Sydney Morning Herald: A daily crisis of love and faith

BRIAN McKINLEY’S plea is simple but heart-felt. “I’d like people to appreciate how hard it is, almost every day of one’s life, to have crisis and division in a church I love because of something that is an intimate part of the way God created me.”

McKinley, a Canberra public servant and lay preacher, is a passionate Christian who lives in a monogamous, committed same-sex relationship with another Christian.

“Do you wake up every morning as a married person and think you are part of the problem dividing the church? I live with this nearly every day. There’s a huge cost,” he says.

“I’m nearly 60, I’m OK. What about the 22-year-old who has just discovered he’s a poofter, but he loves Jesus. How will he cope with that? Some kill themselves.”

McKinley was one of 250 delegates at the Anglican synod in Canberra who sat in silence, lights dimmed, to hear the anonymous testimony of four gay and lesbian Anglicans.

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

12 comments on “Sydney Morning Herald: A daily crisis of love and faith

  1. DonGander says:

    It’s a real heart-jerker. I wish that God didn’t have so narrow of opinions at times.

    But He does.

  2. Milton says:

    We all betray Jesus at one time or another, either wilfully or by clinging to our brokeness inheirited from the fall and claiming it as part of our identity instead of “by the mercies of God offering up our bodies as a living sacrifice” for Him to heal and remake pleasing to Himself. Anyone who either clings to his sexual brokeness in self-pitying whining to his 60s or committs suicide in his 20s simply chooses Judas’ option rather than Peter’s. God help me not to cling to my own sin and brokeness but to lay all at His feet to be washed clean by His blood!

  3. dwstroudmd+ says:

    Interesting but irrelevant, theologically and doctrinally. I mean, he certainly can be a Christian and have a besetting sin. Who of us does not? But why his besetting sin should get special recognition and blessing as the sin de jour when adultery is still stigmatized because God “created” intimacy that way in some persons, I don’t quite grasp!

  4. Mike Bertaut says:

    How can one be suprised if attitudes harden when one tries to overturn tradition and Scripture by pushing sexual orientation and practices into the light where they are not welcome? Of course attitudes will harden by forcing those opposed to take a stand, to firm up what they believe because that long-held and strongly grounded belief is being pushed aside without validation.

    I hurt for them so much, because God has given us such tight standards on these things. But no matter how integrally we feel anything is a part of ourselves, that doesn’t change the rules.

    I hate to sound like a broken record on this, but If you want people who take Scripture seriously to reconsider their positions on sexual orientation and its place in Salvific Wisdom then it’s going to take more than feelings and observations. Let there be one, repeatable piece of scientific evidence that sexual preference is hard-wired into someone (i.e. not a behavior that is shaped by experience or choice) and then we’ll have to take a hard look at what constitutes salvific wisdom on the subject. Until then, breaking from Scripture and Tradition is ill-advised from a Salvific Perspective.

    Instead, we have received the opposite, especially regarding female homosexuality (repeated studies showing changes of preference over time).

    But yes, I never had to become attached to any position until someone tried to make a public issue of sexual preference. Now my position is very well defined, as Jesus did, I must do, so I love the sinner (agape, not this silly thing the media sells as love in 2007) and separate the sin. And all Christians suffer with this same affliction who give up something they hold dear to maintain their right relationship with God. And all do. Believe me.

    Frankly, the whole situation irritates the heck out of me, but who am I to cast aside what we have been given?


  5. Jon says:

    #3 is right on target. Note that he (correctly) identifies the problem of the events of the last 4-5 years is one of TEC changing church teaching regarding what is sin.

    #4, how would you feel about reframing the issue along the lines mentioned by #3? That is, the problem of what happened at GC 2003 (both in approving VGR and in greenlighting SSBs) is that TEC altered its teaching that homosexuality is sin — leading to events in Canada and elsewhere and opposition from the rest of the AC. But where I don’t think we need to jump to is a claim about the relationship of homosexual practice to salvation. Like #3 I am perfectly happy to leave that in God’s hands, especially as our Lord is the friend of true and real sinners (not fictitious sinners).

    I am also unsure even if we were to discuss salvation and its relationship to any particular sin why it would be relevant whether some people were hard wired for the sin in question. St. Paul teaches that we are indeed all of us born into sin, that every one of us has one or more (usual more) ways that our wills are bound and unable to stop sinning. He describes himself in the present tense in this state in Romans 7 — and this is after he is a Christian.

    So I guess I am willing to give lots of space to people who sinners in the church — the problem that concerns me is when a person demands that the church alter its teaching about what is sin, cause if I don’t it’ll hurt his feelings.

  6. Mike Bertaut says:

    #5 John Stamper, I agree with you that the problem here is that TEC altered its teaching that homosexual sex is sinful by endorsing someone who had adapted to that lifestyle and (gulp!) making him a Bishop. I consider all things that are specified within Scripture as sinful to be ANTI-Salvific, i.e. not in conjunction with the way saved folks are supposed to act. I don’t mean to sound formulaic in that these things LEAD to salvation, I am pretty entrenched in that avoiding sin is a symptom of salvation, not the cause.

    But in any event, I would NEVER suggest that a sin-less life is possible. Like C.S. Lewis I have never made it 24 hours without committing some gross sin. I do believe, however, that the Church has to hold the message clear as to what is….and is not….sinful behavior.

    As far as the science goes, I’m willing to explore the idea that early Church Fathers were potentially incorrect in maintaining a prohibition on same sex relationships in the light of pure research indicating that humans CANNOT chose this state of being. If the choice is not ours, then I don’t think we can be held responsible for the state of being, and acting upon it takes on a new sort of slant for me.

    Thus I think if clear, repeatable evidence ever surfaced that sexual preference is hard-wired, (physically organic) to humans I believe the Church would need to take another look at this prohibition, just as we had to revaluate the geo-centric model of the Universe when the truth became known.

    Of course this evidence does not exist, and indeed research often shows the exact opposite, especially in females. Thus TEC seriously jumped the gun. I think we are in agreement on that.

    Failing that level of clarity, Tradition and Scripture stand. For me, anyway.


  7. Jon says:

    Thanks, Mike! Sounds like to some extent we were using words in different ways. What you call SALVIC (by which you mean the way people are supposed to act) I call the Law. I personally don’t use the word “salvic” for it because it might give people the impression that I think that my SALVation is somehow related to a capacity to keep the Law (or keep it mostly, or whatever). So its just a thing of not wanting to mislead people.

    I really appreciated it when you said you said that doing lots of good actions doesn’t LEAD to salvation, which made me think we were just using words differently.

    You and I might have still different estimations, however, of the purpose of the Law (I include every moral injunction describing how I should think and act and feel). Based on your thoughts about sexual preference being hardwired, it sounds like you think that God has given us the Law so that we can successfully do what it commands. He wouldn’t ask us to do a thing if we couldn’t (by genetic makeup) do it. That’s certainly the view that a number of people have had, and of course it is very reasonable. It’s the view that Erasmus took in his debates with Luther over the freedom of the will, for example, and I have a lot of love and respect for Erasmus and respect him as a fellow Christian.

    It’s worth pointing out, however, that a lot of Christian thinkers disagree. They think that we were not given the Law so that we can do what it says, because in fact we can’t do what it says; our wills are so deeply bound in sin that the Law, the command, despite it being absolutely right and holy and good and true, actually makes our situation worse, makes us more rebelious and more prone to disobey. So the Law, these Christians argue, is oddly enough not given to us by God so we can do what it says, but for another reason. God gives us his holy Law so that we will feel it pressing on us, feel its terrifying holy demand, and force us to despair of ourselves and cry out for a Saviour to deliver us from it. The Law is given to us not so we can do it (we can’t) but so it will drive us to Jesus and his cross begging for mercy. That’s what Luther called “the theological use of the Law.” Aside from the Law’s “civil use” (i.e. speed limit signs, policemen locking up serial killers, etc.) he believed the Law had no other function, and emphatically rejected the very reasonable idea that we are given these commands so that we can do what they require.

    From this perspective, the thing that concerns crypto Lutherans like myself about GC 2003 is that it encourages gay people to turn to self-justification, rather than the cross. Instead of them (correctly) feeling the impossible to fulfil demand of the law, in all its terrifying holiness, and making them flee to Christ and his blood to become right with God; they conclude that they are pretty good people already.

  8. Larry Morse says:

    As to hardwired into sin, then obviously we are all in the same boat. Is homosexuality a sin? So scripture says. Is it hardwired? Let us suppose it is, although there is plenty of evidence that some is simply cultural. But let us suppose it is. Well, and so what? My hormones which go into overdrive when I see a tight sweater filled most plumply is hardwired too, and what I am thinking isn’t salvific. Shall I stand up and ask for “listening” and sympathy and pity and what not? And ask a church to change the rules so I can get what I want? Shall I ask a church and a whole culture to pander to my hardwired desires? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I can learn to control the desire, although I cannot make it go away, and homosexuality is no different.
    What will it take for an entire culture to get tired of this childish demand for affection and approval – obsessive, compulsive, endless, and utterly self-centered. And I note that the mentally ill, whose sorrows are a quantum leap beyond the sorrows of homosexuality, are not on the front page every day, complaining that they are misused and demanding an insatiable sympathy. Larry

  9. DonGander says:

    Thanks, Larry. I was thinking of my teenage years. How brutal they were! I was a christian and intended to honor God. I rejected the “If it feels good-do it” philosophy as anti-christian. I did managed to reserve myself for my wife. Frankly, I was looking for excuses and sympathy but, thankfully, I found none. The Church didn’t change its rules to accomodate my hard-wired desires. God did not comfort me with any other promise than that He would be with me. He was always with me.

    I have a stronger faith and a wife of thirty years to show for my trouble. But even those are God’s grace. I stand amazed in His presence.

  10. Mike Bertaut says:

    Larry, Don, John, I surely appreciate your comments! Well thought out and sensible, as usual.

    I was thinking, in this case (and not expressing my thoughts very well) that if sexual preference turned out to be organic (hard-wired) then philosophically I would have to move to the next set of questions in my head, namely, why had a HOLY outlet for heterosexual preference been provided since the earliest of times (Marriage, of course) but no such outlet provided for homosexual preference. This is, by extension, another layer of debate that we are nowhere near approaching at this time, but that’s why I bring it up. Upon the discovery that (if it ever happens) homosexual and heterosexual preferences emanate from the same biological programming (A boolian choice?) then I could legitimately ask why God had found it approrpriate to provide a Holy Enclave for the one, and not the other, if biologically they are not our call.

    Then I would have to go back to Scripture, as I often do, and ask myself if those portions are truly “God-breathed” or were more a creation of man based on cultural norms of the times. Of course we all know that the Bible is the single most important guide to life on earth, but we also know that it is not all meant to be history, but lovely poetry, allegory, Law, and history all rolled into one critical book.

    I can’t, of course, offer this logic as validation to the masses, it’s just a train of thought that has been with me for a while, and is just starting to materialize.

    The flip side of this “hard-wired” or “organic” finding of course is that once discovered, it becomes a target for a cure or to be “undone” medically. What a can of worms that will open.

    Thanks for hanging in on this, I know its a bit obtuse, but I always value you guys opinions on these things, and my brain goes where it will go!


  11. Jon says:

    Thanks back atcha, Mike. Always a pleasure talking to you. You are always a help to me.

    God bless!

  12. anglicanlutenist says:

    Another commenter here has noted that the article ‘ was a real heart-jerker’, and noted that God’s opinions are narrow, but still after all, His opinions. Quite right.

    “These men are the servants of the Most High God who are telling you the way to be saved!!!” The soothsaying servant girl ran after Paul , shouting.

    Right message. Wrong Spirit.

    Paul bore with it for ‘many days’. Then cast out the spirit. Acts 16: 16-18
    Negotiations with the spirit didn’t appear to convene over long, either.

    DonGander’s tag line bears repeating as well:
    Fallacies don’t cease being fallacies because they become fashion”.