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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
                 Wednesday, June 25 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmasterChristians and the sexual revolution - 2

The sexual revolution has not passed the churches by any more than any other segment of the population. I alluded yesterday to the fact that I see the widespread breaking of celibacy vows among Catholic clergy as symptomatic of its power in that communion. Women ministers and priests are now common in some Protestant denominations that once thought it would never happen. One Lutheran church in San Francisco, in fact, is "pastored" by two women who are also a lesbian couple. Divorced and remarried ministers have long since stopped being unheard of, or even uncommon, in many of the large denominations.

And many churches like the Lutheran one just cited, and individual Disciples of Christ, Episcopal, Baptist, UCC, and others have knowingly ordained ministers who have not hidden the fact that they are in "gay" partnerships. In fact, the ordination of gays to the clergy has been one of the most divisive issues in American denominations, and others worldwide, for the past 30 years, and in the past two weeks it seems someone is turning up the heat on that kettle.

One of the big controversies in Europe now is over the new European Union proposed constitutional laws exempting churches from the legal rule that gays must not be discriminated against in access to jobs; an exemption that has many European gays protesting. On June 8, news of the election of an openly gay man to the office of bishop in the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire was widely reported. A few days later, in England, the Anglican Bishop of Oxford appointed the first-ever gay bishop in the Church of England, as a suffragen or assistant bishop in his diocese. The Church of England, parent of North America's Episcopal denomination, has been virtually moribund for generations, its only growth in recent years occurring in emerging countries like those in Africa and Asia. Ironically, in the world Anglican communion, conservative bishops from those parts of the world outnumber the liberals like the English and New Hampshire dioceses, a fact that has most observers predicting protracted struggles for years to come. And just last month, the Vatican, beseiged by sexual scandals involving priests from Cambria County to Ireland and New Zealand, again proclaimed: "Gays are not suitable for the priesthood, and their ordination is inadvisable, imprudent and downright risky,"

Virtually every denomination-wide assembly by the major non-Charismatic American denominations, except the Southern Baptists and Missouri-Synod Lutherans, has to struggle with the issue of whether to liberalize its sexual standards every time it meets. And usually the nexus of the controversy is over the ordination of practicing homosexual men and women. This is where the Christian communities find themselves this month. We'll take on some of the historical and theological issues related to that in upcoming entries.

Meanwhile, feedback—comment, argument, and suggestions—are welcome.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Rules to live by

An unbreakable toy is useful for breaking other toys.

— Sent by Judy Rose

Thought for today

The first sign of maturity is the discovery that the volume knob also turns to the left.

— Jerry Wright
Sent by Trudy Myers

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