The Episcopal Church Welcomes You (Maybe)

I've said before that I respect the right of religious organizations to decide for themselves how to address issues such as homosexuality and women in the ministry. Respecting that right, however, doesn't mean that I don't have opinions as an observer of groups that are struggling with these issues.

The Anglican Communion's current attempt to bring the US branch of Anglicanism (The Episcopal Church) into line on the issues of gay commitment ceremony blessings and gay ordination reflect, in my opinion, the conflicting principles of Christianity. Essentially there are two main camps on these issues: those who believe that Biblical inclusiveness and love trump Biblical rules on sex(uality), and those who hold the reverse view.

I imagine that every ordained Anglican, from deacons to archbishops, have engaged in and/or regularly engage in Biblically forbidden behavior (such as lying, lusting, envy, public displays of piety...) and yet none of those acts prevent them from serving in ministry.

I can understand prohibiting the ordination of someone who engages in behavior which harms self or others, because such behavior dilutes the integrity and trust that are inherent in ministry. But wasting time and money niggling over blessing same-sex relationships and blocking from ordination persons whose private, consensual, adult sex lives override all other considerations seems to me strange and obsessive. Does this kind of in-fighting address the core mission of a Church?

Which requires the greater faith—to comply with custom and tradition, or to refuse compliance? Non-conformity, no doubt, may sometimes arise from irreligion and unbelief; men may neglect a religious ordinance from want of interest and want of faith; but when it is faith that impels dissent, as in the case of such earnest and heroic and devout natures as are sometimes found in that predicament, that faith is unquestionably greater than the faith expressed by any works of conformity and tradition.

--Frederic Henry Hedge, Reason in Religion (1865), p. 319

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