Like many people, I have had to pray and work my way through to be able to be a pastor accessible to gay and lesbian Christians. I have counseled in relationships, buried church members and their friends, been present during long illnesses with families and friends. And I have learned Christ in them, and cannot deny Christ’s full blessing upon them. Please don’t make us choose which “us” we must be in communion with.
Finally, as far as the reference in Part One Observations regarding creedal errors, under the section on “Turmoil in the Episcopal Church”, I want to state as a bishop in the Episcopal Church in the USA that I firmly believe in the Virgin Birth, the physical resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, that He is my Savior and that I am saved only by the Grace of God as shown through the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ who forgives my sins, and that I believe Jesus to be the Way, the Truth and the Life. Thank you for your attention and this opportunity.
Read it all. Once again, it needs to be stated in the strongest possible terms that ministering among gay and lesbian people, and enabling the church to be accessible to such people, which is a good thing, is NOT the issue. Rowan Williams hit the nail on the head when he said:
Unless you think that social and legal considerations should be allowed to resolve religious disputes ”“ which is a highly risky assumption if you also believe in real freedom of opinion in a diverse society ”“ there has to be a recognition that religious bodies have to deal with the question in their own terms. Arguments have to be drawn up on the common basis of Bible and historic teaching. And, to make clear something that can get very much obscured in the rhetoric about ”˜inclusion’, this is not and should never be a question about the contribution of gay and lesbian people as such to the Church of God and its ministry, about the dignity and value of gay and lesbian people. Instead it is a question, agonisingly difficult for many, as to what kinds of behaviour a Church that seeks to be loyal to the Bible can bless, and what kinds of behaviour it must warn against ”“ and so it is a question about how we make decisions corporately with other Christians, looking together for the mind of Christ as we share the study of the Scriptures.
The question to Bishop Scarfe is by making the church accessible do you mean publically affirming in leadership behavior which Christians have always considered out of bounds? Which the Anglican Communion has said is not something which the Bible permits? Which the Church East and West has not understood the Scriptures to allow but calls them to forbid? Which even the Episcopal Church has never officially endorsed? In other words for too many Episcopal Church leaders inclusion, alas, has become a code word for inclusion of public immorality in Christian leadership which the Episcopal Church unilaterally and incoherently is making part of the common witness of Anglicans throughout the world, overturning the doctrine of marriage in the process. If that is what is meant then the theological argument has not been made for it, and the global church has not been convinced but has consistently rejected it–KSH.