Another major issue facing Episcopal Church leaders during their 10-day national convention, which began Wednesday, is the blessing of same-sex unions. The church legislature is expected to consider it next week.
One proposal being discussed would codify the church's unofficial policy of allowing each diocese to decide whether to ordain homosexuals and bless gay relationships. Another proposal suggests the church develop rites for couples who live in monogamus, committed relationships but do not get married.
A delegate to the convention resigned after he scattered salt—a traditional method of battling the devil—under the tables of openly gay and lesbian delegates and their supporters.
Church officials announced Saturday the Rev. Nelson W. Koscheski resigned as a delegate from the Diocese of Dallas after the "salting" brought the church's House of Deputies to a halt Friday for prayers and songs of reconciliation.
I work hard to reconcile my faith in the goddess with my Christian faith. Wounded, damaged and broken, it took many years to reenter the Christian faith. And I'm proud to be Episca-pagan. I whisper goddess in all the parts where they say god, because my image of male Diety is not positive. I keep going because I need community. I need a buidling that represents safety. I need ritual. And I deeply value attendance with Cameron because it deepens and strengths our spirituality together. But that introduces yet another quandry. Yesterday pretty much sums it up.
With little money to buy even by groceries, when our church announced a "Quite Day" at the cost of $20 each, I asked if we could pay half and both attend. Mother L agreed. We basically paid the cost of our box lunch from Panara Bread. We have been looking forward to Quiet Day for weeks. Then Friday an article was published in the local paper that talked about the battle raging in our church regarding gays and lesbians. So I approached Mother L in tears, needing to know Cameron and I will always be welcome regardless of what the bishop of our diocese decides. Mother L affirmed that she and Father M have our backs. My mistake lies in asking what can we do to help. Her response was predictable and heartbreaking: "Watch your public displays of affection. Don't sit with your arms around each other in the pew or hold hands in public. Don't sit too close to each other. When people see you together, time after time, they'll know you are together." Granted, Mother L is extremely reserved, and does not like much of anyone's PDAs. But I doubt she would have said the same thing to an adult heterosexual woman. She would have said it to a teenager.
Cameron was in so much pain when I relayed the conversation, that she immediately sought out Mother L as well. Mother L admitted she would not counsel a heterosexual couple the same way. When she was done, Mother L could see Cameron's point of view, sort of. She admits she is not comfortable with any public displays of affection. Cameron attended church with her parents the whole time she was growing up. Her father always had his arm around her mother. Her mother, in turn, alwasy had her arm around Cameron. Touch became another way to connect in faith as a family. So telling Cameron not to put her arm around me was like telling her we cannot behave as a real family.
I did a little more research, to see exactly what the Anglican leadership has to say. It isn't pretty. Indeed, its mysogenistic and condescending:
No Bible-believing Christian can say that “men are from Mars and women from Venus.” They are not distinct species but have been made for each other in their distinctiveness and complement each other. This is the burden of the earliest chapters of Genesis that are strongly and unambiguously affirmed in the teaching of Jesus himself. As a whole, the Bible’s teaching on human sexuality clearly affirms that the proper expression of our sexual nature is within the context of married love. The alternative, for those who have this gift, is dedicated singleness in the fulfillment of God’s purposes.Never mind that my Anglican brothers of my church leadership judges me by the Old Testament world -- the same world where the book of Levitacus dictates what food may be eaten, and the instructions for the passover feast and minutely dictated. Let's just take what we want and leave the rest. Certainly, let's not point out that Old Testament law ended, was fullfilled, by Christ's death. That Christ himself followed the law before fullfilling it with his own sacrifice for the express purpose of creating a space in which Wisdom, God and the Holy Spirit might be recreated in a world of grace, where forgiveness is available for asking rather than through blood, because he had shed his own blood for all. Yeah, I know my bible. I even believe in it. No wonder the Americans may have to break away Anglicans.
In the pagan world, in which the Bible was written, such a view was vigorously countercultural. Many of Israel’s neighbors tolerated both heterosexual and homosexual practices that are rejected by the Bible because they violate the holiness of God, the order of creation and respect for persons.
It is often the case that where the fundamental teaching of the Bible regarding marriage is not upheld, the status of women, in particular, suffers and they are reduced to being either a source for male self-gratification or chattel who maintain the home while men seek gratification elsewhere.
As to same-sex attraction, there may be a predisposition toward it, even if we do not know all the reasons for it. That does not mean it must be gratified. Not every desire can or should be given active expression.
There may be relationship issues with a parent or a seeking of the man or the woman “I want to be” in others of the same sex. Those in such situations need to be cared for and to know that God loves them. They need to be helped so they can conform their lives to the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Today we went to church, and we took Mother L's words to heart. We want to reach out to our community, show them that being lesbian is another family dynamic. The whole hour, Cameron was bitterly, painfully aware of Mother L's advise. She never put her arm around me. And by the time communion came, she had tears pouring down her face. Another myth of safety has been ripped away. We have come of age. Our church, while loving us and welcoming us, doesn't quite know what to do with us. And while they support our attendance, and would defy anyone regarding our right to be present, still lacks the skill and education to know how to support us as a family. They see a lesbian couple, rather than a lesbian family.
My church is like the rest of the world, which says, "Why do gays have to talk about being homosexual. I don't talk about being heterosexual." Well, if you are the majority, your identity is assumed. Dynamics and interactions are a forgone conclusion. The dominate story fits and you don't have to protest. But I'm a lesbian. My wife is gender dysphoric. We are wives--which mother supports, even when she finds it jarring (she's never asked when/how we were married). Our world is colored by discrimination and our safety is compromised by headlines and the threat of violence.
So we will remain in our church (we've been attending for years, but only occassionally--we've now been three weeks in a row). Indeed, I'm going to confirmation classes at the end of the month, and will be confirmed as a member by the Bishop in October. Cameron's parents will even come, as they did for her! And we are the token "out" couple everyone can pat themselves on the back about being so open minded. Goddess knows, change begins must start somewhere. Let it be with me. Or US.