Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jesus loves you more than you will know (Wo wo wo).

Mrs. Robinson will be moving into the White House next week, as will her daughter and son-in-law, along with her granddaughters. I learned about this the other day from the New York Times. I was going to write about it.

On Monday, I learned about another Robinson -- Bishop Gene Robinson has been invited to deliver the invocation at the opening event of the inauguration festivities next Sunday. I first learned it at Of Course I Could Be Wrong and I wasn't sure it was true until I checked The Lead at Episcopal Cafe. At The Lead, Jim Naughton, who apparently broke the story, reports that it became the biggest blog event of the day at 4:30 Monday afternoon.

There were a few other things in the past few days that I wanted to take note of. Last week, our local weekly The Westsider had an aricle about a shelter for homeless LGBTQ teenagers here in New York City. It's not online, so I can't link to it, and we gave the paper to someone in our church who works with homeless people. The article makes the point that for these kids there are more pressing issues than same-sex marriage (or ordination of bishops and other clergy.) Bishop Robinson is quoted in the Concord Monitor as having told Beliefnet "The difficult thing is that [Rick Warren]'s said, and continues to affirm, some horrendous things about homosexuality." The horrendous things that Bishop Gene is referring to lead to horrendous consequences -- as witness the incidence of suicide among LGBTQ youth, the family rejection that many of the homeless LGBTQ youth have experienced, and violence against LGBTQ persons.

On Saturday I learned, also from MadPriest, that a church in my home town had lost its bid to keep the property ater the congregation seceded from the Episcopal Church. The Church of the Good Shepherd, on the south sde of Binghamton, is one of three parishes in the Diocese of Central New York that withdrew from the Episcopal Church at least in part in protest over the consecration of Bishop Robinson in 2003. Good Shepherd, whose rector is Matt Kennedy, is the only one of the three parishes which actually pursued the legal battle to the end (see this article in the Press & Sun-Bulletin.) Monday or Tuesday, I read in a post by Matt Kennedy over at Stand Firm (I will not link there) that they were given a a little more than a month to vacate the premises -- and they had to pay while they stayed. Well, on the church blog Matt reports they have found a disused RC rectory to house the Kennedys. and the gym of a Baptist Church for Sunday worship -- both within less than a mile and a half of their old church.

In a comment at OCICBW last week, Matt Kennedy wrote
Say what you will about me and my you have...but believe it or not, in all sincerity, we believe those who promote same sex sexual behavior are, albeit unintentionally, hurting people by leading them away from Christ.
I certainly believe he is sincere -- I also think he is dead wrong in his approach to the bible and the true nature of orthodox Christianity. I also think he is wrong about Anglicanism, but this is ground that has been contested at least since the days when Richard Hooker and his cousin Walter Travers preached at the Temple Church in the 1570's. I hope to write more about the significance of contested ground, but for now I want to take a close look at Matt Kennedy's statement.

"Those who promote same sex sexual behavior" is an odd choice of words. It isn't about promoting any kind of sexual behavior. It's about affirming people, accepting who they are, and where necessary encouraging them to accept who they are.

Affirming people does not lead them away from Christ. Telling people that God hates what they do when what they do is intimately related to who they are does indeed lead many people away from Christ.

I'll leave it to others to talk about why it is right for Gene Robinson to be a bishop in the Episcopal Church and wrong for Matt Kennedy to teach that same sex sexual behavior is contrary to God's will.

I conclude with part (slightly updated) of a 17th century prayer written when there was contested ground in the church:
O God, the Creator and Preserver of all humankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of people; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal; that it may be so guided by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.


Erika Baker said...

I came over here because MadPriest said we should - and I'm glad I obeyed!
This is a brilliant article.

We should do a lot more to confront the anti-gay crowd with the actual results of their condemnation, like every time they clobber us with made up AIDS and STD statistics that show how terribly dangerous being gay is.

Allen said...

Thanks, Erika. You're so right -- they need to be confronted.

Jay said...

Good stuff Allen. Thank you for your thoughtful words

David |Dah • veed| said...

Good job Allen. Your given name is my paternal surname!

I hope that you read Matt wrong, or he is being disingenuous again and playing the picked-upon-martyr, from my reading. He needs to get down from that cross!

As I read the diocese's letter, which is in USA lawyer speak, I understood it to give the parish six rent-free weeks to vacate the property. It also offered to negotiate to lease the property. But, failing an agreement to lease, it gave the parish all the way to the Octave of Easter to find a new home at a rate of US$1000 a month, to begin after the 6 week grace period. The Rectory was available likewise for US$3000 a month.


Ellie Finlay said...


Grandmère Mimi said...

The implication of Matt and others of his ilk is that all gay folks do is have sex. That's who they are. One has to wonder about straight people who seem to have "same sex behavior" on their minds so much of the time.

I love the prayer, Allen.

Two Auntees said...

Great blog. The things that are said to and about the LGBTQ community by certain parts of the religious community cause great pain. The old children's saying, "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me, is the biggest lie that was ever told. Words can and have crippled and, yes, killed. Thank you for standing up and speaking the truth.

Sarah and I have been through much difficulty (Sarah is transgender, MTF and I am a genetic woman. We are married)with some family and even with members of our church. Most church members are accepting but a large group left in a huff earlier this year.

Some people are supportive but to the LGBTQ community but they are quietly supportive. It is so helpful and encouraging when people like you speak out. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I do like to confront the abusers of statistics re HIV etc., and my favorite, "abortion causes breast cancer" (Bzzzzzt. Claimant just failed stats 101. Return to registrar.)(I teach medical students about breast disease). Unfortunately, for the true believer, no amount of logic or instruction concerning proper study design will sink in, and the non-visual nature of the intertoobs prevents me from seeing them squirm.


Dave said...

Great entry. I am here from MadPriest's blog. When I get home, I will bookmark yours. Not much of a commenter, but I do enjoy a good read, and this is a good read!

Allen said...

David, I'm afraid I read the Chancellor's letter the same way Matt Kennedy does. The Diocese was in no mood to give anything away.

Mimi, it's the first part of A Prayer for All Sorts and Conditions of Men, now #2 on page 814 of the 1979 Prayer Book, (until that time, it was included in Morning and Evening Prayer in all American Prayer Books.) It's among the occasional prayers in the 1662 English Book of Common Prayer.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Allen, I looked it up. It's a rather strange title to a prayer. One could be put off by the title. A Prayer for All Sorts and Conditions of Men conjures up all sorts of thoughts, if one does not realize that "men" is generic for humans. My thought was, "What conditions of men? Medical conditions?" See where that takes you?

Forgive me, Allen, your post is wonderful, and I am wicked, but that title needs to be changed in the BCP. Thanks for giving me a laugh without intending to. I mean that. I needed a laugh today.

Sara said...

I, too, came after being ordered to by the MadPriest. I'm glad I did. It's a wonderful article. My daughter is in rehab partially because of issues around being gay. She no longer believes in God because a youth director at a former church told her she was going to hell. Thank you for speaking out.

WSJM said...

I also am here because MadPriest sent me. I'll be back. This is a fine article.

Saintly Ramblings said...

Being a CofE priest, that prayer is one I often use at the service of Evensong. Wonderfully written - melodic and poetic.

Thanks for your post (I'm another MP delegate). I too will bookmark your blog and lurk here on occasion.

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