5/24/2011

"If you don't like us...why stay?

Preludium invites comments on blog entries. One of the most often attentive and most often challenging are the responses of Peter Carrell, of New Zealand. A person of great conviction, sound learning and often considerable wit, Peter tends to ask rather pointed questions. Normally I respond in the comments section, but on this occasion I copy his remarks here and want to respond on the "blog" level. 

He makes several comments and I will try to respond to each. His comments are in red, my responses in blue.

In the end, Mark, I think I will never understand why TEC (as represented here on this blog) is so desperate to belong to a Communion which continues to disagree with it on a range of matters. It is not just gay bishops, it is whether doctrine is important, whether a Covenant is a good idea, whether Lambeth resolutions count or not. The list goes on. 

First, honored as I am to think that Peter might identify this blog's remarks as those of The Episcopal Church. While I love our Church and hope to stand in defense of her, and while I am on Executive Council, this blog is my work alone and it is often pushing TEC to take its work regarding schismatic churches and such seriously. That being said, the desire to continue as part of the Anglican Communion is indeed a strong desire here on Preludium. More, I strongly desire not to have TEC removed from participation in committees, commissions, agencies etc of the Anglican Communion because there are disagreements concerning this or that action by TEC. In part the concerns here are about the range of difference possible among churches in the Anglican Communion.

The ordination of women, and in particular to the episcopate, is an area of disagreement, as is the ordination of gay or lesbian persons who are partnered, and again particularly to the episcopate. The Eames report and the Windsor report both attempted to open space for further conversation in the Anglican Communion, either by a period of testing in various parts of the Communion or a period of moratoria so that further conversation could happen. The plea for time was itself an indication that the level of engagement, communion wide, was not very high.

Peter suggests that somehow TEC does not consider doctrine as important. To the contrary we very much do consider doctrine as important. The issues is which doctrines, why and how interpreted. I presume he is referring in part to the current sputtering starts of a conversation about communion of those not baptized. Or perhaps he is going for the gusto and referring to the ongoing question as to how central and unique the doctrine of substitutionary atonement is. But in any event, TEC's problems with doctrine are not about having them, but about examining their content in the context of scholarship, faithful expression of our understanding of the work of Christ, etc. It is not "whether doctrine is important." Of course it is.

The question of whether or not the Covenant is a good idea may put us in disagreement with Peter, and with many others, but oddly we may find parallel assessments, for different reasons, from all sorts of people in the communion. Surely Peter is not suggesting that disagreement about the Covenant is itself a litmus test of the sincerity of our desire to be part of the Communion?

As for the Lambeth Conference resolutions.  Of course they carry weight, precisely to the extent that they are carried forward by the several churches into greater and greater usage. But they do not represent "the mind of the Communion."  While we might suppose that every church in the Communion would agree with the Lambeth Quadrilateral, would their official acceptance of that resolution be somehow a litmus test of their being Anglican?  I think not. As to Lambeth 1998: 10.1, I find it appalling that it has been lifted up as a "mind of the communion" matter and indeed made a litmus test (see South East Asia's commentary on their accession to the Anglican Covenant.)

The upshot is to say that the desire to belong to the Communion is not a desire to be in agreement, but to be in relation to, other churches.

That desire is based, at least on this writer's part, on solid commitments made over the years to life with others in the Communion. (More on this at the close.)

Further your most admiring commenters here, such as Elizabeth Kaeton, regularly diss the Communion with jabs about its dysfunctionality, its autocratic leadership, etc.

I am honored that Elizabeth comments on this blog. I read hers regularly. And yes, she is feisty in her criticism of the current state of Anglican Communion structure and leadership. That is not in any way an indication of her desire to be in relation to others in the Communion. And, not to put a too fine point on it, why shouldn't she be just a bit feisty?  She is a woman priest whose ministry in that calling has not been recognized in the past by some dioceses of this church, and is not now recognized by several Provinces in the Anglican Communion. And when was the last time most of us straight white male priest types had to deal with that?  
 

Would it not be simpler to argue that TEC should finish with this terrible organization with its disagreeable attachments to things shunned by TEC?

Sure, if we thought "this terrible organization" was simply a stepped down version of the world wide Church with a Patriarch, if not of the West or the East, but of Anglicanland, or sure, if "this terrible organization" was in fact the emerging structure of a world wide church, of which we would be a province, a subset of some larger thingy, The Anglican Church.

It is interesting that you speak of "things shunned by TEC." I don't think of TEC shunning the opinions, doctrines or polty of other churches in the Communion. Even where there are profound disagreements there have often been real conntections in ministry and mission. Still, perhaps we come off that way sometimes.

No flow charts would be required to explain the decision. 

No, but then I wouldn't get to use my nifty new flow chart program! Still, it fits the flow chart. If TEC votes to reject, eventually we will not be part of whatever results from the Covenant. This to the contrary of the Covenant's assurance that not joining does not in itself mean we would be dismissed from, say the Anglican Consultative Council.  But you can bet good money on that being the conclusion if some instrument of communion (the Primates, say) brought to the Standing Committee the proposition that those churches who have clearly voted NO on the Covenant be removed from the ACC list of churches in the Anglican Communion.  They would advise the ACC, and lo and behold it would be on their agenda, and might very well pass.  In which case, NO means OFF the lists.
 
If you do not like us, our intentions, or our leadership, why stay?

I find it odd that you state it this way. "us, our intentions, or our leadership..."  Who is this "us"? TEC has been part of the Anglican Communion institutions all along. The Anglican Communion is "we" - your "us" and "us us." Perhaps it is better to suggest that some members of TEC (myself included) believe the intentions of this whole Anglican Covenant thingy is to make it clear tu TEC that there are indeed consequences to actions taken and that those might include exclusion from Anglican Communion bodies.  We already know that. It's been done. But that doesn't mean we don't still find that intention present in the Covenant. As to leadership, I for one pray regularly for the Archbishop of Canterbury and others in leadership in the Anglican Communion.  I believe the ABC does not particularly "like" TEC. Who would, given the trouble we seem to bring to the table? But what does "like" have to do with anything?

The question, "why stay?" is of greater interest to me.

Why stay indeed.  Here is why: Many of us, myself included, have strong commitments to Churches in the Anglican Communion and often to particular congregations. In this little diocese of Delaware, and in St. Peter's, Lewes,  the connections are wide: We support our diocesan business manager in her work in the Sudan,  an 80+ year old Volunteer for Mission in Sierra Leone (himself from Sierra Leone), a relationship with a parish in Mexico, with the Diocese of Argyle and the Isles in Scotland, with the Diocese of Haiti.  I have in the past year been engaged with a  theological education project in Latin America. I have just returned from Haiti planning for a developing companionship connection between our parish and a parish there. 

We (or at least some of us) want to stay because we are deeply engaged, both locally and on a diocesan level, with churches throughout the world.

Further, I am deeply invested in Anglican Communion life. Beginning with the Windsor Report, I have served on the commmittees that responded first to it, and then on the Executive Council committee developing The Episcopal Church's response to the various drafts of the Covenant.  I have served on the Standing Committee on World Mission, and on the Executive Council World Mission committee, where we have rccommended difficult (but I belive right) decisions to continue support of the Anglican Communion offices even when we were excluded from participation. I have been on several General Convention legislative committees on World Mission and at the last General Convention was on the committee that worked to craft D020 that committed this church to a responsible three year long effort to examine the Covenant and propose legislation for the next General Convention.

We (or at least I) want to stay part of the Anglican Communion because it is not a foreign thing to which we wish to be appended, but part of our lives. I have been fortunate enough to be present at the inauguration of the Province of Korea, at the celebration of the full financial autonomy of the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, and at synod meetings in the Philippines and the old province of Brundi, Rwanda and Ziare. 

Why should I not want to stay?

We wish to stay precisely because all these connections, even the difficult ones, have been part of our growth, just as we have contributed to the growth of the Communion as a whole.

The issue is not whether or not to stay, given the struggles of the moment. The issues is how to be clear that we want to stay and at the same time must come with honesty about who we are, what we are doing, and why.

The Anglican Covenant is being put to the churches for an up or down vote. I think this is wrong headed and will lead to dysfunctional and finally distructive results.  Better it should have been brought to the Anglican Consultative Council for adoption. There the minority would have been able to debate the issues, raise questions, find answers, and finally with the majority, vote. Having voted together, we would either abide by the majority vote or decide to withdraw. But the vote would have been within an ongoing legislative community. This vote is taken apart of common life. It is monads voting to cohere, not Churches already in common assembly acting to clarify common life.

25 comments:

  1. Sir - Peter C has a point, particularly once TEC does not sign up to the ABC's covenanting idea and the years of compromisising with Rowan Williams will have been a total waste.... or perhaps some tricky language will be used (like Ireland) but if that route is taken, it will only be until the next high profile action which goes against 'the mind of the Communion' until the Covenant machine starts grinding against steps out of line with the majority of covenanting provinces' views. It is hard to understand why TEC has wasted years waiting for Rowan Williams and has accepted scapegoating of Gene Robinson when the ABC didn't invite him to Lambeth.... and has has accepted moratoria..... for what? Sometimes TEC people say that justice delayed is justice denied..... and all for nothing if TEC does not sign the covenant, but also for nothing if it does but with the intention of still going against the mind of the Communion but signing up to covenant consequences for doing so.

    Is it not TEC's size (1 in 400 Americans attending according to TEC nos) which makes its leaders compromise principles to be part of the AC?

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  2. Peter Carrell, of New Zealand, is of New Zealand!

    I honestly think he best keep his nose to the hearth/grindstone at home as New Zealand isn´t quite thrilled with section 4.(whatever) of The Anglican Covenant document we´re all being forced marched like prisoners of war to sign, or not sign. Surely, there are many questions to ask, disgruntled amigos to embrace and wounded hearts to help heal in New Zealand (instead of changing the subject by codependently worring about other peoples possible defects at TEC).

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  3. It sounds as though TEC's decision will turn on whether the 'majority position on sexuality' is represented by those who sign on. If the GS regions sign on, then TEC will balk/refuse.
    BTW, why would anyone confidently conclude they will not sign the covenant in the end? They haven't been any more negative about it than TEC spokes-people have been (including some prominent diocesan Nos).

    I think it would be best for TEC not to sign and to remain firm in its convictions. It can keep the relationships it has with other regions on other terms. Peter C is correct.

    Frederick

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  4. Mark, thanks for this very articulate statement with which I heartily agree.

    'Anonymous' still fails to get the point that there is no clear and unified "mind of the communion" which TEC could intend to "go against". The whole effort to create (and enforce) unanimity regarding doctrine and its application -- via Lambeth resolutions, the Windsor Report, border-crossing and schism, the proposed Covenant, etc. -- has been utterly vain, pure wishful thinking. It is un-Anglican and lacking in the spirit of Communion. Anyone who wants a global singleness of 'mind' in the church should just become a Roman Catholic.

    Does size matter? Apparently to some people it does. On the one hand we have Anon's suggestion that TEC's size (as a proportion of the US population) somehow makes us feel the need to "compromise principles to be part of the AC". On the other hand at times we are accused of "throwing our weight around" in the Communion because we are from a big and wealthy country. For those who don't like us, the explanation must be that we are either too big or too small. In reality neither is the case. Anon continues to want TEC to just walk away on the basis of principle (this is an argument he has presented before under various names). The concerns being expressed basically have to do with power politics rather than with the Good News.

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  5. The point of doctrine is that it is about the truth and it is about the truth understood and accepted by the whole church of God. There are no 'local' doctrines. If TEC is more concerned about doctrine than I have estimated then it is reasonable to assume that we will find TEC eager to seek the mind of the Communion on any change to doctrine. (Even better if we sought the mind of the whole church of God; but as Anglicans, let's start with the immediately large body to which we belong).

    If on matters dividing the Communion the claim is that these are adiaphora, then let's have a common mind on that evaluation. But so far we do not have that common mind.

    Feistiness and gender have nothing to do with responding for or against remarks about Communion dysfunctionality and the ABC being an autocrat: the content of such remarks is what matters to me. The content tells me a lot about the respect, or not, with which the Communion is viewed.

    I understand completely that TEC leaders - movers and shakers - such as yourself do in fact want to remain part of the Communion, that the 'us' and 'we' of the Communion has always included TEC. Logically we might then ask if you could speak more appreciatively of what the 'us' and 'we' are doing: agreeing to resolutions, initiating the Covenant, working on ways to build up the Communion on the basis of a common mind rather than on a divided mind.

    (Yes, to a commenter here, I am from NZ, and yes, some of our movers and shakers have difficulties with S4 of the Covenant. But I do not think you will find those same movers and shakers being as critical of the Communion or of the ABC as I find when I read here).

    I am honoured, but also intrigued, that my comment has sparked a post! I remain a cordial and friendly riposter to your appreciated honesty and candour.
    Peter

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  6. Those who accept the traditional account of the goods of Christian marriage don't regard themselves as correct because they happen to be the vast majority. They believe they are in line with the Christian teaching and Scripture. That can be debated and rejected by others, of course. But this is precisely Peter C's point. The Communion has not been divided on this; it has had a view, represented/rites in Prayer Book teaching, in a sustained, unbroken way. No one is contesting the basic human right to reject this in favour of a different understanding. What is at issue is the Communion consensus heretofore. Peter C's point is: have the courage of conviction and don't sign a covenant that indicates mutual submission in Christ, rather than seeking to alter the teaching and the Communion both, creating in the latter place a federation of independent national bodies.

    Frederick

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  7. "Those who accept the traditional account of the goods of Christian marriage don't regard themselves as correct because they happen to be the vast majority."

    Who do you refer to here? I ask because what strikes me in the neverending sexuality debates is that I'm not aware that there is no disagreement here. That is, there isn't a conflict between those who do and those who do not accept said account. rather, there are those who accept it and take on board all that follows (including the goodness of marriages between two persons of the same gender) and those who profess to accept the "traditional account" yet try to wiggle their way out of its implications.

    Almost every apologia I see for heterosexual-only marriage involves at least in part an attempt to cherry-pick its premises so as to avoid the inevitable conclusion. And very often, the "traditional account" (with its tendency toward the destination they want to avoid) ends up being jettisoned in favour of a contrived and often dubious theology of "complementarity" (understood in strictly anatomical terms and essentially undermining the argumen they often wish to make - since if the married homosexual sins by not entering a complimentary union, so equally does the celibate, who proponents of such arguments typically seek to uphold, but can't consistently on their own terms).

    So I take issue with characterizing the genital-binary definition of marriage as "the traditional account." More often the theology of the opponents is far more novel and dodgy than the orthodox, egalitarian view.

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  8. Sorry, my first paragraph of course should say either that I'm not aware of any disagreement or that as far as I'm aware there is no disagreement here.

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  9. I refer to the vast majority of Christians who understand that the sacrament of marriage is not open to the extensions now being proposed.

    You can declare them wrong. You cannot declare them failing to adhere to the teaching of scripture, tradition and yes, even reason (as Hooker understood it).

    Frederick.

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  10. Diocese of NJ -- No.

    I believe we are seeing the 'mind of TEC' diocese by diocese.

    Frederick

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  11. "You cannot declare them failing to adhere to the teaching of scripture, tradition and yes, even reason (as Hooker understood it)."

    Erm, well, yes, I can, if Scripture and Tradition preclude the understanding of gender they espouse. And there's certainly no basis in reason for elevating genitalia to sacramental benchmark status.

    If you're going to approbate some families that form to "signify the union between Christ and his church," offer "mutual help, society, and comfort" and bring up children "in the fear and nurture of the Lord" while telling others that they are sham marriages because of their bits - and at the same time plausibly defend yourself from allegations of arbitrariness - you'd better have something more robust than any "reasserter" has been able to come up with so far. If the "best and brightest" conservative theologians have not been able to find their smoking gun I doubt you're sitting on it.

    Gay and lesbian families are quite capable of attaining the "goods" of marriage. Only those who are unable to disentangle the goods from the mechanics of the path *to* the goods cannot see this. And there's nowt traditional about denying tradition to those who sincerely seek it.

    One is never clear what those who are *against* same sex marriage are *for*. Surely they don't believe gay people - leaving aside for the moment those with a genuine celibate vocation - should "live in sin"!

    And what about the part of the tradition concerning marriage that holds that it is the only acceptable form of sexual union? That doesn't reall square with defining it heterosexually. You can't have it both ways and stack the deck against those who are not.

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  12. Dang... way to go Elizabeth! You've scared them with the truth about power all they way in to NZ!!! sheeeeesh.....

    As to the Covenant --nobody is really yet sure England will be able to pass it through Parliament... or is that cyber-legend...? We shall see. Indeed time will tell.

    And, yes, unity is NOT uniformity. Argument is NOT disobedience. Doctrine is only current teaching, not holy writ nor sacrament.

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  13. Peter, you wrote: "The point of doctrine is that it is about the truth and it is about the truth understood and accepted by the whole church of God."

    Perhaps; but, what is our measure of that? Actually, what are our measures of those? By that, I mean first that we must define how we identify "doctrine," and we must identify how we identify "the whole church."

    The latter question is relevant in general, but is also relevant even within "our immediately larger body." We can readily observe that within the Anglican Communion there are differences on the Orders (the last Primates Meeting recognized the differences among provinces about the ministries and authority of bishops); on Scripture (for we understand that "Scripture contains all things necessary to salvation," but some find broader than other the category of "things necessary to salvation"); and the Eucharist (Sydney vs. most of the rest of us). Note that I can identify these doctrinal differences without looking specifically at the "hot button issue" of full inclusion of all the faithful into all the ministries of the Church (which can incorporate the issues of ordination of women, ordination of the divorces and remarried, and ordination and marriage of GLBT persons, with or without partners). Moreover, these are serious differences that we've been living with for some time without threat of "walking apart," or requirement of a document.

    What shall be our measure? The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral, perhaps; but those principles, much as we love them, were never intended do define what is Anglican; but only to define who in the Body of Christ was similar enough to our understanding for us to pursue union (for even Rome will recognize Baptists as Christians, albeit with significant "ecclesial deficits"). And the issues I cited touch on three of the four principles of the Quadrilateral, while not addressed in the Creeds.

    So, where shall we go? The Nicene Canons? The writings of the Fathers? The Articles? I think we cannot rely on Lambeth for a number of reasons, but not least that the self definition of Lambeth, reflected in the Covenant text, does not include making such definitions, however often it may express opinions.

    No, your position makes sense and is attractive, but it needs a lot more work. In the meantime, if we can live with significant differences, even these doctrinal differences, and remain in communion, why can't we live with this one? Or, to put it another way, if these central, clearly doctrinal differences are, if not adiaphora, at least not so critical that we must argue and perhaps part over them, what makes the issue of full inclusion of all the faithful into all the ministries of the Church more important. If you want to raise the issue of matters of doctrine (and I acknowledge in general that's an important issue), we've got a lot more work to do on a lot more subjects.

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  14. I think Peter's question is in fact simply wrong and I appreciate Mark's response. We are - with all the messiness - Anglican and that includes being in relationship with others in the Communion. Some of those relationships are very strained at present, but giving up on them is not the solution.

    I am inclined to think that some form of positive response to the Covenant is the better of two imperfect choices. Such a response might include an acknowledgement that we see failings in the text and are committed to working for its amendment and an expression of our commitment to refrain from using the provisions in section 4 in favor of direct conversation with those with whom we have disagreements. I think section 4 could encourage triangulation rather than direct engagement.

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  15. Hi Marshall,

    The measure is the acceptance of the doctrine.

    It is true that within a body such as the Communion there are doctrinal differences which are tolerated (i.e. no one leaves because of them).

    Where a doctrinal difference is not tolerated a couple of courses of action are possible. One is to give up promotion of the difference and stick to what is accepted. (A variation of that could be to try to persuade people to accept the difference, but if that fails then to give up and stick with the status quo).

    Another course is to raise many kinds of questions about the situation including how difficult it is to find agreement among Anglicans, but especially to ask the question 'why this difference is intolerable?' That kind of question puts the objector on the backfoot and neatly removes the need for the promoter of doctrinal difference to persuade others of its truth.

    However, in the end, intolerable doctrinal difference remains and separation occurs.

    Do we want to work on overcoming separation or on putting objectors on the backfoot?

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  16. A couple of comments from an outsider.

    First, is the relationship between same sex couples now elevated to "doctrine"? It seems to me that this is so much detail, as opposed to the real issues of, welll, the Creed. Being married to an Episcopalian, I can assure you that my wife does not cross her fingers over any element of the NIcene Creed and I would expect the same is probably true of most of her fellow congregants at a very liberal, very high parish. So what is "doctrine"?

    Second, why isn't there an upset over similar issues such as divorce, remarriage, etc? Could it be that's inconvenient to the conservatives since , well, they might want to divorce?

    Seems to me lay presidency in Sydney is a real doctrinal issue ....

    Finally, "my way or the highway"? THat's surely never been a core Episcopalian doctrine. Media via and big tent and all that.... if my wife had wanted all that authoritarianism, she would have remained with the Romans.

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  17. Easter Season greetings

    Before people start denigrating NZ too loudly… I am also a Kiwi priest, and Peter Carrell is my friend and colleague.

    The Lambeth Conference and its decisions have no place in our NZ constitution and statutes. The only “instrument of communion” mentioned is the Archbishop of Canterbury. The term “instrument of communion” is not mentioned. The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral is not mentioned, nor is it in our Prayer Book in the way it is in TEC’s.

    The bishop of Christchurch, Victoria Matthew’s, (Peter’s bishop and mine), with the St Michael’s report has that same-sex blessings is not part of core doctrine.

    The Primates voted for NZ not to continue towards our Three Tikanga structure. NZ ignored that vote completely, did not even give it a second thought. NZ had the first woman diocesan bishop in the Communion, the first divorced and remarried priest (who went on to draft one of our three marriage rites), the first bishop to be divorced and remarried whilst in office; NZ was the first province to allow the blessing of committed same sex couples.

    I hope that gives a bit more context to some of the points here.

    Christ is risen!

    Bosco+

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  18. I agree with Bosco that our Kiwi Anglican church is what it is and as liable to go its own way as any other Anglican church. We may even be tempted to take pride in getting to some places ahead of others :)

    But one day we may find that persisting in the paths we are taking leads us away from the Communion (or drives the Communion away from us). I hope we will know what we are doing!

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  19. Peter, you wrote: "Another course is to raise many kinds of questions about the situation including how difficult it is to find agreement among Anglicans, but especially to ask the question 'why this difference is intolerable?' That kind of question puts the objector on the backfoot and neatly removes the need for the promoter of doctrinal difference to persuade others of its truth."

    But, surely there is a third and necessary opportunity. That is to stop, spend some time, and make sure we're using the same terms, and so talking about the same subjects. The point of my question, and of my illustrations (and they are, really, no more than illustrations) is to address that issue. Does that leave an objector off balance? I would suggest an objector committed to real communication might take a deep breath, acknowledge being caught a bit off guard, and then engage in the clarification that was obviously necessary.

    Both of your options presume a consensus (even a consensus fidelei) that I'm challenging. To get past position statements and pursue understanding, the third possibility has to be on the table. After all, the recipient of the first objection is also at first "on the back foot."

    Life, including life in Christ, is, in many ways, one negotiation after another. It's not about negotiating principles per se; it is about negotiating a mutual understanding of terms, and then having the humility and openness to actually hear the other, and sustain the relationship through, and sometimes despite, differences. Surely we are worth that to one another.

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  20. "That kind of question puts the objector on the backfoot and neatly removes the need for the promoter of doctrinal difference to persuade others of its truth"

    In my experience, most objectors could spend a little more time on their back feet. It isn't as if the theological merits of the case *against* same-sex marriage are particularly dazzling, but the conversation rarely ever gets there since most assume - though few admit it so candidly as yourself - that their proper role is to be on the offensive.

    "*We* make the objections around here!" And yet as authors like Haller, Corvino, and others have demonstrated, the case against same-sex marriage is opportunistic, self-defeating, and seldom reflects anything like a recognizably "traditional" account of marriage: in fact, the heterosexual component of marriage seems to be the *only* aspect of "traditional" marriage the "traditionalists" would preserve, so expansive is their willingness to jettison "traditional" teaching on marriage in their haste to formulate a theology that will support the conclusion they are determined to reach. (One occasionally meets, for example,
    female clergy who profess not to be convinced that those of the "wrong" gender combination can enter into a sacrament not expressly designed for them - yet these doubts are miraculously healed, regular as clockwork, every payday!)

    Or, to put it more succinctly, I've yet to see an argument against same-sex marriage that isn't also, *if applied consistently*, an argument against *heterosexual* marriage. But go ahead: surprise me.

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  21. Hi Marshall and Geoff,
    I tried to reply earlier to your comment (Marshall) but it hasn't appeared [Blogger seems to be having some problems with comments - hopefully this gets through].

    Very briefly,
    To Marshall: all that is possible; but what if people feel that they do not need to expend energy engaging with every challenge to the status quo?

    To Geoff: I do not think the 'weighting' of the arguments is as you make them out to be; but I do not have time to make out the case against what you say; so, at risk of appearing to run away, I will leave it there. In any case, it is not me you need to persuade but quite a few member churches of the Communion.

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  22. "but I do not have time to make out the case against what you say; so, at risk of appearing to run away, I will leave it there."

    And this is the inevitable conclusion: I promise you I have quite reasonable grounds for disagreeing with you, but I couldn't possibly trouble you with them, but they really definitely totally exist and lots and lots of people say so. And those of us whom the majority have decided must never have the blessings of family life must shoulder the cross, mysterious ways, &C &c, and continue to plead in vain for a hint of how it could be so pivotal to the Christian faith that our families are shams because of the toilets we use?

    I am, by the by, suspicious of rebuttals that take issue with the framing of the question: is the fact that you have not considered the matter in that light, and thus have not inoculated your argument against it, meant to commend it to me?

    The "traditional goods" of marriage can be fulfilled by two men or two women - unless the scope of these goods is augmented considerably beyond what the tradition in question requires (and neatly sidestepping others). So the neverending loop of opposing the "expansion" of marriage as being inimical to its character, and then getting huffy when presented with living evidence to the contrary is quite baffling. Why do you hate us so much, I wonder? Do you ever pause to think of the sacrificial enormity of what you consider to be the casual ex officio duty of so many people - people who are husbands, wives, sons, daughters, aunts & uncles, and clergy families in our rectories?

    At the end of the day you can give me all the Genesis, Paul, Aquinas, and anything else you can throw at me but ultimately you’re trying to convince me that God arbitrarily blesses some families as sacraments and condemns others to sulphur perpetual. And frankly, worshipping strange Gods - any sadist such as you envision is not the Triune God - is a far greater "break from tradition." And yes, I know you're wrong. Because for me this is not a question of theology; it is my life. You can't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining: if you take longer to catch up with the theological steps, fine. I don't need to: I’ve been there and gotten the T-shirt.

    Have you no decency, Father?

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  23. Hi Geoff,
    By all means second-guess what I think and feel and whether or not I am a decent human being. That is your freedom in Christ to do so. I feel constrained to stick more closely to Scripture in the development of my theology than some (perhaps than you). Perhaps that disables me as a human being; but I find it does help me to remain engaged with the vast majority of Christians who do not think marriage is expandable in the manner you suggest. If the wider Christian community is to change I suggest it will come through a different form of persuasion than you offer here.

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  24. While I still believe Peter's question is wrong, i.e., it seems to assume that TEC's staying is a matter of choice and not a given of our history, I offer one reason why we owe it to our sisters and brothers in the Communion to persevere: the offering to others of the witness of the lives of the partnered/married (I live in Massachusetts) members of this church. The bishop who ordained me changed his mind about women in holy orders when he met women with undeniable vocations. I have seen members of congregations that I have been privileged to serve changed by the holiness of the same-sex couples and their children in the next pew. That witness - and the witness of women in holy orders - a gift TEC can/must give to the Communion.

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  25. Mr Weir...history is happening all around...the Covenant will be part of the AC's history....whether TEC is in, out or in with 'Poorvoo' etc is up to TEC.....and the rest of those covenanting - the AC is not going for a Covenant which can be taken to mean contradictory things to different groups....that approach has caused Rowan too much trouble....

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