Thursday, July 16, 2009

General Convention 2009 and what's really important

The Episcopal Church is in the news once again because General Convention is under way, and deputies to convention, together with bishops of the church are discussing and debating certain realities and how the church should respond to them.

One reality--"life on the ground," as some people at convention describe it--is human sexuality. Some of us human beings are heterosexual; others are homosexual; and still others are bisexual and transgendered. Some people, reportedly, have no sexual interest or desire at all.

Scientific studies show that a particular sexuality or a range of sexualities is a given in our creation, like skin color. Ultimately, sexuality is a mystery. I can't begin to understand why I'm heterosexual, while friends, church members, others are something else.

Whatever their sexuality, I try to accept people for who they are. Sexuality is not the defining factor or issue for me.

What defines human beings, for me, is not their sexuality, but their character. The kind of people they are and how they live their values and beliefs daily.

What defines Christians, despite a lot of the media coverage of General Convention and the rhetoric and actions of certain groups within the church, is not fundamentally our sexuality, but our relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

And what defines us is our commitment to Christ, which we show daily by living our baptismal promises, including loving our neighbors, seeking and serving the needy; working for justice, reconciliation, and peace; respecting the dignity of every human being.

At General Convention, we Episcopalians are dealing with many different realities--with what we're meeting on the ground, as it were--sexuality being one reality. Facing and responding to the world as it is, not the world as it used to be or would like it to be, is one of the things I most appreciate about my church.

We face reality, rather than flee it. And we're doing so now, at convention thorugh leglislation, just as secular leglislatures meet, discuss issues and differences, and make decisions, which often involve compromises. In the case of convention, these decisions often become laws or canons.

This is the legislative process that we, the Episcopal Church, developed when we approved our first Constitution and Canons in the 18th century. It's not perfect. What system is?

Ultimately, however, what should guide us as individual Christians and collectively as the church is not canon law; Jesus lived and died and rose again to show that love--self-giving, self-emptying love--should rule us, not law. Love, he teaches, fulfills the law and the prophets.

And love shows itself is working for the very best for others, even suffering and dying for them, whoever they are and whatever their sexuality.

We Christians should stand out before others, especially the skeptics and cynics, by how selflessly and sacrifically we love, especially those with whom we disagree or even dislike, not by whether we win or lose votes and gain the passage or rejection of certain resolutions.

Look at how they love one another should be what people say of us.

God will judge me not on the basis of my sexuality, but on the degree to which I've loved according to the example of Jesus Christ and in His Spirit.

And I believe that's how God will judge the Episcopal Church and every church, too.

1 comment:

  1. The bottom line of Christianity...of the way Christ that it's not who you are but what you do with what you've got.

    Nothing matters except the minute to minute choices one makes about how to behave and how to treat others.

    I think where people get into trouble with this issue is because they perceive sexuality as a behavior rather than a trait.

    But really...the only thing I as a Christian can do is make sure MY behavior is where it should be. Make sure I am walking with Christ.

    I can't control what others do. Not in my relationsips, not in politics, not in my religion. I like that my church understands that.

    Thank you for wading in on this issue. I wish more people would approach these controversial issues with the same kind of rational approach.


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