblical and energetic and exciting, three words not normally applied to the American Episcopal Church.  And it must be empowering for Ugandans to offer assistance to a bunch of really affluent Americans, rather than the other way around.

So I have these friends and acquaintances who belong to various breakaway Episcopal/Anglican congregations. And they often have told me that the rift isn't really about Gene Robinson or about Homosexuality (sometimes they look uncomfortable and say "it's complicated"). They claim their disaffection is about God, and scripture, and really believing in something, and really standing for something. Not being wishy-washy and "do whatever you feel." I can respect a certain amount of that. But when you choose to affiliate yourself with people who believe that homosexuality is a crime punishable by death, then I think it is time to ask who the real heretics are here. No doubt people will cite the book of Leviticus or the story of Sodom and Gomorrah or an epistle where Paul is "down on homosexuality." But Anglicans are supposed to be against the death penalty, period. And Jesus is supposed to have brought us a New Covenant. The New Covenant allows us to eat pork, and be uncircumcised, and get haircuts, and all sorts of other nice things. Wouldn't it allow people to, you know, be gay without being executed for it? It seems to me that it would.

So I am thinking these schismatics, to whom I have been (or tried to be) sympathetic in my disagreement, maybe don't deserve as much sympathy as I thought. Maybe they really are just so many rabid homophobe heretics. And maybe the rest of the Episcopal church is better off without them.

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