Saturday, June 30, 2007

General Synod 07

A back and forth over the recent Canadian Anglican General Synod.

The Church voted that same sex blessings are not in conflict with the core doctrine of the Church (e.g. Incarnation, Trinity). That resolution passed by the narrowest of margins in the House of Bishops (passed with wider margin in House of Clergy and Laity---tricameral structure).

A second resolution that would have allowed for local option to perform same sex blessings however was defeated by 2 votes in the House of Bishops--it passed in the House of Clergy and Laity.

The man interviewed, Bishop Michael Ingham is the bishop of my diocese (New Westminster, Anglican Church of Canada). The interview is re-posted on a site hostile to Ingham and to those for same sex blessings (which is different than marriage). [Scroll down a bit to begin the interview section.]

But for those interested in the on-going controversy in the Anglican Church, this is a good piece to read.

This answer gives a good overview of both the conservative (non-blessing) and liberal (blessing) theological positions:

Seydlitz 77, Edmonton: There are no less than seven places in the Bible (both Old and New Testament) where homosexual behaviour is condemned. They are Leviticus 18:22; Deuteronomy 23:17; Romans 1:22-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 1 Timothy 1:10; and Jude 1:7. How can you justify behaviour that your scriptures strongly condemn?

Bishop Ingham: You say “no less than seven verses” in the Bible condemn homosexual behaviour, which of course means that only seven verses (out of thousands in Scripture) do so.

Or do they?

We need to ask several questions here. What exactly is being condemned in these verses? In what context do these condemnations appear? And what authority should these texts have?

Whole libraries have been written on these questions, and space here is limited.

Briefly, the verses in the Hebrew Bible occur in the context of the Holiness Code — a series of regulations and prohibitions covering wide areas of ancient Jewish ritual. These include things like ritual bathing for women, the preparation of food, the observance of festivals and sacrifices etc.

Most of these rules and rituals are no longer observed by Christians. The onus of proof is on those who wish to retain a few selective prohibitions, not on those who no longer regard them as normative.

Secondly, the biblical assumption is that all people are heterosexual. Thus homosexual behaviour is seen as both a personal choice and an act against nature.

This is clearly what St. Paul means when he speaks of people “exchanging natural intercourse for unnatural” in Romans 1. To exchange something is an act of will.

These and other similar passages seem to refer to homosexual acts voluntarily undertaken by heterosexual people, and this is what is condemned.

There is no biblical condemnation of natural homosexuality, nor is any consideration given in Scripture to the question of permanent lifelong committed relationships between persons of the same sex.

Thirdly, what is clearly condemned in the Bible is every form of sexual exploitation and coercion — rape, sexual manipulation, prostitution, promiscuity, child abuse, and all manner of sexual deceit and domination. These are condemned in both their homosexual and heterosexual expressions.

And lastly, by far the greater witness of Scripture is toward love, justice and compassion — especially for the outcast and despised.

These texts outnumber the seven passages you mention by so great a margin that it is puzzling to see such focus on the few at the expense of the many.


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