CXXVI - John Writes David

David Virtue,

Please accept the following prayer, which I have composed, for use in the devotional of your next issue of Virtuosity:

Assist us mercifully, O Lord, in these our supplications and prayers, and dispose the way of the Congress, the President, and all in authority -- towards the attainment of a true and just peace.  

Let them curtail the platitude that our enemies do not like our values - let them not avoid the specific reasons why others have come to hate us.  

Let them find the courage to state openly that kicking people out of their houses for racist reasons is immoral, even though it is a message that their constituencies might not want to hear.

We are a good people Lord - help us through knowledge to overcome all arrogance and blindness of heart.  Among all the changes and chances of this mortal life, we may ever be defended by Your gracious and ready help; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Amen.

Blessings,

John S. Morgan


CXXVII - John Writes David

David Virtue,

Are they already at each other's throats?

The Anglican Mission In America Responded to recent American Anglican Council criticisms saying:

"We find the AAC's recent public and widely circulated…critical statement expressing 'sadness' and 'disappointment' over the Denver consecrations of June 24, and characterizing them as 'divisive of our common life in Christ', a breach of the 'Kingdom Norms.' This statement, following as it does on the heels of last spring's AAC's newsletter quoting the Archbishop of Canterbury's criticism of the AMiA, presents us with a clear pattern making the hope of 'working together in mission' increasingly difficult."

Perhaps there is a limit, even with the guardians of the traditional, in tolerating what the AMiA wants to do. Acting outside of any denominational rules, the AMiA does exactly what they want to do. If they are willing to invade the territory of an authorized ECUSA bishop without his consent what will they not do. Bishops within ECUSA are not always in agreement with each other but they respect the Authority of their superiors.

These outsiders, claiming to be Anglicans, allege they already have all the answers to those complex questions which perplex ECUSA bishops and laity in their highest councils. Has Jesus returned to the planet to give them special insights and scriptural interpretations that are unavailable to the more Orthodox? Indeed, why would he choose an ad hock, rebellious, irregular, divisive, and illegal group to work with to the dismay of his regular followers? AMiA makes no sense no matter how you look at it.

Blessings,

John S. Morgan


CXXVIX - David Writes John

I will be writing about this shortly

D


CXXX - John Writes David

David Virtue,

We both agree that Paul in the New Testament made some [what we would call] anti—gay statements. I would argue that while well meaning, his conjectures were wrong. Beyond the mere utterance of these statements, Paul felt a need to express why he thought homosexual acts were wrong.

His conjecture that homosexuality is caused by idolatry simply does not seem to have met the test of time. The liturgy in the gay oriented Christian denomination, the fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches, seems rather orthodox - no fatted calves sacrificed to Baal; crosses in the nave.

His conjecture that it is unnatural awaited a time when the culture could examine creatures in the animal kingdom in a scientific manner to refute it.

But I am writing you to explore, once again, the attitude of Jesus. In all times and places it seems that there are substantial numbers of homosexuals. Sex in America, the favorite survey of the conservatives, places the self admitted number in the United States at 3% at a very minimum and hints that the number is substantially larger.

Now we know Jesus, spoken of in the gospel of John as very God of very God, was profoundly interested in people. He went so far as to leave a message on divorce. Are we really to assume that one, born of the father before all ages, would not have left a notable opinion to be enshrined in scripture if he had ANY misgivings concerning the orientation?

How can the conservative-traditionalist orientation deny that the omniscient one spoke volumes through his silence. You will also note that proscriptions of gay sexuality escaped the ten commandments.

Blessings,

John S. Morgan


CXXXI - John Writes David

David Virtue,

In your recent issue of Virtuosity you say: "We may find that, with time, religion, and the hatred of Israel and America's support for the Zionist State will also be major factors.

You are certainly right!

It has been OVER two weeks since the awful terrorist attack against the United States at the World Trade Center. We the people have been expressing our sympathy and support for the survivors. This is appropriate. The attack is inexcusable. The guilty must be punished.

But it is now time to do something that NOBODY in the media seems to want to touch. We must ask the question: "Why do they hate us?" We must ask the culture out of which the terrorists have risen that very question. I think we will find that, as you say, the hatred of Israel and America's support for the Zionist State will also be major factors. Is our fear of asking this question, in reality, the third rail of politics? Are we afraid to deal with the answers? If we do not face these questions will terrorism NOT continue unabated?

The terrorists have the most extreme reasons for hating us; some of these are the loathings found in right wing religious fanaticism - they can be as silly as the fact that we allow our women to expose their ankles. Nevertheless these extremists take their clues from their society at large - they are an extension of it. They hate along with their society.

The vast Arabian people hate us because we have plopped a state smack down in the middle of their land. That state has expelled the non-Jewish Semites, indigenous there, from their homes. The United States has supported this state in all her actions both right and wrong, moral and immoral.

Now it is true that our ancestors did much the same thing in our taking over the land of our Native Americans, killing them, breaking treaties with them, and reducing their populations to reservations where we cheated them again. This was self-excused because they were savages. And it was a long time ago. It took us ages to admit then accept our guilt.

The Palestinians are alive today and very, very angry. They have not obtained suitable redress of grievance; they see Apache helicopters, marked USA, firing weapons into their territories; but they have tools and friends that our Native Americans did not. At one time the USA could work her arrogant will with impunity. Natives of these foreign lands have oil and money.

It seems almost unbelievable to me, David, that the very people who were kicked out of their homes by Hitler and forced to move to ghettos would allow their state to do the same things to others.

In my memory, the vote in the United Nations has been, on a few occasions, the entire world against Israel, with the USA abstaining. As I think back over these dim memories, I now ask myself, independent of the specific issue, how often is the whole world wrong. Canada? Great Britain? Spain? Australia? China? Russia? France? Italy? All of them?

We can criticize England when she is wrong. We can criticize most countries when they are wrong. Why cannot one criticize Israel when she is wrong without being called anti-Jewish? Our uncritical support of this country when right or when wrong has created most of our problems with the Arab world.

Before World War II we had good relations with the Arabian People. Since then, especially during the cold war, our country has seen fit to make alliance with any nation as long as they were anti Soviet. Many of the Afghans were given training by the US in skills that could become very suitable for terroristic activities. We wanted Russia to have her Vietnam. Then too, the Shaw of Iran, the puppet we installed, ran a torture chamber to impose his will.

David, we need to hear young Arabs on our TV tell us why they hate us. Do you think we will see that anytime soon? Why even Americans are afraid to discuss the real reasons. Are the networks afraid of their Jewish viewers? Of their fellow Jewish employees? Shareholders? Do they really think a Jewish American would want to see anyone kicked out of his/her home? Do they really think Jewish Americans have fragile egos or would support any country right or wrong?

At one time, the Vice President of the US was spat upon as he visited South America. Too many South Americans hated us. President Kennedy couldn't get through a speech at a University south of the border without constant jeers. He then asked the question: "Why do they hate us?" He listened and the ‘Alliance For Progress’ turned much of that hatred around. He didn't conclude: "Well - they just don't like our values."

Hatred can be turned around! First we must admit our complicity in the cause of that hatred. Then we must expect our leaders to deal with the problem. We never will turn our politicians around until we stop being afraid to discuss the subject.

  1. Jerusalem needs to be an independent world city. A variety of monotheistic religions have holy ground there. They all have buildings and holy tradition there.

  2. The Palestinians must have a secure homeland with dignity.

  3. The USA must be evenhanded and just with all nations.

Blessings,

John S. Morgan


CXXXII - David Writes John

we must certainly face the hatred. The how and with what is the question

D


CXXXIII - John Writes David

David Virtue,

In your recent issue if Virtousity you said "The spiritual impact this outrage has caused is also something to behold. Churches are holding midweek services with thousands cramming the aisles that would otherwise remain empty till Sunday morning. Jesus is in, pluriformity is out.

Whatever do you mean by: "Jesus is in, pluriformity is out?"

People have been attending prayer services of rememberance of those lost in the World Trade Center. Irrespective of how they might view abortion, erotic literature or homosexuality, they are anxious to follow the wishes outlined by Jesus in the second of his two great commandments and are not only praying but giving from the depth of their pocketbooks. In that sense religious activity has increased. That is most appropriate. Is their something about this tragedy that would likely change ones world view about Jesus?

I myself was returning from my daily custom of holy communion in my parish church on my electric wheelchair that ill fated Tuesday morning only to learn that the Trade Center had been attacked. But my views of Jesus remained the same before and since.

As I reminded Pat Robertson with this note a few days ago, there are others who pray and with a lot more regularity than many Christians. Robertson's view of God is of a god who would inspire indiscriminate attacks at all the innocents in the World Trade Center but would be appeased and purr like a kitty cat and extend his protection if people would only pray.

The more rational view is that these terroristic acts had their roots in how we treat our neighbors and that a protection against future attacks might be found in our treating other countries justly. Repentance is more indicated than prayer. Pat Robertson, despite what he says, I suspect would rather protect himself by armaments than prayer.

The note read:

Pat Robertson,

I was very much impressed today watching the 700 club when I saw the massive prayer shield, as evidenced by the thousands of pin heads on the map, that you have erected across the USA.

We know that the American Christian tends to pray mostly for an hour on Sunday. Moslems pray five times a day every day. Do you suppose we might combine the two prayer shields. After all, in the prayer shield war, their shield might be larger and more potent than ours.

Don't you suppose God would be more pleased if we corrected those injustices we have wrought that make others want to hate us?

Blessings,

John S. Morgan


CXXXIV - David Writes John

I will be writing about this shortly

D


CXXXV - John Writes David

David Virtue,

In your latest issue of Virtuosity you extensively and variously commented on the gay community.

The passage that elicited a great number of comments on the Integrity Listserver was: "But do you think that stops the likes of the Rev. Michael Hopkins, priest and Integrity president from making sure that the next bishop allows him to go on screwing his lover with impunity? Of course it does. He and his cronies want to load the dice at the outset so no one remotely evangelical has a prayer of becoming the next Bishop of Washington. If such a person were ever elected they would clean house in a moment and all these wifters would be out selling men's underwear at Macy's. ‘I think you'll look divine in a thong Smedley.’"

I have never seen such a flurry of comments on one of your issues of Virtuosity from the members of the Lightspeed listserver. I thought I would share a few excerpts from the letters with you:

  1. How astoundingly hateful!

  2. Any one who spends this much time fantasizing about how his "favorite" priests look in a thong or about having sex with the Integrity leadership is obviously far from strictly hetero.

  3. "Pathetic" is the understatement of the year!!!!!!!!!!! This man has a lot to learn of Christ Jesus' teachings and love. It seems he would much more wish to follow Lucifer than to follow Jesus!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I haven't contributed much to this list since I've been on it, being content to be a lurker and enjoy the conversation. But the incredibly smarmy words of Virtue just won't allow me to keep quiet.

  5. Specifically your comment, "…these wifters would be out selling men's underwear at Macy's. ‘I think you'll look divine in a thong Smedley’" prompted this: He has absolutely NO idea what he reveals about himself when he does this, does he?

  6. 'SCUSE ME???
    If one is using the word "Evangelical" in its broadest sense (rather than with the right-wing, fundamentalist slant that many try to impose on it these days), since when -- since WHEN -- does being an Evangelical preclude bring both (a) GLBT and (b) quite capable of proclaiming the Good News? Technically, anyone who likes to preach -- regardless of other credentials -- qualifies as an Evangelical.

  7. Oh dear! Michael, I didn't realize that you and John were that informal with the details of your lives with David Virtue--or is this just another example of his "Gee, I think he doth protest too much" imagination. But seriously; How crude! and rude!

  8. "Orthodoxy is _my_ doxie, thundered the old man" "Heterodoxy is _your_ doxie."

  9. This Virtue is a real piece of work...and I thought Kansas has problems with Phred Phelps!

  10. David Virtue really puts the "fun" in fundamentalism.

David, a couple of those comments may need explanation.

We all on the Integrity Listserver assume that since you are a Christian and an Episcopalian and that since you speak openly against homosexuality that you have carefully researched both sides of the issue. Of course, it is hard for us to realize that there are those who have apparently researched the issues and still remain unconvinced, in view of the fact that so many have examined these deep seated issues and changed their minds and massively so across all denominational lines.

But to one very outspoken on these issues, there seem to be some things about homosexuals of which you are unaware:

Blessings,

John S. Morgan


CXXXVI - David Writes John

I probably went over the top on this one John. I had a snootful from someone who just got under my skin. It was not a very thoughtful comment.

I do think the issue of can and cannot be elected a bishop is a valid one and I think it is wrong to proscribe evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics from becoming the next bishop on Washington.

All blessings,

David


CXXXVII - John Writes David

David Virtue,

Sometimes when the rhetoric of the self proclaimed traditionalists gets hot, we are given the impression that one cannot be an Anglo-Catholic and approve of women priests at the same time.

The Church of Saint Luke in the Fields, in New York City, is a living example of how false that is. They were among the first to embrace both Anglo-Catholic liturgy and the ordination of women clergy.

On the Internet site of Saint Luke’s we find:

"The parish was one of the first in the United States to embrace the Anglo-Catholic revival in the mid-nineteenth century. This commitment to Catholic liturgy, rooted in strong congregational participation, has been continuous for over 150 years. Several parishioners helped shape both the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and the 1982 Hymnal, and women clergy have had a central role in the leadership of the parish since ordination in the Episcopal Church was first opened to women in 1976. The parish continues to deepen and enhance the best traditions of Anglo-Catholic worship and witness in a time of uncertainty and change."

Blessings,

John S. Morgan


CXXXVIII - David Writes John

Thanks John for this. I was not aware of St. Luke's. Oddly enough I am finding more quite traditional Episcopalian/Anglicans who are NOT opposed to women's ordination as I myself am not. Strange church indeed.

David


CXXXIX - John Writes David

David Virtue,

Results of a very large scale survey reveal surprising trends in ECUSA over the past TEN years:

  1. For those 65 and older we are growing MUCH faster than the population.

  2. Among women we are growing faster than the population.

  3. We are losing significant ground in the male population.

  4. We are losing VERY BADLY in the aged 18-30 set.

For data and analysis see: http://members.aol.com/taskforce2020/CUNYsummary.htm

If I were to paraphrase their summary, I would say:

We are popular with the old because people prefer priests plus or minus five years of their own age. We attract women not only because of women's ordination but because women are found in leadership positions in the church. The young tend to believe in diversity and fair play for all and are turned off with the disparagement of gays.

Blessings,

John S. Morgan


CXXXX - David Writes John

Thanks John for this as well.

David


CXXXXI - John Writes David

[Two successive letters were sent to David and are recorded elsewhere on my site as an essay. You can retrieve this essay by clicking on: Plausibility of belief.]


CXXXXII - John Writes David

David Virtue:

In a very recent issue of Virtuosity I find an essay written by the very reverend Dr. Peter Moore, dean and president of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. The Essay begins with an analysis of a story by C. S. Lewis and is summarized thusly:

"In this analysis of the structure of sin, Lewis gives us a parable. It is not about homosexuality or heterosexuality. It is about God's summons to joy, to healing and wholeness, and the many reasons why people like you and me prefer to hold onto a past that is slowly destroying us."

The subject of the essay is homosexuality and he sets the stage for his discussion when he says:

"Presumably, we all believe that certain forms of sexual behavior are sin. Fathers should not have sex with their daughters, brothers should not have sex with their sisters, shepherds should not have sex with their lambs, nor husbands with the wives of their best friends. Most of us don't believe that our teen aged daughters should have sex with our neighbor's teen-aged sons."

I am gratified that he admits there are many and divergent opinions when it comes to homosexuality:

"But what of homosexuality? Here we are divided. Some would say that all homosexual relations are good, as long as they are mutual, and not abusive, risk-taking, or promiscuous. Others would not go that far, but say that lifelong, committed, monogamous homosexual relations are good. Still others would say that homosexual relations are fundamentally disordered, but must be tolerated in the Church and in society. And still others would say that under all circumstances homosexual relations are contrary to God's will for us. I'm in this latter group; but not perhaps for the reasons that some might suppose."

I also appreciating his admission:

"…not all people who come to the conclusion I have come to, read the Bible exactly as I do. There are Fundamentalists for whom the issue is settled by a verse or two, perhaps taken out of context. There are traditionalists who put Scripture and Tradition on the same level. For them, natural law often come into play. There are some who take a canonical approach to the Bible, and read it through the eyes of the historical community in which it has been received. There are some who read the Bible with a much more liberal attitude than I might have. Some of them have ended up at the same place as I. And, of course, there are some outside the Christian tradition completely, Jews for example, who bring their own historical perspective to bear and come to the same conclusion also."

"Bearing these two caveats in mind, then, how does the Bible speak to the issue of homosexuality?

The classical texts are Genesis 19 (Sodom and Gomorrah); Judges 19 (the rape of the Levite's concubine); Leviticus 18 and 20 (the Holiness Code); Romans 1; I Corinthians 6; and I Timothy 1."

Yes, in all the books of scripture, we find only a handful of verses that might be called gay-negative. And yes, these are found in the old testament in Leviticus in the holiness code.

We also find in the Bible scattered throughout the books of Samuel the following story:

So Jonathan and David made a solemn compact because each loved the other as dearly as himself.
Jonathan pledged himself afresh to David because of his love for him, for he loved him as himself.
...the Lord stand witness between us forever to the pledges we have exchanged.
Then they kissed one another and shed tears together…
O Jonathan, laid low in death!
I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother;
dear and delightful you were to me;
your love for me was wonderful,
surpassing the love of women.

Of course, we usually hear the traditionalists say: "They couldn't have meant THAT." or "There is no evidence of a sexual component." Its kinda funny how they blush when the story is mentioned. Someone must think they had sex.

The story of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis, if Jesus is to be believed, and if one simply reads the story without preconceptions is not ABOUT homosexuality. It is about breach of hospitality. "True, homosexual rape is incidentally mentioned, but the story’s moral is no more about homosexuality than it is about a "good man" who is willing to have his daughters raped. [Which a superficial reading might suggest.]

Yes, in all the books of scripture, we find only a handful of verses that might be called gay-negative. And yes, these conjectures of Paul are found in the New Testament in Romans 1; I Corinthians 6; and I Timothy 1.

Fortunately Paul tells us why he thought homosexual activity wrong. He stipulated that it was against nature.

Dean Moore says, "But my reading of Paul, especially in Romans 1, where homosexuality and lesbianism are stated to be ‘against nature,’ shows that Paul believed same-sex intercourse to be against God's creative plan. The ‘nature’ Paul speaks of is not our natural inclinations, but the nature of how we are made, of how we ought to be."

Of course Paul believed same-sex intercourse not to be a component of God's creative plan. Same-sex intercourse is not a part of anybody's creative plan. But people do a lot in life besides perpetuate the species. There is art and literature and .....

If Paul is interpreting the word "nature," according to Dr. Moore's reading, as "the nature of how we are made, of how we ought to be" then this ought to apply to the animal world in general. Science has demonstrated that it does not. Are these animals acting somehow how they ought not to be?

The book Biological Exuberance has shown that homosexual behavior is part of the animal world. Paul is just as wrong here as all the Episcopalian women I see in church on Sunday morning think he was wrong about women covering their hair in church.

The Dean continues: "Marriage was to be the context in which sex found its fulfillment."

Marriage was primarily about property rights in the Old Testament; while Solomon had only 300 wives he had 700 concubines.

Genesis contains one of the many origin myths typical of those found in most civilizations used to explain where things came from. Biblical researchers tell us that the creation story really consists of two [incompatible] separate stories which later got edited together in one ‘book’. Genesis is also rich in moral allegory. But it is not a sex manual nor does it cover every conceivable sexual coupling.

Marriage is more than the mere context in which sex finds its fulfillment. Genesis is NOT a marriage manual and doesn't discuss all the posssible options for marriage. When the orthodox church developed a separate kind of liturgical service intended for older adults who wanted to marry AFTER childbearing age they did not get their inspiration from Genesis. It WAS NOT a procreation scenario. They were not frustrated in creating such ceremonies, popular over the centuries, because their was no MENTION of their possibility in Genesis. You may recall that the earliest of liturgical documents on Unions, contains FOUR ceremonies: A betrothal ceremony, first marriage, second marriage, and same-sex union.And all of these ceremonies are found in the church in official liturgical manuals, century after century.

The Dean continues: "Homosexuality was not to be tolerated, indeed it was particularly abhorrent. God had made woman for man, and man for woman."

The undercurrent of homophobia can’t be avoided in an aggressively patriarchal society. It boggles ones mind that same-sex sexuality was so rarely mentioned in scripture. While in ANY culture, God has made woman for man, and man for woman as the mechanism of sustaining the species, the taboo is being lifted on what was probably there all the time. There are men who prefer men and women who prefer women. Just because God made Adam and Eve does not mean that he did not create Adam and Steve!

Father Moore continues: "In Genesis 2, sex is so connected to our creative purpose, that marriage becomes the re-unifying of two different people, a man and a woman, neither of whom separately can reflect the image of God." … "The image of God is in our maleness and femaleness, according to Genesis 1:27."

Neither of whom separately can reflect the image of God? Much speculation can be found in the genesis myth; it is rich in allegory. What am I to tell my unmarried aunt? What am I to tell the Roman Catholic priests of the world: You guys do not reflect the image of God; you have to be married to do that. What shall I tell them about their ever-virgin Mary? That she does NOT reflect the image of God?

Steve and Adam [along with computers and TV sets and Automobiles and hay fever] are not mentioned in the creation myth because it is about ORIGINS!

Of course in the creation myth sex was connected to creative purpose. The creation myth was just that - a myth about origins. That is how you and I got here - through sex.

Dean Moore writes: "As one Old Testament scholar put it: ‘woman was created from the rib of man not to indicate submission. Rather, since the rib protects the essential organs of heart and lungs, and the muscles of the diaphragm, the rib can be seen as the bone that draws breath.’ Therefore, the creation of Eve establishes an ‘intimate, life-giving, and lively reciprocity between man and woman.’"

It is curious that he uses the creation myth to form his understanding of sexuality. Most Christians would regard the creation stories [both of the incompatible ones in Genesis 1 and 2] as mythological. Organic evolution brought our physical bodies to the present moment. What use is there to concoct a deep complementarity theory around an event which never happened?

I can understand one analyzing Genesis for its rich allegory but predicating an entire reciprocity theory and expecting people to apply it to their sex lives on an event which never happened is too much.

The Dean says not, but one could just as easily, perhaps more so, take the story to mean that woman was created from the rib of man to indicate submission. Why should we respect the "complimentarity theory" over the "submissive theory?" Both theories were predicated on a non-event.

"As for the classical texts," Dean Moore says, " I believe that in Genesis 19 where it says that the men of Sodom wanted ‘to know’ Lot's visitors, it refers to homosexual activity, and that the ‘abomination’ in Sodom, to which Genesis, Ezekiel (16:49-50), and Jude (7) refer, was not just a breach of hospitality, nor just an act of rape, but same-sex intercourse which was considered immoral."

There is a bit of puzzlement in this story. When Lott refused to turn his guests over to, as Dr. Moore would have it, same-sex intercourse which was considered immoral, why would this "good man" offer to substitute his daughters for intercourse which was considered immoral. I mean rape is rape! "Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them."

Lott sets the moral of the story when he says: "But don't do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof."

In the story Lott seems to offer his daughters. Taken as a historical event it would mean that a "good man" gave up his daughter to rape. But is this not a literary device of a story illustrating the point that: It is better for a man to offer up his daughters for rape than breach hospitality responsibilities to ones guests?

There is no doubt in my own mind that when Scripture said the men of Sodom wanted "to know" Lot's visitors, it refers to homosexual activity. On the other hand, the "abomination" in the story was a breach of hospitality. Jesus said that the sin of Sodom was the breach of hospitality.

The Dean says, "We're told that the two texts in the Leviticus Holiness Code don't apply to us any more because they forbid, among other things, sex during menstruation (15:24, 18:19), eating meat with blood, tattooing (19:28), and making cloth out of wool and cotton together (19:19) - things that were clearly ceremonial in nature."

One must remember that this primitive taboo brand of morality was attributed by these people to their god. It strains incredulity for modern man to suppose that the God of the universe was bent out of shape when he saw one mix carrots with radishes in the garden, eat rare steak, or consume shellfish.

Jesus was a little suspicious of the ancients claiming that all their various and sundry laws came directly from the mouth of God through Moses.

Once when speaking of Circumcision he said: " Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a child on the Sabbath. " JOHN 7:22

Dean Moore says, "But the moral law as a reflection of God's character, and a litmus test of human behavior, has always been part of our reading of Scripture."

I like his theme, "reflection of God's character." While Christians clearly no longer consider the mixing of threads as forbidden, would not those who consider themselves in relation with God TRY to respect his character and accommodate their behavior to his likes and dislikes. Would one who has a relationship with God then show up in church on Sunday morning in clothing that God abhors?

Clearly, Christians do not believe that their God ever was displeased with the mixing of threads or they wouldn’t show up in church wearing cotton-polyester shirts and suits. But in reality no one gives it a second's thought.

Just which of these ancient verses in the holiness code describe the so called ritualistic? Is the same sex prohibition counted 'moral' because of preconception or a cultural revulsion. In our culture our guts tell us that their is something not right about eating snakes or insects. But would one call this conscience or merely cultural revulsion? Hardly sin!

One can see why the early Christians were eager to dissociate themselves with a kind of primitive moral theory. One can understand the idea of separating the "ritualistic" from the "moral" as an expedient in divesting mankind from the strange and arbitrary demands of a taboo morality. But to the ancient peoples of the old testament, there probably wasn’t a dichotomy between ‘ritualistic" and "moral." All they knew is that their authorities had told them that certain things were sinful and others not. For them there was no consistent theory of morality; there were simply things that God wanted done and things he forbade. Which begs the question: Just which of these ancient verses in the holiness code describe the so called ritualistic?

The Dean says, "But I am impressed with the fact that there are many things in Leviticus that are not merely ceremonial, nor have only to do with ritual purity. For example, these same passages forbid incest, bestiality, stealing, lying, taking vengeance, defrauding hired servants, and using slander. Furthermore, it is in these same passages that we read we are ‘to love our neighbor as ourselves’ (19:18). Clearly these injunctions are part of the enduring moral law."

I would regard incest, bestiality, stealing, lying, taking vengeance, defrauding hired servants, and using slander as part of the enduring moral law.

He says, "So why should we not see the prohibitions against "lying with a man as with a woman" as part of that same enduring moral law?"

I would suggest two reasons:

Dean Moore says, "You were supposed to stone rebellious children, according to Deuteronomy 21:21 …You were supposed to kill those who performed same sex intercourse then…. there is no evidence that these severe punishments were actually carried out."

That may have been the case but, on the other hand Jesus halted a stoning of a women with his now famous "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone." Am I to really believe that these men picking up rocks were not intending to carry out their threat or that this event was some kind of aberration from the customs of the times?

The Dean says, "No, it would seem that the New Testament draws much of its opposition to same-sex intercourse from Leviticus, and Leviticus is itself was an expanded commentary on the Ten Commandments (with its prohibitions against idolatry, witchcraft, stealing, lying, adultery and incest)."

Was it a mere omission, an oversight, of God to leave out mention of fornication and prohibition of same-sex sexual activity from the ten commandments? Was it a mere omission of Jesus in the New Testament to never proscribe any form of same-sex sexual activity? .

"But my reading of Paul," says Dean Moore, "especially in Romans 1, where homosexuality and lesbianism are stated to be ‘against nature,’ shows that Paul believed same-sex intercourse to be against God's creative plan. The ‘nature’ Paul speaks of is not our natural inclinations, but the nature of how we are made, of how we ought to be."

"Both idolatry….and homosexuality….were contrary to the way things were created by God."

"And just as idolatry was a deliberate suppression of the truth available even to pagans, so too was same sex intercourse. Why? Because of the anatomical complementarity of male and female."

It is a straw dog to assume that the ancients thought that a statue was an actual deity any more than a Christian thinks that God lives inside of a crucifix. They likely worshipped the god represented by the object. How does it make sense in any way to assume a deliberate suppression of the truth; they were simply worshipping their god as the Jews were worshipping theirs.

Here the complimentary theory is carried one step further -- a deliberate suppression of the truth available even to pagans. I got news for all you hundreds of Christians who are members of the Temple of Hope in Dallas: You are deliberately suppressing the truth available even to pagans.

Dean Moore went on to quote, "’Robert Gagnon, a professor at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary whose recent study….argues that the male and female bodies are constructed in such a way as to give us clues to the complementarity God intended.’ This is a complementarity that enables procreation and the capacity for mutual and pleasurable stimulation. These clues make clear that neither the orifice for excreting waste products, nor the orifice for taking in food, are complimentary orifices for the male member. For Paul it was a commonsense observation of human anatomy and procreative function."

I doubt if it has escaped any human’s notice of the insertor and insertee nature of the human male and female; but in modern biology we know that their are both sexual and asexual ways of reproduction. How does one fashion a complementarily theory for asexual reproduction.

Nature has many and varied multiple uses for what one might consider sex organs. The flower equipped with organs for reproduction, is seen by the bees as sources of nectar for their food.

"The orifice for taking in food" has multiple uses. It is used for speaking, for example. When it is used for the heterosexual sexual activity of kissing, I envision more of a symmetrical than a complementary activity. I would assume the mouth, lips, and tongue, to be more or less similiar in both sexes. Is heterosexual kissing a violation of the complimentarity theory?

Red compliments green; Yellow is said to compliment blue is there more here than meets the eye? Can I still paint with red and blue? Yellow and green?

Dr. Moore says: "Arsenokoitai, literally ‘one who lies with men,’ was a neologism occurring only here and in I Timothy 1:10."

What he means to say is that Paul came up with a new word, Arsenokoitai, whose meaning the experts can only guess.

And…

"Malakoi, literally soft ones, seem to refer to the passive partners in homosexual intercourse - not as some have tried to make the word, a reference to prostituting males."

Here again he is saying by use of his word ‘seems’ that the New Testament scholars are not in agreement about what exactly Paul was saying.

Is it not curious that when trying to fashion a homosexual ethic from the New Testament, that the ONLY author who speaks on possible gay sexual activity selects two [out of three] ambivalent words - even invents one himself? He also seems to think that Idolatry is causative of homosexuality. Do you know of any modern author who would advance such an argument? And when he refers to the activity as against nature, one cannot pin down precisely what he means. Does he mean custom? Biological nature? Physical nature? Natural inclination? Or is it the nature of which the Dean speaks, "nature of how we are made, of how we ought to be?"

And from all this obscurity we are to extract a moral law that two individuals of the same sex cannot love one another? Hey you two young men there burning with passion, tie your privy members in a knot and never use them your lifetime through because someone has fashioned a sexual ethic out of the obscurity of Paul. Then too, your sex organs are similiar - not complimentary.

In summarizing Paul Dean Moore Says: "But why was Paul so adamant about this? Not just because he tied sex to procreation. Nor just because he found sex, or homosexuality, unclean, nor just because in the ancient world it was often exploitative, or connected with idolatry. But rather Paul rejected homosexuality because it turned males into females, violating the male-female anatomical complementarity. Furthermore, it went against both the creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2, and the Levitical prohibitions."

I too would like to summarize Paul:

  1. If Paul were expecting the end times very soon, why would he be much concerned with procreation?

  2. Paul likely thought certain aspects of sex unclean. He was still viscerally attached to the purity code taboos.

  3. Paul did have the novel idea that Idolatry was causative of homosexuality. [I have often wondered how the Jews who worshipped the golden calf while Moses was bring them the first set of the ten commandments were able to continue the race if they had all been converted into homosexuals.]

  4. Homosexuality did not turn males into females in Paul’s day anymore than it does today. The term ‘out of the closet’ is of use precisely because homosexuals are in all outward manifestations identical to their heterosexual neighbors.

  5. Homosexual activity may indeed violate the male-female anatomical complementarity. Big deal. There are so many more dimensions to sexuality. Perhaps one might assert the similarity principle and accuse heterosexuals of violating it.

  6. Homosexuality does NOT go against both the creation stories in Genesis 1 and 2. It COMPLEMENTS them so to speak. Genesis creation myths try to answer the question of where it all came from. Humans come from other humans. Humans do a lot more than make other humans. All human activities are not discussed in genesis.

  7. Yes - homosexual activity [for males] does violate Levitical prohibitions. But so does mixing garden seeds, cross breeding animals, mixing threads, eating pork, eating shelfish. Only ONE of these activities titillates traditionalists.

Dean Moore says, "What about Jesus? Some take comfort in the fact that Jesus never seemed to mention homosexuality."

Yes they do. And I might mention that Jesus did not mention homosexuality as the sin of Sodom but he did specifically say their sin was the violation of hospitality.

The Dean writes: "Then there's the logical argument: if you throw out some of the Old Testament's sexual prohibitions, such as those on homosexuality, are you left with any firm basis for rejecting the other things the Old Testament prohibits? Like incest, adultery, bestiality, polygamy, paedophilia."

There are reasonably firm reasons for rejecting:

The Dean quotes his opposition: "…how can we say that homosexuality is wrong if some people are born that way?" "….earlier efforts to discover a gay gene have foundered on the hard rocks of statistics."

It makes little difference if homosexuals were born that way or as most of my fellow gays tell me, that they were homosexual as far back as they can remember. In either case the orientation can be considered innate.

He says: "Moreover, some people are born with a predisposition for anger, or violent behavior, or alcoholism. Does this mean that they have no need to bring these unruly emotions under self-control…"

No! Sexuality can also be abused.

The Dean Says: "The harm that homosexuals do is multi-leveled. There is the physical harm that is done to the human body that is not made for anal sex. Study after study demonstrates the medical problems associated with this activity.

Even if true, all gay men are not interested in anal sex. Some [just like some heterosexuals] would prefer oral sex others mutual masturbation.

He says: "Life expectancy is seriously shortened, and the rising incidence of AIDS indicates that high risk behavior is once again becoming popular in large sections of the gay community."

Yes, in the homosexual or heterosexual exchange of bodily fluids, diseases can also be transmitted.

And is this not an equally valid statement: "Life expectancy is seriously shortened, and the rising incidence of AIDS indicates that high risk behavior is popular in large sections of the AFRICAN HETEROSEXUAL community."

He says: "Moreover, there is little indication that homosexuals are monogamous, or even want to be."

Couldn’t one just as easily say: "Moreover, there is little indication that heterosexuals are monogamous, or even want to be.

Here the operative word is men. In the popular mythology it is the woman who wants marriage; it is the male who resists. The male animal tends toward the promiscuous. It is not the fact that homosexuals are promiscuous it is the fact that MEN are promiscuous.

Yet we see in the churches the striving for rites of same-sex unions. If it were the heterosexuals crying for such unions the traditionalists would be saying, "See it must be of God else why would these promiscuous animals crave an institution of life long monogamy."

He says: "In America 80% of all men and 90% of all women had only one sexual partner in the preceding year, and 75% of all men and 85% of all women had never had an extramarital affair…"

What does that demonstrate?

That in America 20% of all men and 10% of all women had more than one sexual partner in the preceding year, and 25% of all men and 15% of all women have had at least one extramarital affair?

He writes: "…men need to be socialized into enduring, monogamous relationships."

Yes!

He says: "Men are easily stimulated and aroused. They need a caring relationship with a woman to bring what is so often an unruly sexual drive into a socially constructive pattern."

Support by the churches might go a long way in bringing what is so often an unruly sexual drive into a socially constructive pattern.

HE says: "…what about healing for the homosexual?" "….Some homosexuals who are highly motivated to change have done so."

Yes! There is such a phenomena as Bisexuality.

The reverend Moore finally says: "Far too many homosexuals have lived in fear, and know irrational rejection and hatred, including self-hatred. The church needs to minister to them. They need the gospel, and frequently respond to the gospel…. But love involves more than tolerance and acceptance. It involves the kind of deep ministry that will help people of whatever sexual orientation come to terms with the unruly emotions that surround our sexual impulses. It involves caring enough to help people work through the brokenness of past hurts and failures, and to seek the healing that Christ gives. It involves confronting the self-pity that refuses help, and it involves inviting people to experience joy."

Who can argue with that?

Blessings,

John S. Morgan




CXXXXIII - John Writes David

David Virtue,

Your latest Virtuosity carries an article by Nicola Byrne of The Guardian; she writes:

A church of Ireland rector who does not believe in Christmas or that Jesus was the Son of God has said he will consider challenging his suspension from clerical duties.

The Very Rev Andrew Furlong, Dean of Clonmacnoise and Rector of Trim, said he has held his unorthodox views for more than 30 years and 'by and large' they have not interfered with him carrying out his duties. Furlong added: 'I'm aware that what I'm saying challenges the heart of the Gospel, but there has to be room for diversity in all religions. If they decide not to renew my licence, I can challenge them or go quietly.'

He said the majority of his parishioners were initially 'shocked' on hearing of his unconventional take on Christianity. But he said a small proportion of his flock knew what his real thinking was, as they had expressed doubts to him.

Since his views became public via his website, Furlong said he had received many messages of support, from both laity and clergy in the Church of England.

I think reverend Furlong holds a position similar to the Evangelist Mark.

Mark was more of a reporter and biographer than an advocate for a cause. His view of Jesus is more human than that of Luke or Matthew. You might say Mark depicts a Jesus with warts.

In Mark’s view, Jesus may indeed have been the messiah and the son of God, [Are we not all sons of God?] but NOT God the son - that doctrine evolved in the church much later.

Mark is not reluctant to have Jesus show strong emotion. He shows us a Jesus who sometimes fails in his endeavors and accuses his disciples as being dimwitted and dense. Jesus was portrayed as someone who expected to see a fig tree bear fruit out of season and then he got mad at the tree and cursed it when it didn’t.

Mark has depicted some of the techniques in the miracles of Jesus as similar to those of other faith healers of his time. Mark’s Jesus sometimes does no mighty work because he can’t -- not because he chooses not to. Although great powers flow through him, Jesus is pictured neither as omnipotent, nor as omniscient in Mark. On his home turf his relatives announced that they thought Jesus was out of his mind. Mark knows nothing about a virgin birth and lists Jesus’ occupation as carpenter.

Having written at a time closer to the time of Jesus, Mark had a less exaulted view of Jesus than Matthew or Luke, who depended on him for much of their material. Mark thought of Jesus as the Anointed One, the Messiah, son of God but not God the Son.

Certainly the Reverend has an "unconventional take on Christianity." We can think of The Very Rev Andrew Furlong as a Markian Christian.

David, I would be interested in visiting his website. Do you have the address?

Blessings,

John S. Morgan




CXXXXIV - John Writes David

David Virtue,

The Easter 11:15 AM service was glorious at my Anglo-Catholic parish church. The church overflowed with those who rarely attend. Chairs were added to the isles after the procession such that the nave looked like a solid mass of church attenders.

Such a contrast with what was broadcast over the Sunday morning news shows that very day. The news was filled with stories about the Israeli siege of Yasir Arafat's headquarters replete with tanks bearing, I assume, the inscription "Made in America." Can one really wonder why Arabs and Palestinians hate us? Do we really share no responsibility for September 11?

The story of the siege shared the airwaves with the story of the sexual scandals in the Roman Catholic Church. I caught one session involving several Roman Catholic clerics.

You know David, that when I was a youth, I was a Roman Catholic and attended a good cross section of Parochial schools. My parents moved a lot. I must have attended five grade schools all taught by nuns. I attended three high schools. In two of these, I had religious brothers and priests as educators. My second year was in a Jesuit institution where I was taught by young men on their way to the priesthood. The school handbook there said: "A gentleman is seen nowhere except on a public playground without his coat and tie." And they enforced that.

I must say that in all of those encounters, through all those years, I never met a priest, brother, or nun who was not a wholesome model of the image of Christ. There was never even the appearance of sexual impropriety. The education was also first rate.

The theology had a rather severe bent. The old Baltimore Catechism assured us that all sexual sins of desire were mortal - the kind, we were assured, that doomed the soul to an eternity of torture. And what healthy young teenaged male would not have had sex on his mind most of the time - wishing in his imagination to be in bed with the nearest available conquest? But confession could change that fate in a minute redirecting the soul to an eternity of bliss in the twinkling of an eye.

I suppose impure desire could alternate with confession several times a day putting the heavenly book keepers in a tither - sending out stop orders alternately to the gates of paradise and the gates of hell. Do you really think they had a true image of what God might be like?

Only for about a semester, did I attend a public school. This was when we resided in a small town where a Catholic school was unavailable. I must have been in about the sixth grade. The education was second rate. I thought at the time that the school kids were on the whole very wicked. Before class each morning, in the classroom, one girl would ask me: "How is your old thing a hanging? "How is it flopping?" The sexes were mixed, and at recess we would often play "sex tag." Sex tag was like the regular school kid game of tag except that only tags on sexual parts of the body were valid - breast, butt or crotch. We never did that sort of thing in Catholic school.

But this Sunday, on national television, I was also startled to hear Roman Catholic prelates announce that research indicates that one-third to one-half of Catholic Priests are homosexual by orientation.

I find it ironic that an institution that has been so hostile to gays, theologically and in every other way, is filled with them. Surely such arrangements put severe strains on mental health.

Church folks tend to get wrapped up in saying things like: I had a calling to the priesthood; instead of saying: I decided to become a priest. All I can say is that if God called all these men to be priests, he has a special love for gay folks. He must have a real affinity with what the Roman Catholic Church calls the "intrinsically disordered." I guess a lot has changed from the days of Deuteronomy when God was outraged with a priest bearing a mere blemish.

Perhaps reverend Phelps needs to change his signs from "GOD HATES FAGS' to "GOD LOVES QUEERS."

The program pointed out that, unlike the general population where Pedophilia is a crime somewhat more against little girls than little boys, the estimated 4% of priests involved seem to be mostly interested in males. Unfortunately, as the prelates narrated, the church is getting more bad press than it deserves because most of these priests are not true pedophiles. Pedophilia is defined as sexual interest in children. But only about one-third of them are have sexual encounters with children; about two-thirds of them have sexual encounters with youngsters past puberty.

Incidentally, the gay community tells me that when the under aged are involved in sexual encounters, it is often the young one who is the seducer.

In an institution that considers homosexuality such an evil why would a bishop relocate a "sex offender" to another location where he would have the same kinds of temptations and opportunities. If homosexual acts of any kind so endanger ones eternal fate why were these children cast in harms way. Must there not be some kind of connect between belief and action?

One of the self proclaimed marks of the Roman Catholic Church is: Holy

But then the Holy Land is holy too - full of gunshot.

Perhaps some good will come from all this. If the Roman Catholic Church should decide to abandon required celibacy for her Latin Rite priests, as she has done for her other Rites, [and for those Anglican priest converts] she might be awash in family oriented priests. A renewal of growth in Catholic Education might put some discipline in toady's apathetic youth.

Blessings,

John S. Morgan




CXXXXV - David Writes John

Lots to respond too here John. Not much time.

You are right about Phelps.

The RC's are taking it heavily because they concealed and hid pedophile priests.

Not much connection between homosexuality and pedophilia I can find.

Glad your Easter service went well.

I will be doing a long piece on the ME. this week.

David




CXXXXVI - John Writes David

David Virtue,

The homepage for Virtuosity has an extremely pleasant appearance. The section entitled "David's Hot Potatoes" and the accompanying graphic is both humorous and eye catching.

One of the articles in the "Hot Potatoes" section entitled "HOMOSEXUALLY ABUSED FRANCISCAN FRIAR COMMITS SUICIDE" is certainly relevant considering the scandals going on in the Roman Catholic Church.

I still find it incredulous, as I have mentioned previously in our dialog, that an ADULT man could be seduced into homosexuality. Accordingly to Virtuosity he was a 37 year old single male when he had this sex with another male for a year. I would call this consent rather than abuse.

At morning Eucharist today, Thursday, we read Psalm eight. It starts out, "O Lord our Governor, how exalted is your Name in all the world." All in all, it is a most beautiful prayer. I am reminded of how the British call their boss Gov.

The Psalm marvels at how the creator of the universe should single out mankind:

"What is man that you should be mindful of him? the son of man that you should seek him out."
"You have made him little lower than the angels;you adorn him with glory and honor."
"You give him mastery over the works of your hands; you put all things under his feet."

The author uses that same term for a member of our species, son of man, that Jesus has applied to himself in the New Testament. He called himself that sixteen times in Matthew. In Matthew, Mark, and Luke he is referred to as the son of God by others seventeen times. But he does not refer to himself in this manner. As a contrast, in John's gospel, Jesus speaks frequently of his relationship with his father.

The only parts of Psalm eight that saddened me were the phrases: "mastery over the works" and "all things under his feet." The ancient author of Psalms lived in a culture where species were not disappearing at an alarming rate, where the planet was far from overpopulated, and the where results of pollution were not everywhere evident. Surely he would have used terms like "custodian over the works" and "all things under his responsibility" had he lived in our times.

Fortunately the church is slowly redacting his unfortunate choice of wording. The prayer, For the Conservation of Natural Resources, in the Book of Common Prayer says: "Almighty God, in giving us dominion over things on earth, you made us fellow workers in your creation; Give us wisdom and reverence so to use the resources of nature, that no one may suffer from our abuse of them..."

It is unfortunate that the Book of Psalms could not have been more divinely inspired at the time it was written

Custodianship would have been a better choice of words than mastery. [Or custodianship over the word dominion ascribed to God in Genesis.]

As I hear the Psalms read each morning in church, I have noticed that the author of Psalms has no belief of a future reward or existence of mankind beyond the grave. He expects the Lord will give him rewards in the here and now for his righteous behavior. The author is very thankful for what God has given him on earth and is filled with awe and reverence and praise for his creator.

Blessings,

John S. Morgan




CXXXXVII - John Writes David

David Virtue,

As I was rereading Genesis for the umpteenth time, I was startled to notice that in the creation stories, there are TWO different reasons listed for sex.

One of these accounts can be found in Genesis 1:27-28 where we read: "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it..."

Scholars tell us that this was the more recent account, [550-500 BC], written by the Elohist author(s).

The second creation story, the one in Genesis 2:18, the older [950 BC], by the Yawhist author(s), reads: "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an helper meet for him."

David, you will notice that while Genesis one stipulates that a purpose for sex is procreation, Genesis two claims that sex is created for companionship and as a remedy for loneliness.

In the earliest extant liturgical documents, from about the seventh century, one finds four prayers:

These mirror the four marriage ceremonies developed in the Orthodox Church. Betrothal was at one time a very important part of heterosexual marriage.

The Orthodox church eventually developed a second marriage ceremony. The first marriage ceremony [corresponding to the marriage ceremony in the Book of Common Prayer] is in its liturgy supported by collects and readings emphasizing procreation such as: be fruitful and multiply.

The second marriage ceremony, intended for those beyond childbearing years, uses collects and readings that reflect non-procreative intent such as Paul's great treatise on Love.

I did not, until today, realize how each of these great ceremonies of marriage parallel Genesis. First marriage parallels the purpose of Genesis One and Second marriage parallels the purposes of Genesis Two.

If companionship is a valid purpose for marriage as has been suggested by Genesis Two and by the Rite celebrated century after century by the Orthodox church, then the extension of this ceremony to same-sex unions [as has also been done for centuries] should be an easy one.

It is probably for that reason that the collects, litanies, and reading in the Orthodox second marriage ceremony are quite similar to the ones used in their same-sex union liturgies -- they both emphasize companionship and love rather than procreation.

Permit me to close with a short excerpt of same sex union that illustrates these points:

Serbian Slavonic Belgrade date uncertain before the eighteenth century:

The Order of Celebrating the Union of Two Men

i The priest shall place the right hand of the elder upon the holy Gospel and upon that of the younger....

iv Then shall the priest take the holy belt and tie it around them. And they that are to be joined...

v. ....accept Thou these Thy two servants, N and N., who love each other with a love of the spirit, and have desired to come into Thy holy church, and grant unto them faithfulness and true love....

vi. ....let them love each other without envy and without temptation all the days of their lives.....For these Thy servants [and] for their being joined unto each other, we beseech Thee, O Lord That the Lord our God unite them in love and inseparable life....

ix. ....and have not love, I am nothing.....love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.... [from 2nd Corinthians]

x. Behold, how good and how pleasant is for brethren to dwell together in unity...

xv. After the communion, he shall place a cross in the sanctuary and lead them around it. Then they shall bow three times. Then shall the priest sing with them.....visit this vine; And the place of the vineyard that Thy right hand hath planted.

xx. And he shall dismiss them.

Blessings,

John S. Morgan




CXXXXVIII - David Writes John

Dear John,

I would agree that the issue was not primarily for sex in Genesis that God gave Eve to Adam but companionship. Good point. Adam was alone, he needed a partner.

But the sexual matrix of male and female is also the issue. There was no male to male and therein lies the dilemma for contemporary homosexuals. This would be viewed as an aberration. The Israelites never accepted or proposed it and it was forbidden behavior.

David




CXXXXIX - John Writes David

David Virtue,

You are right when you say: "The sexual matrix of male and female is definitely the issue."

It is not surprising in ancient Jewish culture that: "There was no male to male..." The twin vices of homophobia and chauvinism go hand-in-hand in a macho dominated society. It was not a democracy; it is not as if all viewpoints were on the table. Then as in our times, homosexual orientation was in the minority.

Women were stoned for adultery. Can you imagine Leland at the dinner table saying: "Mom, I've got this beautiful boy I want to marry?" How could gay understandings come to holy writ when there was no constituency to articulate this minority viewpoint?

Behaviors, mores and outlooks have changed since the time of the Old Testament. Episcopalians today believe in a morality that has reasons to justify its precepts not one based on primitive taboos that arbitrarily made certain innocuous animals and actions taboo and others acceptable. Jesus himself stated that the goal of the prophets and law was to bring people to the love of God and mankind.

We know what Jesus thought of law that was counterproductive to this end: The Sabbath, he said, was made FOR man not man made for the Sabbath. Jesus violated such religious laws. Hey Jesus, Why do you heal on the Sabbath? Hey Jesus, How come your guys don't fast? Hey Jesus, you can't do that in the temple.

The book of Luke speaks of the theological machinations and justifications that were apparently necessary when the apostles wanted to overthrow circumcision and the dietary laws. [These restrictions, were not after all, as binding and eternal as the Jews had been led to believe.] Its a pity that it was not clear in what way homosexual proscription did or did not fall under the abandoned holiness code.

Today's Episcopal woman has voted with her feet over Paul's conjecture that women cover hair while in church. Surely David, you have seen this in your parish church as I have seen it over a few short years in mine. Theology was not debated nor was she justified in a dream. Perhaps it was that the Holy Spirit inspired her in some other manner. Chauvinism is falling. How soon will homophobia fall? It may be an unconscious attitude in many cases but nevertheless very real. There is more remaining of the visceral than the theological in homosexual proscription.

While as you say, "The Israelites never accepted or proposed it and it was forbidden behavior," attitudes in Christianity were in some pockets different.

The Roman Catholic Church as an organization has been huge and sometimes her right hand didn't know what her left hand was doing. Although at odds with her official magisterial position, there were centuries when rites of same-sex unions were to be found in her official liturgical manuals, apparently in her Greek [not Latin] rite.

The earliest extant liturgical document concerning marriage sets, side by side, prayers for betrothal, first Christian marriage, second Christian marriage, and same sex union. [Or more literally brother making.]

The sexual ambiguity of these rites have led some to assume that they were rites of brotherhood or rites to consecrate those sent out in missionary work. But they did not constitute clear stipulations of brotherhood nor were they similar to the conventional brotherhood contracts.

The ceremonies were always written for two. Were missionaries always sent out in pairs? I would assume that their lack of frankness was to avoid the hostility of the would be censor. But then again the heterosexual ceremonies were not abounding with prurient details. Nevertheless the same sex union ceremony has been used historically as a defacto marriage ceremony.

The second marriage ceremony, created by the Orthodox Church, is parallel in many ways to the same sex unions found in her liturgical manuscripts.

Yes, David, as you point out, "There was no male to male and therein lies the dilemma for contemporary homosexuals. This would be viewed as an aberration. The Israelites never accepted or proposed it and it was forbidden behavior."

But in the Christian Church there was clearly some support over the centuries to the extent that same sex union ceremonies were found in liturgical documents for both The Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

At a time when morality is seen more along the lines outlined by Jesus, can't the ancient proscription against same sex union go the way of circumcision and the dietary laws?

Blessings,

John S. Morgan




CL - John Writes David

David Virtue,

You say, The first General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church USA took place in Philadelphia in 1789. The then Presiding Bishop was the Rt. Rev. William White.

It was an auspicious beginning. The Episcopal Church was orthodox in faith and morals.....

I have been reading some church history lately. The early USA church might NOT have been as "orthodox" as you might suppose. There was a lot of Unitarian and Latitudinarian thought in the church then. It appears that throughout the history of the Episcopal church there was about as much controversy then as today. Controversy seems to go along with the territory. You would likely have been as irate over the church headed in a Unitatian direction at the time of the American Revolution as today's church accepting gay people in full inclusion.

The authors of our first prayer book left out the Nicene Creed and the Athanasian creed. When the book was sent to England for approval she insisted that the documents be restored. So much for orthodoxy. Do you know of any modern day revisionists who have a motion before general convention to cast the Nicene and Athanasian creeds from the prayerbook?

You say, This single priests' stance, and his refusal to draw any more lines in the sand, has forced a confrontation with the bishop as well as the current Presiding Bishop, Frank Griswold, and has drawn in several Primates of the worldwide Anglican Communion, thus bringing about the dismemberment of the once proud Episcopal Church USA.

In less than 11 days the Rev. Dr. David L. Moyer, rector, Church of the Good Shepherd will face deposition for daring to face down the apostate bishop in order to preserve his own soul and those of his parishioners. He has denied the bishop access to the pulpit (but not the pew) and has refused him the right to preach, perform confirmations and administer the sacraments.

Moyer said his dispute with Bennison goes beyond the particular issues of: homosexuality and women's ordination. He questions whether Bennison believes in such fundamentals of faith as the bodily resurrection of Jesus and the inerrancy of the Bible, and will permit him to visit only if he can affirm them.

"I mean, these are Sunday school questions,"

The inhibited priest wants to "preserve his own soul and those of his parishioners." He appears to have a special knowledge unavailable to his bishop. Do you suppose God talks directly to him and gives him special knowledge unavailable to the mind of the church in General Convention? Perhaps he would be more at home with one of the "continuing churches" - the one with the "true" doctrine - whichever one that might be.

How could a priest who has been to seminary believe in the "inerrancy" of the Bible?

The theory of Biblical inerrancy breaks down on careful scrutiny. If you put corresponding reports of the gospel evangelists side by side, it is easy to find contradictions of fact.

For example, while each of the evangelists record what is described as the last words of Jesus on the cross, three are in total conflict. There are four different renditions of the message placed above Jesus on the cross. Then too the bible contains egregious errors of science.

Didn't father Moyer have to read any of the New Testament while in seminary?

David, perhaps you should forward my essay "The Parable of the Error Free Book" to him.

As a simple example in the Old Testament we find an incredible mathematics error:

NKJV 2 Chronicles 4:2 says, "Then he made the Sea of cast bronze, ten cubits from one brim to the other; it was completely round. Its height was five cubits, and a line of thirty cubits measured its circumference"

1 Kings 7:23 says nearly the same thing.

Something described as a circle in shape with a diameter of 10 [in any units such as cubits, inches, etc.] would have a circumference of 31.4 not 30.

Wasn't father Moyer required to read any of the Old Testament while in seminary?

Did he fall asleep too often or cut class?

He apparently doesn't have a good grasp of the scriptures, having the untenable idea that they are error free, and he won't obey simple long standing Episcopal policies allowing his bishop to visit for confirmations. He invites schismatics in to do the job. I would say he has already given up being an Episcopalian.

The orthodox did not decry established procedures of due process in ECUSA as long as their take on theology was hegemonious.

You report in Virtuosity: The Bishop of Kansas, William E. Smalley is in deep trouble over his push to allow priests to bless same-sex couples. Not only has the Pluriform One Frank Griswold requested that he refrain from acting on his own in these acts (the Global South bishops are watching and are being informed by this scribbler) but Smalley is bringing the wrath of orthodox bishops down on his head. The Rt. Rev. Jack Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth has written a personal letter to Smalley condemning his stand. You can read that letter today.

The Bishop of Kansas, William E. Smalley, is simply setting up a framework to implement the decision of General Convention to support those monogamously committed for whom marriage is not reasonable or possible.

The whole western world seems to be recognizing how unjustly homosexuals have been treated in the past and they have been taking steps to remedy the situation. States have been dropping Sodomy laws and allowing same sex adoptions. Countries in the European Union do not discriminate against gays in their armed services. More and more companies are implementing domestic partner benefits. Television and movies are including homosexual characters more and more, and in positive roles.

Isn't it ironic that the church is the last to want to do something truly moral in this regard?

David, I also noticed in the current issue of Virtuosity an article from the Church Times about the recent meeting of a group of international bishops -- the working party of bishops set up by Dr Carey after the 1998 Lambeth Conference, to explore Anglican divisions over sexuality. They agreed, as your article pointed out, for the time being, to disagree on key issues."

I found this line as reported by the Church Times to be of paramount importance:

"...the bishops say that, in their conversations, they 'discovered again the importance of restraining our desire to persuade the other to agree with our position.'"

If this were the attitude broadly and generally agreed upon some time ago in most quarters of the church perhaps the AiMA could have been avoided.

Should not this keep other churches in the Anglican communion from meddling in the affairs of ECUSA?

Blessings,

John S. Morgan




NOTE: Return to select another set of email letters in dialogue with David Virtue.