N.T. Wright is the Anglican Bishop of Durham (UK) and today he wrote an op/ed for the London-based Times on the subject of The Episcopal Church voting to allow the appointment of active homosexuals to all forms of ministry. He says that “support by US Episcopalians for homosexual clergy is contrary to Anglican faith and tradition. They are leaving the family.” He says that they know this will end in schism.
The appeal to justice as a way of cutting the ethical knot in favour of including active homosexuals in Christian ministry simply begs the question. Nobody has a right to be ordained: it is always a gift of sheer and unmerited grace. The appeal also seriously misrepresents the notion of justice itself, not just in the Christian tradition of Augustine, Aquinas and others, but in the wider philosophical discussion from Aristotle to John Rawls. Justice never means “treating everybody the same way”, but “treating people appropriately”, which involves making distinctions between different people and situations. Justice has never meant “the right to give active expression to any and every sexual desire”.
Such a novel usage would also raise the further question of identity. It is a very recent innovation to consider sexual preferences as a marker of “identity” parallel to, say, being male or female, English or African, rich or poor. Within the “gay community” much postmodern reflection has turned away from “identity” as a modernist fiction. We simply “construct” ourselves from day to day.
We must insist, too, on the distinction between inclination and desire on the one hand and activity on the other — a distinction regularly obscured by references to “homosexual clergy” and so on. We all have all kinds of deep-rooted inclinations and desires. The question is, what shall we do with them? One of the great Prayer Book collects asks God that we may “love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise”. That is always tough, for all of us. Much easier to ask God to command what we already love, and promise what we already desire. But much less like the challenge of the Gospel.
Spot on… the treatment of homosexuals within the church, when it comes to church leadership, is not a matter of justice. It actually diminishes what justice should really mean.
This move has already lead to a new Anglican expression being formed in the United States. The Anglican Church in Canada is experiencing problems as well highlighted when Dr. J.I. Packer, a Reformed Anglican theologian left the because of the “poisonous liberalism” present in the church body.
HT: Matt Proctor