Monday, August 14, 2006

Quenching the Spirit?

Quenching the Spirit? … and What’s Really at Stake

I spent the first 24 years of my life in the Southern Baptist Church. I remember many a sermon where the preacher talked in truly frightening terms about the sin of “quenching the Spirit” or of “sinning against the Holy Spirit.”

That phrase came to my mind again this weekend when I read the guidelines issued by the Diocese of El Camino Real for calling their next bishop. These sections particularly caught my attention in the Standing Committee’s charge to the Search Committee:

“All constituencies of our diverse community are to be considered.”

“The Search Committee needs to ensure that all nominees meet the constitutional and canonical requirements set forth by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America:” [Need I remind you, readers, that our Canons say that sexual orientation is not a bar to the discernment process?]

“3. At this time in our history and in view of General Convention Resolution B033, the Search Committee shall not nominate any homosexual person as a candidate for bishop of the Diocese of El Camino Real.”

This made me think. I notice they didn’t say the Search Committee shall not nominate any oak trees … or any poodles … or any radial tires … or any barbeque grills to be the next bishop of the diocese. Of course not! For there’s no way that God would call an oak tree or a barbeque grill to be a bishop in this church of ours! For the Standing Committee explicitly to say no “homosexual person” may be nominated, they must believe it is possible that God might be calling one of them to be their bishop. So … are they running scared of that hideous possibility?

So what if God is calling a homosexual person to be the next bishop of El Camino Real? Should the Standing Committee be concerned that they are “quenching the Spirit”? I wonder how the members of that Standing Committee feel, saying to the Spirit, “if you try to call one of Those Queers, we’ll just say NO!” Sinners in the hands of an angry God, anyone?

I would not want to be in the shoes of that Standing Committee! I heard way too many sermons about what happens to people who "quench the Spirit." Let it be upon their heads.

. . .

For those few people still trying to claim that “manner of life,” as passed in B033, does not simply mean “homosexual,” I’ll now simply point to the Diocese of El Camino Real and its statement here. It’s about nothing but “homosexuals”! Women archbishops don’t sufficiently “pose a challenge to the wider church.” [Happy as I am that Bishop Jefferts Schori was elected as our next PB!] Twice-divorced-and-thrice-married bishops don’t sufficiently “pose a challenge to the wider church.” [Bishop-elect Beisner, anyone?] Fat, gluttinous bishops don’t sufficiently “pose a challenge to the wider church.” [I’m not naming names! You can look at their photos.] No, these folks don’t pose a sufficiently-scary “challenge to the wider church.”

Who does? The queers do – whether “active” or not.

Over the past years since GC03, I have been constantly amused by the sanctimonious “conservatives” who say they don’t hate “homosexuals,” but are merely taking a “biblical” stance against “practicing homosexuals.” They love to quote that mantra, “I just hate the sin, but love the sinner.”

Thank God, the Diocese of ECR didn’t try to play that nuanced card. They didn’t try to walk that dainty line between "homosexual person" and "practising homosexual.” They just said it out flat: "no homosexuals allowed!" And I am glad they did. That must have required some courage.

Friends, it is not about “homosexuals in relationships outside the bounds of marriage.” It’s about any homosexual person – whether you are trying to live a celibate life, or are trying to live a holy life with your beloved. Makes no difference. El Camino Real has now made clear what most of us sensed in GC06.

To this one diocese that has made its bigotry crystal-clear, I am grateful.

And a brief, simple codicil: You sense I’m angry here? You think my language and tone are just a wee bit over the top? You’re darn right!


Blogger Ann said...

Yes - I am angry and I am even more angry at those "nice" people who are trying to say it is an okay thing to do. Try substituting women, African Americans, etc., in the sentence and see it for what it is. When we moved to Wyoming there were still signs in some bars that said no dogs or Indians - guess we have not come very far. I am not getting depresssed about this (anger turned inward) - I am outraged.

8/15/2006 7:15 AM  
Blogger Jarred said...

Personally, I found your tone and content rather constrained.

My issue with "hate the sin, but love the sinner" is I've seen far too many people who are too busy practicing the first part to practice the second part on anything but the most abstract level.

8/15/2006 10:54 AM  
Blogger Grace said...

I think it's a very serious matter to hinder someone from ministry that God may be gifting and calling by His Spirit.

I can only judge that these people do not realize the depth of what they're actually doing and saying here. They need our prayers.

I think the church in general has lost a real sense of the reality of the judgement of the Lord, and the real life consequence for things such as quenching or grieving the Holy Spirit of God.

We desperately need renewal in the body of Christ!!

8/15/2006 7:05 PM  
Blogger rowan said...

To this one diocese that has made its bigotry crystal-clear, I am grateful.

Yes, I am thankful for the clarity of ECR's statement. From now on, no conservative can come along and say, "Well, B033 dosen't say anything at all about homosexual persons." That's what they call us, you know, "homosexual persons." This statement of ECR's is a mirror held up to GC showing all those B033ers what they really did.

You think your blog has a tone? You should see mine.


Linda McMIllan
Austin, Texas
(Logged in as Rowan. Rowan is my dog. He has his own blog which is much more interesting than mine.)

8/16/2006 9:11 AM  

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