Generous Orthodoxy  


Thoughts for a congregation divided

as it faces the homosexuality issue

 

by the Rev. Fleming Rutledge 

This is a substantial portion of an address delivered in December 2003 in a parish where there was significant division and some rancor. In places where there are omissions, there is a double line. Omissions represent portions of the address that have not been worked out for general release. The name of the parish is withheld simply because I am trying to broaden the application. 

Note to the reader: the strong majority in this particular congregation favored the traditional position opposing ordination and marriage of gay people. There was a much smaller group strongly favoring revision. Some of these had already left; others were wondering if there could be a place for them. The emphases in this address are therefore somewhat different from those that might be made in a parish where the dividing line fell the other way. 

Since 2003 I have not had any strong feeling that I want to revise the general opinions here expressed in any significant way.  

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      This presentation is divided into several parts. First is an address to each member of this congregation which I hope might be of some assistance to you as you face the issues that are before us. Then I will move on directly to the question of homosexuality. 

      My heart’s desire and my prayer is that this blessed congregation would stay together and work through the pain. My heart’s desire and my prayer is that you would remain within the Episcopal Church and bear your witness by modeling your capacity for enduring the struggle. Many of you have spoken to me or emailed me about your distress. It has been my privilege to share some of this with you, but also my burden. I am comforted to know that this burden has the shape of the Advent life where conflict and struggle are expected but the promise comes to us from our Lord: In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)  

      An important New Testament idea is formulated by St. Paul who writes to the Philippian church: Have this mind among yourselves which you have in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5). He also writes to the Corinthians, saying, We have received...the Spirit which is from God, that we might understand the gifts bestowed on us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who possess the Spirit...we have the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:12-3, 116) I want to focus on two things: the teaching of the Spirit and the mind of Christ. In my judgment this is one of those times in the history of the Church when we are going to have to wrestle through to a new understanding of the mind of Christ. We may come to the same conclusion in the end that the Church has held for two thousand years, but my best judgment tells me that we cannot simply say “this is the way it has always been.” I think that God is requiring us to think it through all over again. We do not yet know the full mind of Christ for our time. Again, we may come out in the same place, but I do not believe we have the luxury of withdrawing from it. That is why I am standing here. I have tried to withdraw for too long. I am now going to offer some guidelines for the discussion. My particular goal is to make more room, to enlarge the space for our disagreements. 

      The kind of example that I am suggesting to you is desperately needed in our church. Very few parishes are modeling this. Most have simply gone to one extreme or the other. It is much easier to withdraw into a group of people who are all in agreement than it is to endure this conflict close up. The wider Church desperately needs to see congregations that have taken a strong stand but continue to encompass personal relationships that are surviving not only deep disagreements but real hurt, real pain, real anger. This suffering will be hallowed by mutual acts of self-sacrifice. I have already heard of two striking instances of such acts within this congregation. This is what it means to take up the Cross. 

      The great English poet John Keats wrote in a letter: “Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact & reason” (Aileen Ward, Keats’ biographer, observes that this is what today is called “tolerance for ambiguity”). I have found this conception very useful (I have written about it in my book Help My Unbelief) but I would redefine it as the capacity for living within a situation of conflict and uncertainty without insisting that one’s own strongly held position be absolute. Again, I am hoping to make a contribution to your struggle by making a larger space for you to work together, remembering that in all things God is working together for good for those who love him (Romans 8:28).  

      I bought a book at Waterstone’s bookstore in Boston and they gave me a bag with a quotation from the French writer Roland Barthes: “Literature is the question without the answer.” That expresses something of what I want to say. Jesus Christ is indeed the answer to all our questions, but we do not always know what shape that answer takes in this life. A theological book that I read recently speaks of the “painful and piercing questions that trouble all our answers” and notes that whereas faith sees the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living [Psalm 27], it sees this goodness not as deliverance from all danger and ambiguity, but as encouragement to see them through. (Charles L. Bartow, God’s Human Speech, 112, 89)

      The great German pastor, theologian and Christian martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer similarly wrote of “living unreservedly in life’s duties, problems, successes and failures, experiences and perplexities. In so doing, we throw ourselves completely into the arms of God, taking seriously not our own sufferings, but those of God in the world—watching with Christ at Gethsemane. (LPP July 21, 1944)

 

      As I said, many people in this congregation are confiding in me their deep hurt. Drawing on Bonhoeffer, I read the situation this way: the biggest problem in situations like this is that people are not trying hard enough to understand one another. People are taking their own distress so seriously that they can’t see the distress of the other, or they give the impression that they don’t care about the distress of the other. People on both sides who have not already left the parish are drawing lines, not talking to one another. As in a marriage, that is very dangerous for a relationship.  

      Then, too, there is the matter of money. Throughout the Episcopal Church, money is being used as a means of sending a message, This is inevitable. We all stop giving money to causes when they disappoint us. The problemand this is a serious one is that the people with the most money have the most leverage and gain the most power, and the entire teaching of the Old and New Testaments warns against that. 

   My impression of this congregation is that you have been deeply committed to one another as a Christian family, and it is obvious that you have had excellent leadership for many years. All that can be lost in a matter of months if you allow your divisions to fester and deepen. This is what the apostle Paul was worried about in the Corinthian Churchthe congregation was dividing into factions, each thinking itself superior to the other. Paul writes to them in the most impassioned terms, pleading with them to work through their divisions. I would also point to his letter to the Philippians where he is entreating his most beloved congregation to pull together. Two leading women of the church are fighting. He speaks to them directly, and to an unnamed colleague, saying, “I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. And I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they have labored side by side with me in the gospel” (Philippians 2:3). This is one of the most important passages in the whole Bible about the role of women, yet it is often overlooked. Paul addresses the two women in Philippi as leaders whose dispute is significant enough to affect the whole congregation.

      Now “agreeing in the Lord” does not necessarily mean holding the same opinion. It also means “having the same mind,” that is to say, having the “mind of Christ.” I would offer an example of two people who serve together on the faculty of the Duke Divinity School, Richard Hays in New Testament and Stanley Hauerwas in theology. They have opposing views on homosexuality and complementary views on almost everything else. They have worked together for many years.

      For a congregation like yours, however, this will not be easy. Specific decisions will have to be made about your relationship with the diocese, the bishop, and the AAC. Votes will be taken and there will be winners and losers. It will then be incumbent upon the “winners” to bend over backwards toward those who voted differently. A great deal will depend on the conduct of those in the majority. The party or person in power always has the most responsibility to wear that power as Christ wore his. Thus Paul wrote to the Philippians: Complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love...Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who was in the form of God but emptied himself and took the form of a servant or slave (Philippians 2:3-11). Paul knows that Christians will have fights. He is teaching them how to fight. Here he is speaking there especially to those who are on top, so to speak, calling them to humility. 

      But the minority, too, will have to struggle. The “winners” are tempted to charge ahead with little regard for the feelings of the minoritythat is their dangerbut the minority is in danger too. The minority will have to fight off the temptation to self-righteousness. Those in the minority will find it difficult not to think of themselves as superior because they feel that their position is more loving, more “inclusive.” It takes a lot of work on both sides to avoid these traps. Let  me suggest some questions that you might ask yourselves. Can you ask another person the question “Why does this issue bother you so much?” Can you give the other person lots of time to answer? Are you willing to struggle to understand the answer even if you do not agree? Can you grant that the other person holds his or her position with integrity as you hold yours? Are you willing to offer something of yourself to another person who has deeply offended you? Brothers and sisters in Christ, that is the way of the Cross, and though we disagree about human sexuality and many other issues, there can be no disagreement that our Lord calls us to the way of the Cross.  

      Perhaps most important of all, when you have overstepped or failed, can you apologize and ask for forgiveness ? For 22 years, from 1975 to 1997 I worked in parish ministry, and it is my experience that repentance and forgiveness is a factor that outweighs all others. It affects relationships on the deepest level. When old friends of many years, or even family members, find themselves on opposite sides of an inflammatory issue, the pain and the recriminations can be ferocious. During the Civil War, not only the nation but also families were split. This was the situation faced by a great theologian, Abraham Lincoln. He was a theologian profound enough to stand alongside the giants of Christian history. I am quite serious about that. A recent book discussing his theology is an examination of the Second Inaugural called Lincoln’s Greatest Speech.  

      It is well known that Lincoln changed his mind about slavery. Lincoln wrestled long and hard with theological questions raised in his mind by slavery and the Civil War. In a private letter to a newspaper editor in Kentucky, a slave-holding state, he wrote that both the South and the North would be judged for complicity in the sin of slavery, and that such judgment would ultimately cause men “to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.” In his essay “Meditation on the Divine Will” he mused, “In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be wrong. God can not be for, and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party...”1 

      My own feeling is that this must be true of the present conflict, which is probably just beginning. It will be another full generation at least before we begin to see what the sexual revolution has wrought, but we must always be aware that God’s purpose is probably something different from the purpose of any party or group. Therefore it is not a good idea to act as though one side or the other is in possession of the absolute unmitigated truth. I have been speaking for many days here with you about God’s judgment and the way that Christ took God’s judgment upon himself, commanding us not to judge others (Matthew 7:1). At the same time we should note that there was a very strong note of judgment in our Lord’s words on certain occasions. Who he would judge in the present situation is not clear to me. 

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Of first importance:  

A word to those present who are heterosexual:

Homosexual people deserve to be seen, understood, and taken seriously. It would not be Christian to patronize them, categorize them, or talk about them in the third person. Gay people want to know that insofar as there is distress, we are distressed on their behalf, not just because of them or as a result of them as thought they were a problem we wish would go away. We who are “straight” must bear the pain of this difficult time in our persons, not push it away as though it were someone else’s problem off in a remote location. 

Let us always remember that the Christian faith calls for a different use of power. I was struck recently by a sentence in a book by Philip Gourevitch, We Wish To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed With Our Families (Winner National Book Critics Circle Award 1998). This is a highly praised account of the massacres in Rwanda and the abject failure of the American and European powers to do anything to stop it. Here is the sentence that struck me: “Power largely consists in the ability to make others inhabit your story of their reality”  

If “power largely consists in the ability to make others inhabit your story of their reality,” then the way of the Cross consists in allowing those others to tell their story in their own way.  

A word to homosexuals and those connected to homosexuals:

I am addressing not only the openly gay people who may be here, but also those present

  • who have children who are homosexual,
  • who have close and valued friends who are homosexual,
  • who have had homosexual experiences and are confused about that,
  • who are living perhaps a secret life that few know about,
  • who are pondering whether they should “come out”.
 

I do not wish to speak to you as though you were a problem. I do not wish to speak to you as though you were in a different category from the rest of us, as though you were sinners of a special sort more serious than the sinfulness of the rest of us. I do not wish to speak about you as if you were not present. My sense of our Lord is that he always spoke to, not about, every one who was present and that he continued his gracious address to those who were considered beyond the pale even though he knew it was deeply offensive to the “godly.”  

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   Now for the matter at hand. I open with a few theological observations for background. 

      As Christians we must be theological—not anthropologicalin our decision-making. Theos means God, anthropos means man, human being. Most of the argumentation going on in the Episcopal Church right now is only vaguely theological. If we really intend our discussion to be Christian and not just generically religious or humanist, we need to focus on God, on God’s nature as revealed to us in Scripture. Much of the argument during the women’s ordination controversy was anthropological, that is, it emphasized the experiences of women and various socio-political themes rather than the light that was breaking forth out of Scripture. The debate gradually became dominated by a group that was not interested in thinking theologically. 

      Let me give you some examples of anthropological thinking. There is a sentimentality in much of the debate coming from the “liberal” side. Homosexuals are romanticized and the seriously disordered aspect of many (not all) gay lifestyles is overlooked and ignored. This is analogous to the belief that if we could just get women into leadership, the church would be a better place. (No doubt there are some who still believe that; I certainly do not.) Those who favor the new thinking about gay people are often found sentimentalizing their own position, thinking or perhaps even saying, “See how loving and inclusive we are compared to you.” I was guilty of this myself during the civil rights period. I still have to be careful about romanticizing the black church and African Americans in general.  

      What is a theological statement that we can all agree on? How about “God accepts you just as you are”? That is true. But that is only a part of the truth about God, as I have been saying for more than a week in the Advent presentations, because it takes no account of the fact that none of us can stand before the face of God without some serious remedial work. What then? All around the church in our time it is heard, “We have an inclusive gospel.” Yes, we do, but on what basis is it inclusive? That is the question. What is the role of judgment, correction, purgation? And why are those who talk so much of inclusion so eager to exclude evangelicals, caricaturing us just as many evangelicals categorize liberals and homosexuals? 

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First, a very quick sketch of the relevant Biblical material. When I was in church on the October 6 just past and heard the readings for the day, I thought to myself, this is almost the complete picture, right here.  

    Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a partner fit for him.” So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh; and the rib which the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,

    “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh;

    she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

    Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 2:18-24) 

    [Jesus] went to the region of Judea and beyond the Jordan, and crowds gathered to him again; and again, as his custom was, he taught them. And Pharisees came up and in order to test him asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife?” 3 He answered them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses allowed a man to write a certificate of divorce, and to put her away.” But Jesus said to them, “For your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.” (Mark 10:2-9) 

      These theological ideas lie at the heart of any discussion of human sexuality. They are theological, even though they are about anthropos, because God is the determining factor, not human experience. This is called “the order of creation” and it is very difficult if not impossible to dismiss, because it is not only set in the creation but also endorsed specifically and powerfully by Jesus himself. I will return to this shortly when I get around to talking about divorce. 

      Sexual irregularity of every kind is regarded with abhorrence in the Old Testament. It is depicted in grim detailincest, rape, the whole thingbut deeply imbedded in the account of God’s dealings with Israel is the sense that Israel is to be distinct from the pagan culture around itdistinct in holiness, which covered many things but certainly sexual behavior as a major component. Israel’s sins of idolatry and covenant-breaking are repeatedly indicated by sexual metaphors. Especially notable in the Hebrew prophets is the imagery of infidelity, harlotry and adultery denoting the most grievous sort of apostasy.  

      It is the easiest thing in the world to make fun of the Book of Leviticus. It is harder to read it for its overall theological message. I did that yesterday; I read the whole thing (not for the first time, but for the first time in a while). Some of it was tedious indeed, and I do not necessarily recommend your trying it. But in the end, if one reads it with a reasonably fresh eye and ear, one comes away from Leviticus with a different impression. There is a good deal in it about justice, honesty, kindness to the neighbor, care for the poor, and so forth. In spite of the numerous prohibitions and strictures that seem so strange and even offensive to us today, the book carries with it a deeply Hebrew sensibility that is strikingly different from anything around it in the various pagan cultures. I don’t mean that other cultures did not have prohibitions, sacrifices, atonement rituals, etc. What I mean is that when you take the Torah and the rest of the Old Testament as a whole, there is a quality of materiality about it. It is not “spiritual,” it is earthy. That has always been noticed about the faith of the Hebrews and it has always been recognized as something distinctive, even unique, in ancient religion. The body matters, and what is done in and to the body matters. 

      Skimming across now (and this is really skimming, not deep-diving) to the New Testament, we begin to see the rise of gnosticism, a complex and highly “spiritualized” form of belief which held that the body and all that is associated with the body was unspiritual and inferior. The Corinthian church was being influenced by gnostic teaching and this had led to two contradictory practices:  

    1) Extreme asceticism, manifest in practices such as abstinence even within marriage, punishment of the body, mortification of the fleshall for the purpose of showing that only the “spiritual” counts

    2) Extreme promiscuity, drawn from the same premisethe body didn’t matter 

    Over against this emerging Christian gnosticism we have Paul’s teaching which, with its Hebrew roots, takes the body very seriously indeed. There is, for instance, a very important passage in I Corinthians 6:12-20. Paul explains why sexual purity is crucial for Christians: The body is not made for immorality but for the Lord...the immoral man sins against his own body...Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit?...You are not your own; you were bought with a price. 

    Parenthetically, the argument is frequently made today that : “Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. ” This is disingenuous at best and dishonest at worst. No educated interpreter today believes that we can make a simple separation of Jesus’ teaching from the church’s reflection on that teaching, and it is annoying that some are pretending that we can. (In any case, Jesus is quoted as condemning porneia, which would certainly have covered the entire spectrum of illicit sexual behaviour repeatedly spelled out in the Old Testament. If he had not meant it to, he would have specified so.). 

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      I know something about male homosexuality and one of the things I know is that there is a great deal of ignorance about it among straight people in the Episcopal Church. People on the “left” tend to romanticize and sentimentalize gays as charming, lovable innocents out of La Cage aux Folles. People on the “right,” though they make supposedly informed pronouncements about gay people, in my experience often are quite deceived because they have not made much effort to know gay people in depth, and indeed do not know many gay people at all (or think that they don’t). 

      I am sorry that I cannot speak about lesbianism. I know a little about it but not much. One of the problems about this whole issue is that it takes an enormous amount of time and effort to find out enough to speak publicly in an authoritative way. There are a few things that we do know about the differences between male and female homosexuals. Lesbians (speaking generally) are much more likely to seek commitment to a single partner, and are much less likely to seek anonymous or promiscuous sex than are male homosexuals. (At least this was true until recently. It may be changing now.) There is a significant amount of lesbian literature, and it is well known that some of the best old-line women’s colleges have become lesbian havens. However, there is nothing in lesbianism comparable to the male personal advertisements in the gay magazines. I would strongly urge anyone who has a sentimental or romantic view of gay life to read some of these magazines and have your eyes opened.  

It is notable that relatively few male couples have sought single-sex unions in Vermont or Canada, far fewer than expected. A recent informal canvas of gay men in New York indicated that a significant number, perhaps even a majority, of gay men are not interested in monogamy or the institution of marriage, let alone adopting children. At the same time, support for sexual morality and the institution of marriage is breaking down before our very eyes. Last week in The New York Times most of the “News of the Week in Review” section was devoted to this subject. The increase in cohabitation and childbearing outside marriage is astronomical.2 

      Two weeks ago the conservative writer David Brooks wrote a column lamenting the state of marriage and arguing that conservatives should support gay “marriage” because it will promote the values of fidelity and family plus supporting a more wholesome style of life. This is not a new argument but it was a surprise to hear it coming from a conservative.  

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Continuing the subject of the phenomenon of homosexuality:

 

      Here are my beliefs, based on considerable research and observation: 

      First: Gay men do not choose their orientation (though I do not believe it is a gene). No one would choose a way of life that causes them so much social difficulty. I do not wish to go into this in any detail but I hold the view (which is more widely held by specialists than most are willing to admit) that male homosexuality is largely a result of the boy’s inability at a crucial time (early in life, in the 4-to-7 range) to make the shift from attachment to the mother to attachment to the father, a difficult shift to make at best, but especially so in the absence or perceived absence of a warmly empathetic, emotionally accessible, dependably supportive father or father figure with whom the boy can joyously identify. My various male friends who have gay sons obviously did not know that was happening to their sons and did not intend it, but their ways of trying to compensate were too little too late. I therefore believe that the Church would do well to give much more attention to the whole matter of fathers. There has been too much idealizing of mothers and too little support and encouragement of fathers. 

      Second: I do not believe that a male with an exclusively homosexual orientation can be changed. 3  Twenty years ago I was very interested in two cases that were widely written about in church publications. One man wrote extensively about his own “cure” and subsequent marriage and it sounded extremely persuasive. Another was held up by one of our leading traditionalist clergymen as an example of a “cured” or changed homosexual. I was duly impressed by this at the time, and consequently very sobered when, ten and fifteen years later, it emerged that these cures or changes had not in fact occurred.  

      Third: I have been considering the argument that the Biblical writers did not know anything about people with an exclusively homosexual orientation. This point has been widely made and I find it somewhat persuasive, in a provisional way at least.  

      Third: I have great respect and reverence for people who maintain celibacy if they are unmarried, divorced or widowed. This certainly remains the classical Christian standard. However, I do not believe that many people are granted the gift of celibacy. Even St. Paul, who put a high value on celibacy, recognized this in his teaching on marriage. I therefore believe we must find a way to support healthier lifestyles for Christian gay people who are beset every day by invitations to participate in the anonymity and promiscuity of the street, the bathhouse, the bar and the club. We will do well, I think to make an honored place for the devoutly Christian gay people who sincerely want fidelity and stability in their lives insofar as that is possible for them. These couples are in the distinct minority and it seems to me that we should support them in their wish to carve out a more responsible style of life. I therefore agree (I think) with those who say that we should be discussing the possibility of some sort of blessing for gay couples who fit this description. 

      However: those who take comfort in what I just said will probably be very disappointed in the sequel, which is this.  

      Fourth: Homosexuality is being called by many a “normal variant of human sexuality”. This seems to me to be an entirely untenable view, even from a completely secular perspective. Everything we know about men and women and reproduction, it seems to me, argues against that position, beginning with human anatomy. What then is homosexuality? Is it a “perversion”? Many heterosexual people will always have difficulty understanding it any other way, no matter what they may say publicly. Is it a “disorder”? “Disordered,” theologically understood, means “not according to the order God intends.” In that sense homosexuality is a disorder, but there are a great many disordersmany. If we compare the standard set by our Lord, which is “one-flesh” union between one man and one woman, a great number of human relationships are disordered; and there are many long-married, monogamous couples who have disorders within their marriages like alcoholism, abuse or sexual problems. Indeed, a truly “ordered” marriage is rare and is a gift of God when it exists at all. For the phenomenon of homosexuality I would suggest the word “adaptation.” Homosexuality is not a normal variant of human sexuality but an adaptation to the circumstances, whatever they are, that have produced exclusively homosexual desires in a person. 

      Therefore I do not believe that gay couples should be “married” as heterosexual couples are married. There needs to be some tacit acknowledgement that this is something less than the full intention of the Lord in creation. My own sense at present is that gay unions would be conducted rather like second marriages after a divorcequiet, restrained, and dignified (at least that is the way second marriage ceremonies used to be). 

      The Church has been quite permissive lately with regard to premarital sex and divorce, even extramarital sex. Indeed, we have been largely voiceless and impotent in these matters. I have the impression that the mainlines are not even trying, and as for the Christian right, I have read in an evangelical magazine that there is even more divorce among American evangelicals than in the population as a whole. Therefore I do not think that those of us who are evangelicals can afford to be toplofty about our superior Biblical sexual standards. 

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      About withdrawal from the Episcopal Church: 

      I do not believe that there is such a thing as a pure church. Do we want the church to be purified of gay people? In a “reconfigured” church, there will be virtually no openly gay people and, I should think, very few closeted or celibate ones. This, in my judgment, would be a situation we cannot allow. If the Church is anything at all, it is an image of the mercy of God for a widely disparate and unlikely assortment of people who have been made one in Christ in spite of their continuing condition as simul peccator et iustus (simultaneously saint and sinner). 

      Some are saying that if the Episcopal Church splits it will warn other denominations not to go where we have gone. This may be. On the other hand, I met a leading Presbyterian the other day in Charlotte who was in great distress at the possibility that an Episcopal split would mean a greater likelihood of a Presbyterian split, which would be almost unbelievably tragic since the Northern and Southern Presbyterian churches came back together only a few decades ago. 

This ends abruptly because it does not include my concluding remarks which were not written down. I did not write them down because I wanted to be free to speak extemporaneously and personally as I addressed a large crowd of people whose faces I could see and whom I had come to know fairly well in my several visits to this parish. Unfortunately, this portion of my remarks was not recorded. 
 
 


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