Well, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church confirmed the gay bishop. There was a one day hiccup in the process (in the form of some lame allegations), but now it’s over. Now the real fun begins. Everyone has to figure out what this means for them, and how disastrous this might be for the church.
I’m still unsure of what to think of the whole thing. On one hand, I think the loving acceptance displayed by the church is important. But on the other hand, if homosexuality is a sin (and as I’ve said before, I’m still debating that one) then letting a church leader knowingly and willingly continue in that sin is not a good thing.
I wish the debate on homosexuality were easier. I wish the Bible were easier to understand and we couldn’t justify all sorts of things by reading it in a certain context. I suppose if that were the case it wouldn’t be what it is. Sometimes I wonder what would happen if you ignored all of church history and could somehow look at the Bible with fresh eyes and start the church all over again. What would it look like? Would we have the fancy robes and incense? Would stained glass be important? Would there be pews? Or a step farther, would there even be a church building? Would men be able to have long hair? Would women be able to cut their hair short? Would women even be able to speak in church? Would there be a rash of end times fiction? Let’s hope not.
Yet church history is important. There’s a certain arrogance in ignoring everything those who have gone before you have learned and assuming you can figure it out all by yourself. Yet corruption still exists and reform is necessary.
I have my doubts about homosexuality. When I look at God’s original design, a man and a woman, and the symbolism that exists there and between Christ and the church, it seems odd that homosexuality would be acceptable. At the same time, marriage is not a requirement of the faithful. Paul lived a single, celibate life. It seems that Christ has overturned the old expectations and brought us to something new, where simple living arrangements are not as important as they were in the Old Testament. There’s something more important now.
I think when it comes down to it the homosexual debate makes me so uncomfortable because that is when Christians often tend to display their infamous qualities of hatred, judgment, and condemnation. We seem unable to separate religious beliefs from societal beliefs, simply in the form of tolerance, which is what this nation was founded on (of course the Puritans were never very good at tolerance).
I had this debate with coworkers when the pledge of allegiance debate was raging. In a civil society you have to make compromises to get along with everyone. You can’t acknowledge one religion to the exclusion of others in a public setting. Some of my coworkers disagreed to a degree that I was baffled. When I presented them with the shoe on the other foot argument (one nation under Buddah), they said that was terrible, yet one nation under God was still acceptable because that was right. I fear Christians have a reputation for always assuming they are right. There’s nothing wrong with thinking you’re right, but when someone else thinks you’re wrong, you have to find a way to live together. And a simple majority rules works fine when you’re in the majority, but when you’re the minority, it’s not so fun. America was founded by minority religious groups who wanted their freedom. Now they’ve become the majority and are abusing the power they once feared.
Sex is a very complicated thing. I said before that I think this is a personal issue, and that’s because you have to deal with it on a personal level. When you hear a person’s story of their struggle with homosexuality, it becomes much harder to judge them. There are many other sexual issues that Christians shy away from, and I think it cripples our approach to the world. What about transgender issues? Sex changes and people born with no sex? These things happen, and you can’t simply explain them away as someone’s perverted sexual problem.
Life is complicated, and I am rambling beyond control.
At the Exhibit Hall of the Episcopal General Convention, one booth was handing out condoms. As you would expect, outrage ensued. What is the Christian fear with condoms? They are a legitimate means of birth control and disease prevention. Granted many people use them outside of a committed marital relationship, but does that condemn the condom itself? If someone is lost and knows nothing of Jesus Christ, why are we down on them for using a condom? They’re being responsible and not spreading diseases around and at least taking some measure of protection to ensure that they’re not bring a child into that potentially unstable relationship. Sure, they’re sinning. But so what? Sinful people sin. We can’t expect abstinence from someone who has no moral grounding for abstinence.
Passing out condoms in church. Is this what we have to get upset about? Sheesh. At the least, it’s showing compassion on the unsaved person who’s going to have sex anyway. At the most, it’s promoting responsible birth control choices within the church. Our puritanical, uptight roots keep us from talking about anything, and thus a condom becomes shunned. And we wander why teens get pregnant, why abortions happen, and why sex is rampant.
This is what happens when you save up your thoughts for a week.