The Diocese of Gippsland has had it’s annual Synod and Bishop John McIntyre seems to have decided that when he agreed to the Australian Bishops’ Protocol a few months back he really didn’t mean it. His President’s Address [pdf] shows a clear determination to push against the recently-established collegiality of the House of Bishops.
Only in light of reflection on God’s Word did I finally come to understand. Despite what I or others may believe is their worthiness, the fruit of the works of many gay and lesbian people has brought God’s blessing to me and to many other people, both in and beyond the church. That is the measure of their worthiness to minister in the name of Jesus Christ in the life of the church, and in the community in the name of the church. That indicates their place in the life of God’s people.
Put simply, I think God has been saying to me for many years now “If it is good enough for me, John, why is it not good enough for you?”
It’s not like we haven’t heard this sort of argument before. Nor this one…
We all acknowledge that the church can never read the Bible in the same way once it acknowledged that Galileo was right. The world is round, not flat, despite what those who first penned the words of the Bible thought and assumed. It took the church a long time to acknowledge this, and in the name of orthodoxy, it treated Galileo rather shabbily along the way.
Here lies an exegetical parallel for our present purpose. Because of recent new understanding, we now all know that same-sex attracted people are not heterosexual people who have made a perverse choice about how they express their sexuality. They simply are what they are. We might like to argue about whether this is how life should or should not be, but that will not change the way it is. And we have to respond to what is.
The responses to this kind of shallow argumentation are legion but let me try and sum them up simply:
We now all know that adulterous people are not married people who have made a perverse choice about how they express their sexuality. They simply are what they are. We might like to argue about whether this is how life should or should not be, but that will not change the way it is. And we have to respond to what is.
let me try again lest anyone attempt the ridiculous assertion that I am equating homosexuality with adultery:
We now all know that thieves are not property owners who have made a perverse choice about how they express their understanding of property rights. They simply are what they are. We might like to argue about whether this is how life should or should not be, but that will not change the way it is. And we have to respond to what is.
There’s more of the usual Boswellian argumentation but the money paragraph is right at the end. Take heed:
I make this commitment to all of you, whether or not you agree with me on this one issue. All I do, and all I will seek to continue to do, in everything I do, is to seek the will of God.
Accordingly, I will appoint to office in our diocese those whom I believe God is calling to minister among us, and I will continue to do so with a grateful heart to God for the gifts and skills they bring to us. Furthermore, I will do this within the context of the greater call of God on the whole church, which is to live by grace; to seek justice and to show compassion, in all we do and say. That is my commitment to God and to you, and I am willing to live with any consequences that may arise from remaining true to that commitment.
So let’s just be absolutely clear on what happened here.
In March, Bishop McIntyre went to a meeting of the House of Bishops and agreed to a protocol which stated:
As bishops in the Australian Church we accept the weight of 1998 Lambeth Resolution 1.10 and the 2004 General Synod resolutions 33, 59 and 61-64 as expressing the mind of this church on issues of human sexuality.
We undertake to uphold the position of our Church in regard to human sexuality as we ordain, license, authorise or appoint to ministries within our dioceses.
We understand that issues of sexuality are subject to ongoing conversation within our Church and we undertake to support these conversations, while seeking to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
and now less than 2 months later he says,
I will appoint to office in our diocese those whom I believe God is calling to minister among us … That is my commitment to God and to you, and I am willing to live with any consequences that may arise from remaining true to that commitment.
McIntyre agreed to uphold the position of the church – he has gone back on that agreement. He agreed to uphold that position in regard to all appointments – he has clearly signaled his intention to go back on that agreement. He also agreed to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace - he’s blown a cannon right through that one.
Of course, he also states that he’s “willing to live with any consequences that may arise”. Somehow I doubt it – because the honourable thing to do now would be to admit that you didn’t mean a word of it when you met up with your fellow bishops (unless anyone thinks this change of heart is a sudden thing). When you lie to those you’re meant to work together with then someone’s position becomes untenable. At least it should do. Let’s see what the House of Bishops do in response.
Does this remind anyone of former Presiding Bishop of TEC, Griswold? He went to a 2003 Primates meeting where they agree on a statement that the consecration of Robinson would “tear a hold in the fabric of the Communion” then gets on a plane and goes and consecrates Robinson. The word for that is “disingenuous”. What an awful moment when bishops cannot trust the word of another bishop.
In the long run, someone behaving in a way that is consistently immoral working for an organisation is going to de-power and chill the fervour and the life of the organisation.