On July 16th The General Convention of the Episcopal Church maangels_logode their defining decision.  Resolution D025 declares that gay and lesbian persons who practice faithful relationships may be, and in fact have been, called to any ordained ministry within the Episcopal Church.

Sandwiching this resolution are two other important factors.  D025 declares on the one hand the Episcopal Church’s commitment to remaining within the Anglican Communion.  On the other hand it declares that “Christians of good conscience disagree about these matters” and this too must be recognized, ever so gingerly.

NT Wright will have little if any of such feelings of conviviality and continuing dialogue.  From his Times article, “The Americans Know This Will End in Schism,” he opts for seeing the resolution for what it is: ” the slow-moving train crash of international Anglicanism,” that “has finally brought the large coach off the rails altogether.”  For Wright, any talk of staying with the communion once this declaration has been made is inauthentic at best.  “Saying ‘we want to stay in, but we insist on rewriting the rules’ is cynical double-think.  We should not be fooled,” states Wright.

Wright goes on to declare his most salient point when he writes about justice. Contrary to the tenor of the conference, and within the wider debate about human sexuality, we must move away from a debased sense of “justice” that has invaded our language.  Justice is not about anyone simply getting to do whatever anyone feels like doing at any given moment. On the contrary, classical notions of justice, which the great monotheistic religions have always held in some capacity, maintain that justice is concerned with appropriate response, fitting of a particular situation and encapsulated within definitive political boundaries.

Is this not the heart of the problem today?  Where can we find the most appropriate and fitting language in order to make sense of these issues?  Many Episcopalians betray their modern assumptions by speaking of Freedom as freedom from all constraint; justice as synonymous with egalitarianism, and on it goes.  Sexual liberation is now an identity marker instead of gift. It’s become encrypted in a language that perpetually propels itself away from the greater tradition.

If only the North American delegates could speak another language (or maybe they did?).  If only they could talk about homosexual persons and questions of gender in an idiom of ancient moorings or at least ‘non-modern’ (if this could even be possible). Would we then have this decisiveness?  Yes, I think so.  But I do not think it would be the train wreck that Wright so fears and seemingly is approaching.

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