Response to Christina Kevia Molina on homosexuality and the Episcopal Church
Posted: 27 June 2009 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]  
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Yes, I forgot also to ask what aspects of your church’s polity and organization determine its reaction time on attacks on tradition and scripture and the confusion it creates when the most basic scriptures below are in question.

I think this is a very good question. Because we don’t have either a centralized authority structure _or_ a purely congregational one, we have a very slow “reaction time.” There are clearly drawbacks in this approach as well as advantages. In a fallen world and a broken Church, it may be a good thing that Christians have different polities which cause them to respond in different ways to new issues that arise. The Roman Catholic Church, for instance, tends to respond quickly to articulate a defense of the traditional position, while moving very slowly in terms of change or adaptation to new circumstances. I think there are both strengths and weaknesses to this also.

The assumption in your post I would challenge is that we can simply characterize the current debate on homosexuality (or most of the controversies the Church has faced in its history) as an “attack on tradition and Scripture” rather than a genuine debate among committed Christians about how to apply basic Christian principles to changing circumstances. Christians have tended in the past to characterize theological disputes in terms of a diabolical attack on the true Faith versus its staunch defense. Yet when we look back at the debates of the past, we can often see that the reality was more complicated (the Reformation, which I study, is a particularly traumatic and obvious example of this). And I think that’s the case in the current controversy as well. You quote this passage:

Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.  1 Corinthians 6:18-20.

But the question at issue is how we define the “sexual immorality” (porneia) of which Paul speaks here. Many folks would argue that the immediate context for Paul’s warning in this passage is ritual prostitution in first-century Corinth. Can we really jump directly from this passage to a condemnation of all forms of sexual behavior except for monogamous, heterosexual marriage? I’m not sure that we can—and I say this as someone who believes that in fact monogamous, heterosexual marriage is the only kind of sexual relationship that the Church can bless unequivocally (bearing in mind that even such a relationship will of course have sinful elements, because the spouses are sinful).

I would say that sexual behavior can be put into three broad categories:

1. Behavior that is clearly sanctioned by Scripture and Christian tradition. I would take the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church as the standard here: a monogamous union between a man and a woman with no other living spouses, in which each sexual act is open to the possibility of bringing new life into the world. This is the paradigmatic sexual relationship and should be seen as the norm both in the Church and in society, in my opinion.

2. Behavior that all serious Christians agree falls under the category of “sexual immorality”: abusive or deceptive sexual behavior, promiscuity, and more broadly any act that detracts from rather than contributing to a loving union of persons.

3. Various kinds of sexual behavior and relationships that are seen by some Christians as either neutral or possibly even beneficent: loving relationships between single heterosexuals who for one reason or another are not yet ready to enter into the full, public commitment represented by marriage; committed same-sex relationships; polygamy; remarriage after divorce; sexual union involving the use of birth control; sexual union involving methods or positions that preclude conception by their very nature; and masturbation and perhaps some forms of sexual fantasy. (Masturbation and sexual fantasy are in a somewhat different category, since no one can claim that they actually contribute directly to a godly union of persons; but many modern Christians would regard them (in certain forms and under certain circumstances) as entirely trivial means of relieving sexual tension rather than as deadly sins.)

I mention all of these because I suspect that you’ll be surprised by one or more of the things I include (maybe not). I’m not claiming that these are all the same kind of thing, only that for each item on the list you can find some Christians who condemn it and some who condone it, both working from basic Christian moral principles. (We could perhaps argue the point of polygamy—I went back and forth on whether or not to include it. Except for some traditions that could be seen as marginal to Christianity—Mormonism and certain “African Independent Churches”—practically no Christians have ever seen polygamy as a legitimate ideal. But then Christians who defend remarriage after divorce or premarital intercourse usually don’t see these as the ideal either, but as legitimate under certain circumstances.) I’m not advocating relativism—as I said, I don’t think any of them conforms to the ideal set forth in Scripture and Christian tradition. But I think that all of them have to be put in a very different category from those acts which are clearly incompatible with Christian love. 1 Cor. 6:18-20 has been taken out of context to support an overreaction to questions of sexual morality which has given generations of Christians (and folks in the secular culture) the unfortunate impression that sexual restraint is the core of Christianity. This is the main reason why Christian sexual morality is so often attacked and ridiculed by non-Christians. I don’t think we need to change our teaching on what sexual behavior ideally ought to look like. But we do need to recognize that a loving, faithful couple who for one reason or another aren’t conforming to the ideal are not the primary targets of passages like 1 Cor. 6:18-20. (And I think that the distinction between category 2 and category 3 should inform questions of church discipline, although it’s fair to expect clergy and others in positions of leadership to conform more closely to the ideal.)

The question of the ramifications of homosexuality for health is a difficult one—as you say, it would be nice to have scientific studies that people on all sides of the issue could trust. But the basic interpretive problem is that it’s hard to know whether the destructive patterns of behavior you describe are endemic to the nature of homosexuality or are the result of the marginalization and vilification of homosexuality. If we lived in a society where marriage was illegal and sexual behavior of all kinds was regarded as unnatural (unlikely and shortlived though such a society would be!), might we not find heterosexuals engaging in destructive behavior on a much more frequent basis? Doesn’t the institution of marriage act in part as a curb on our more destructive sexual tendencies, given an approved path for our sexual impulses to follow? That at least is one argument for gay “marriage” and/or for the recognition of same-sex unions as morally and socially legitimate. I’m not sure this really accounts for all the evidence you describe. But I suspect that it does account for some of it. However, as you say, it’s hard to be sure, because in the current climate almost all studies are partisan in one form or another. I’m not sure this is a bad thing—I think that we should base our views on a theological ideal of what marriage and sexuality should look like, rather than primarily on pragmatic considerations. But the latter do have their place.

These diseases are acquired directly through the sexual behavior homosexual activists are asking Americans to legally endorse and protect.

And that is precisely the question that pro-gay-rights folks would dispute.

Yet, as professor Jerome Lejeune of Descartes University, Paris, says of AIDS: “Only God can truly pardon the one who violates His laws; man pardons at times; Nature never pardons at all: She is not a person.”

I think this is theologically problematic on several levels. On the one hand, it assumes that Nature is unfallen, and hence that disease always follows from somehow “breaking” Nature’s “laws.” Do you really want to defend this? Would we never get sick if we all behaved morally?

On the other hand, it assumes that “Nature” is some sort of moral authority distinct from God. That is perhaps even more disturbing.

In Christ,

Edwin

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Posted: 27 June 2009 04:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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I appreciate every much Edwin’s very thoughtful comments about sexual activity. Although we disagree on certain points, I find myself agree with him on a great many points.

...in the current climate almost all studies are partisan in one form or another….

This is quite true. A blogger cited the position of one organization of pediatricians that children raised by homosexuals are at greater risk than those raised by heterosexula couples. I asked our pediatrician daughter about this ad discovered that she had never heard of the organization and was herself a member of another organization that took a very different position. While both my experience and loyalty to our daughter leads me to trust those studies that her organization cites, I am aware that partisanship may be at work here.

One comment about polygamy in Africa. When I visited Kenya in 1989, one of the priests I visited told me that the acceptance of the polygamous of new converts was out of concern for the welfare of the wives. He said that he knew of men who had been converted in some churches and who abandoned all but one of their wives because of those churches’ condemnation of polygamy. The wives were left to fend for themselves and some of these men later renounced the Christian faith and acquired new wives. Where polygamy has been accepted in Anglican churches, the priest told me, the acquiring of additional wives is not allowed.

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Posted: 27 June 2009 05:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Daniel Weir - 27 June 2009 04:54 PM

I appreciate every much Edwin’s very thoughtful comments about sexual activity. Although we disagree on certain points, I find myself agree with him on a great many points.


One comment about polygamy in Africa. When I visited Kenya in 1989, one of the priests I visited told me that the acceptance of the polygamous of new converts was out of concern for the welfare of the wives. He said that he knew of men who had been converted in some churches and who abandoned all but one of their wives because of those churches’ condemnation of polygamy. The wives were left to fend for themselves and some of these men later renounced the Christian faith and acquired new wives. Where polygamy has been accepted in Anglican churches, the priest told me, the acquiring of additional wives is not allowed.

Yes, that was the sort of attitude I had in mind when I said that when mainstream Christians condoned polygamy, they did so with a clear understanding that it wasn’t the ideal. Obviously one can’t simply apply this approach across the board, but I would tend to say that something along these lines (maintenance of a conservative ideal along with a very pastoral approach to those who can’t live up to it) is the way I would favor approaching most if not all of the “grey area” issues I listed. The Orthodox, for instance, allow remarriage after divorce as a concession to human weakness, but not an unlimited number of remarriages, and I understand that the ceremony for remarriage is quite different (with a heavily penitential tone) than that for first marriage. They tend to be criticized from both sides: Roman Catholics (and conservative evangelicals) say that their position is incoherent and lax, while mainline Protestants to whom I’ve described this approach find it harsh and punitive. I’m not saying that the Orthodox approach is perfect, but I think the general principles behind it are defensible.

Edwin

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Posted: 27 June 2009 05:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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I will have to look at the Orthodox service for the marriage of divorced persons.

I have a couple of times refused to officiate at the wedding of couples where one or both have been divorced. My reasons were that there was no indication that the divorced person took any reponsibility for the failure of the previous marriage. One man told me that the only mistake he had made was choosing the wrong women - he had been divorced twice! His fiancee was very angry with me when I told her that I would not officiate at their wedding and that I had serious doubts that the marriage would last.

I was talking recently with a couple that have been worshipping with us. They are engaged and I asked them about their plans. They told me that having both had their first marriages end in divorce they were not about to marry in haste. I will offiate at his son’s wedding in the fall, but I expect it to be another year before the other couple is ready.

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Posted: 27 June 2009 06:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Dr. Tait - THANK YOU for taking your time for me.

Your time in writing is valuable and opens up beautifully to this piazza.  Certainly, there is breadth here.  From the onset, I will answer one question you pose to me, whose answer will not change. 

First you quote what I provided (the doctor citing AIDS research referring to a professor at Descartes University): 

“Yet, as professor Jerome Lejeune of Descartes University, Paris, says of AIDS: “Only God can truly pardon the one who violates His laws; man pardons at times; Nature never pardons at all: She is not a person.”

And then you write the following in response to Jerome LeJeune’s comment:

“I think this is theologically problematic on several levels. On the one hand, it assumes that Nature is unfallen, and hence that disease ALWAYS follows from somehow “breaking” Nature’s “laws.”

“Do you really want to defend this?”

——-

Yes, Dr. Tait,  I absolutely do, except I’m not sure the frame you chose for your inductive reasoning of this painting is appropriate to the rich and textured piece of art of the banquet waiting for us on the other side of the price of original sin.  So, I’d like to propose the following frame for this picture we are painting together by changing a few words in your final comment to me and the question you pose.  (I think this is theologically problematic on several levels. On the one hand, it assumes that Nature is unfallen, and hence that disease ALWAYS follows from somehow “breaking” Nature’s “laws.”)

From your comment delete the ALWAYS - and add three-dimensional vision to the word FOLLOW.  And then add to this banquet of words connections outside of the the intellectual realms (the mind) and introduce the idea that the flesh’s movements affect the battle and what it touches and interacts with inject ideas and concepts into the mind.  Then ask yourself what provisions scripture provides to each of your achilles’ heels corresponding to your body parts and their flesh’s most visceral instinctive responses.  (the helmet for the mind, the breastplate for the heart, the gospel for the feet, the sword as the Word of God, the shield, for your faith). And, I will also delete the entire assumption that LeJeune’s statement assumes that Nature is unfallen.  (I cannot imagine how LeJeune’s referencing God’s ability to pardon assumes we are not fallen and will not address that portion of your problems with theology until you expand and explain what I am missing.  That is, how do you draw the line that Lejeune commenting that “Only God can truly pardon the one who violates His laws” is theologically problematic and then inductively reason that “hence, disease always follows from somehow “breaking” Nature’s laws?”  (If there is a God to pardon, obviously diseases do not ALWAYS follow.  LeJeune cites three, God, People and Nature; your inductive reasoning does not respect the Trinity’s mystery).

So, I won’t answer your inductive reasoning and questioning, “On the one hand, it assumes that Nature is unfallen, and hence that disease always follows from somehow “breaking” Nature’s “laws.”  Do you really want to defend this?  Would we never get sick if we all behaved morally?”

But I will answer the question - DOES DISEASE ALWAYS FOLLOW FROM SOMEHOW “BREAKING” NATURE’S LAWS.  DO YOU REALLY WANT TO DEFEND THIS?  WOULD WE NEVER GET SICK IF WE ALL BEHAVED MORALLY?

That question more appropriately addresses the FEAR that is instilled when speaking of AIDS, illness, death, sin, missing the mark, touching the fire, getting burned, playing with fire on our lap, letting pride go unchecked, confusion, innocence and a combination of those and much, much more. 

What it boils down to, to me, is that when reason is used to divorce the Flesh from Jesus’ Word, Spirit and the Law, Truth is robbed and becomes offensive.  And, while there may very well be a banquet on the other side waiting for us, paid by a high price by Christ, an awareness of our mortality and indwelling divinity may very well be the breadth that reconciles this argument. As Mr. Keyes so eloquently stated, “Awareness of ethnic difference (that we are MORTAL beings that are citizens of heaven and sojourners here bought at a very high price) can make all the difference.  The fact is that a latina woman (MORTAL (WO)MAN) is probably more likely to be aware of the particularity of her (A HUMAN’S) perspective than is a white man (MAN WHO PLACES HIMSELF IN JESUS’ SHOES); as such she (A MORTAL MAN) may be at more liberty to seek the Good and True than is someone who thinks that he can seek the Good as an abstraction independent of his relation to it.  This is not to abstract particular virtues that are universal to ethnic minorities (HUMAN BEINGS BOUGHT WITH JESUS’S BLOOD), but only to state how such ethnic difference (AWARENESS OF MORTALITY) may make a practical difference.  I seriously doubt that this alone should qualify Sotomayor as a Supreme Court Justice (A HUMAN BEING AS THE JUDGE OF RIGHT AND WRONG) as someone who determines what is right and wrong… but with Stanley Fish I think that the conservative outcry (“she’s not objective!”) (THEY ARE NOT PINING AND THIRSTING FOR GOD AND TRUTH) is totally wrong.”

And thus, I will answer your question with a FOLLOWING - (as a three-dimensional word) that leads to the cross.  Thus, “what suffering does a same sex monogamous relationship cause” may finally be answered without the graphic medical terminology.  Jesus is, indeed, the great healer.  It is he that died for us, not me for him.  He asks me to return the favor. 

Yes, Dr. Tait, my answer will never change - I will “take up my cross and follow him and I will not jump from a building or ask stones to turn into bread” - it is HIS wounds that heal me, not the other way around.  But even Jesus did not throw himself off of a building or try to reason with Satan in the desert.  He cited Scriptural authority.

Luke 9:9 (The Temptation of Jesus)

Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say, ‘He will order his angels to protect and guard you.  And they will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.”

Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’”

John 4:39

Jesus asked, “Will you never believe in me unless you see miraculous signs and wonders?”

And so unless one of us on this covenant-communion website wants to inject ourselves with the blood of a man dying of AIDS, it is a scripturally documented problem for you to ask me if disease ALWAYS follow the breaking of a law. (even if Le Jeune describes Natural Law and not a person.  I don’t see how gravity or slicing someone’s arm or cutting my hair can be described as anything other than not a person)

Are you suggesting that you are immune to physical death because Jesus died on the cross for your sins?  Am I all of a sudden immune to physical death because Jesus died on the cross for my sins?  This is basic Christianity; basic scriptural swords.

I am late for lunch and as I was packing up to go, I read your work so that I could review the materials today but have suffered over the problems such activity causes and the theological wrestling, strife and fighting the churches are experiencing as we are divided by tongues in trees and sermons in stones in the wilderness.  Thus, perhaps, Saddleback’s church’s Rick Warren calling people out of these arguments, may very well be just that - a deliverance from the wilderness.  Am I understanding the fighting properly.  Writing this, I confess, has made me suffer; putting Christ’s wounds on paper; Christ’s tough love, on paper.

Rowan wrote a beautiful sermon entitled “I Do Not Know the Man,” on Peter… began to invoke a curse on himself and to swear, “I do not know the man.” Matthew 26.75. 

I summarize as follows:

For years I shared his life; I listened to him, I ate at his table, In a small way I took risks with him and for him, giving up some comforts and securities.  I began to let my life be shaped by him.  But I do not know him, I never did.  How could I know that it was all leading to this place?  The cold dawn and the glare of torches and the grinning faces that might laugh it off, or turn you over to the military, or lynch you themselves?  I never knew that healing a leper or sharing a meal with a prostitute might cost you a life.

I do not know the man.

It’s one thing to be where you can give, where you can be generous and even a little daring in your generosity, and think quite well of yourself.  And then that generosity you’ve played at makes a claim you can’t meet, and things become serious.  How can I be loyal to promises I never really understood?  How can I forgive myself for the foolishness of a commitment whose scale I couldn’t know?  How can I forgive him for bringing me face to face with my fear and my impotence here in the glare of the torches?  I do not know him, I do not want to know him; I do not want to know the self he makes me see, its comfort and its truthfulness. 

I do not know the man.

I am more comfortable with the God…....I want to live and I am afraid when he tells me I must learn to be mortal.  I want the questions to stop.”

—————————

Here, I think, is the suffering.  Here is where this subject matter may cause suffering.  I have to go now.  I skipped my lunch.  It was exhausting wrestling with these ideas.  How do you put in words a picture of God dying on the cross for sin?  How do you put in words an automobile accident and try to design better cars with fancy anti break systems, instead of the larger picture?

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Posted: 28 June 2009 09:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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Hi,

I feel like I’m coming into the middle of a conversation.  I’m not sure if the rest of this conversation is posted elsewhere in the forums or was this originally a private conversation?

As for the transmission of HIV, I can assure you that the virus does not care what sexual orientation you are, what gender you are, how many times you have had unprotected sex (although of course the chances increase as the number increases, but many have gotten the virus after one time in a marital relationship), or how often you have had a blood transfusion or used unclean needles.  All the virus cares about is getting from a host to another host without dying along the way.

Cristina states above

And thus, I will answer your question with a FOLLOWING - (as a three-dimensional word) that leads to the cross.  Thus, “what suffering does a same sex monogamous relationship cause” may finally be answered without the graphic medical terminology.  Jesus is, indeed, the great healer.  It is he that died for us, not me for him.  He asks me to return the favor.

Again, I don’t know what this “graphic medical terminology” is since its not included in this thread, but I have a pretty good hunch of it.  The “studies” that have been done, I am absolutely sure, do not take into consideration promiscuous behavior versus monogamous behavior.  As we all know, promiscuous heterosexual behavior can also result in many diseases.  I would also suspect that these “studies” do not take into account male-to-male, male-to-female and female-to-female sexual behavior.  The HIV/AIDS rate among lesbians (not bisexual women) is extremely low and is attributed to other risk factors (injection drug use).  So if HIV/AIDS is the judgement of God against gay men, then lesbianism ought to be blessed by God?  This is a ridiculous line of thinking, which is completely obvious to non-Christians.  It is this type of ridiculous thinking that leads droves AWAY from Christ.

In Christ,
Shawn

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Posted: 28 June 2009 04:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Perhaps if I explain it in this manner.

I

Peter’s Calling to Fatherhood

John 21:15

After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”  “Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.” “Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.  Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?” “Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.” “Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.  A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time.  He said, “Lord, you know everything.  You know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.”

“I tell you the truth, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked; you dressed yourself and went wherever you wanted to go.  But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will dress you and take you where you don’t want to go.”  Jesus said this t let him know by what kind of death he would glorify God.  Then Jesus told him, “Follow me.” 

II

(Below transcription I did for you from audio file shared on Father’s Day)

“I want to share a poem with you today:

God give us men
God give us men times like this demand
Strong Minds, Great Hearts, True Faith and Ready Hands
Men whom the lust of office does not kill
Men whom the spoils of office cannot buy
Men who possess opinions and a will
Men who have honor
Men who will not lie
Men who can stand before a demagogues and damn their treacherous flatteries without winking
Tall men, sun-crowned, who live above the fog in public duty and in private thinking
For while the rabble with their thumb-warmed creeds
their large professions and their little deeds
in their selfish strife
Lo, freedom weeps
Wrong rules the land
and Justice, Sleeps

“It was written by Josiah Gilbert Holland, way back when, but the last time I heard it was from a Palestinian Leader whom I met with in Beirut Lebanon, who had a picture of Arafat behind his desk, had a photograph taken of us that he signed for me on the back and under his signature wrote “God Give us Men a Time like This Demand,” because part of his role in Lebanon was to work for peace in the middle east and he came to the meeting that I spoke at that night.  God Give us Men a Time like this demands.

You know what, not many of us are afforded that type of service, are we?  But there are more than a few of us, some of us who have stood in this room, who are given the calling, the privilege of sharing in the high calling to using the tools at hand to invest in the lives of those who love in a thing called fathering.  The high calling of fathering and now I’m thinking of the average man… he builds things with his hands for a living and but if you check his genealogy, he’s got the blood of kings flowing through his veins and this guy finds himself facing the high calling of fatherhood with a child that is not his own, biologically, born to the woman he loves, but not by his intiative and he knows it.  So, the first impulse he has, he’s just going to call the engagement off.  You know, baby changes everything.  But he was going to do it honorablly because that’s the kind of guy he is.  He’s not going to make a big scene, not to make a public mess or scandle, he’s just going to do it quietly.  He loved her too much to do it other.  And then, he says, God paid him a visit.  He had an epiphany. 

As a matter of fact, his story is recorded for us, right here, it’s Mathew Chapter 1 Verse 18.

...Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together she is found to be with child through the Holy Spirit and because Joseph, her betrothed husband, is a righteous man, he didn’t want to expose her to public discrace.  He had in mind just to divorce her quietly, but after he’d considered this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David! Don’t be afraid.” You know that would be something that would do your heart good to hear God say to you today.  “Don’t be afraid.”  I don’t know what crisis you’re facing; I don’t know what circumstnces beyond your control have made an unwelcome visit to you that you didn’t invite, but maybe God would just want to say to you, in the middle of the crisis at hand, if we just slow down here and exhale, that he might say, “Don’t be Afraid Joseph.”  Don’t be afraid Joseph, to take Mary home to be your wife.  That’s a fear of Joseph wasn’t going there without God.  But God Spoke about the high calling of fathering that he had called him to.

What kind of man, guys?  Come on guys?  Think about it. What kind of man would God choose to raise his little guy?

http://www.ubcmiami.org/_podcast/ubc_audio/Father Figure.mp3

III

Rowan Williams Sermon entitled “Loving God”

Who made you?
God made me.
Why did he make you?
To know him, to love him and to serve him…

But which of us does “love” God?....

I’m not suggesting gospels are “secondary” to our experience in the Christian life, far from it.  What I’m tring, rather laboriously, to say is that the gospels and the figur eof Jesus come alive when viewed and grasped in the whole personal and social context of CHristian life.  And—I suggest—the attractiveness of Jesus will most come alive through our experience of the attractiveness of forgiven, grace-penetrted, Christ-filled lives in those around us.  And for Christians, “those around us” doesn’t just mean our immediate neighbors and contemporarires, but the “cloud of witnesses” of every generation:  the communion of saints, in fact.  Paul can boldly say to his converts, “be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.”  Is Christ remote and abstract to you?  After all, you have not known Christ in the flesh.  Then look at his work, his reflection, his image in someone who is not remote and abstract - perhaps a historical figure, perhaps a great contemporary, ....for practical purposes, we can quite often echo that idiosyncratic theological genius who said, “God’s a good man”!

But not just a good man.  It is well said that good people make you feel awful (He’s so nice you could kick him,” a friend once remarked of some mutual acquantinace of ours,” only holy people make you feel better too (though, like our Lord, they will make you feel awful enroute).  They make you feel that the humanity you share with them is—in spite of everything—capable of glorious transfiguration, joy and fulfillment.  This can be true even if the people in question are poor, depressed, in pain, humiliated:  there is still a quality, hard to define, a sense that life in them is somehow as it should be, rooted in the soil of the deepest and truest reality of all….

IV

The audio file tells above tells of a funeral the pastor officiated for the death of the son of one of the church’s members.  The pastor relays the story of how the father shared the following story at the funeral for his son.

At the beginning of the school year, the son gives his father the dates of all of the activities, races, meets, classes and competitions the schoold year has scheduled for him.  The year progressed and there was an award’s ceremony and the son received notice of the award’s ceremony only two days before the date the award’s ceremony was to have been given.  The father says that his son knew his father had a very busy schedule and the father said that he already knew about the award’s ceremony and had planned to attend!  The son said, “Dad, but I just told you a few days ago!  How did you know I would be chosen for an award?”  And the father said, “You gave me a schedule of all of the events the school was having throughout the year.  It is natural for me to expect that you will always succeed.

.... the moving hand writes… and after having writ.. moves on… not all of thy piety nor wit can lure it back to erase half a line nor all thy tears wash away ... one word of it.  Omar Khayyam.

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Posted: 28 June 2009 09:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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Hi Cristina,

You write very beautifully and it is quite a moving account of our Lord and Saviour.  Thank you.  However, I’m not sure I understand how it relates directly to our conversation at hand.  I think I’m missing an important link or something.  Could you tie this in to this particular discussion on homosexuality a little better for me?

Thanks,
Shawn

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