Thursday, June 18, 2009


On the new website of ACNA (the Anglican Church in North America,) Bishop Robert Duncan has written An Introduction to the Constitution and Canons. He has identified six principles behind the governance structure that the delegates at the Inaugural Assembly of ACNA next week will be asked to ratify. The princples are:
  1. confessional unity, expressed in matters of Faith and Order;
  2. subsidiarity, where what may be wisely left to the local level (both diocesan and congregational) is left to the local level, including property ownership;
  3. missionary focus, especially in structures, roles and representation;
  4. flexibility, recognizing the diversity of Godly approaches common among the partners coming into union;
  5. disciplinary reform, including address of concerns for Holy Matrimony and Holy Orders, as well as provision of a provincial tribunal.
  6. collegial accountability, especially in matters relating to bishops.
The first principle, "confessional unity," means that ACNA is going to be a confessional church, which comes as no surprise. Now I have no particular quarrel with confessional churches as such -- it's just that they generally construct confessions of faith that are designed to exclude somebody. In this case, they are designed to exclude those who believe that sexually active LGBT people are just as worthy as sexually active straight people of participating in the full sacramental life of the church.

On ACNA's What We Stand For page are two documents, a Theological Statement first issued by the Common Cause Partnership and the Jerusalem Declaration, issued in 2008 by GAFCon, and "a foundation for fellowship in the global Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans." Particularly relevant is statement 8:
8. We acknowledge God’s creation of humankind as male and female and the unchangeable standard of Christian marriage between one man and one woman as the proper place for sexual intimacy and the basis of the family. We repent of our failures to maintain this standard and call for a renewed commitment to lifelong fidelity in marriage and abstinence for those who are not married.
For those attracted to members of the opposite sex, that is a good and adequate statement.

But if you believe, as I do, that sexual orientation is real, then you either have to say that statement is inadequate or you have to accept the statement and conclude that sexual intimacy outside of the marriage of a man and a woman is not proper.

A lesbian or gay person who accepts the second alternative is likely to be unhappy. A lesbian or gay person who accepts the first alternative may either reject Christianity altogether, as many do, or may find a church home in what has come to be known as an "affirming" church.

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