CLXXVI - David Writes John

Dear John,

Don't have time to reply in detail but am happy to run your note as a LETTER TO THE EDITOR. Are U comfortable with that?


CLXXVII - John Writes David

David Virtue,

I want to thank Steve Hays for commenting on each and every item in my letter which you recently published in Virtuosity and I also would like to thank you for publishing my original letter which is so at odds with the general tenor of your digest.

I owe Mr. Hays a response to each of his concerns for the thoughtful and insightful attention he has given.

"1. Morgan's basic contention is that because the Church has liberalized in many other areas, it should, in all consistency, liberalize in the area of sodomy as well."

"But, of course, the Church has not liberalized. Rather, liberals have liberalized, while conservatives continue to read the Bible the way they've always read it. So his entire argument hangs on a question- begging premise, nailed to an empty abstraction."

Mr. Hays has hit the nail on the head when he said that conservatives continue to read the Bible the way they've always read it.

While a chauvinistic culture would expect a woman to cover her hair in church as mandated by Paul in the Bible, today's Episcopal woman will not live that way.

Had a woman shown up in an Episcopal Church 20 years ago without headgear, she would have been thought of by conservatives as committing a sin.

Today's conservative would not think of the absence of headgear as sinful but would supply some rationalization to himself, perhaps unconscious, why such activity had been correct all along. His mindset would not let him think that a Biblical passage had been reputed or that a concept so basic to Christian behavior had universally changed.

And that is the problem. Because if one reads the story of Sodom & Gomorra without a preconceived notion, one sees that it's moral has to do with the safeguarding of travelers under ones roof rather than any homosexual activity.

If one literally reads Paul without preconception, he will understand, along with our new archbishop of Canterbury, that heterosexuals going against their nature to indulge in homosexual activity is being condemned rather than all possible sexual activity natural to gays.

It is such a shame that while all the early New Testament Christians were busy divesting themselves of the provisions of the "purity code" no one thought to cast off the proscription of men lying with men.

"2. Morgan asks why Christians *assume* that sodomy is wrong. The answer is that Christians don't *assume* that sodomy is wrong. Rather, Christians *argue* that sodomy is wrong in book length exegetical and scientific studies."

Mr. Hays is correct when he says that "Christians don't assume that sodomy is wrong."

That is why at last general convention a resolution was passed which said:

"….there are currently couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in marriage and couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in other life-long committed relationships……we expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God….. we denounce promiscuity, exploitation and abusiveness in the relationships of any of our members….this Church intends to hold all its members accountable to these values, and will provide for them the prayerful support, encouragement and pastoral care necessary to live faithfully by them…."

There must have been a lot of moderates joining the liberals in passing this resolution. Such widespread consensus by clergy and lay alike from the far flung corners of America must represent the mind of our church.

While there may be some book length exegetical studies arguing that homosexuality is wrong, if we judge by the number of Christians across the denominations who have been changing their minds on homosexuality the arguments must be unconvincing.

There are no scientific studies showing anything wrong with homosexuality. In fact laws championed by the churches concerning same sex activity have been repealed; gays can serve openly in the armed services of the European Union; the American Psychological Association has changed its classification, and in some quarters gays can marry and serve in the clergy.

"3. Morgan wonders why Christians don't offer the same opposition to usury. The answer is that there is, as present, no lobby for the ordination of loan sharks."

The point is that there are any numbers of self-styled traditionalist groups that spend inordinate amounts of their time attacking gays but none taking on "loan sharks." Jesus was highly vocal about the poor and needy but said nothing about homosexuals. Do you not think that the priority of the traditionalists is misplaced?

"4. Morgan complains about the *flogging* of sodomites. To my knowledge, the only systematic flogging of sodomites is practiced by their fellow sodomites in S&M bars. So perhaps Mr. Morgan should consider redirecting his indignation to the heavy-leather set within his own subculture."

No, the conservative Christian can no longer demonstrate his great love of his homosexual neighbor by flogging him. Secular law simply does not permit that today. The word "faggot" comes from the times in antiquity when Christians used faggots or logs as the fuel to burn homosexuals at the stake.

While the line about flogging being found in S&M bars was humorous, one must note that such activity is not found in lesbian bars. The phenomena arises, albeit rarely, not because the participants are homosexual but because they are male. The preponderance of such activity on the Internet is heterosexual.

"5. Morgan complains that sodomites are denied equal opportunities. And he later draws attention to the Catholic sex scandal. But surely this is a test-case and showcase of what happens when sodomites *are* according equal opportunities."

Steve Hays may like sodomite as his favorite pejorative for homosexuals but I rather like faggot when I describe myself.

My Webster's Collegiate Dictionary defines the word sodomy to include not only copulation with the member of the same sex or with an animal but also non coital and especially anal or oral copulation with a member of the opposite sex.

Since the word sodomy is so inclusive, defining sexual behavior for the human and nonhuman and for the heterosexual as well as the homosexual, wouldn't Mr. Hays statement be more accurately phrased: "Morgan complains that homosexuals are denied equal opportunities." After all, I am not moaning about heterosexual equal opportunity or animal rights.

Does anyone deny that homosexuals are denied equal opportunities? The secular world has been busy redressing the grievances of gays: the problem of gays serving openly in the armed services, the problem of children abusing their gay classmates, the right to job security and housing.

In talking about the "test-case" in the Catholic sex scandal I might use the phrase "equal opportunity" but to a traditionalist surely these men were among the "called" by God.

"6. Morgan says that marriage is the foundation stone of civilization. Yes, and that is precisely why the institution of marriage must be defended against attack."

I find the word "attack" rather peculiar. Same sex unions offer no threat to the institution of marriage, the foundation stone of civilization. If anything they enhance it by extending the respect for monogamy, and providing an environment for the rearing of cast off children. I have never heard an articulate argument for how same sex unions might threaten heterosexual marriage.

Isn't it refreshing at a time when traditional heterosexual interest in marriage is on the wane, that homosexuals should implore their churches for such rites?

"7. Finally, a few illustrations call for specific comment:"

"i) Slavery. One can oppose race-based slavery (e.g., the Southern Institution) without opposing indentured service as a form of financial restitution (the OT). No reinterpretation is necessary."

Let us turn to our bible and read Numbers 31:9-11 and 17-18:

"The Israelites captured the Midianite women and children and took all the Midianite herds, flocks and goods as plunder. They burned all the towns where the Midianites had settled, as well as all their camps. They took all the plunder and spoils, including the people and animals,"

"Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man."

These individuals were not in indentured service; they did not willingly indenture themselves for a period of time.

Indeed, one can oppose race-based slavery; but many of the traditionalists in the American south did not. And they found support for slavery in the bible, as indeed they should have -- it was a given in the biblical literature. Saint Paul did not deplore the despicable sin of slavery, he merely asked us to be kind to our slaves.

It is paradoxically true that while the overarching themes of the Bible have led today's Christians to believe that slavery is gravely sinful, it is recognized as a given in the milieu of the Bible and not condemned by such luminaries as Paul. Would that all Christians could read between the lines.

If conservatives continue to read the Bible the way they've always read it, then they must support the practice of slavery.

"ii) Divorce/Remarriage. Many churches have always acknowledged that the innocent party is free to remarry in the event of infidelity or desertion. No reinterpretation is necessary. And no liberalization is warranted."

The Roman Catholic Church does NOT permit the innocent party to remarry in the event of infidelity or desertion. Is liberalization warranted here? Or don't all Traditionalists read the same bible? If they can't agree on this then what other fundamentals do they disagree on?

"iii) Birth-control. Since the pill and other such devices are the deliverance of modern science, this is not an issue of revising the traditional interpretation of Scripture, for there is no long-standing tradition on birth control, except opposition to abortion."

Mr. Hays could have fooled the bishops of Lambeth when he said there is no long-standing tradition on birth control. The Roman Catholic Church HAS one and the Anglican's HAD one. The bishops assembled in a Lambeth Conference resoundingly condemned birth control.

So I would assert this IS an issue of revising. If the long standing proscription of birth control can be revised, then what else? Surely these Anglicans thought they were interpreting the intentions of Scripture. They didn't get their condemnations "off the wall" or were merely dreaming up ways to make life difficult for women.

"iv) Paedocommunion. Many Christians continue to oppose this practice."

No comment.

Warmest Regards,

John S. Morgan

CLXXVIII - David Writes John

Dear John,

I am willing to go another round with you both. Easter blessings,


CLXXIX - Steve Writes John in Virtuosity

Reprinted With Permission of The Editor



(Final round)

John Morgan's reply is essentially a string of equivocations.

Morgan's original premise was that if the Church has revised her traditional position on other issues, then she should revise her position on sodomy as well. Now, I was answering Morgan on his own grounds. That doesn't necessarily commit me or others to his starting-point. One could say, for example, that tradition has been mistaken on certain issues without going to the irrational extreme of an all-or-nothing argument. That is a wild leap of logic. Rather, one would simply say that each issue must be judged on a case-by-case basis consistent with the original intent of Scripture.

2. Morgan's equivocates over the uniformity of tradition. Sometimes he plays one tradition off against another. But in that event, it's not necessarily a case of one church breaking with its own theological traditions, but rather a traditional division between rival theological traditions. You have continuity within a given theological tradition, and discontinuity between competing theological traditions.

3. For example, Morgan appeals to RC tradition. But Anglican tradition says that RC tradition has erred in matters of faith and morals (e.g., Article 19; cf. 11-14; 22,25,31). Hence, a traditional Anglican is not revising *his* (Anglican) tradition when he denies RC tradition. And the same thing could be said with reference to Lutherans, Presbyterians and Baptists.

4. Likewise, Anglican tradition distinguishes between the moral law, which is normative, and the ceremonial law, which is obsolete (Article 7). Hence, it is not inconsistent with Anglican tradition for an Anglican to regard the OT law as binding in some respects, but not others.

So, for example, Morgan brings up the status of POWs in holy war. But how we answer that question depends on where we think the moral law leaves off and the ceremonial law takes over, or vice versa. And however we come down on the specifics, merely to draw and apply such distinction does not represent a break with tradition, for that was a traditional distinction to begin with.

I would say that the NT is neutral on the issue because the NT is written from a pre-Constantinian standpoint. The Apostles were not revolutionaries. They were not public policy-makers. So the issue of how the state should deal with slavery never crops up in the occasional writings of the NT. There is no tradition to either keep or revise.

5. Morgan equivocates over the difference between traditional theology and a traditional reading of the *Bible*. One of the outstanding differences between the Protestant rule of faith and the Roman rule of faith is that the RCC denies sola Scriptura, whereas the Anglican Church affirms the sufficiency of Scripture (Article 6). Hence, differences between Catholic and Protestant theology are not reducible to differences over the interpretation of Scripture, but to whether there are multiples sources of theology.

6. To take another example of the above, the Bible has next to nothing to say on the subject of contraception. The only direct example involved a violation of Levirate common law (Gen 38:8-10), which is a special case. Hence, even if the Church had a traditional view in opposition to all forms of birth control, that would not, of itself, amount to a traditional interpretation of Scripture. Would Morgan care to document otherwise?

7. Morgan equivocates over the interpretation and authority of Scripture. Is this merely a difference of opinion over how we interpret the Bible? Or is this really an issue over the normative authority of Scripture? Is original intent binding or not?

8. Let us remember that it is not just the conservatives who interpret the Bible in a traditional way. Radical Bible scholars and outright unbelievers are often just as traditional or literal as any conservative. The dividing line is not over the interpretation of Scripture, but its inspired and abiding authority.

9. I don't need a scientific study to tell me that there are differences between men and women, or that men and women are made for each other in a way that men are not made for other men or women for women. All I need are the eyes that God has given me.

But in the Bible, God has given me an even better pair of eyes, which are his own eyes. For sodomy is consistently condemned under both Testaments.

10. If homosexual sex is just as natural as heterosexual sex, then why is it that the only safe sex is monogamous heterosexual sex whereas homosexual sex has always been, even before the advent of AIDS, a deadly and disease-ridden lifestyle?

11. Morgan equivocates over the issue of preconceptions. Let us not forget that the danger of preconceived notions applies with at least equal force to bodies like the EU and American Psychological Association. They have a preconceived political agenda to advance.

12. There is also a difference between Biblical and extra-Biblical preconceptions. There is nothing wrong with reading the Pentateuchal account of Sodom and Gomorrah in light of the Pentateuchal law regarding the (im-) moral status of homosexual conduct, as well as NT interpretations of the OT narrative (e.g., Jude 7).

13. Morgan equivocates over usury. Assuming that the Church is inconsistent on this issue, an inconsistency can be relieved in either of two directions. By implying that usury is unfair to the poor and needy, the logic of Morgan's premise would lead us to be even more traditional, and not less so.

14. Morgan equivocates over what constitutes a Biblical rationale. In 1 Cor 11 & 14, Paul gives a number of reasons for a certain dress code, viz., social mores, natural law, OT law, the creation mandates. It is not arbitrary or inconsistent to vest more weight in a creation mandate than a social more.

15. Traditional theology has never been limited to the teaching of Christ. Both because our Lord honored the OT, and because he authorized deputies to speak for him (Mt 10:40; Jn 13:20), traditional theology is founded on the entire canon of Scripture. So even if Christ were altogether silent on the subject of sodomy, that would be beside the point.

16. Yet Christ confirms the OT doctrine of marriage (Mt 19:4-6), which is naturally and essentially a heterosexual affair (Gen 1-2).

17. What traditionalist would ever say that sodomites have a divine vocation to Christian ministry? Is this another one of Morgan's equivocations? Is he talking about the squishy position of the Vatican? But this is no part of Protestant tradition. Yet I would be the first to admit that Sodomites do have a divine calling. God is calling them to repentance.

18. For Sodomites to raise cast-off children is to raise them in an inherently corrupt and corrupting environment where they lack exposure to natural and normal role-models of fatherhood and motherhood and spousal relations. What begins with domestic partnerships and *holy* same-sex unions only ends with NAMBLA and Gomorrah redux.

19. From a homosexual viewpoint, why would Sodomites want to marry? Why imitate straight culture? Why would Sodomites wish commit themselves to monogamous unions? Why adopt a heterosexual ideal?

The reason is not principled, but pragmatic. It is a way of gaining social approval and destroying the social institutions that naturally oppose sodomy by infiltrating them and imploding them from within. This is an incremental strategy and tactical ploy.

Steve Hays

CLXXX - John Writes David

David Virtue,

David if you are ready for a little chuckle, read the "Report of the committee on Marriage Problems" from Lambeth 1908 to find out that the grave immorality of birth control causes nervous enfeeblement and perhaps insanity and what a danger it is to recruit the race from inferior stock. Consequently "appliances" and "corruptive advertisements" should be prohibited by law.

Next read how the bishops of the 1908 Lambeth conference resoundingly condemned birth control. Less than 100 years later the bishops of the Lambeth Conference resoundingly condemned homosexual practice.

Are we to assume that their insight or advice has improved with time? Should we forget what they did in 1908? Who will notice that the size of the typical Episcopal Bishop's family is a very good deal smaller than a Roman Catholic family that is intimidated under penalty of everlasting torture to eschew birth control?

Have you heard a good sermon condemning birth control lately? Does your rector or bishop exert the whole force of Christian character in the condemnation of birth control as mandated by the 1908 Lambeth Conference?

Surely a bishop who tells his flock that homosexuality is incompatible with the Bible would be consistent in upholding ALL the resolutions of the Lambeth Conferences! After all, good advice is good advice! Right?

Could a bishop who bases his opinion on the interpretation of Holy Writ concerning the proscription of birth control be wrong?

Could a bishop who bases his opinion on the interpretation of Holy Writ concerning the proscription of homosexuality be wrong?


"We have to report on the question of the artificial restriction of population.... Preventive abortion has taken the place of direct abortion... The moral evolution of this habit claims our first attention. We are glad to notice that New South Wales Commission commented on 'the grave immorality of deliberately preventing conception'...In view of the many eminent physiologists the ill effects of the habit resemble those of self-abuse, and nervous enfeeblement follows. The mental and moral vigor may be impaired and the question has been asked whether the increase of insanity may not be closely connected with these habits of restriction...There is the danger of deterioration whenever the race is recruited from the inferior and not the superior recommend that wherever possible legislation should be promoted to secure the prohibition of....appliances and of patent drugs, and corrupting advertisements...The prosecution of all who publicly and professionally assist preventive methods..."


"A further evil which with we have had to deal with is of such a kind that it cannot be spoken of without repugnance; no one who values the purity of home life can contemplate without grave misgiving the existence which jeopardizes that purity; no one who treasures the Christian ideal of marriage can condone the existence of habits which subvert some of the essential elements of that ideal. In view of the figures and facts which have been set before us, we cannot doubt that there is a wide prevalence amongst our peoples of the practice of RESORTING TO ARTIFICIAL MEANS FOR THE AVOIDANCE OR PREVENTION OF CHILDBEARING. We have spoken of these practices and endeavored to characterize them as they deserve; not only in their results, but in themselves: and we would appeal to the members of our own churches to exert the whole force of their Christian character in condemnation of them."

Warmest Regard,

John S. Morgan

CLXXXI - David Writes John

Thanks John for this.


CLXXXII - John Writes David

David Virtue:

Your opening comments and all six topics were about homosexuality. That is an entire issue of Virtuosity! All about my people. To know one of us is to love us.

In the secular world movement is unquestionably in the direction of increasing rights for homosexuals. Whether it removing bars to serve openly in the armed service, repeal of sodomy statutes, recognizing the right to marry, increasing programming on TV, or simple hometown anti-discrimination laws, the march to equal treatment goes on. And within my living memory we were all but invisible. Folks were even terrified to talk about the subject.

Yet today nothing has seized the conscience as much and as often in religious circles with members of the cloth putting their employment on the lines, rites of union being sanctioned, seminary students living in committed unions, and communicants in gay commitment seeking the office of bishop.

Today with the disintegration of a chauvinistic culture we have seen women standing side by side males in the clergy. Religious folks in the Episcopal Church are realizing that female ordinations are not against the letter or spirit of the Bible and wonder why they ever suspected they were.

Now they are asking these questions about gay people! In a time of exploding freedom of information with knowledge available and at one's finger tips it is no longer possible for a small group of clerics to force their interpretations of scripture on others. That hegemony is cracking.

Texts are being read by those without a homophobic mindset. And they are asking questions:

  • How did anyone ever think that the story of Sodom was about gay people?
  • Weaved among verses in the holiness code, why didn't proscriptions of man lying with man get tossed out with the dietary and other ceremonial provisions?
  • Why did Paul find the need to invent words when speaking about homosexual topics?
  • Was not Paul deprecating heterosexuals who dally around with gay activities?
  • Why did homosexuality seem to bother Jesus? It seems to bother everyone in religious circles today.
  • Why was it mentioned so infrequently in scripture?

In the contemporary religious and secular world the list goes on and on.

These issues not only preoccupy religious folks today they were concerns crying for resolution in the church in ancient times. Whether it is the 13th, 18th or 21st century, gay people have been celebrating religious rites of commitments in Christian churches. The ceremonies are found in official liturgical manuals in the Roman and Orthodox Churches and now in an Anglican.

SIANI 966 [thirteenth century] [Greek]

Order for Solemnization of Same-Sex Union

i Those intending to be united shall come before the priest….shall place his hand on the Gospel, and the second on the hand of the first…

iv Lord our God and ruler….who didst commend the union of thy holy martyrs Serge and Bacchus…do Thou vouchsafe unto these thy servants grace to love one another and abide unhated and not a cause of scandal all the days of their lives.

v Grant them unashamed faithfulness, true love….

vi accept now these Thy servants N. and N to be united in spirit and faith…to prosper in virtue and justice and in sincere love…

vii that they be joined together more in spirit than in flesh…

ix And they shall kiss the holy Gospel and each other, and it shall be concluded.

BELGRADE [date uncertain; before the 18th century [Serbian Slavonic]

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. Then: Blessed be God, now and forever and ever. Amen……

ii Our father who art in heaven …..

iii Hymn of he church …

iv Then shall the priest take the holy belt and tie it around them. And they that are about to be joined shall hold the holy belt in their left hands.

v O lord, Our God, who hast vouchased unto us the promise of salvation …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 hope, unashamed faithfulness and true love….

vi Thou also didst deem it proper for the holy martyrs Serge and Bacchus to be united….Bless Thou these thy servants. Grant unto them grace and prosperity, and faith and love; let them love each other without envy and without temptation all the days of their life….

vii 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 perfect love and inseparable life, we bessech Thee, O Lord. For the presanctified gift of the precious Body and Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they receive it without sin and that it preserve their union without envy, we beseech Thee, O Lord.

ix [The First Epistle of] the Apostle Paul to the Corinthians….. Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not love, I am as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

xi Then: Peace be with you. Then shall the priest kiss them. And the two that are to be joined shall kiss each other.

xx And he shall dismiss them.

VANCOUVER 21st Century [English]

The priest then addresses the couple as follows.

N. and N do you believe God has called you into a life-long covenant of love and fidelity?

Couple: We do believe.

Will you live together in love?

Couple: We will with God's help.

ill you be faithful to one another?

Couple: We will with God's help.

Will you support one another in love so that yo may both grow into maturity of faith in Jesus Christ?

Couple: We will with God's help.

Will you do all in your power to make your life together a witness to the love of God in the world?

We will with God's help.

The presider invites the couple to stand in full view of the congregation and to face each other. Taking each other by the hands, each says to the other in turn,

N., I give myself to you, trust you, and delight in you. I will share your burdens and your joys. I will go with you wherever God calls us. This is my solemn promise.


John S. Morgan

CLXXXIII - David Writes John

Thanks John.

I will run your note to me as a letter to the editor.


CLXXXIV - John Writes David

David Virtue:

In an article in the latest Virtuosity , entitled "You Gotta serve Somebody," you conclude with:

"You see where this brave new world is heading?

When the church abandons its tenets, when it refuses to recognize sin, when it glorifies immorality, when it compromises on the word of God, when it becomes a tool of political correctness, it becomes a tool of evil. It becomes an abomination."

Speaking of recognizing sin, there is a passage in Deuteronomy chapter 21 which assumes rather nonchalantly that the practice of multiple wives are standard practice:

  • 15 If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:
  • 16 Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:
  • 17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his."

Has the Bible refused to recognize sin?

You say: "Further, if homosexual activity is to be celebrated and glorified in the church, will the body of Christ also abandon its commitment to monogamy?"

It looks to me that the church has already been there, done that. The milieu of the Old Testament was about polygamy. The great patriarch had hundreds of wives and concubines and no passage disparaged his predilections.

The traditionalists in the church are revisionists on usury, redefining it to mean excessive interest instead of interest of any sort and they pay no attention to the problem as credit card interest rises to 22?

Does this mean even the traditionalists have compromised on the word of God? That they glorify immorality? Have become a tool of evil? Have become an abomination?

The traditionalists ignore Jesus' position on the taking of oaths.

Does this mean even the traditionalists have compromised on the word of God? That they glorify immorality? Have become a tool of evil? Have become an abomination?

The traditionalists in the church have ignored the Lambeth 1908 condemnation of birth control. They have decided not "to exert the whole force of their Christian character in" opposing it.

(The original proscription must have come from their reading of Scripture; it wasn't just some idea they came up with to make life difficult for the wage earner and for women.)

Does this mean even the traditionalists have compromised on the word of God? That they glorify immorality? Have become a tool of evil? Have become an abomination?

You say, "…the Bible doesn't leave much wiggle room on the issue of homosexuality."

Actually it does:

  • Homosexuality is only mentioned in a few verses confined to Numbers and Deuteronomy in the Old Testament and Paul in the New.
  • Even many conservatives have been willing to admit that the moral of the Sodom story was not about Homosexuality.
  • Paul may well have been chastising heterosexuals for performing as homosexuals when such is against their nature
  • Jesus had nothing to say about homosexuality nor did he appear to think that the sin of Sodom was homosexuality

What is left???

To the extent that Scripture finds all homosexual activity evil, Scripture is wrong.

The levelheaded communicants of New Hampshire are not advocates for sin. They knew and approved of the humanity and life of Gene Robinson; the General Convention of cleric and lay members representing the thinking of the Episcopal Church across the entire nation is likely to confirm Gene Robinson as bishop. These people are not advocates for sin.

Why am I to assume that the conservatives in the church have the corner on truth when even they as a composite have no clue as to the validity of women priests?

Too many conservatives in the church subscribe to the idea of scriptural inerrancy, which a comparison of Biblical passages makes untenable. Should I trust these people to make any sort of rational judgment?


John S. Morgan

CLXXXV - John Writes David


Canada will change its law to allow homosexual marriage. Canada joins Belgium and The Netherlands where same-sex couples can also legally wed.

Prime Minister Chretien said that because of an Ontario appeals court ruling and similar ones by courts in British Columbia and Quebec, the Canadian government was under pressure to change the law or file appeals. The government agreed to rewrite the law. The words man and woman will be replaced with couple.

Polls in Canada show that a majority of Canadians are in favor of same sex unions.

Already in Canada because of court decisions scores of gay people have already legally married.

Dorothy Sayers, famous mystery writer and lay Anglican theologian once was quoted by the New York times as having said:

As I grow older and older/
And totter toward the tomb/
I find I care less and less /
Who goes to bed with whom.

This has been a busy year so far with:

  • The decision of the Canadian government to ratify gay marriage.
  • The seating of An Archbishop of Canterbury who believes in the morality of gay sexuality.
  • A prominent bishop appointed in England who has had a long term open homosexual relation.
  • An openly gay, partnered man elected Episcopal Bishop in New Hampshire.
  • An official liturgical rite in New West Minster to celebrate a blessing of same sex union.

David, are the consciences of people everywhere in the Western World trying to redress grievances for a maligned minority and trying to tell us something?


John S. Morgan

CLXXXVI - David Writes John


I am aware of this.


CLXXXVII - John Writes David

David Virtue:

With the appointment of a gay bishop in England and an election of one in the United States, the question of gays in the life of the church has been returned to the front burner.

One bishop took the occasion to remark that it is obvious that the penis was only created for the vagina.

Doesn't this make one wonder why there are pleasure cells that surround the anus such that gay men when performing as "bottom" find the experience ecstatic? What might those pleasure areas be there for?

Might it be that God also finds the practice of "poor man's birth control" among the married an appropriate form of sexuality and mutual joy?

In Virtuosity, I found this curious statement:

"He will have to say that the God-given instrument of life (the penis) cannot and should not be placed into an orifice of excrement and death."

This statement also requires some unpacking.

It is true that unprotected anal sex can be causative of AIDS whether it is between two men or between a man and a woman in what is called "poor people's birth control" and lead to untimely death. This is likely why AIDS is so rampant in heterosexuals in Africa where poverty makes condoms prohibitively expensive and where conservative religious folks have done their best to prevent their spread and use.

Of course with suitable protection spread of infection and death can be curtailed. Don't you find it ironic how the traditionalist agenda can lead to infection and death? Don't you find it ironic that the "God-given instrument of life" leads to death?

The remark about excrement implies that there is something wrong with the God given ability of organisms to remove unwanted and used biological materials from their systems. The argument is as purely visceral and emotional as it is unsound.

If carried on further one could find revulsion in the fact that the male organ that is used for urination is the very same one used in sexuality. But Scripture tells us that God looked on his creation and found it good.

The principle of dual use finds application in sexuality as in other areas of life.

Kinsey found in his studies of heterosexuality, that among men were the "lower-class" and the "upper-class" likely so named because of close correlation with formal education.

Kinsey's upper-class men preferred to enjoy sexuality with the lights on and with their clothes off. They preferred a reasonable amount of foreplay with deep kissing.

Kinsey's lower-class men performed sexuality in the dark with garments covering their bodies and thought kissing was unnatural and repulsive. Some of the men had never seen their wives naked. The practices of upper-class men were thought unnatural. On the beliefs of these lower-class men should we fabricate a morality? Should we deem kissing and seeing ones wife naked sinful? Perhaps we should not link the concepts of sin and revulsion.

It is always "nudity" that bothers this cultural subset; whereas "violence" is the villain of the other.

Don't you suppose one of these lower class men would come up with a statement like: "The mouth is for eating." In the mind of the upper-class male it is also suitable for kissing.

Winston Churchill once remarked: "Naval tradition consists of rum, sodomy and the lash!"

A friend of mine quipped, "Two good things out of three ain't bad! Some like all three. Three cheers for tradition."

Dorothy L. Sayers, author of the famous Peter Wimsey mystery series and amateur lay Anglican theologian, was quoted in The New York Times thusly:

As I grow older and older/
And totter toward the tomb/
I find I care less and less /
Who goes to bed with whom.

Warmest Regards,

John S. Morgan

CLXXXVIII - David Writes John



CLXXXIX - John Writes David

David Virtue,

Not too long ago, I had noticed on the Internet that an Episcopal priest had made the following statement: "The Bible is the inspired inerrant word of God."

Thinking that truth is a virtue that should be emulated and being aware that much of the problems in our church stems from inappropriate understandings concerning the Authority of Scripture, I quoted four passages from the Bible showing three conflicts in the four passages concerning the last words of Jesus by each of the evangelists.

He replied saying: "The problem is not that there is a conflict of these 3 versions. The problem stems from your misreading the texts by your insistence that these versions each claim that these words were the last words."

He continued: " But the gospel writers in fact made no such claim."

Then he asked: "Where IN THE TEXT does any of these writers assert that these words were the last words of Jesus?"

I narrowed my concern to only two of the conflicting verses and quoted them for him again:

Luke "'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.' When he had said this, he breathed his last."

John "Jesus said, 'It is finished.' With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit."

I pointed out to him that when a Biblical author quotes Jesus saying something and then says Jesus died immediately thereafter we can infer that the remark was his last.

Do you suppose that he wrote back saying something like: "This surprises me because I was unaware that there were conflicting passages in holy writ." "Truth is important and I will have to accept that there are conflicts of fact in Scripture and adjust my faith-package appropriately."

Instead he said:

"We are reading these texts from different cultures. My own college degree was in Classical Antiquities, and so I have a Helenistic approach to these Greek-speaking, first c. documents."

"The difficulty is that you are applying a standard of historiography that became standard only in the 19th century. No ancient writer would have quibbled, as you have, over the exact last words of Christ. But that simply means that they were reading the text in their terms and you are reading in yours. The point that I should have been making is that a text must be read by the literary standards of its time and culture, not ours. Thus by their standards there is no contradiction at all."

No contradiction at all he says??? Perhaps he should reread the quotations.

David, why is it that someone would go through such torturous circumlocutions than admit the obvious? If words have meaning how could one misconstrue these texts?

They say that if you start with a false premise you are apt to reach a false conclusion. I realize that adjustment of ones world view can be painful. But in matters of religion where authoritative statements often direct how others can live their lives, I think truth is far more important than comfort.

Could you assimilate these conflicts into your world view?


John S. Morgan

CXC - John Writes David

The Right Reverend Richard Holloway, the former Bishop of Edinburgh, ex-Primus of the Episcopal Church in Scotland, wrote an interesting letter to The Guardian recently. In it he said:

"The Old Testament reflects the way things were done by a Bedouin tribe 3,000 years ago. The New Testament reflects the attitudes of a splinter group a thousand years later, who believed that God had sent his agent to announce the end of the world - and since he would be coming back soon to wind everything up, there was not much point in getting too settled."

One can hardly deny that the earlier followers of Jesus expected the second coming in their lifetimes, since Jesus himself said as much. Such a narrow time scale would likely limit long-range moralistic concerns.

We know that some of the moral injunctions of Old Testament times seem anachronistic and obscure. Few injunctions in Deuteronomy are applied by Christians to guide their own lives.

For example in Deuteronomy 21 we find these:

15 If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:

16 Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:

17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.


10 When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive,

11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife;

12 Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house, and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;

13 And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife.

14 And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

Bishop Holoway asserts that Theologians have found subtle ways of adapting the ancient Biblical obscurities to contemporary needs by making a distinction between the ethical and the metaphysical.

1) The Metaphysics reflect eternal truth that cannot be tampered with. For example, he suggests that "the doctrine of the Trinity remains sacrosanct because it reflects the unchanging nature of God, not the flux of human history."

2) The ethics of the Bible reflect its historical origins and can be reinterpreted.

Here he would include the subordination of women and prohibitions on divorce - both of these are clearly stated in scripture. Both should and have been modified since in Biblical accounts they reflect historical origins of Scripture in a specific cultural setting.

He asserts that ethics concerning homosexuality clearly belong in this category.

He asserts that since Traditionalists do not apparently view issues of homosexuality in this category, there must be an extraneous agenda on their part.

He asserts: "That's why the fact should be proclaimed from the rooftops that the church in this country is the last bastion of legalised homophobia"

David what do you think? Can you find a flaw in his argument?


John S, Morgan

CXCI - John Writes David

David Virtue:

Thanks for sharing your insights.

[NOTE:Clearly a short but informative letter from David has been lost.]

I would not accuse Matthew and Luke of being copycat although they both used substantial portions of Mark in fabricating their own gospels.

Mark has 661 verses.

Matthew used 606 of Mark's verses and condensed them to 500 for use in his gospel. Matthew has 1068 verses of which 500 were based on Mark. Matthew has 51% of Mark's actual words.

Luke has 1149 verses. 320 were based on Mark. Luke has 53% of Mark's actual words.

Interestingly enough the manner in which Matthew and Luke incorporated the corpus of Mark into their text is startlingly different. Luke interleaves, that is he alternates verses; whereas, Matthew uses a holistic pattern making his Markean source meld into the narrative.

The exact repetition of words from one synoptic writer to the next, where it occurs, has nothing to do with inerrancy.

You say: " I prefer the term the authority of Scripture rather than inerrancy."

I do too since the theory of inerrancy seems obviously untenable. Unfortunately too many of the traditional persuasion are self declared inerrantists. Starting with a false premise leads to unfortunate consequences for homosexual people.

If a friend of yours would walk out into the street with his zipper undone surely you would tell him about it; if a friend of mine were to wear such threadbare jeans that his rump were hanging out I would tell him about it.

Surely a friend of a traditionalist who subscribes to the theory of inerrancy would point out how impossible such a theory is. How could a true friend not do this if only for the reason that truth as a pure virtue must have some meaning to all mankind?

Surely if one takes the time to compare bible verses concerning the death of Jesus, and finds that three evangelistic sources report incompatible utterances immediately before his demise that the theory of inerrancy must be abandoned.

Protestants and Roman Catholics are at a loggerhead over the requirements of personal salvation. One is justified by faith alone says the one, nay says the other, it is freedom from mortal sin which grants salvation.

How can authority in scripture deconflict these two giants? If it cannot, then what sense is it authoritative?

Do errors and conflicts in scripture lessen its authority?

Should they make us reconsider the question: in what sense is scripture authoritative?


John S. Morgan

CXCII - David Writes John

Dear John,

You have packaged a lot of stuff in that note that requires a lot of untangling. Regrettably I don't have time with what is going on in the UK.


CXCIII - Virtuosity Quotes:


As Bishops of the Church catholic with jurisdiction (or office) in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) we are speaking to address the crisis of Faith and Order that is increasingly unfolding among us, among our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Anglican Church of Canada, and, for now, in limited other places throughout our worldwide Anglican Communion.

We begin by stating that we utterly repudiate the recent actions of the Synod and the Bishop of the Diocese of New Westminster in authorizing liturgies for blessing same-sex partnerships. At the same time, we wish to speak in more detail to the unfolding situation in the Episcopal Church, among whose leaders we have been called and consecrated.

The election in New Hampshire of a man who openly confesses an active homosexual relationship to be Bishop Coadjutor, and the inclusion of a measure affirming the blessing of same-sex unions on the agenda of the upcoming General Convention, both serve as symbols of a desperately confused, errant and disintegrating Anglican province. At stake are the fundamental doctrines of apostolicity and of marriage. The confirmation by national synodical vote of the bishop-elect or the adoption of any same-sex marriage provisions would be unparalleled departures from received church order and universal church teaching. We further regret to have to state that it is our assessment that the likelihood of the approval of these church-rending innovations has been dramatically increased by a letter sent by our Presiding Bishop to all bishops of this province, a letter which can have no other interpretation than encouragement for confirmation of the New Hampshire election.

In the face of these looming departures from evangelical truth and catholic order, and in line with our commitment to oppose all such innovations in every Godly way, we do hereby affirm the moral and spiritual authority of you, the “Concerned Primates” of the Anglican Communion, and do join in commitment with you to address the situation under your leadership. We desire to act in concert with you, and are ready to take counsel from you. We pledge solidarity with you in sharing common faith and practice within an Anglicanism that is submitted to her sovereign Lord, true to his holy Word, and at one with his catholic Church.

We now join in your declaration of impaired communion with the Bishop and Diocese of New Westminster. We also join you in affirming bonds of fellowship and communion with those in the Diocese of New Westminster (ACiNW) who have stood firm in resisting that conciliar and episcopal authority which has exceeded its legitimate boundaries. We further state that we stand ready, in concert with you, to commit to common responses to the deteriorating situation within the Episcopal Church, and elsewhere. We take these actions and make these commitments in order that Anglicans everywhere might ever be numbered among the mainstream witnesses of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, who alone is true God and true man, the only Savior of humankind, whose disciples are ever constrained by the plain sense of God’s Word written.

15th July, A.D. 2003 St. Swithun’s Day


DANIEL HERZOG Bishop of Albany
EDWARD SALMON Bishop of South Carolina
JOHN HOWE Bishop of Central Florida
BERTRAM HERLONG Bishop of Tennessee
JAMES STANTON Bishop of Dallas
FITZSIMONS ALLISON Bishop of South Carolina, Retired
STEPHEN JECKO Bishop of Florida
MAURICE (BEN) BENITEZ Bishop of Texas, Retired
JACK IKER Bishop of Fort Worth
ALEX DICKSON Bishop of West Tennessee, Retired
ANDREW FAIRFIELD Bishop of North Dakota
ALDEN HATHAWAY Bishop of Pittsburgh, Retired
ROBERT DUNCAN Bishop of Pittsburgh
HUGO PINA-LOPEZ Assistant Bishop of Central Florida
KEITH ACKERMAN Bishop of Quincy
CLARENCE POPE Bishop of Fort Worth, Retired
TERRENCE KELSHAW Bishop of the Rio Grande
HENRY SCRIVEN Assistant Bishop of Pittsburgh
GETHIN HUGHES Bishop of San Diego
WILLIAM SKILTON Suffragan Bishop of South Carolina
JOHN-DAVID SCHOFIELD Bishop of San Joaquin
WILLIAM WANTLAND Bishop of Eau Claire, Retired
PETER BECKWITH Bishop of Springfield

CXCIV - John Writes David

David Virtue,

I noticed in your latest Virtuosity that you carried a document entitled, "AN OPEN LETTER TO THE CONCERNED PRIMATES OF THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION"

I thought the document was unfortunate in that it implied that while a handful of bishops have gotten it "right" the rest of the Episcopal Church has it wrong - "desperately confused, errant and disintegrating." The document presupposes that this handful somehow has the corner on truth while everyone else is in deep error.

In any case I think that my improved version is better. My parody explores the question: If they believe as they do are there not some inconsistencies in their position - some items that they have been overlooking in their own dioceses.

Should you wish to publish my improved version in Virtuosity you may.


John S. Morgan


By: John S. Morgan
Communicant at All Saints Episcopal Church
Fort Worth, Texas

Most Reverend Fathers in God:

As Bishops of the Church catholic with jurisdiction (or office) in the Episcopal Church in the United States of America (ECUSA) we are speaking to address the crisis of Faith and Order that is increasingly unfolding among us, among our brothers and sisters in Christ in the Episcopal Church in The United States, and, for that matter, places everywhere throughout our worldwide Anglican Communion.

We begin by stating that we utterly repudiate the recent actions of women speaking in church. At the same time, we wish to speak in more detail to the unfolding situation in the Episcopal Church among whose leaders we have been called and consecrated.

The election of Saint Paul to openly confess that women should not speak in church and that men should not wear long hair is being ignored. Women are found, in overwhelming numbers, in the pews of Episcopal Churches without hair covering of any sort. Contrary to the position of Christ, oath taking is no longer forbidden; and seldom do prelates in the pulpit use the whole force of their Christian character in the opposition of Birth Control as mandated by the bishops of the 1908 Lambeth Conference.

Fortunately the inclusion of a measure concerning these problems is NOT on the agenda of the upcoming General Convention, yet all of these problems serve as symbols of a desperately confused, errant and disintegrating Anglican province. At stake are the fundamental concerns of both Jesus and St. Paul. The confirmation by national synodical vote that women be allowed to read from holy writ while in church, that they could enter God's holy space with their hair uncovered, or that an Episcopalian could take an oath in court, or that the faithful should practice birth control, would be unparalleled departures from received church order and universal church teaching.

We further are pleased to state that it is our assessment that the likelihood of these issues being addressed at General Convention is unlikely lest it be seen as a last ditch effort by a handful of disgruntled bishops to move beyond our own soil to enlist third world bishops to pressure the American church two weeks away from General Convention.

In the face of these looming departures from evangelical truth and catholic order, and in line with our commitment to oppose all such innovations in every Godly way, we do hereby affirm the moral and spiritual authority of you, the "Concerned Primates" of the Anglican Communion, and do join in commitment with you to address the situation under your leadership. We desire to act in concert with you, and are ready to take counsel from you. We pledge solidarity with you in sharing common faith and practice within an Anglicanism that is submitted to her sovereign Lord, true to his holy Word, and at one with his catholic Church.

We hope that you will adopt a declaration of impaired communion with those who refuse to follow the clear words of Jesus and St. Paul. We also join you in affirming bonds of fellowship and communion with those who have stood firm in resisting Episcopal practices and customs which have exceeded legitimate boundaries. We further state that we stand ready, in concert with you, to commit to common responses to the deteriorating situation within the Episcopal Church, and elsewhere. We take these actions and make these commitments in order that Anglicans everywhere might ever be numbered among the mainstream witnesses of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, who alone is true God and true man, the only Savior of humankind, whose disciples are ever constrained by the plain sense of God's Word written.

19th July, A.D. 2003
St. Macrina's Day

CXCV - John Writes David

David Virtue,

I thought you might care to see my latest.


John S. Morgan

Dialogue with the Trinity

The Holy Spirit: It says here in Paul that you are the image of the living God.

Jesus: So?

The Holy Spirit: Well, it also says here in Paul, and I quote: "Christ died for your sins."

Jesus: Well, that requires a bit of unpacking.

The Holy Spirit: Well, unpack!

Jesus: When the father sent me to earth, incarnate as one of the earthlings, I could have lived the life of luxury. But since my mission was one of salvation, I lived like humans should live. I loved my family, friends, neighbors and everyone as myself. When I became of age, I gathered a band of trusty comrades and assumed the role of what one would call an itinerant preacher. I brought healing to the sick and the mentally ill. I taught in parables. I taught the noblest in our common tradition: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'Love your neighbor as yourself"

When called upon to summarize I explained that these two principles summarized the whole intent and goal of our religious law and prophets: "All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

In living out this law I made enemies. In cleansing the Temple of commercialism, I made enemies. My endeavors brought salvation. As you will find in John, I said: "I come that you may have life more abundantly."

I awakened in humankind those values that you, father, wrote in their heart. I demonstrated the fulfillment one feels when they live life as it was made to be lived, as humans care for each other and worship the father who made it all possible.

My message, and yours father, survived my earthly death. The fact that I persisted with my message in the face of great personal peril and eventually to a very cruel execution, demonstrated for humankind that my values were an authentic way to live.

I not only saved these people from a futile way of living, I died for their sins. Literally, I died for their sins because I showed humankind that to the extent that they follow the law of love they will have put sin to death.

The Holy Spirit: You didn't say anything about forgiveness.

Jesus: Forgiveness needs to come from two sources. Most offenses are committed against ones neighbor. And it is to ones neighbor that one needs to turn for forgiveness. Even my father cannot undo the harm done to ones neighbor by a sin directed against ones neighbor. Perhaps some sort of reparation is in order to help redress the inflicted evil.

The Father: Of course I am the other source of forgiveness. I do not loose any skin off my back because one of my autonomous creatures sins. I am, nevertheless, dismayed that a creature of mine has chosen to live in such an inauthentic manner. There are conditions built into the nature of the human condition that explain their propensity for self gratification at others expense. With age and experience it is hoped that wisdom would follow.

In the end, no one of good will wants to fellowship and associate with those of ill disposed behavior. So from my point of view forgiveness means my recognition that the individual has turned himself/herself around and is willing to live in goodness and harmony with their neighbor. What other kind of individual would I enjoy at my heavenly banquet.

The Holy Spirit: The humans seem to persist in their belief in the idea of substitutive atonement.

The Father: Substitutive atonement seems to be tied in with the idea of retributive punishment. It was perhaps the chief theory, worked out over hundreds of years by the church, to explain why, as our Paul said, "Christ died for your sins."

It relies on the validity of the idea that retributive punishment is a legitimate form of justice.

Jesus: I tried to supplant the "eye for an eye" mentality with an ethic of love – one that encompasses forgiveness.

The Father: Corrective punishment can sometimes be an effective way of reshaping behavior when used judiciously. It can be used to bring about a wholesome end. Punishment may also be used as deterrent. Putting someone in jail may serve as reminder to others of the consequences of crime. It achieves separation of individuals who are a danger to society. But in no case should it be vindictive.

What end does retributive punishment address? Only cruelty. Retributive punishment is always an evil – a vindictiveness that is far from the divine mind. From my way of thinking the "eye for an eye" mentality, far from serving the ideal of justice, results in two evils. The first is the initial sin and the second is the response. Redress of an evil with an evil does not balance the scales of justice. One sin plus one sin does not sum to zero, it sums to two.

Holy Spirit: What does this have to do with substitutive atonement?

The Father: The classical theory of substitutive atonement suggests that I gave Jesus, my son, over to a cruel death on a cross to substitute for the sins of mankind.

Jesus: I might point out that this theory is mentioned nowhere in Scripture.

The Holy Spirit: The one redeeming feature of this preposterous theory is that it suggests that we would do anything to achieve reconciliation with these wayward creatures

The Father: Yes it does that. But it also assumes that a cruel death by Jesus would somehow balance out, in some perverted idea of justice, the evil performed by humans. In reality, the evil of mankind's sins would have been added to an unspeakable cruelty to my blameless son. That would add insult to injury. I resent the idea that I might purr like a cat with some sort of cosmic satisfaction as someone beats up on my son.

CXCVI - David Writes John

Interesting dialogue and a good way of communication. thanks for sending this along.


CXCVII - John Writes David

David Virtue,

In Virtuosity I read the following paragraph:

“Now these two parishes are no small bit players in the unfolding drama of ECUSA's slow but steady demise. They are two of the richest, most powerful parishes on the West Coast of the U.S. The former rector of St. James is the Rev. David C. Anderson who now heads the American Anglican Council, and he is an implacable foe of Frank Griswold. The illustrious Ahmanson family attends this church, and they have enough money to send Bruno and Griswold on a one way ticket to the moon and keep them there.”

That paragraph says a lot.

It says to me that Anderson is head of the AAC because of the money backing of powerful ideologues that have no grounding in traditional Anglican Theology. Anderson is now trying to do with the AAC what he has done with his former parish. The Episcopal Church is to become yet another “confessing” Calvinist type of exclusionary American faith package that Richard Hooker spent most of his life trying to counterbalance with a church centered on worship and a common Divine Liturgy.

The Elizabethan Compromise which allowed Protestants and Catholics to worship at a common table, was a MODEL for the way a church should accommodate all of those churchgoers who have different interpretations of Scripture.

Those who "correctly" interpret their inerrant Bible on all issues EXCEPT for the validity of women priests are in ascendancy. But this too will be resolved in an exclusionary manner. How else could it be resolved by the intolerant that allow only one vision in their thirst for doctrinal purity?

I have been reading that the Ahmanson money is responsible for the take over of the Baptist Denomination making them officially a party of people who think the Bible is error free - a clear victory of ignorance over knowledge.

I hear they also contribute to causes that would bring back stoning for adultery and homosexuals and promote a kind of Christian theocracy. This would bring us in compliance with the fundamentalist Moslem ideology of law an order.

Is this really an ideology that you buy into? Would we have a kindler, gentler America?

Be careful of this money and power grab, David. Just a tilt in ideology – a consistent literal reading of Scripture on divorce – could end in the stoning of the divorced and remarried.

The search for doctrinal purity in the version of the “confessing” church you would have us become is never ending. Soon they will need a new enemy, and divorced persons could be it.

Warmest Regards,

John S. Morgan

CXCVIII - John Writes David

David Virtue,

I composed and sent the following letter to Rowan Williams. What do you think?


John S. Morgan

November 7, 2004 Presiding Bishop ECUSA

The Most Reverend Rowan Williams
Archbishop of Canterbury
Lambeth Palace
London SE1 7JU

Copy to Frank Griswold
Presiding Bishop ECUSA

Your Grace,

I am from the diocese of Fort Worth in the United States.

If what I read in the news is correct, your Eames commission is about to present you with a dilemma. You must choose between The Episcopal Church in the USA and the Third World Churches.

If you go with The Episcopal Church in America you will most likely lose many of the Third World Churches. (Especially those in Africa.) If you choose the Third World Churches you will likely eventually lose them anyway. Those who are willing to break territorial polity have already learned that the rule of law does not apply to them. And the thought that Africa might spearhead an “Anglican Communion for the Global South” is seductively attractive. More so as American dissidents keep pressuring them, given that the American church is not likely to change her carefully, measured, and Spirit driven course of action.

Sanctioning the American Church might appear to be a victory for unity, but in the end might well mean not only the loss of African Churches but The American one as well.

Alienating and insulting the American contingent in our autonomous communion is wrong. Our Bishops and Priests do not deserve this. The American church has been faithful to the diversity once modeled in the Elizabethan Settlement and the theologically inclusive approach of the preeminent theologian Richard Hooker.

For more than thirty years, the American church has studied ways that a people changing from a patriarchal society to a more egalitarian one can be faithful to Scripture. Specifically she has been studying, in her dioceses, the changing role of gender – trying to see how women might qualify as priests, and how to affirm the union and lifelong commitment of any two people who fall in love with each other irrespective of gender.

Our church understands well that this is not a problem for tribal, patriarchal societies that have remained unchanged for centuries and have no need to reapply the social justice issues of Jesus in a new culture.

Nevertheless, Any primate who wishes to second-guess the decisions of another province should carefully study the issue. The Lambeth resolution of 1988 mandated that dioceses be in dialogue with homosexuals. Am I to understand that all who find fault with my Episcopal church and would censure her are in full compliance?

I know that my own maverick and conservative diocese, when our General Convention asked all dioceses to study issues concerning human sexuality with their communicants, refused, substituting, instead, a promulgation of ‘traditional’ sexual morality.

The question of women in the priesthood has been such a success that female bishops were warmly received at the last Lambeth Conference and four of the five convocations of the very conservative “Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes” as well as The American Anglican Council accept women priests.

Without the American leading effort in the ordination of women, we would still have an all male priesthood throughout the Communion. Attitudes have been changed as even traditionalists have embraced the idea.

Had the dissidents in the American Church been clever enough, organized enough, and malicious enough to leverage concern in the more patriarchal provinces of the church the blessing of women priests could have been curtailed in its infancy.

In the United States (and in Canada), the acceptance of homosexuals in the life of the church continues to be a slow, measured, and methodical process. In ECUSA issues are studied in dioceses and parishes, and measure-by-measure they are affirmed in our General Convention. These measures are not only ratified by the convention but separately in the convention by priests, bishops and laity. Every corner of our church is separately and effectively represented.

New ideas are difficult for conservatives to assimilate, and I understand that there is now a plan to permanently quash innovation, curtailing sharply the role of the Holy Spirit in the church. Put simply, such an endeavor would require your office to selectively fail to invite those who might bring innovative ideas to international conferences. Removing one of the parties in the discussion never solves serious problems.

Christian apologist C. S. Lewis, a favorite in all factions of the church, and your countryman, in Mere Christianity states:

"Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the center of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins."

But now, American dissidents, who could not prevail with their concerns in the court of their peers, and allied with foreign Primates, are tearing the Communion apart, not over a core issue of the faith, nor of an issue of the Quadrilateral, nor of the creeds, nor even an issue on which Jesus cared to advance an opinion.

Please do not assume that the American Church will take insult lightly, that she will trade principle for expediency, or that she should feel a sudden repentance over issues and concerns that she has been praying over and studying for years.

The American Church would like to continue in our autonomous communion. As a generous church of generous people she is eager to make this a better world and to contribute financially to those in our communion who suffer; yet there are alternate ways of giving.

The American church has adequate reason to sever its association and to go it alone (without England) as she has done in the past.

I, for one, would reluctantly support her in this endeavor although, in my heart, I prefer unity. But as I said in a recent letter to the Eames commission,

“…if the suffering we must come to bear is to prevent a diocese in the United States from choosing a bishop who seems worthy and Godly to them because it might offend someone in Africa, then that kind of accommodation is too high a price to bear.”

ECUSA has several good reasons to withdraw from the Anglican Communion:

  1. The Anglican Communion has drifted away from the classical Anglicanism of the Elizabethan Settlement and our preeminent theologian Richard Hooker. It is becoming increasingly dominated by a rigid, exclusive, and intolerant style of Biblical Literalism that Richard Hooker spent much of his life refuting. It is becoming increasingly difficult for tolerant people of good will to tolerate those who are intolerant.

  2. Centuries old territorial jurisdictions are being abrogated; ordination vows are being routinely violated with impunity; organizational loyalty is scoffed at.

  3. Hypocrisy is accepted as a value. Homosexual priests are accepted as long as their orientation remains hidden. In African churches official policies eschew polygamy but the practice is winked at in the pews. The same African churches that are so offended by ECUSA ordaining a gay priest openly, tolerate polygamy in their own spheres of influence. Bishop John Howe of Central Florida remarked in a letter to his Diocesan Board, " would be hard to find an Anglican congregation anywhere in Uganda that does not have among its active membership any number of polygamists."

  4. The primary wedge our American dissidents have for tearing our church apart is the leverage they have with the third world tribal and patriarchal primates. That leverage would be gone with withdrawal.

  5. Our more egalitarian society with elected bishops is an ill fit with bishops appointed by and subject to the vested interests of political entities We likely would have required our dissidents to live up to the terms of their ordination vows if it were not for fear of what the third world bishops would do.

  6. Gene Robinson’s election followed due process and was confirmed at every stage in a very democratic manner. It would be an insult to allow his resignation to be a bargaining chip for membership in a club that has separated itself from the strictures and philosophy of classical Anglican theology. It would be a worse insult to put such a decision in his hands. The whole suggestion hinges on acceptance of the Donatist heresy.

  7. When the dissidents get around to recognizing the inconsistency between their “literal” outrage about homosexuality (a subject on which Jesus was silent) and their obfuscation on the literal Biblical passages on divorce (a subject that Jesus was NOT silent on) many more people will be excluded from membership in their congregations.

  8. When it becomes a choice to affirm a diversified and open church modeled along the lines of Richard Hooker and the Elizabethan Compromise or an intolerant, exclusive, and Literalist one that professes to have all the answers and would consign to hell others outside our fold, the decision is easy for me.

I hope that your official response would be to say simply that you will invite to the next Lambeth Conference only those Bishops who demonstrate that they have thoroughly and openly studied the contentious issues that divide our communion with their own communicants and with the fellow members of the Communion.

Then let the chips fall where they may.

Your brother in Christ,

John S. Morgan

CXCIX - David Writes John

Good letter John from your perspective...well thought out, though I would disagree with certain conclusions you draw based on your premises...but a good shot that RW ought to read.


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