"I ask you to read what follows here—to its end—with care and love, understanding that it is nuanced and partial, and that it comes from the depths of my heart and the ground of my faith.He goes on, and for that I ask you to click on the link above. He does ask for answers to specific questions, something that seems odd, as if he cannot answer them himself, but I have come to expect this as a standard approach of his: to try to get others to engage in conversation while he sits back and moderates (usually by asking more questions).
I am utterly serious when I describe myself as a radical centrist. It means that my very first principle as bishop when it comes to life and change within the community of faith is Jesus’ command to the disciple community to love one another as we have been loved, and to be willing to give up even our very lives for one another (John 15:12-13). To be a disciple is to be disciplined: disciplined in discernment, disciplined in theology, disciplined in action, disciplined in love. In his second letter, Peter writes, 'For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love.'
My discipline is this: to listen deeply to the challenges and questions of all, from my position in that radical—and, I’m discovering, somewhat dangerous—center. My long-held and still-present desire to move forward on same-sex blessings has been given a new discipline upon listening to the questions of those who object to it and the questions of those who support it. Being the bishop of all requires of me an internal discipline that I am not free to ignore."
Anyway, since he is at least giving the appearance of floundering in a radically central Charybdis of sorts, I decided (at the urging of fellow Upper South Carolinians) to send the following response last week.
To the Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo, Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina
“To be a disciple is to be disciplined: disciplined in discernment, disciplined in theology, disciplined in action, disciplined in love.”
Dear Bishop Waldo,
In your report of July 16, 2012 you ask us to address certain questions. As one who also believes that the theological statement supporting the blessing of same sex relationships is inadequate to lead us to approve of such a rite, I commend you for voting “No” in spite of your “long-held and still-present desire to move forward on same-sex blessings...”.
Let me give you my take on your questions.
- You ask: “To those who object to same-sex blessings, my questions are these, among others: How, exactly, is Christian marriage threatened by the blessing of a relationship between two persons of the same sex?
This is just a reiteration of the original question with the addition of a strawman. Unfortunately, the problem lies in the self-justification of the two persons described above, a self justification that you admit is based on an unacceptable theology.
And your answer was,
Lastly you ask,
The fact that heterosexual couples engage in inappropriate sexual activities points again to the failings of the Church in its task of preaching and teaching a scripturally sound theology of marriage. Heterosexual failings cannot be used to justify a blessing of homosexual “intercourse.”
I hope this helps to answer your questions.
Now, you get to tackle mine.
- Why does a seminary trained, Bishop of the Church, with years of experience, still need help with this issue?
- Your plan to “appoint a task force by the end of August to articulate theologically and practically—in much the way Bishop Doyle of Texas has done—the boundaries within which we might live together, including congregations that will have opened their doors to same-sex blessings, and protecting congregations whose conscience demands standing firmly within the tradition” implies that such a “unity” (wherein some parishes in this diocese will have same sex blessings while others won't) is what we are likely to be faced with in the future. How can God's blessing be conferred in one parish but not another? Which parish is acting contrary to God's will?
- How will the promulgation of a theologically unacceptable liturgy alongside traditionalist parishes that disagree help us to engage others in mission and to proclaim God’s salvation in Jesus Christ in a coherent manner?
Your Brother in Christ,
Episcopal Church of Our Saviour
Rock Hill, SC
p.s. Please note the unique way I recycled the paper from my copy of the same sex blessing service. You can find it on the reverse side of this letter.