Monday, June 18, 2007

General Synod and Sex

Registration begins for General Synod today, right here in Winnipeg. Anglicans from all over Canada will come togther for the next week, and, well, hopefully try to get a long.

If you read much news about Anglicans, you'll probably hear one of two opinions - 1. We're obsessed with sex, or 2. we're prudish about sex. Neither of these are quite true, but I can understand why it might look like this.

It certainly looks like we're obsessed with sex. We are talking about it a lot. The trouble for us, as Anglican Christians (and many other Christians as well), is that moral discernment is inherently dialogical.

While much of contemporary culture is content to say "you do your thing, I'll do mine", we are saying that this is not good enough. Moral discernment happens dialogically, not personally, because it is only interpersonally that we can have our moral sensibilities properly interrogated. I can only know if my moral choice is right and good within the context of a living community that is engaged in moral discernment through the deployment of common sources. It's simple, in a sense, and begins with the quesion "how do you know your choice is right?" As soon as you answer, saying "Because . . . " you are engaging diologically, and about to deploy a source that has some common standing. Think of General Synod as this conversation writ large, where General Synod is a gathering of people, part of a network of living Anglican communities, where we will deploy common sources like Scripture, tradition, and reason.

When Christians ask other Christians questions like "how do you know your choice is right?", and the choice is about sex (moral choices like "this is ok", "This is not ok"), we probably do look prudish, because it looks like we are questioning the personal moral choices of others. But this would only be true if we believed that there is such thing as a purely personal moral choice. Rather, the personal is embedded within our common life, and personal choices impact this common life. (At one time the opposite was far more true - that our common life impacted our personal moral choice in a significant way). This brings what may look like purely personal choices into the realm of common discernment. And how do we know that something is not purely personal, and subject to discernment? When it begins to tear at our common life. And the common life of Anglicans is suffering significant rupture over issues concerned with sex.

If you are so inclined, pray for us, that we may find common sources, and a common engagement of these sources. Pray that we are not just civil, but honest. Pray that we can be more than interest groups looking for compromise, but the living body of Christ.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous joseph said...

Those are good thoughts, Preston. Thanks for the reminders.

Monday, June 18, 2007 2:58:00 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

I'm actually a big advocate of civility. Having been a part of some pretty uncivil discussions in the church the last few years I'm even more convinced of its importance. Which isn't to say that I think we should be dishonest....

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 8:35:00 AM  

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