Friday, 2 July 2010

Anglican Homosexuality Discernment Down Under

The Kiwi's have been doing some studying and talking on the subject at a recent hui (gathering). Some bits and pieces remind me of some of the things I heard and thought in our General Synod 2010 sexuality discernment discussions. I was concerned that our discussion needed to include Scripture. On that subject, Anglican Down Under, Peter Carrell, writes:
We may have begun to say to ourselves that our reading of Scripture corporately is something we cannot sidestep. Holy Scripture is our Holy Scripture. We may, in this (new) beginning, be realising two things. First, that Scripture says what it says about sexuality (including homosexuality). Despite some creative hermeneutical explorations around the possibility of concluding that Scripture does not say what the church has thought it has been saying, it does say what it says (i.e. an overall negative approach to homosexuality). Secondly, that it is possible that we may need to go beyond Scripture because we face a new situation, unknown when the Bible was written. A ‘going beyond’ akin to what we have done on matters such as usury and remarriage of divorced persons. Yet it is notable that on those two matters our church has gone forward together. (Read the whole post here
From another of his blogs (I don't know where he finds the time), Hermeneutics and Human Dignity, he adds:

Can we be honest to ourselves as a whole church and acknowledge that on matters such as usury and remarriage of divorcees we have faced Scripture, which on a plain reading bans usury and permits remarriage of divorcees under the narrowest of extenuating circumstances, we have gone 'beyond' Scripture to find a way forward which embraces social reality and expresses grace and compassion? If we were agreeable about what we have done on these matters, could we then find a way forward together (for that by and large is what we have achieved on usury and remarriage) on homosexuality? [For the record, my immediate thoughts on this question are that this set of questions does not necessarily lead to a quick and satisfactory answer because there are plenty of nuances to consider, including the fact that embracing usury has in times and places contributed to human misery, and the church generally has not changed its mind that divorce is not something to celebrate ...] (The whole post
That's the issue and the question that must be answered, it seems to me. Scripture is clear enough, but can we go beyond it with any integrity? Difficult as it is, I think not. An unnamed hui participant commented on the discussion: 
I remain convinced that scripture is relatively clear on the issues of sexuality, and remain committed to the force of Scripture’s voice. I am, however, utterly challenged by the reality of dealing pastorally with all that happens in our world and church – and most especially, by the deep needs, pain and worth of people.” (From anglicantaonga, "Face-to-face with the Text of Terror," here)
 I, too, feel that challenge and have done for years. I felt it at General Synod when I heard the pain of the homosexual folk. But for me, the love with which I commanded to treat them does not mean I am free to say yes to the changes in doctrine they want. To love, sometimes also means saying no.