Wednesday, October 05, 2011

The House Call

   I have often heard it argued that since Jesus was "radically inclusive" and gave us the example of "radical hospitality," that we should therefore be welcoming of non-celibate homosexuals into ordained ministry and accepting of same sex unions as a blessed event. These are combined into the more general term, "inclusiveness." Not considering the logical basis of this conclusion, most discussions either end at this point or devolve into name calling, personal attacks, and the inevitable proof of Godwin's law.

 Matthew 9:10 (today's Gospel reading is Matthew 9:9-17) is frequently referred to in these arguments. Read it again,
9 As Jesus was walking along, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, ‘Follow me.’ And he got up and followed him. 10 And as he sat at dinner in the house, many tax-collectors and sinners came and were sitting with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax-collectors and sinners?’ 12 But when he heard this, he said, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 Go and learn what this means, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have come to call not the righteous but sinners.’

Jesus' words in verses 12 and 13 are usually conveniently left out of any discussion of "inclusiveness."

We can all be thankful that the Great Physician deigns to dine with the likes of us. He even makes house calls! What a surprise to come to a banquet only to told by the guest of honor that you are "sick." What should be my response as His patient? Should I deny that an illness exists in me? Dare I tell the Physican that he is wrong and demand He explain to the world that there was no sickness in me to begin with? After all, it is the world that has the problem, not me. I am a good tax collector. Everyone else is a taxcollectorophobe.

The risk of being "radically included" by Jesus is the risk of being called out to be healed of your sickness and sin.  This is the main risk to those who use the argument of "radicaI hospitality" to further their agenda: they may be given a prescription that involves a change in themselves rather than the change in others that they seek.

I see nothing here to suggest that the result of Jesus' house call is the redefinition of "sin" to mean "blessing."

We are the ones who want to see sin redefined.

Life would be so much easier if only God would do as I desire.


  1. It seems to me, inclusion is not the issue. We all sin and fall short of God's glory. The problem is not including sinners, the problem is defining what "sin" is. When inclusion crosses the line into "acceptance" or "encouragement" of what God defines as sin, that's where the Church fails.

  2. If profound transformation doesn't accompany radical inclusion (as was the case with Matthew), it becomes little more than enablement and a celebration of the sinner's brokenness.

  3. I am mourning the lack of inclusiveness of TEc right now as 815 accuses Bishop Lawrence of abandonment. (Story at T19 here, link to the accusations here).

  4. Okay, the accusations against Bishop Lawrence originated probably from a revisionist group in DSC. Our recently "resigned" Canon of the Ordinary was one of the founders of that group. These accusations are being taken seriously by our former Bishop Henderson who is with 815's disciplinary team.