Statesboro, GA, USA
By the way, good to chat with you. It's been a little while.
... in a sense the bishop's attitude was imv considerably more disturbing than the comments directed at Zach. On the one hand we have a group of fairly ignorant adolescents simply verbally bullying someone different to themselves. On the other we have a learned and erudite senior member of the Church of England who presumably knows full well what he is doing, trying to make the point that you made again in your post, viz, that while he holds no ill-will towards homosexuals and welcomes them into the Anglican communion he condemns their behaviour as morally wrong, as against the will of God and as likely to sent them straight to hell. They should moreover repent and be saved.
I think there may be a misunderstanding as to what, according to sound Christian Theology, may send someone "straight to hell". We are all sinners. So any particular sin is not (or should not be) singled out as especially damning. We all have the "disease" of sin, if you will, and are called to repentance in various ways. It is our personal spiritual estrangement from God that will, if unremedied, send us to hell. Which is why there was that thing at Calvary, that didn't make distinction between sins as far as redemption goes.
But let me pose it to you this way, would you think the Bishop equally intolerant for welcoming adulterers, or pedophiles, or extortioners, while demanding repentance? I would think that of one or more of these examples, or of something else I could put there, you would expect, nay demand that kind of demand.
You have your moral lines drawn as well, in your own thoughts. And a community, in your eyes, is certainly not "anything and everything goes" ... if I may ascertain from things you've written on this forum.
I think the crux here, is in the basic disagreement about whether homosexuality is sinful, versus something more like race or eye-color, that is genetically determined and simply a part of natural variation in human beings. While I certainly recognize that no one simply wakes up one day and says "I think I'll be homosexual" (this is also true of a host of behaviors that even you do not accept as moral), I also find little or no persuasive evidence for the latter view.
You simply disagree with the Bishop and myself, about whether this particular behavior/ orientation has a moral dimension. You don't disagree with the Bishop and myself about whether firm lines should be drawn when it comes to community and public approval. You don't disagree with drawing lines, you just draw yours at a different longitude.
I disagree with you that the interpretation of the Bible is not infinitely flexible, I think it is just exactly that, except to all those who want it to say what they want to believe.
As I mentioned before, this sounds reasonable until real texts, written by real people are examined with the thought of determining what they were saying. Some ambiguity, but if texts were as obscure as many pretend, there wouldn't be enough transmission of thought to even enjoy a good classic novel.
For example, would you care to make an exegetical case that adultery is acceptable in either the Old Testament or the New? The infinite elasticity you speak of is only gotten by saying "I have freedom to disagree with and depart from the text to any degree". And if that's what you mean, I agree with you. But for those who take scripture as revelatory, and as the way in which God has spoken objectively to some degree, not just as a moppet of our own feelings, then texts cannot be so easily dispensed with.
On the Theological side of things, as Tim Keller asked; Would it be reasonable to expect a God to never have anything to say to challenge or critique us or our own cultural trends? It would more reasonable to think that a God who is not just our own imaginitive fiction, would probably say things that deeply resonate with us as truth, and at the same time offer some other things that would challenge our views, thoughts, assumptions. Things that would be difficult. Such is the nature of three things people have trouble with, but have never abandoned ... authority, relationship, and love.
When a bishop stands up and effectively says: "I condemn your behaviour and what you are because this little book I am holding says it is wrong", I feel rather depressed.
It feels like the person is imposing their values on you and judging your behaviour, which despite your idealistic postulate, makes one feel like they are judging you.
How is the Bishop's stance any different than your own with the Bishop? Aren't you openly telling us that, though you would wish him no harm, that you think his attitude and words contemnible? Aren't you offering him real moral censure? From your own perspective, why should it matter whether it is from a written revelation, or from what you might call a self-evident-ethic.
I'm not saying its wrong for you to do so. (Obviously I've never felt or communicated that it is wrong to say something is wrong). But I am trying to show you that your arguments need to address the subject (if that's what you wish), rather than castigate the castigators, which is self-refuting.
I have to agree with you that though I appreciate Essorants desire to "respect" all parties ... I cannot go so far as to divorce person completely from action and thought.
I appreciate your thoughtful reply. No time just yet. Gotta go to sleep now. Try to get back sometime early next week.
[This message has been edited by Stephanos (07-11-2009 12:05 AM).]