Monday, February 26, 2007

Amazing Grace

I saw Amazing Grace tonight. It is a good and heartening story about the life of William Wilberforce. What it hooked for me is the ongoingness of the fight for human decency. It took most of Wilberforce's life to get the abolition of slavery through Parliament. In the US we fought a civil war over it in which millions died. Although there were many reasons for the Civil War, slavery is still seen as the primary cause.

Wilberforce had to go through being called disloyal, a revolutionary, a crackpot. But through the years he remained faithful to the call of God to do away with slavery because he thought that the character of his nation was being destroyed by it.

For those who believe that the exclusion of LGBT Christians from various positions of ministry destroys the integrity of the Church, the story of Wilberforce reminds us that non-violence may not be as satisfying in victory but it remains the only way that allows for any healing to take place. While it might feel really good for the House of Deputies to tell the Primates to take a hike, it will not be the victory that is needed if we are about revising opinions in the world. We are not merely trying to make the Episcopal Church a safe place for LGBT Christians. We must remember that changing attitudes for LGBT Christians in African countries is just as important an issue as recognizing the leadership of +Gene Robinson.

It would be the easy way to leave the Anglican Communion. If the rights of LGBT folk are important enough for us to leave, then they are even more important to us to stay within it. They need to be as important to the ACC, the Primates and the whole world. And it is essential that we remain within the Anglican Communion so that we can be about the changes that are necessary for the integrity of the Church.

This does not mean that I would support abstaining from the support for LGBT clergy or the blessing of same-sex relationships. And it is clear that "negotiation" without gay voices being heard is not going to bear results. Therefore it is essential that TEC does not cut itself off at the precise time when the Anglican Communion needs us. It is remaining faithful despite the lack of fidelity of some in the Communion, or even the leadership of the Communion. We are family whether some want to recognize us or not at this time. But the time will come when the actions of General Convention 2003 will speak for human decency for all Anglicans as did the work of Wilberforce did for Great Britain in the 18th century.

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