Liberty Just in Case

A Dialogue for the September 12th World

Archive for March 16th, 2006

A Response to a Comment: GOF, Gays and the Episcopal Church

Posted by Mark on March 16, 2006

This post was written on 3/13/06. Because of the importance of the ongoing dialogue, I moved it up.
This post has been a long time coming. A big thanks to GOF for goading me in to finally doing a post I should have done months ago. A huge thank you and hat-tip to RSP for his marvelous email list and links used in this post.
Last week, I wrote a post on the continuing conflict in the Episcopal Church. I recieved a comment that was deeply offensive on many levels. So offensive personally, in fact, that I decided to make it a main post. Here’s the comment, from GOF:

Collapse of ECUSA? Dude, the gay bashers breaking away are going without a brick of ECUSA property. What they leave behind are actual landed Episcopalians….

For the life of me, I don’t know why they don’t join the Southern Baptists and be done with it.

I wish, just once, you’d think before you comment, GOF. Or, at the very least, read something on the topic before putting your fingers to keyboard.

For a long time, my partner here at Liberty Just in Case was Jon. He was a great blogger, and a great friend. He remains a frequent reader, and an infrequent commenter. His posts were always thoughtful, and always deep.

Jon is also very left-wing, gay with a life partner, and has an adopted child. He represents the best of the gay lifestyle, as does Robbie over at Beyond the Mall. Both are friends of mine, as are other members of the gay community. I’ve watched some of them die of AIDS, and grieved with their life-partners and families. I’m curious if you can say the same, GOF?

I’ve helped some of them come out of the gay lifestyle through a relationship with Christ. Politically incorrect to say, I know. But true nonetheless. Groups such as Exodus International perform a great service to both the gay community, and to the Christian community as well.

To seek to place the debate within the ECUSA under the heading of “gay-bashing” is a personal insult to me, to my gay friends, and to my ex-gay friends. I’ve never, ever been involved in any thing like “gay-bashing.” I accept my gay friends for where they are, as they accept me for where I am. They know where I stand on the “gay issue.” Knowing my stance has allowed us to have some wonderful dialogue. We don’t always agree, but we leave understanding the other.

I stand firmly against the current trends within the ECUSA. I used to be Southern Baptist. I joined the Anglican Communion because I found a balance between the liturgical tradition of Catholicism and the Protestant Reformation of which Baptists are a part. The “gay issue” is but the logical conclusion of the ECUSA leaving it’s doctrinal moorings long ago. Here is an excelent presentation on the sad history of the ECUSA over the past few decades.

Few have described the current conflict better than J.I. Packer in his peice Why I Walked. There is simply too much in each word to try to pull an excerpt. It should be required reading to anyone before they comment on the conflict threatening this once great denomination.

Another wonderful example of the deep thought and struggle on this issue is from the Archbishop of Sydney Peter Jensen. Here is his peice, complete and unedited:

Is the issue of human sexuality as significant as we are saying?

Archbishop Peter Jensen, Archbishop of Sydney

There is a strong case made suggesting that we may be mistaken. Critics urge the following:

* You are obsessed with sex. The gospel is not about who we sleep with, it is about God. You are confusing the issues.
* You are turning opinion into dogma. The interpretation of biblical material is unclear and only part of a welter of possible views. You are making what is a matter of opinion into absolute truth.
* You are breaching the comprehensive understanding of the church. In this broad Anglican church there is tolerance for a diversity of views. You are trying to establish a “pure” church which is not possible nor our tradition.
* You are resisting the inevitable future. Just as Galileo was resisted by the church, but shown to be the future in arguing that the world was round, so you are resisting the clear progress of truth in understanding human sexuality.
* You are wasting gospel time on elevating a second order issue on which there may be legitimate disagreement into a first order issue.
* You are making evangelism on the ground difficult to those who are committed to including everyone within society or any human community.

These are strong points, but I believe that there are stronger answers to each of them.

The issue before us is the concrete form of the question of God’s authority. It is the sharp point of the secularist attack on the gospel in the Western world. It is therefore about the authority and clarity of scripture which is the way God exercises his authority over His church.

Human sexuality is so constitutive of who we are and so central to culture that we are dealing with a major issue. Obsessed with sex? Yes, and so is everyone else. Our culture is obsessed with sex so we should not be embarrassed with engaging with this issue. If we did not engage we would be divorced from our culture.

Scripture declares this to be a matter of life and death. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 6:9 “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, not thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.” (ESV) We would be cowards if we do not make clear this is an issue of life and death.

The world’s view is bad for the physical and mental health of men and women. If this is so, the medical profession is at grave fault for failing to speak out on this.

The holiness of the church is being compromised. The gospel message is “Repent and be baptised in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. ” (Acts 2.38). The acceptance by the church of homosexual practice would be to call holy what God calls sin to be repented from.

The churches in the Global South need our support on this. They are taking a strong stand now, but their cultures are being increasingly invaded by Western values. The orthodox Christians, along with orthodox Muslims and Jews, are the last bastion in western culture who stand for the truth of God on this matter. If we fail then the work of the Church throughout the world is touched.

We are on a slippery slope. Sin is being redefined through this issue of human sexuality. Resiling on the uniqueness of Christ is next on the list since western culture cannot tolerate unique and exclusive claims in its search for harmony between different tribes in a world without God. If we weaken on the nature of sin, we weaken on the nature of the identity of the saviour from sin.

In short, the efforts of liberal theology to gain control of the church have now gone too far and in human terms is endangering the whole gospel enterprise of the Church. If we do not stand here, we will not be able to stand anywhere.

There is no “gay-bashing” involved in this debate that threatens to tear apart the ECUSA. There is instead deep thinking, struggle, and weeping on both sides. Perhaps we will find our way to stay together. I don’t know. What I do know is that comments like GOF’s don’t help. Such comments are bricks being thrown by those who are ignorant of the issues, and quite likely will choose to remain that way.

An Update:
LaShawn Barber has an excellent look at gay politics, and Christian Universities.

Also, she links to a post from Randy at Exodus. Very good reads.

Posted in Christianity, Culture, Uncategorized | 12 Comments »

Operation Swarmer: A Whole Lotta Headaches for the Terrorists

Posted by Mark on March 16, 2006

This is gonna be really loud if you happen to be on the ground and an “insurgent.” Hopefully, the sound of the targeted bombing will be the last sound you hear. Think of the burning sensation as a preparation for Hell…

BAGHDAD, Iraq – The U.S. military said on Thursday it had launched its biggest air offensive in Iraq since the 2003 invasion of the country.

A military statement said the operation involving more than 50 aircraft and 1,500 Iraqi and U.S. troops as well as 200 tactical vehicles targeted suspected insurgents operating in Salahuddin, a province that includes Samarra, a town located 60 miles north of Baghdad.

Lock and load.
Oh, and have a nice day.

Posted in Uncategorized, War and Terror | Leave a Comment »

Justice for Carlie Brucia

Posted by zaphriel on March 16, 2006

Fla. Girl’s Killer Gets Death Sentence

Smith.jpgSARASOTA, Fla. (AP) – The man who abducted, raped and killed an 11-year-old girl whose disappearance was captured on a grainy security video was sentenced to death for her murder.

Joseph P. Smith, 39, stood stoically Wednesday as state Circuit Judge Andrew Owens handed down the sentence. He also was sentenced to two life prison terms for kidnapping and capital sexual battery.

“The scales of life and death tilt unequivocally toward the side of death,” Owens told Smith. “May God have mercy on your soul.”

Carlie Brucia’s kidnapping drew widespread attention after a security camera at a car wash captured the Feb. 1, 2004 abduction. It was released to the media and broadcast on television before her body was found four nights later on the grounds of a nearby church.

At a hearing last month, Smith tearfully apologized for his crimes, telling the girl’s family that he took large amounts of heroin and cocaine in an effort to kill himself before he abducted Carlie, who would have turned 13 years old on Thursday.

“A lot of people want to ask me if I’m happy with the verdict,” said Carlie’s aunt, Laurie Brucia. “I have to say I don’t think you’re ever happy. Happy would be having Carlie beside me and giving her a hug and a kiss and watching her grow up.”

Finally, Justice…

Posted in Crime | 1 Comment »

File this under…DUH…

Posted by zaphriel on March 16, 2006

Iran May Pose The Biggest Challenge For America


050206.Iran.nuke.site.jpgWASHINGTON (AP) – Undaunted by the difficult war in Iraq, President Bush reaffirmed his strike-first policy against terrorists and enemy nations on Thursday and said Iran may pose the biggest challenge for America.

In a 49-page national security report, the president said diplomacy is the U.S. preference in halting the spread of nuclear and other heinous weapons.

“If necessary, however, under long-standing principles of self defense, we do not rule out the use of force before attacks occur – even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack,” Bush wrote.

Titled “National Security Strategy,” the report summarizes Bush’s plan for protecting America and directing U.S. relations with other nations. It is an updated version of a report Bush issued in 2002.

Iran is, and has been, among our top 5 threats for a long time. Every time the sabers rattle they become just that much more dangerous. In a way, we have already been fighting them over the past few years, as a majority of the trouble in Iraq is coming from foreign fighters, most of whom are from Iran. Iran does not want to see a stable democratic Iraq; democracy is the enemy of totalitarian theocracy. Iran already has enough problems dealing with their freedom and democracy seeking student population. A revolution has been at hand in Iran for many years, and those in power in Iran know it, having a stable and free Iraq next door just complicates things that much more.

But in related news…

Iran: We’re Ready to Talk Iraq With U.S.


iran.jpgTEHRAN, Iran — A top Iranian official said Thursday that his country was ready to open talks with the United States over Iraq, marking a major shift in Iranian foreign policy a day after an Iraqi leader called for such talks.

Ali Larijani, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator and secretary of the country’s Supreme National Security Council, told the Islamic Republic News Agency that any talks between the United States and Iran would deal only with Iraqi issues.

But any direct dialogue between Tehran and Washington — were it to happen — also could be a beginning for negotiations between the two foes over Iran’s controversial nuclear program.

Washington, which has repeatedly accused Iran of meddling in Iraq’s affairs and of sending weapons and men to help insurgents in Iraq, had no immediate response.

“To resolve Iraqi issues and help establishment of an independent and free government in Iraq, we agree to (talks with the United States),” Larijani told reporters after a closed meeting of the parliament Thursday.

The statement marked the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that Iran had officially called for dialogue with the United States, which it has repeatedly condemned as “the Great Satan.”

Yeah, there’s no hidden agenda there…

Posted in Islam, Politics, War and Terror | 1 Comment »

They Have A Parliament

Posted by zaphriel on March 16, 2006

There is still lots of work to be done and allot of ground to cover, but this is a big step in the right direction.

IRAQ3.jpg

Iraq’s New Parliament Is Sworn In


BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) – Iraq’s new parliament was sworn in Thursday with parties still deadlocked over the next government, vehicles banned from Baghdad’s streets to prevent car bombings and the country under the shadow of a feared civil war.

IRAQ2.jpgThe long-expected first session, which took place within days of the third anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion, lasted just over 30 minutes and was adjourned indefinitely because the legislature still has no speaker.

Adnan Pachachi, the senior politician who administered the oath in the absence of a speaker, spoke of a country in crisis.

“We have to prove to the world that a civil war is not and will not take place among our people,” Pachachi told lawmakers. “The danger is still looming and the enemies are ready for us because they do not like to see a united, strong, stable Iraq.”

IRAQ.jpgThat just about says it all. Iraq is still dangerous, but it is on its way to freedom and democracy, if only we continue to stand united with them and support them along the way. They are taking control, and will be autonomous soon. But it will always be a little bumpy for a country and a people who have not ruled themselves in over 40 years, the tools and the skills are just not easy to come by.

Posted in Politics, War and Terror | Leave a Comment »