Monday, June 19, 2006

Missing the point...

Watching the hot button debates rip up the Anglican Communion. The US branch of the AC - the Episcopalian Church is forcing a schism, no less I think, than the Great Schism of 1054 that split the Roman Church from the other Christian Churches (Antioch, Constantinople, etc). I think that Christians of any stripe can only see that as bad. What they disagree on is whether women and gays can/should be leaders in the church.

Now as soon as I say that everyone has a knee-jerk reaction. Traditionalists (aka conservatives) say "Are you kidding?" Progressives (aka liberals) respond that the very question is outrageous.

The assumption behind the argument that anybody should be able to be a priest or bishop is that the church is an earthly body, with the same aims, structures, rights, etc as a human government. If that assumption is incorrect, then the "progressive" argument falls to pieces, as this is precisely what church tradition denies, yet all of the debate assumes that church government is and should be the same as national government.

What the Orthodox Church has always said, and what Roman Catholics and Anglicans (minus the Episcopalian church) still believe (for now) and Episcopalians used to believe but have written off as "outdated" tradition, is that the Church is a body established, not by the people and for the people, but rather by Christ and for God. This means that the structure and rules cannot be such as seem fair and right to humans, but such as have been established by the Lord and clarified by the Church leadership, primarily the Apostles. It is not and cannot be a democracy, but is and must be a Theocracy with Christ as its Head. The human leaders, unlike political leaders, only have authority over members insofar as the members submit themselves to that authority, and they cannot make any changes that they like, or even changes by popular will. They MUST act in accordance with the Bible and Church Tradition.

So all of the debate, with its insistence that all should have equal rights, is meaningless. It assumes democratic human government. God created two different sexes for His own reasons, and nowhere is it written that we are given to understand all of them.

The same thing applies to gays in the Church. As I tried to say (and didn't say well) in my last post, definitions are everything.
You can't repent of who you are; only what you do. Repenting is a rejection of action. That's why it's so important to reject the language of being something that is not actually a state of being but an action (as a grammar teacher I have to have a pretty good handle on that).
They are NOT gay; they commit "gay" acts because they have desires that have been twisted away from God's natural design (See Romans ch. 1). So it is not a question of equal rights, which is a meaningless question for the Church. It is a question of violating God's will by doing what they want to do, as we all do. We differ only in the form of our sin. Our sins are sins of commission or omission, of doing or not doing, not sins of BEING. So homosexual acts are what they do, just as cursing, lying, adultery, etc is what you and I do. We are all sinners before God.

It's just sad to see the Anglican Communion breaking up. I believe the Orthodox Church is the true Church, but that doesn't mean that God is not present in other churches, or that they don't have and teach at least some of the truth. It's another victory for the Master of this world, Satan.

There's only one Church that doesn't waffle, that doesn't change its teachings every 50 years or so. I do distinguish between individuals going wrong and the direction a whole Church takes. Most Protestant churches have radically changed their teachings over the past 100 years, particularly as regards what sin is. Scandals only demonstrate the violation of church teaching, what is right or wrong. The question is whether the violation becomes acceptable and ceases to be seen as sin. The Anglican Church is falling, the Roman Church is tottering; only the Orthodox Church stands fast.

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