Skip to comments.Two Integrities? (Scottish Episcopal Church)
Posted on 03/07/2006 8:03:21 PM PST by sionnsar
Rt. Rev. Martin Shaw (the Bishop of Argyle and the Isles) has written in the Scottish Episcopal Church magazine, 'Inspires':
Conciliatory voices on the issue of homosexuality have used the image of two integrities. There are those who have a strong adherence to a particular approach to Scripture and its authority which would see an ordained priest in a same sex relationship as being a major challenge to the authority of Scripture. This position is held to have integrity. The other position is that faithful homosexual relationships are consistent with a developmental interpretation of Scripture. The community of faith is one where God is implicitly revealed in the loving relationships of many kinds, including those of a homosexual nature. This is also regarded by some to be an approach of integrity to the issue. So the question is: how are the two integrities to be debated, when there is an assumption of a winner or loser? Discussion can often lead to hurtful comments and defensiveness. How then do we move forward, without the consequence of division and fracture?
Perhaps it is in a vigil of silence and patient waiting that polarised integrities can be held in the creative tension of the Love of God. No discussion. No debate. No winners. No losers. No rejection. In the silence of patient waiting, we are with the God who loves through the contention.
This was as part of his proposal that churches in the SEC hold silent vigils during Lent. We'll certainly be praying enthusiastically for the bishops, the SEC and for the Anglican Communion, as we have done over the last year.
But the whole idea of 'two integrities', is a creation of those who now need to justify their position. They desperately need to head off disagreement and establish their views as justified.
The truth is that one position has integrity, followed by the Church for nearly two thousand years, and is still the most widely held one by Christians in the world today. The other is a position adopted by some segments of the Church as a response to cultural and political pressure, as well as numerical decline. To say that the latter has integrity, is to somehow say that it is true, and this is a matter of deep concern for reasserters.
The bottom line is that many Christians believe that the reappraising stance does not have Christian integrity.
The bishops will keep us talking about this as long as they can, but ultimately, after all the talk, we will have to decide from one of the following five options:
1. The Scottish Episcopal Church, reasserts the position that the wider Church still holds to (from the text of the Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10):
'in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds faithfulness in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage.'
2. The Reasserters of the Resolution above, give in and allow the idea of 'two integrities'. This will damage their ecumenical relationships, their integrity, and the membership of their churches, as many people will leave as a direct result of such compromise.
3. The bishops come up with a scheme that allows for a true recognition of 'two integrities', by creating a strong measure of alternative episcopal oversight, and ensuring that finances provided by reasserting churches are ring-fenced to ensure that they are not being used to develop policies that they would have no agreement with.
4. The two sides part amicably, and pursue the purposes that are in their hearts.
5. The two sides part in enmity, with possible property and legal problems to contend with, as well as the emotional and spiritual pain this will cause.
It appears that what we really need is for our leaders to declare their intentions and how they propose to solve this issue. Clarity, not further obfuscation is required. We'll all then know where we stand and can also act accordingly. To maintain an neverending dialogue will divert energy and resources from our mission to share the gospel of new life in Christ.
The 'let's agree to disagree, and live happily ever after' stance, has worked to some extent for the twenty two years that I have been in the SEC structure. But now that stance will no longer work. Despite our pleas over the years, the public stance of our church changed at this time last year, with the publication of the bishops' statement. At that point many realised that they could no longer compromise.
In the intervening months that realisation has, if anything, strengthened.
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