Presentation on theme: "Homosexuality and Anglicanism The Anglican Approach to Moral Questions."— Presentation transcript:
Homosexuality and Anglicanism The Anglican Approach to Moral Questions
“What Scripture doth plainly deliver, to that first place both of credit and obedience is due; the next whereunto is whatsoever any man can necessarily conclude by force of reason; after these the voice of the Church succeedeth. That which the Church by her ecclesiastical authority shall probably think and define to be true or good, must in congruity of reason over-rule all other inferior judgments whatsoever” Richard Hooker, The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, V.8:2
Hooker’s Principles Scripture: The ultimate authority, as it contains special revelation from God Reason: When Scripture does not speak plainly, truth flows from what reason can necessarily conclude from reflection upon Scripture Tradition: When reason is applied in the preceding manner, the voice of the Church in its highest councils, both past and present, is authoritative
Actions of General Convention, the House of Bishops, and the Lambeth Conference 1976-2003
Actions of the 1976 General Convention Resolution A-69 “Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that it is the sense of this General Convention that homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all others persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.” Resolution A-71 “Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, that this General Convention expresses its conviction that homosexual persons are entitled to equal protection of the laws with all other citizens, and calls upon our society to see that such protection is provided in actuality.”
The Ordination of Ellen Barrett On January 10, 1977, the Rt. Rev. Paul Moore, Bishop of New York, ordained Ellen Barrett to the priesthood Ellen Barrett was an avowed lesbian The House of Bishops questioned Bp. Moore on this matter He insisted that the judgment to ordain her was based on her homosexual orientation alone: “We were not dealing with a publicly professed practicing homosexual.”
1977 House of Bishops’ Statement “The Biblical understanding rejects homosexual practice. Heterosexual sex is clearly and repeatedly affirmed as God’s will for humanity. The teaching of Jesus about marriage, the teaching of Paul and other Biblical writers are unanimous and undeviating in portraying heterosexual love as God’s will and therefore good and normative at the same time keeping in mind our Lord’s recognition (cf. Matthew 19:12) that there is also virtue in the celibate life. It is not clear from Scripture just what morality attaches to homosexual orientation, but the Christian message of redemption and sanctification is one of graceful acceptance leading to graceful wholeness for all people. “The Church, therefore, is right to confine its nuptial blessing exclusively to heterosexual marriage...
1977 House of Bishops’ Statement (cont’d) “With respect to the question of ordaining homosexuals it is crucial to distinguish between (a) an advocating and/or practicing—willful and habitual—homosexual and, (b) one with a dominant homosexual orientation only. In the case of an advocating and/or practicing homosexual, ordination is inadmissible... “The ordination of an advocating and/or practicing homosexual would require the Church’s sanction of such a lifestyle, not only as acceptable, but worthy of emulation. Our present understanding of Biblical and theological truth would make this impossible.”
Actions of the 1979 General Convention Resolution A-53 “Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That this General Convention recommend to Bishops, Pastors, Vestries, Commissions on Ministry and Standing Committees, the following considerations as they continue to exercise their proper canonical functions in the selection and approval of persons for ordination: 1. There are many human conditions, some of them in the area of sexuality, which bear upon a person’s suitability for ordination; 2. Every ordinand is expected to lead a life which is "a wholesome example to all people" (Book of Common Prayer, pp. 517, 532, 544). There should be no barrier to the ordination of qualified persons of either heterosexual or homosexual orientation whose behavior the Church considers wholesome; 3. We reaffirm the traditional teaching of the Church on marriage, marital fidelity and sexual chastity as the standard of Christian sexual morality. Candidates for ordination are expected to conform to this standard. Therefore, we believe it is not appropriate for this Church to ordain a practicing homosexual, or any person who is engaged in heterosexual relations outside of marriage.”
1979 Statement of Dissention from Resolution A-53 “... We who associate ourselves with this statement are deeply conscious of, and grateful for, the profoundly valuable ministries of ordained persons, known to us to be homosexual, formerly and presently engaged in the service of this Church. Not all of these persons have been celibate; and in the relationships of many of them, maintained in the face of social hostility and against great odds, we have seen a redeeming quality which in its way and according to its mode is no less a sign to the world of God’s love than is the more usual sign of Christian marriage. From such relationships we cannot believe God to be absent. “... We have no intention of ordaining irresponsible persons, or persons whose manner of life is such as to cause grave scandal or hurt to other Christians; but we do not believe that either homosexual orientation as such, nor the responsible and self-giving use of such a mode of sexuality, constitutes such a scandal in and of itself.”
1979 Statement of Dissention from Resolution A-53 (Cont’d) “... Taking note, therefore, that this action of the House is recommendatory and not prescriptive, we give notice as we are answerable before Almighty God that we cannot accept these recommendations or implement them in our Dioceses insofar as they relate or give unqualified expression to Recommendation 3. To do so would be to abrogate our responsibilities of apostolic leadership and prophetic witness to the flock of Christ, committed to our charge; and it would involve a repudiation of our ordination vows as Bishops, in the words of the new Prayer Book, boldly [to] proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ, enlightening the minds and stirring up the conscience of [our] people, and to encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts and ministries … and to celebrate with them the sacraments of our redemption; or in the words of the old, to be to the flock of Christ a shepherd, not a wolf. Our appeal is to conscience, and to God. Amen.” Signed by 21 Bishops, including the Rt. Revs. John Spong and Edmond Browning
The Ordination of Robert Williams On Dec. 16, 1989, the Rt. Rev. John S. Spong, Bishop of Newark, ordained Robert Williams to the priesthood. “What we’re doing here today will make our Anglican Communion more honest.” --Bp. Spong Williams was openly gay and had been living in a non-celibate relationship with another man for the previous four years. On Jan 13, 1990, Williams stated to the press: “Monogamy is as unnatural as celibacy. If people want to try, OK. But the fact is, people are not monogamous. It is crazy to hold this ideal and pretend it’s what we’re doing and we’re not.”
Response to Williams’ Comments Bp. Spong asked Williams to retract his comments When Williams refused, Bp. Spong engineered his resignation as Executive Director of Oasis, a diocesan-related organization that ministered to Gays and Lesbians Not long afterwards, Williams attacked Bp. Spong as a “racist, sexist, homophobe” on national TV In the aftermath, Presiding Bishop Edmond Browning heeded his Council of Advice and issued a Statement of Dissociation from Bp. Spong’s ordination of Williams On Sept. 18, 1990, the House of Bishops’ issued the following resolution: Resolved, That the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church affirm and support the Statement of February 20, 1990, made by the Presiding Bishop and his Council of Advice in regard to the ordination of a practicing homosexual by the Bishop of Newark on December 16, 1989. Williams subsequently renounced his orders; tragically, he died of AIDS in December, 1992
Actions of the 1991 General Convention A-104sa Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 70th General Convention of the Episcopal Church affirms that the teaching of the Episcopal Church is that physical sexual expression is appropriate only within the lifelong monogamous "union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind" "intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord" as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer; and be it further Resolved, That this Church continue to work to reconcile the discontinuity between this teaching and the experience of many members of this body [The remainder of the resolution directed a church-wide study be undertaken to inform a Pastoral Study that the House of Bishops would promulgate at the 1994 General Convention]
Actions of the 1994 General Convention The Pastoral Study, developed by a special committee, was drafted in confidential sessions The final draft was “leaked” prior to the GC Many bishops found the draft too inconclusive in affirming the Church’s traditional teaching The Statement, “An Affirmation in Response” was circulated for signatures.
“An Affirmation in Response” “... (1) The fundamental element in Christian sexual morality is the discipline of self-control called Chastity, which means absolute faithfulness in marriage and sexual abstinence apart from marriage. Marriage is a union of husband and wife, one man and one woman created in God’s image. We affirm the teaching of scripture and tradition that marriage is lifelong in intention, sacred in character, and a reflection on the human level of the love relationship between God and the Covenant People in the Old Testament, and that between Christ and the Church in the New Testament. "(2) Premarital sexual relations, however prevalent in society, cannot be condoned by a Church that proclaims the sanctity of marriage. Equally, sexual relationships outside of marriage constitute a denial of God’s plan for humanity, and they must be met by a call to repentance and amendment of life. Sexual relations between members of the same sex are also a denial of God’s plan, and cannot be condoned by the Church.
“An Affirmation in Response” (cont’d) "(3) We recognize fully the difficulties which Christian moral imperatives impose on all of us as members of our fallen race, and we therefore counsel tolerance and loving pastoral care for those who — for whatever reason and in whatever way — are unwilling or unable to maintain the discipline of Chastity. But neither the Church nor its bishops have the authority to compromise in principle, or give approval in practice, to standards less or other than our God has given us."
Resolution B1001 Affirmed “that the normative context for sexual intimacy is lifelong, heterosexual, monogamous marriage” Commended the Pastoral Study Document Read into the Minutes two documents: “An Affirmation in Response” 106 bishops signed “A Statement of Koinonia” 71 bishops signed, including the Rt. Rev. Frank Griswold
“A Statement of Koinonia” “... We also believe that the ordained ranks of the church are open to all baptized Christians and that through our regular screening process we will determine who is both called and qualified. We are aware of the presence in the church of gay and lesbian clergy. We bear witness to the fact that they have served and continue to serve this church with effectiveness and integrity. Some of them are single, many more of them are living in committed partnerships. They serve this church today as bishops, priests, and deacons. In all these orders they have won the respect of their ecclesial communities...”
“A Statement of Koinonia” (cont’d) "We also recognize that by canon law the choice of fit persons to serve in the ordained ranks of the church is not the prerogative of bishops alone, but of the whole church. We pledge ourselves to ordain only those persons whom the testing and screening process reveals to be wholesome examples to the flock of Christ. But let there be no misunderstanding, both our lives and our experience as bishops have convinced us that a wholesome example to the flock of Christ does not exclude a person of homosexual orientation nor does it exclude those homosexual persons who choose to live out their sexual orientation in a partnership that is marked by faithfulness and life-giving holiness.”
1995-96 Presentment Against the Right Rev. Walter Righter On Sept. 30, 1990, the Rt. Rev. Walter Righter, Assistant Bishop of Newark, ordained Barry Stopfel to the diaconate Like Robert Williams, Stopfel was living in a non-celibate relationship with another man On Jan. 27, 1995, 10 diocesan bishops submitted a Presentment against Bp. Righter for serving as consecrator at this ordination A total of 76 bishops (more than the 25 percent required) acceded to the presentment The Presiding Bishop responded by referring the matter to a court consisting of nine bishops, one of whom recused himself near the end of the hearing
The Decision of the Court May 15, 1996 Seven of the Eight Bishops dismissed the charges They found that the Church’s teaching on sexuality is not part of the “Core Doctrines” of Christianity and therefore the actions of Bp. Righter were not subject to disciplinary review Moreover, they interpreted General Convention prohibitions against the ordaining of non-celibate homosexuals as “recommendatory only.” One Bishop strongly dissented from the majority He argued that the majority presented an excessively narrow definition of “doctrine” and that Bp. Righter’s actions violated the contents of that corpus of doctrine.
Excerpts from the Majority Opinion “The Court today is not giving an opinion on the morality of same gender relationships. We are not deciding whether life- long, committed, same gender sexual relationships are or are not a wholesome example with respect to ordination vows. We are not rendering an opinion on whether a bishop and diocese should or should not ordain persons living in same gender sexual relationships. Rather, we are deciding the narrow issue of whether or not under Title IV a bishop is restrained from ordaining persons living in committed same gender sexual relationships. The conclusions reached in our opinion are based upon our understanding of the Core Doctrine of this Church; how this is related to traditional teaching; the ordering of the Church’s discipline; and the authority of General Convention and House of Bishops resolutions...
Excerpts from the Majority Opinion (cont’d) “... The Court finds that there is no Core Doctrine prohibiting the ordination of a non-celibate, homosexual person living in a faithful and committed sexual relationship with a person of the same sex...” “... there is no discipline of the Church prohibiting the ordination of a non-celibate homosexual person living in a committed relationship with a person of the same sex...”
Response of the Presenters May 28, 1996 “... In an attempt to restore order in a Church where it had all but disappeared, we have engaged in a lengthy legal process within the House of Bishops over the past year and a half. Unfortunately, that process has been deeply compromised from its very beginning. We cite as only one example the fact that three out of nine judges authorized or performed ordinations identical to the one in question - and a fourth declared his willingness to do so; yet, only one recused himself, and then only after the majority Opinion had been determined. “Nevertheless, the Court has spoken. On May 15, 1996, the majority held that - all of our previous statements notwithstanding - the Episcopal Church has no ‘Core Doctrine’ in the area of human sexuality; and therefore neither the doctrine nor the discipline of the Church has been violated.
Response of the Presenters (cont’d) “We decry this Opinion as deeply flawed and erroneous. The Court's disclaimer notwithstanding, its decision has swept away two millennia of Christian teaching regarding God's purposes in creations, the nature and meaning of Christian marriage and the family, the discipleship in relation to sexuality to which we are called as followers of Jesus, and the paradigm of the Church as Bride and Christ as Bridegroom. The distinction of ‘Core Doctrine’ from other ‘doctrinal teaching’ is without precedent of foundation in the Book of Common Prayer, the Resolutions of General Convention, or the Canons of the Church. The very term, ‘Core Doctrine,’ is a specious invention of the Court...”
Lambeth 1998 Resolution I.10 “This Conference “... In view of the teachings 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. “Recognizes that there are among us persons who experience themselves as having a homosexual orientation. Many of these are members of the Church and are seeking the pastoral care, moral direction of the Church, and God's transforming power for the living of their lives and the ordering of relationship. We commit ourselves to listen to the experience of homosexual persons and we wish to assure them that they are loved by God and that all baptized, believing and faithful persons, regardless of sexual orientation, are full members of the Body of Christ...
Lambeth 1998 Resolution I.10 (cont’d) “While rejecting homosexual practice as incompatible with Scripture, calls on all our people to minister pastorally and sensitively to all irrespective of sexual orientation and to condemn irrational fear of homosexuals, violence within marriage and any trivialisation and commercialisation of sex; “Cannot advise the legitimising or blessing of same sex unions nor ordaining those involved in same gender unions...” Approved by a vote of 526-70 (with 45 abstentions)
Action of the 2000 General Convention Resolution D039 “... Resolved, That we acknowledge that while the issues of human sexuality are not yet resolved, there are currently couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in marriage and couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in other life-long committed relationships; and be it further “Resolved, That we expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God; and be it further
Action of the 2000 General Convention (cont’d) “Resolved, That we denounce promiscuity, exploitation, and abusiveness in the relationships of any of our members; and be it further “Resolved, That this Church intends to hold all its members accountable to these values, and will provide for them the prayerful support, encouragement, and pastoral care necessary to live faithfully by them; and be it further “Resolved, That we acknowledge that some, acting in good conscience, who disagree with the traditional teaching of the Church on human sexuality, will act in contradiction to that position...”
Actions of the 2003 General Convention Consented to the Election of Canon V. Gene Robinson to the episcopate While rejecting a call for the development of rites for the blessing of same-sex unions, passed a resolution that gives tacit approval to the use of such rites in local dioceses
Resolution C051 “Resolved, that our life together as a community of faith is grounded in the saving work of Jesus Christ and expressed in the principles of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral: Holy Scripture, the historic Creeds of the Church, the two dominical sacraments, and the historic episcopate. “That we reaffirm Resolution A069 of the 65th General Convention (1976) that ‘homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church’. That, in our understanding of homosexual persons, differences exist among us about how best to care pastorally for those who intend to live in monogamous, non-celibate unions; and what is, or should be, required, permitted, or prohibited by the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church concerning the blessing of the same. That we reaffirm Resolution D039 of the 73rd General Convention (2000), that “We expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God”, and that such relationships exist throughout the church. That, we recognize that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions...”
Questions for the Remainder of the Course What are the underlying rationales of the various viewpoints in the Anglican Communion, particularly with respect to Scripture, Reason and Tradition? How should the Church pastorally minister both to and among those who experience themselves as having homosexual orientations?