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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

Advent - 15 days to Christmas

Friday, December 10 2004

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Sinners and their sins

Two issues in the past week's news have brought to the fore again the difficult topic of homosexuality and the church. The United Church of Christ has inspired scores of articles, editorials, and letters to the editors over a television ad it tried to run on CBS and NBC-TV, both of which declined to run it because, they said, it's "too controversial." I haven't seen the ad, but having read detailed descriptions of it, I am convinced this is a bogus obfuscation of the networks' true reason for rejecting it. I have no doubt that their reason is that they know that if they accept this one, suggesting that the UCC is more willing to accept gay couples at its services than some unspecified "other churches," that they (CBS and NBC) will be pressured to take ads that would really stick in their liberal craws, saying things like "homosexuality is rejected as sinful in the Bible" from more conservative Christian groups possibly wanting to counter the social impact of the UCC's commercial.

The second current news items is one I've described as the biggest surprise-to-me church news in 2004: the United Methodist church's stands against homosexuality, specifically in two cases refusing to accept open lesbians as members of their clergy. It's at least a partial repudiation of the liberal inroads in that church's teaching, and it gives hope that it will help nudge some other mainline denominations back toward biblical standards.

Mark Glesne summarized the issues in Methodism in an excellent column yesterday. He begins: “'Oh great,' you may say. 'Here goes another conservative bashing the homosexual movement.' No, but I will tell you what I’m about to do. Here goes another conservative defending the church’s right to distinguish between homosexuals and homosexuality. There is a big difference. Many liberals have a hard time elevating their thinking when it comes to the issue of homosexuality. One of Dick Armey’s axioms is that conservatives love facts too much and liberals love feelings too much. This is certainly true in the arena of homosexuals and homosexuality. You see, those confused on this issue don’t see the difference between the two.

..."The Christian church as a whole should accept homosexuals and the Christian church as a whole does accept homosexuals. But the church as a whole should reject homosexuality. Homosexuals are people. Homosexuality is a behavior. The church is in the business of accepting people. Behavior is another story. This is where you begin to lose your liberal debate partners. Be patient with them, if they’ve stayed this long, they’re probably not a completely lost cause."

Glesne here is restating the sometimes over-used proposition that we must love sinners but hate sins. For 40 years now I've been making the same call on this divisive issue, but instead of "homosexuality/homosexual" I've been casting it as "gay/homosexual." Having been following the issue since at least Time magazine's cover story on it in the early '60's (when I was managing editor of an international Christian weekly), I concluded that "gay" describes the "happy homosexual"—those proud to be practicing their pathology—where "homosexual" describes persons who have less than usual attraction to the opposite sex without necessarily claiming that makes them special or provides them a pass to ignore the biblical requirements regarding sexual immorality.

Where American Methodists have now clarified their acceptance of homosexuals without giving a pass to homosexuality ("self-avowed practicing homosexuals"), the Anglican Communion has muddied its waters by having expressly condoned homosexuality in an international council some years back, and even extending clergy status (at the pastor or priest level) for some who have admitted practicing the behavior, but drawing the line (internationally, but not in the United States and Canada) against accepting practicing homosexual bishops. Even more dismaying is the Church of England's refusal to elevate a clergyman to bishop last year because he himself claimed to be a celibate (non-practicing) homosexual. Isn't celibacy the norm the church wants homosexuals to live up to? Here, it seems from this outside perspective, is a case of rejecting both the sin and the sinner.

I believe the Catholic and Orthodox churches embraced monasticism because it provided a celibate life primarily (not exclusively, by any means, but primarily) for men and women who don't feel much attraction to the opposite sex, not good candidates for family life/parenting. It facilitates their desire to practice holiness rather than homosexuality. But that's another topic.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 

Signs of our times

In the front yard of a funeral home: "Drive carefully. We'll wait."

Sent by Trudy Myers  

Advent thought for today

What is Christmas? It is tenderness for the past, courage for the present, hope for the future. It is a fervent wish that every cup may overflow with blessings rich and eternal, and that every path may lead to peace.

Agnes M. Pharo  

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