To the faithful Members of St. James the Less Church in the Parish of Renforth
This Thursday we meet with Bishop David to talk about the implications of the actions of General Synod. General Synod has passed the 1st of 2 required readings of this motion. The motion redefines marriage by removing the traditional prescription of one man with one woman and restating it as simply two persons. The problem that I have with this action is that the definition that we have accepted for thousands of years has come through the scriptures not through synods. It has never been up to us to define or redefine marriage. It just is as the scriptures say that it is. By doing what they did General Synod has down graded its view of scripture. This is not a trivial thing. They have also in their so called debate preparation taken liberty with methods of bible study and with the nature of the Holy Spirit. I listened to several of our delegates talk about this at our recent clergy conference. The document that was given as the report of purposed change is also deeply flawed and offers no real theologically sound argument. In other words the whole thing was rigged and manipulated from the beginning. Perhaps a better thing would have been to simply remove the cannon on marriage altogether.
To some of you this will not be a big deal. So what? The Church is becoming more and more like society and generally in harmony with the laws of the land. Can’t we just all get along and be fine with it?
Wait a minute; I made a vow before my bishop and God and the gathered public at my ordination: Here is what it says: Will you be ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrines contrary to God’s Word; and to use both public and private monitions and exhortations, as well to the sick as to the whole, within your cures, as need require, and occasion shall be given? .. and I said: I will, the Lord being my helper.
And so I have to say here in my blog that I believe that General Synod has erred grievously in what they have done. I warn you as people of God to not accept this change in doctrine. Examine the word of God and your on conscience. I would be out of compliance with my ordination vows if I did not say this.
On the other hand… and there is another hand… how do we proceed? How do we proceed as Christ’s hands and feet, light and truth in the community that we are planted in. Should we advocate that we simply return to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” position. That will not work now and was also always sub christian in its values set. This is a real time to ask the very important question What would Jesus do? The world that we live in today is much more complex than the world that Jesus lived in, yet he still walks with us today in this world. The world we live in is much more sexualized and given over to human and individual rights and expressions. This stuff is enshrined in our laws and acceptable practices. You can be shocked by this or ignore it personally if you like, but as a community church that would not be an acceptable position.
I was briefly encouraged this spring when the house of bishops could not find support for the motions and the primate indicated that perhaps a legislative solution was not the answer here, but that direction did not come to any fruition. They were able to create a few more liberal bishops that would turn the vote. Was this sneaky and dirty politics? If only they would have struggled with the scriptures and talked with the rest of the Church around the world.
I believe that there is a way forward for us. It begins with prayer and it begins with Jesus. What do you think we should do? Bring your thoughts and your prayerful self to our meeting this Thursday.
Rector of Renforth