Friday, July 17, 2009

Thoughts After GC09

It will surprise no one that I was closely following C056 and D025. I am glad that our General Convention affirmed that all the baptized may pursue the Church’s discernment of their gifts, and I am pleased that our church will gather liturgies and allow pastoral care for Episcopalians in same-sex relationships.

I did not expect either of those resolutions to make it through both the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops in this General Convention. I was downright pessimistic. But both houses surprised and delighted me.

Now that they have, I find myself in a place of peace and gratitude and quiet.

It is over, at last. The chips will fall where they may, as the Primates and other loud voices of the Anglican Communion react. But I give thanks that we did not let our church be held hostage to those reactive voices.

I give deep thanks to the deputies and bishops who voted for those resolutions in such overwhelming numbers.

Of course, I find myself thinking back to 2006 and the resolutions that broke my heart. I spoke and ranted and grieved here quite publicly. And certain conservative sites linked here and derided me. They guffawed at my pain and disappointment, and used my blog for target practice. They jeered at my grief. I am not going to do the same ... for I understand the pain.

You know what? There is not a bit of triumphalism in my heart as General Convention adjourns this evening. Given what I experienced in 2006, I feel great sympathy for those who came down on the losing side in 2009. I can imagine some of the pain they feel. And I bet I know the kind of frustration and anger that some of those sites are projecting. I’m now going over there now. Tomorrow, I will visit and see what they are saying.

In 2006, I believed that the majority had spoken against my understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I was heartbroken. I do not believe I called the majority “heretics” or “apostates” or any of those names. If memory serves, I simply spoke of my grief that they had rejected a portion of God’s people. I took a brief “sabbatical” from the Episcopal Church, then I came home to my parish and continued to pray and work for change and progress in our church.

In these last few days of GC2009, the votes have gone in the ways that I hoped they might. The Bishops have astonished me! I am happy that the Bishops and Deputies have spoken where we are, in hopes that we can now move forward.

But still … I remember how desperately grieved I felt after 2006. And I know some people are feeling a similar grief after 2009. I have read some of the blogs from the conservative side of our church, and I know they are hurting. I have been tempted to comment on some of those blogs, but then I read that they think that any word from someone like me will feel patronizing or condescending.

I pray that we can move forward together ... eventually. I hope we can together “march in the light of God” one of these days.

I thought I would post a big "ALLELUIA" if our Bishops and Deputies moved forward on the resolutions that mattered to me. To my surprise, I find myself grateful but subdued ... because I understand some of the pain that those on "the other side" must be feeling.

22 Comments:

Blogger SueM said...

So interesting to read the perspective of a progressive Episcopalian on this. Lots of conservative blogs and sites are very upset and doing their usual,"this is the end" predictions. Not sure many people, even Church goers in UK are very interested - and won't be until another gay bishop is actually installed. And when will that be, I wonder? I don't think it will be that long...

7/18/2009 7:23 AM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

While I applaud your noble impulses, I would like to point out that the "pain" they are feeling is over (finally!) being told in no uncertain terms that they aren't God and don't get to decide whom God loves and whom God calls to the ministry.

I will submit that their "pain" is not on the same level as being EXCLUDED, as you, and so many other LGBTs (ans women) have been. No one has told them they aren't welcome in the church--just that they can no longer hold those of us who want to welcome EVERYONE hostage to their particular (and highly disputed) brand of scriptural interpretation.

I pray that God will open their hearts and minds to see the good work that committed LGBTs do for Christ. I pray that they will come to believe that Jesus meant it when he said that good trees cannot produce bad fruit--and look at the "fruit" that LGBTs and their spouses produce in the world.

I pray that God will heal our divisions, and make it clear that the communion of the saints is open to ALL who desire to be a part of it.

Pax,
Doxy

7/18/2009 10:29 AM  
Blogger renzmqt said...

I am glad that you will not need to be taking another sabbatical. I do think that these resolutions will take the church must closer to schism. That is not to say that I think it was not time for them. I disagree with Doxy - looking at many other and larger denominations of the church, what TEC is moving towards is radically inclusive. Those who are now angered, frustrated, or dejected by these resolutions believe in a church structure that is not out of the norm (sadly)and are entitled to their response. Their belief in what constitutes moral behavior (restrictive sexual expression) is as important to them as "socialjustice" is to the other side (all are welcome). I'm not sure that Lisa's response isn't the best response considering. Even on the progressive side there is still a staunch sense of sexual morality - I doubt that all are truly welcome - lifetime monogamy is still the rule, promiscuity is still gravely wrong, all we've done is shifted the definition a bit in the name of inclusion.

7/18/2009 11:31 AM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

Renz--with all due respect, my friend, I would NEVER argue for full inclusion of my LGBT friends in the life and ministry of the church on the basis of "social justice." I argue for full inclusion based on what Jesus had to say about loving your neighbor, good fruit, and not judging others because your own sins make you blind.

I make my arguments based on the words of my Lord and Savior--not on secular politics. As Lisa herself says: "There are only two possible lifestyles: Gospel and not. Full stop." I only argue for full inclusion because I see, firsthand, my LGBT brothers and sisters living the Gospel.

And I maintain that the "pain" conservatives feel is not real pain at all. It is not the pain of being told they are beyond redemption because of who they are. It is not the pain of being excluded from the altar rail or the ordination process simply because of who they love. It is the "pain" of being told they can't slam the door in someone else's face.

They are entitled to their response, of course. But I can't muster much sympathy for them.

Which, of course, requires me to pray that much harder for them--and for my own hardness of heart. As Kirkepiscatoid is fond of saying: "Bless them. Change me."

Pax,
Doxy

7/18/2009 1:27 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Lisa, with you, I felt not at all triumphant, but rather I felt surprise and then a quiet relief that the two houses did the right thing on C056 and D025.

7/18/2009 6:27 PM  
Blogger Brad said...

Of course, nobody will be surprised if the gay/lesbian/bi/trans/pre-ops, etc. make up a greatly disproportinate number of the clergy.
Nobody will be surprised by this.

7/18/2009 6:27 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Friends, I am not arguing who's right and who's wrong in this discussion. All I meant to say is that I am grateful for the actions GC took ... but I respect that those on "the other side" will feel great pain about this. And I am sorry that they are probably feeling the kind of hurt that I felt after GC06.

Yes, I am glad GC09 acted as it did. But that doesn't make it any less painful for our Worthy Opponents.

7/18/2009 9:54 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Doxy, I suspect our Worthy Opponents feel as personally rejected as I did by the actions of GC06. I'm inclined to give them some slack.

Mind you, I haven't gone over to their sites yet. I expect they are doing the usual howls and screams, calling us heretics and apostates and worse. But I'm not going to get drawn into those diatribes. For now, I'm just going to extend compassion to those folks.

I can imagine that they feel as betrayed as I felt after GC06. Hurt is hurt. Pain is pain.

7/18/2009 9:59 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Larry, I have never argued that this is an "inclusion" or "social justice" issue. I believe that we can support gay marriage/blessings and gay clergy and bishops on biblical grounds.

I quit supporting Integrity because they seemed to be following a "social justice" agenda rather than a biblical one.

Yes, I hold to a strict standard of biblical morality of fidelity, monogamy, etc. ... whether for straight or gay Christians. I'm actually quite a fuddy-duddy.

7/18/2009 10:06 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you, Doxy.

I make my arguments based on the words of my Lord and Savior--not on secular politics. As Lisa herself says: "There are only two possible lifestyles: Gospel and not. Full stop." I only argue for full inclusion because I see, firsthand, my LGBT brothers and sisters living the Gospel.

Yes! And there's that bit in Galations about seeing the fruits of the Spirit. Many of us have seen the fruits of the Spirit in partnered gay/lesbian couples.

If the Gamaliel principle is at work, it has surely spoken in many gay/lesbian unions.

7/18/2009 10:10 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you, Grandmère Mimi. What I felt after D025 & C056 was a profound sense of quiet. "Be still, my soul."

7/18/2009 10:13 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Sue M, I suspect a lot of my tribe are responding as I am.

I don't want to squash the conservatives. I want them to stay in the Episcopal Church.

There is much about which I agree with them.

But I do wish they would quit calling folks like me heretics and apostates.

7/18/2009 10:17 PM  
Blogger renzmqt said...

Doxy, are you calling me a "good fruit?" ;-) (just kidding)

Well, our worthy opponents would say the same thing - gospel or not - but there interpretation excludes any expression of any expression of sexuality outside of marriage.

Lisa and Doxy - can you show me/explain how the Bible justifies same sex relationship blessing? How is that Biblical and not Social Justice?

Jesus's words are about full inclusion in community - not about equity in church hiring - if we are to have "full inclusion" in church hiring (i.e., selection of bishops, priests, deacons, et al) are there to be no moral exclusions? My point is not that GLBT folk should be excluded, but that this is in fact social justice because we are NOT proclaiming full inclusion - or are we? Can anyone overcome their respective past misdeeds and be ordained a priest?

7/19/2009 10:05 AM  
Blogger WilliamK said...

I'm puzzled that there seems to be an assumed distinction between "Biblical" and "Social Justice." Isn't "social justice" a "biblical" principle? If it isn't, then I'm not sure we ought to embarce it.

To renzmqt's question: "Can anyone overcome their respective past misdeeds and be ordained a priest?"

The answer must certainly be, "Yes." There was a famous evangelist, for example, who, before his conversion, supported the extra-judicial lynching of a deacon and then actively led a campaign to arrest and imprison Christians. Another fellow, who became a bishop, three times denied his commitment to Jesus Christ.

7/19/2009 10:56 AM  
Blogger IT said...

I think there are conservatives who really, deeply, don't agree not because of a desire to exclude but because they seriously believe GLBT people are sinning. They really believe thtat to be GLBT is no different than being a kleptomaniac or an alcoholic, a sickness of some sort, even if inborn.

As you posted over at MP's, Doxy, one has to educate them painstakingly by witness. but it's so freakin' exhauasting to be a GLBT poster child all the time .

As a senior woman academic, I have the same experience professionally, and I get tired of being the representative of All Women and All GLBT etc etc.

7/20/2009 12:09 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

Renz---more to you later, I promise!

I think there are conservatives who really, deeply, don't agree not because of a desire to exclude but because they seriously believe GLBT people are sinning.

Then they better be advocating that clergy must be sinless before being ordained, and remain that way afterward.

Oh, wait...

Seriously. I am amazed at people who want to pronounce on other people's sins--while finding every excuse in the book for their own.

Of course they hide behind the "unrepentant" qualification. "Gays in relationships are unrepentant sinners. THAT'S why we can't welcome them into the church!"

Which then drives me to ask: Are you (generic "you") divorced and remarried? Then, by the definition of Jesus himself, you are an unrepentant sinner. (I resemble this remark.)

I've always been told that gluttony is a sin. If you are overweight and not actively dieting and exercising, then you are an unrepentant sinner. (Maybe we should set up a police force at coffee hour and church dinners to make certain you don't fall into sin anymore?)

(And yes, yes, I know...not everyone is overweight because s/he is a glutton. Which is actually part of my point...people making judgments they aren't qualified to make about the state of someone else's soul.)

Have you ever fudged on your income taxes? Stolen time from your boss by playing on the Internet at work? Better call the IRS or your boss up and confess right now, or you are an unrepentant sinner. (What's that you say? You're really sorry, but you don't want to confess because you might lose your job or go to jail? Hmmmmmmmm. And you want to opine about people whose only "sin" is to love another human being enough to make a public statement about it?!??!?!)

Yada, yada, yada. Apparently it's a "sin" if I'm not tempted by it, but a "pastoral exemption" or "compassion"--or just plain "not REALLY sinful" if it affects me.

It's called hypocrisy. And it stinks. Feh. (It's also called gnosticism and Donatism. Look 'em up.)

Doxy

7/20/2009 2:27 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

I think of Julian of Norwich's words, which I always find quite helpful:

"The soul that would preserve its peace, when another's sin is brought to mind, must fly from it as from the pains of hell, looking to God for help against it. To consider the sins of other people will produce a thick film over the eyes of our soul, and prevent us for the time being from seeing the 'fair beauty of the Lord'."

7/20/2009 3:06 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

renzmqt asked: “Lisa and Doxy - can you show me/explain how the Bible justifies same sex relationship blessing? How is that Biblical and not Social Justice?”

Renzmqt, I fear you are spending too much time over at StandFirm, for you are beginning to sound exactly like them. This disappoints me. I thought I knew you, but less so in the past several weeks.

I could just as easily ask you, “Can you show me/explain how the Bible justifies flying in an airplane?” Of course it’s not there. Because the biblical authors didn’t know about airplanes – any more than they know about the healthy, committed gay/lesbian relationships among some Christians. But many of us in the church have seen that these couples exhibit all the “fruits of the Spirit” that Paul enumerated.

No, I do not believe it is valid to justify same-sex blessings/marriages on a “social justice” basis. I affirm them because of the overarching message of Jesus and of the Gospels and Epistles, not because of some newfangled, political idea of Social Justice. (Remember what I wrote before about distancing myself from Integrity?)

And to answer your question: YES! There should and must be moral exclusions! Partnered gay men and lesbians must be held to exactly the same standards of fidelity and “holiness of life” that we expect of heterosexual candidates. That is just one of the many reasons I want to see same-sex blessings/marriages in our church.

You asked: “Can anyone overcome their respective past misdeeds and be ordained a priest?” Our church answered “yes” when it consented to the episcopal election of Barry Beisner. And it answers “yes” whenever it ordains clergy or licenses lay ministers. We all have sins in our past -- some of us notorious sins. If we repent, we can more forward into a closer relationship with God and a deeper ministry in the church.

To be more personal: I went through a very trashy, slutty period when I gave up on God and left my Protestant/fundamentalist church in the early ’80s. I have repented of that behavior – those sins – and I have been absolved, and I now serve God in the Church as I am able, clinging to the promises I made in ’97 in my confirmation in TEC. “Behold, all things are made new.”

And that, my friend, is Biblical and sacramental, and has absolutely nothing to do with social justice.

7/20/2009 9:49 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

WilliamK, as I said to Renz, I really don’t understand the “social justice” argument as it relates to same-sex relationships. Yes, the Gospels clearly speak to the biblical mandate to feed the hungry, support the poor, welcome the immigrant. But I have never seen a persuasive “social justice” argument about same-sex relationships; I believe that argument is a biblical and theological one.

7/20/2009 10:14 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

IT, I know. That is indeed what they believe.

With you, my friend, I sometimes grow weary of being the “lesbian Christian” poster child. In my parish, I am the only “out” queer. It is exhausting. I often wonder whether people are talking to “Lisa” or to the “token queer.” Sometimes, that is very frustrating. And I don’t think they even know they’re doing it.

7/20/2009 10:16 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Love your rejoinder, Doxy. I posted something similar nearly three years ago, which the blessed Louie Crew has on his site. You can read it here.

7/20/2009 10:17 PM  
Blogger Lisa Fox said...

Thank you for that mote-in-the-eye prayer, Mimi. It’s a helpful reminder to us all. Especially to me.

7/20/2009 10:18 PM  

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