By Fr. George Welzbacher
August 10, 2008
In recent years the success of the campaign within this nation to win legal as well as social endorsement of the homosexual life-style is truly amazing. And this success is directly related in today's society to the widespread acceptance of the contraceptive mind-set. Once you dismiss the procreative purpose of the sexual power and direct its use mainly to the enjoyment of pleasure-which is what approving contraception entails-there is no further principle, in terms of reason alone, on which to base rejection of homosexual liaisons. Within just slightly more than the "three score years and ten" that Psalm 90 presents as our normal lifespan the Church of England-Henry the Eighth's creation-has provided dramatic evidence that this is so. Seventy-eight years ago, in the resolutions of the Lambeth Conference of 1930, England's established Church, together with its Anglican offshoots throughout the world, gave official if reluctant blessing to the practice of contraception. And in the latest "Lambeth" Conference just concluded this past week in the town of Canterbury-a bit of a misnomer is at work here, since Lambeth Palace, the setting in the past for many of the gatherings of Anglican bishops from around the world, is the London residence of the archbishop of Canterbury-Rowan Williams, the primate of the Anglican confession, found himself unable to secure even the remotest semblance of consensus among his faith's bishops as to whether homosexual behavior is sinful. Indeed many of the traditionalist Anglican bishops from the developing countries, especially from Africa, and even a few from the U.S.A., declined even to appear at Canterbury, having met earlier this year in Jerusalem to voice their own countercultural concurrence with the judgment of Scripture in condenmation of the practice within the Anglican communion of ordaining actively homosexual candidates for Holy Orders, and of blessing homosexual "marriages".
May I offer in comment three passages from the letters of St. Paul, whose clear and certain judgment is inspired by the Holy Spirit, the spirit of Truth, and thus demolishes forever the seductive reasoning of the Evil One "who can give himself out as an angel of light"(II Corinthians 11:14). I am adding as well a report on this year's just concluded Lambeth Conference, a report published in the August 3rd issue of The New Yor- Times and written by one of that paper's most reliable reporters, John F. Burns.
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What does the New Testament have to say about homosexual behavior? Giving specificity to his warning in Ephesians (5: 5 and 6): "Be sure of this, that no immoral or impure man ... has any inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and of God-let no one deceive you with empty words," St. Paul rejects homosexual behavior as unequivocally evil in three famous passages.
1. Romans I: 21-32: "For though they knew God they did not honor Him as God ... but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools .... Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves .... Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness and evil.... Though they know God's decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them."
2. I Corinthians 6. 9-11: "Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived, neither the immoral, nor idolators nor adulterers, nor homosexuals .. will "inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God "
3. I Timothy 1: 9-10. "The law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, immoral persons, sodomites, kidnappers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine.
* * * * *And finally, here is Mr. Bums' account of the raging crisis in the Anglican (Episcopalian) church over the issue of homosexuality.
* * * * *Cast Out, but at the Center of the Storm
By: John F. Burns
From: The New York Times
Sunday, August 3, 2008
For a man at the heart of a bitter dispute that threatens to sunder the Anglican communion, Bishop Gene Robinson seems more relaxed than almost any of the 650 bishops and archbishops gathered for the Lambeth Conference, the once-a-decade assembly that brings together the leaders of an estimated 80 million Anglicans worldwide.
The easy demeanor and constant smile of this openly gay 60-year-old Episcopalian bishop of New Hampshire, when we meet at the Falstaff Hotel just down the street from Canterbury Cathedral, are all the more remarkablefor thefact that he is the only man among the many wearing the Anglican bishop's purple on Canterbury's streets these past two weeks who wasn't invited to the conference. Indeed, since the conference first met in 1867, he was the only Anglican bishop anywhere except those disgraced for disputed legitimacy, malfeasance or criminality, to be told-in his case, by the Most Rev. Rowan Williams, the archbishop of Canterbury--that there was no seat for him at the Lambeth table.
Not that being the ghost at the banquet has inhibited Bishop Robinson. He may, in fact, have been the busiest prelate in town other than Archbishop Williams and in some ways the most popular, since he decided to carve out an off-stage role for himself here while on a tour that included delivering sermons in London and Glasgow.
On Canterbury's gabled streets, he has been greeted on almost every block by well- wishers. "Good for you, bishop!" a man in his 20's with fashionably blond-streaked hair shouted as the American passed.... "Thank you, thank you, " responded the bishop, beaming...
Bishop Robinson is used to being a standout; elected in 2003, he is the only acknowledged gay man, in an open partnership with another man, ever to serve as an Anglican bishop. [Recently he and his partner, Mark Andrew, recited vows together in a formal "marriage" ceremony]. That's lit a slow-burning fuse within the Anglican fold that has crept ever closer to the dynamite that could blow the worldwide communion apart. Lambeth's achievement this time, if there is one, will lie simply in the fact that Archbishop Williams-by reworking the conference rules and procedures and abandoning any resolutions or votes so as to avoid an open showdown over homosexuality, and by keeping Bishop Robinson from entering the tent-has managed to put off, though surely not to quash altogether, the threat of open schism.
Shortly before the bishops gathered here two weeks ago, a group of traditionalist and evangelical bishops, many from Africa but some from the United States, Australia and other developed countries, met in Jerusalem to establish the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans. They resolved never to accept open homosexuality among clergy or bishops, and also rejected the notion of the archbishop of Canterbury as the communion's supreme voice.
Though the Jerusalem group denied the characterization, their group, inevitably, was seen by other Anglicans as the nascent form of a SEPARATE [emphasis added] Anglican communion. Their stand was followed by a boycott of Lambeth, with at least 220 bishops and primates among the 880 invited choosing to stay away...Bishop Robinson ... said he had urged other Episcopalian bishops, at a meeting this spring in Navasota, Texas, not to boycott Lambeth on his behalf. In the end, 150 American Bishops came, led by Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori [the presiding bishop of the Protestant Episcopal church in the U-S.A]..
Bishop Robinson characterized the role he fashioned for himself here as nonconfrontational. "I think the leadership here expected me to show up, and protest, and try to wrestle the microphone from Archbishop Rowan, or try to get into meetings to which I wasn't invited, and I've done none of these things." Instead he said, what he had sought with his gadfly presence was "to bear witness to the love of God I know as a follower of Jesus Christ, and to be a constant reminder to the bishops gathered here that there are gay and lesbian Christians sitting in the pews in every one of their churches, and that they [the bishops] have taken vows to serve all in their flock." [To serve means to help; to serve one'sylock is to help one'sjlock to attain eternal salvation. Encouraging homosexual behavior does not speed one's "flock" on the way to salvation. Quite the contrary.]
Talking in the courtyard of the Falstaff, founded as a 15th-century pilgrims' inn, it seemed natural to ask whether he saw himself in the mold of Thomas á Becket, the archbishop of Canterbury who was martyred in the cathedral a slingshot away. "Heavens no!" he said, chuckling, "I have no aspirations of that kind at all, only to be a good bishop." To make the point, he gestured to a burly British Army veteran seated close by, hired as his security companion for the tour, and cited the fact that he and his partner, Mark Andrew, wore bullet-proof vests at his consecration five years ago.
By Bishop Robinson's estimate, at least some countries represented at the Lambeth meeting have the death penalty for homosexuality, while about 25 others make sarne-sex relationships punishable by imprisonment. But he said that at least some conservative bishops seemed open to dialogue. American bishops have held two evening sessions to introduce Bishop Robinson to non-Americans at the conference; these have drawn about 200 bishops and their spouses, including some from African provinces that have been strongly hostile to compromise on homosexuality.
"A goodly number of the bishops took a considerable risk by being there," the bishop said, "There were among them those who spoke very movingly, and without rancor, of the problems my consecration has posed for them. Afterwards they told me they would pray for me and asked me to pray for them."
If there were any edge to the bishop's feelings, and it was only fleeting, it came in his references to Archbishop Williams. As an Oxford-and-Cambridge educated theologian, the 58 year old archbishop gained a reputation as a deep-thinking liberal strongly sympathetic to gay rights and underscored that as archbishop of Wales by appointing openly gay men to the clergy. "We were dancing in the streets when Archbishop Rowan was appointed, " Bishop Robinson said of the prelate's elevation to the Canterbury seat in 2003. But then came the archbishop's efforts to placate the conservatives, and his denial of a Lambeth invitation to Bishop Robinson.
The two men have met only once, in 2005, and that meeting, Bishop Robinson said, was held at the deanery of St. Paul's Cathedral, not at Lambeth Palace, to avoid any chance of its being noticed by the British press. He had sympathized with the archbishop, who had been placed in "an impossible position" by the uncompromising attitude that hard-line conservatives in the communion had taken on homosexuality. But by excluding him, the American said, the archbishop had made a strategic miscalculation. "In the end, the conservatives didn't come to the conference anyway, only proving that bullies never get enough," he said. "They always come back for more. " [Clear?]