Sunday, December 04, 2005

fulcrum: Reading the St Andrew's Day Statement

fulcrum: Reading the St Andrew's Day Statement: "It is worth pausing here to measure the width of the space between the lines; that is to say, how much the authors of the Statement have felt it safe to leave open as the subject for constructive disagreement. On the one hand, what they have said is compatible with the view that the serious gay Christian is simply mistaken; his or her position rests on a misunderstanding; the gay consciousness is a blind alley, with which the church simply has to be patient. Provided there is no attempt to stir up conflict, the church can respect the good faith of those who are mistaken, discuss the issues in a relaxed way as they arise, and wait for light to dawn. On the other hand, it is also compatible with the view that the serious gay Christian is a kind of prophet, acting in the loneliness of faith by stepping self-consciously and deliberately outside the church's tradition to point in a new direction that God is opening up and which the church will come to recognise in time. Precisely the seriousness of such an act rules out the hope for cheap or easily won concessions. Like certain Roman Catholic couples who, though using contraceptives themselves, resist the idea of a change in the church's teaching because they don't think such a step should be taken lightly, so, on this account, gay Christians would accept a minority stance for as long as it takes for the testing and appropriation of their insight. These two outlooks, the authors imply, can exist together and argue their differences fruitfully. Neither believes the church's understanding can be lightly set aside; both believe the situation requires patience and attention to God's voice."

A sober word from Prof Oliver O'Donovan, commenting on The St. Andrew's Day Statement.

Hat tip to titusonenine.

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3 Comments:

Blogger *Christopher said...

Unfortunately, this anaylsis presumes a neutrality when dealing with "stirred up conflict" that does not exist and likely never will, so this testing is already happening and we who are gay find ourselves often in the firing lines of bishops and priests. That we still have faith at all should give folks pause. That bishops regardless of their position do not speak out forcefully against violence is a silent assent to the violence.

Monday, December 05, 2005 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger *Christopher said...

Oops, got cut off...

Stirring up trouble means not insisting on being treated with dignity, and let us be clear, many bishops and priests outside the U.S. and Canada do not. There's a certain privileged silencing in this essay.

And I'll add it doesn't seem to me that Anglican heterosexuals endured the kind of testing the Roman Catholic couples who practice birth control are calling for, so it would seem in the Anglican Communion at least, an inconsistency arises according to one's orientation on how fast we should move to make a change. This was a major change in Anglican teaching and it happened rather presto-chango in comparison to the RC. I would be more happy to be patient and endure if I didn't see such double-standards on the matter.

Monday, December 05, 2005 10:29:00 AM  
Blogger Preston said...

*Christopher, thanks for dropping by.

I'm not sure that I can answer all your problems with the statement, but I would like to forward a couple of things and explain why I posted this.

Dr. O'Donovan is not neutral on this subject, which makes his statement that much more compelling. The call is for is intellectual honesty combined with intellectual humility. If the Anglican communion had seen more of this, I'm not sure we would be where we are. This is a conservative evangelical saying that he is willing to be proven wrong on this issue. The voice, from either side, saying that they might be wrong brings me hope actually. This is not about neutrality, it is about humility.

Nor is this a defense of violence. It is an offer of a place to both sides in the church's working out of this conflict. No one, in these statements, are defending violence, and your essentialisation of your opponents is not particularly helpful. Is disagreement violence?

And the birth control paralell I don't think is meant to be strict, it is meant to forward a possible method of coping with our disagreements. Perhaps this does not quell your discomfort, as it can be read to be hetero vs homo, where gay folk get short shrift. But like I said, I think it is meant to forward a method of navigation, not to say "this is just like that."

I wonder if this puts your mind at ease - I imagine it does not, but I won't speak for you. Respond if you are so inclined.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005 10:21:00 PM  

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