The Bishop of Upper South Carolina Writes about General Convention

Posted by Kendall Harmon

I am utterly serious when I describe myself as a radical centrist. It means that my very first principle as bishop when it comes to life and change within the community of faith is Jesus’ command to the disciple community to love one another as we have been loved, and to be willing to give up even our very lives for one another (John 15:12-13). To be a disciple is to be disciplined: disciplined in discernment, disciplined in theology, disciplined in action, disciplined in love. In his second letter, Peter writes, “For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.”

My discipline is this: to listen deeply to the challenges and questions of all, from my position in that radical—and, I’m discovering, somewhat dangerous—center. My long-held and still-present desire to move forward on same-sex blessings has been given a new discipline upon listening to the questions of those who object to it and the questions of those who support it. Being the bishop of all requires of me an internal discipline that I am not free to ignore.

To those who object to same-sex blessings, my questions are these, among others:

- How, exactly, is Christian marriage threatened by the blessing of a relationship between two persons of the same sex?...

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalEpiscopal Church (TEC)General Convention --Gen. Con. 2012TEC Bishops* Christian Life / Church LifeParish Ministry* South Carolina* TheologyAnthropologyEthics / Moral TheologyTheology: Scripture

14 Comments
Posted July 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. francis wrote:

Hmmmm. Candles versus homosexuality.  The center has moved.

July 18, 8:19 pm | [comment link]
2. Matthew A (formerly mousestalker) wrote:

My question in reply is this: How is it proper to bless an act that is forbidden?

When you set yourself in despite of the teachings of the Church for millenia, you need to have very good reasons for so doing. Perhaps I haven’t been paying attention but I’ve missed the usual signs that are accompany a revelation of God as regards this new teaching.

I anxiously await a reply that does not involve mocking the Old Testament or perverting Paul’s epistles.

July 18, 9:01 pm | [comment link]
3. Br. Michael wrote:

2, is right and a Christian needs no other reason.

But beyond that same, sex marriage removes all reason for marriage.  It is biologically sterile and there is nothing to be gained from same sex coupling.

July 18, 9:28 pm | [comment link]
4. Ralph wrote:

I will appoint a task force by the end of August to articulate theologically and practically—in much the way Bishop Doyle of Texas has done—the boundaries within which we might live together, including congregations that will have opened their doors to same-sex blessings, and protecting congregations whose conscience demands standing firmly within the tradition.

I’ve read this, yesterday and today. I cannot tell whether he is, is not, or hasn’t decided about authorizing SSBs. If the August meeting is to decide that, it would be just in time for the launch of fall stewardship campaigns.

In contrast, the Bishop of Georgia seems to doing nothing at the present time, other than taking a vacation. He writes, “Frankly, I do not know.” If he knows in late October, that will be perfect for the time when people are turning in their pledge cards.
http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs081/1103630271834/archive/1110453326452.html

This is not a time to be indecisive or unclear, gentlemen.

July 18, 9:40 pm | [comment link]
5. Pageantmaster ن wrote:

I voted “no” for the resolution authorizing this rite, because the theological statement accompanying the resolution leaves too many important questions unanswered.

The case hasn’t been made, so I voted against it.

I ask you to read what follows here—to its end—with care and love, understanding that it is nuanced and partial….

There’s a but coming..

My long-held and still-present desire to move forward on same-sex blessings

I don’t really believe what I voted for

Being the bishop of all requires of me an internal discipline that I am not free to ignore.

I admire the Druid enormously and model myself on him

To those who object to same-sex blessings, my questions are these, among others…...To those who support same-sex blessings, my questions are these, among others

Always answer a question with a question

I voted “no” at General Convention because these questions ask those who would change the Church’s teachings to respect and respond to the received tradition, not with dismissiveness, but with rigor, discipline, respect and love.

For the sake of the Diocese I voted no as a matter of principle to having Same Sex Blessings

Now that General Convention 2012 is over, I will appoint a task force by the end of August to articulate theologically and practically—in much the way Bishop Doyle of Texas has done—the boundaries within which we might live together, including congregations that will have opened their doors to same-sex blessings

But I am going to approve them anyway

Their bishop, Mark Lawrence, and I are in direct conversation with each other as brothers in Christ and treasured colleagues in the House of Bishops

You can imagine what a lot we have to talk about.

Where’s Waldo?

July 18, 10:27 pm | [comment link]
6. Karen B. wrote:

In my opinion, something Bp. Stanton wrote provides an excellent answer to Bp. Waldo’s questions.  The emphasis is mine:

My first consideration is theological: Is this rite true? When I or any member of the clergy bless anyone, we use the form, “I bless you in the Name of God.” This is what may be called performative language: it performs the action that the words imply. We do not say, “I pray for,” or “I wish,” or “I think that” ... God will do so and so. We are only authorized, however, to bless what God, in fact, blesses. And when we use these words, we had better have a clear warrant from Scripture or the theological tradition of the Church to back us up. No individual is competent to decide what God blesses, and no congregation or denomination is competent to do so either.

Indeed.

July 19, 4:25 am | [comment link]
7. driver8 wrote:

How, exactly, is Christian marriage threatened by the blessing of a relationship between two persons of the same sex

http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/07/5884

July 19, 7:33 am | [comment link]
8. David Keller wrote:

I hope that whomever Waldo picks to be the conservative/orthodox to be on his “Commision” will read this. Having been there myself, DON’T do it. You will be massacred and compromised. You WILL be used to validate the already decided conclusion. (Well so and so was on the commission and he went along. Why cant you go long). And then when you try to do something else in the diocese the “leadership” will say, we don’t put people with those narrow views on anything in this diocese.  If you are dumb enough to actually do it because “I can’t say no to the bishop” then wear body armor because if you don’t there will be more stab wounds in your back than you can count.

July 19, 9:00 am | [comment link]
9. driver8 wrote:

My question is - how exactly can one get to be a bishop in a church that thinks of itself as apostolic and not understand the traditional teaching of the church on marriage?

July 19, 9:07 am | [comment link]
10. Bart Hall (Kansas, USA) wrote:

  why doesn’t the Episcopal Church’s rationale address, precisely, how [homosexual activity] might not be a sin?
-      If marriage between a man and a woman has served as a rich metaphor for the ultimate consummation of the relationship between Christ and his Church at the end of time, why doesn’t the Episcopal Church’s rationale take the time to articulate how same-sex blessings fit in this trajectory of salvation?

Because it is asking the impossible, for there is no rationale for such things within the context of Biblical faith, or even (as evinced in other GC77 declarations) in the larger context of consistent, rational, logical thought and reasoning.

The sin comes not from the orientation, but from allowing it to progress into activity. Many (most??) males have an orientation towards promiscuity. Such orientation is not in itself a sin, but its expression as fornication, adultery, exploitation, pornography, etc is most certainly sinful.

How many times, and how deeply, did Paul and the others emphasize the radical importance of transformed living through the power of the Holy Spirit to help us overcome our sinful nature, or orientation(s)? The Episcopal church’s first profound sin of GC77 was to blaspheme the Holy Spirit by denying his power to transform our sinful natures through his fruit of self-control.

Their SECOND profound sin was to declare in relation to “trans-gender” that God makes mistakes, thereby to affirm (not reject) the arrogance of Eden so evident in the declaration that “God gave me the wrong body. I really am a (wo)man, not a (wo)man.”

And on top of it all they have allowed themselves the be “squeezed into the world’s ‘form’ (schema, Rom 12:2)” by accepting that mere emotional feelings are a sufficient basis for marriage, and therefore also sufficient for granting the church’s blessing—not God’s—on something they very much wish to call marriage but know they cannot get away with, yet.

The deeply confused people at GC77 have said, simultaneously, that sexual-orientation/gender is both a biological imperative (for homosexuality) and a socio-emotional choice (for trans-gender). It cannot be both, which is why the cannot offer any rationale for either.

It is hard to know whether in the terminology of Proverbs they are “simpletons” (IOW just plain clueless) or “fools” (who know better). In either case it makes for a pretty sorry bunch, more deserving of pity than scorn.

July 19, 9:17 am | [comment link]
11. m+ wrote:

These questions continue to bug me:

How, exactly, is Christian marriage threatened by the blessing of a relationship between two persons of the same sex?


and

...what, exactly, is the danger to Christian faith and marriage?

The questions begin with the assumption that same sex relationships are only wrong if they conflict with opposite sex relationships.  Thus, if one doesn’t affect the other then no harm, no foul, and we can move on to blessing same sex relationships.  It’s telling that the Bishop begins there, rather than asking, “are we authorized to bless same sex relationships?” and “If so, then where does that authority come from?”  His willful ignorance of the traditional reasons for the sinfulness of homosexual acts is also very telling. I say willful ignorance because those arguments, both Catholic and Protestant, are easily found on and off the internet and I strongly doubt he hasn’t heard them before.  He may not agree with those arguments, but he should know them. I draw from all this that the Bishop intends to permit his Diocese to bless same sex unions, but he’s afraid of the conflict that the decision will generate.

July 19, 1:46 pm | [comment link]
12. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

Radical centrist is newspeak for “I’m radix, like the root vegetable, buried in the dirt” and I can’t think of a single Scriptural reason not to follow the GC landslide over the cliff.  Hopefully, though, you’ll think I care since I call myself a radical centrist.  Clever? NO.  Transparent.
You’ll condone sin, even bless it, charged though you are to defend it.

July 19, 2:59 pm | [comment link]
13. dwstroudmd+ wrote:

correction:
You’ll condone sin, even bless it, CHARGED THOUGH YOU ARE TO DEFEND THE FAITH AGAINST IT.

July 19, 3:01 pm | [comment link]
14. MichaelA wrote:

#9, great translation!


#4 has a point: at least the bishop of USC is making some attempt to explain his position.  So many others just seem to be walking leadership vacuums…

July 20, 1:55 am | [comment link]
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