a priest's musings on the journey

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Perspectives: Are orthodox gay Christians welcome anywhere?

Luiz and I were talking last night about our frustration over how the controversy in the Anglican Communion is being handled. (You know, that conflict in which one side views gays as an abomination and the other views gays as an issue or political pawns). As we talked we shared our disappointments about the exclusive injustice of the extreme right, and the impatient self-centeredness of the extreme left. Neither side really cares about even trying to hear the pain in the other; neither side seems to acknowledge the other as a fellow member in the Body of Christ. The right refuses to share the Eucharistic feast with the left, and the left responds with a prideful arrogance that exults in the absence of the right. Neither are behaving too faithfully, and both, in the end, alienate and oppress gay Christians.

Ok, to be fair there are some gay Christians represented in both camps. On the one hand, there are gays in the right who have chosen celibacy or reparative therapy. There are gays in the left who have embraced the welcome and the progressive openness to a diversity of beliefs. Then there are is a third group of gay Christians, which is in my experience a quite large one. These are gay Christians who share many of the theological convictions of the right and center on issues concerning God, Jesus, and Christian morality. Yet, they have come to terms with their sexual orientation, or are in the process of coming to terms, and are looking for a faith community that shares their theological reference and welcomes then as full members of the community. The problem is, if this controversy continues the course it is taking, this third group of gay Christians might still be wandering in the wilderness looking for a home.

I have been in conversation with some of these orthodox thinking gay Christians who have been reading blogs and sermons addressing the controversy in the Anglican Communion and feel lost. One group rejects them; the other accepts them, but their voice and behavior is not a Christianity that they recognize; it's not a Christianity with which they want to identify. These gay Christians are faced with a dilemma. Either they sacrifice their integrity and sexuality by living in the closet in a church that shares their theological identity, or else they abandon or compromise their beliefs in order to be in a church that accepts them. However, neither can be a place where they can truly belong and be affirmed in who they really are.

The entire situation and choice is unjust and oppressive. Why must their even be a choice? Why can't there be inclusivity AND orthodoxy? Why can't one believe that Jesus is God, that Jesus was resurrected in the flesh, and Jesus will come again in glory AND believe that in Christ there is no male or female, Jew or Greek, slave or free, gay or straight? Well, obviously there are many who are gay and orthodox; but, where do they belong? Where is their place? Where is their voice?
:: posted by Padre Rob+, 12:50 PM


I think the left's attitudes are as annoying as the right. But... 3 questions (that have nothing to do w/ political power and all to do with theology):

Would you sit down and share communion with the PB? Would you share table fellowship with Akinola? Would you share the chalice with the ABC?

If one can answer yes to all three then one has learned from the left *and* the right by coming to the Catholic Centre. Does one care - in a "ready-to-deny-communion" way - about any of the theological differences one might have with any of them?

I like your point about Gays as pawns. We are... we're being used by either side. The same is true in most of the rest of the political world. Can we forgive the Akinolas of the world on one hand and the Spongs of the world on the other hand? Can we invite them all to a fabulous party like Our Lord does?

Or will we end up being as sectarian as everyone else?
Blogger Huw Raphael, at 3:21 AM  
The people who comment on my blog are, in the main, orthodox, credal Christians. Many attend high churches and quite a few are members of monastic communities or similar. The only regular visitor who I would call a liberal is a gay priest.

In nearly 50 years as an Anglican I have only ever met a handful of liberals. Most Christians have a pretty uncomplicated faith when it comes to doctrine, it's just some have differing views regarding scripture.

Therefore, using the term "liberal" to describe people who oppose Biblical literalism is lazy and insulting. To say my straight visitors, people like Grandmere Mimi, are using the problems gay people face to further some left wing agenda is a vile thing. These are just good people who, contrary to what you believe, do feel pain when gay people are in pain and are trying, sometimes as in Mimi's case after a lifetime of thinking differently, to understand the situation from the point of view of gay people.

To be honest, I find the greatest arrogance in the centre of the church. The arrogance of those who think they are somehow more Christian, more intelligent, more enlightened because they sit on a fence and blow neither hot nor cold, is astounding. I don't know why this should be when the founder of our faith NEVER took the middle path.
Blogger MadPriest, at 7:12 AM  
I think my pain and frustration perhaps hindered my ability to articulate my thoughts here. I would of course go to the table with anyone- Spong to Akinola. But the whole point is that *we* aren't being invited to to the Table with everyone with whom we share the basics of the Faith, are we? And despite the Episcopal Church's rap as being a "Liberal Church", there are many congregations in our region of the country, as you well know, who will not even consider calling a celibate gay priest, never mind offering pastoral care and sacramental ministry to gays and lesbians- and what gets me, is that many of these congregations are basically Unitarian- and they still wont welcome gays because of the way it will make them look to the Baptists and Presbyterians across the street.

And I am totally on board with you re: becomimg our own sectarian group. I dont want to be in a gay ghetto church either.

What are we going to do Huw?
Blogger PadreRob+, at 9:42 AM  
I'm not quite sure what to make of your comment, Madpriest. Partly because the blog has nothing to do with you or your readers; it is about a particular group of gay Christians who are frustrated because they can not find a place to belong. (Yes, gay Biblical Literalists, to use your term, deserve a place to be nurtured and supported too).

I am also puzzled because you used terms and defintions in your comment that I never used. I never even used the word 'Liberal' at all. I did not accuse your readers of being liberal, nor did I define Liberals as those who oppose Biblical Literalism. Neither did i define the Right as Biblical Literalists. Those categories are too simplistic. I know Christians who are supportive of their gay Christian siblings, who are otherwise Fundamentalists. I also know people who deny outright the divinity of Christ who are homophobes. Do not add judgements to my blog that I have not put there. You do not know me well enough to presume to interpert what I might mean if it is unclear.
Blogger PadreRob+, at 1:41 PM  
I do not know many people who regularly comment on your blog; so I can not, and have not commented on them nor the Christians who have been a part of your journey. Furthermore, I never said that the visitors to your blog were "using the problems gays face in order to further some liberal agenda."

I can only comment about the ones who have been a part of my journey. I can only share a bit of what it is like to be a gay Christian in the South, and sorry, contrary to your belief, or perhaps experience, there are not very many Grandmere Mimi's down here who "feel our pain" nor are they trying to understand what life or Christian experience is like for us. I am not exactly comfortable talking about Grandmere Mimi "behind her back" so to speak, but I have read Grandmere Mini's blog, and I am grateful for her honesty and compassion. But, she is an exception to the rule in my part of the world.

Unlike you, I have met many "liberals" (your word not
mine) in my circle of aquaintances. And I do not mean
people who are not Biblical Literalists. I mean people who deny the very basic beliefs of our Faith.

I am not alone in this frustration. I only jotted these thoughts down because so many gay Christians in my circle of companions (across many denominational lines) have been sharing this same frustration -friends like a gay couple who have worshipped in a South Carolina parish for years, and are now being forced out, not because they do not believe the Faith as articulated in the Nincene Creed, not because they are not faithful disciples of Jesus Christ who are making a difference in their community, but because of church politics. Where do they go now?

I am sorry you are insulted by our frustration- or perhaps my inability to articulate it. I suppose my blog was too general, but I wont single out people and name those who are causing the frustration for us who are having a hard time finding a place to belong. Those for whom this blog was intended know the names of the oppressors in their own journeys.

I certainly know mine, and daily it is becoming clearer to me that they appear in all parts of the Church and Society- it isn't just Akinola who I fear.
Blogger PadreRob+, at 1:57 PM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Blogger Luiz Coelho, at 4:51 PM  

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