GC2009: From Disneyland to Alice in Wonderland
By Fr. Todd Wetzel
July 14, 2009
Last night at 6:10 P.M., July 13, the House of Bishops passed a slightly amended version of D025.
They did so by a vote of 99 in favor, 45 opposed and 2 abstentions. Yes, that's right - a two thirds majority mirroring a similar vote in the House of Deputies.
Discussion, as in the House of Deputies, was largely devoid of theological discussion and much more emotionally centered than most discussions in this House.
The words of the Archbishop of Canterbury were read as was the letter of Bishops Hill and Hind on behalf of the Archbishops Advisory Council to the Church of Sweden outlining Anglican orthodoxy on human sexuality.
These had no impact. The most often used words during discussion were "truth" and "transparency." But these words mean different things to different people. To speak "truly" or even "transparently," is not necessarily to speak the truth.
A "true" confession does not justify one's actions nor does it absolve one of guilt. Speaking "truth" does not mean that one is virtuous (or faithful for that matter). There is Truth (objective) such as, "Jesus is both Lord and Savior." And, there is truth (subjective) such as, "I do not believe that Jesus is Savior and Lord."
The expression of the latter does not negate the former. It does make it difficult to understand how said person could express their personal "truth" and yet continue to maintain that they are Christian. Giving truthful expression to one's "experience" (even the experience magnified in thousands of lives such as those of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons) says nothing about "Truth."
Truth transcends time, particular persons and their experiences, and votes. Truth might be apprehended personally but my doing so does not make it "True." The vote in the House of Bishops was a truthful reflection of their feelings.
There is no doubt that this is the expression of the experience of leadership – lay, clergy and bishops - in the Episcopal Church. Authoritative representatives of the Church of England and the Anglican Communion articulated Truth as revealed through the Bible, tradition and thought informed by the Holy Spirit.
These voices are speaking on different tracks - our bishops reflect on the experiential and existential; England and the Communion reflect on the objective and the metaphysical. In the words of a Disney character (Jiminy Cricket) "Always let your conscience be your guide."
Neglecting the voice of Christian conscience can and does have consequences. And consequences, especially those unexpected, can be tragic.
The separation of the Episcopal Church from the Anglican Communion continues apace. The licentious experiences of the few have overwhelmed the moral sensitivities of the many. Two-thirds majorities in parishes seldom settle anything. Does anyone believe that a two-thirds majority at General Convention will settle anything either?
The Church will continue to bleed in numbers and dollars and that will be a truth experienced at home because Truth has not been upheld here. We have moved from the world of Disney to that of Alice in Wonderland.
----Fr. Todd Wetzel is President of Anglicans United. He is based in Dallas, Texas.
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