Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Integrity Leader Challenges Archbishop: "Enough, Double Talk"

 From Integrity Executive Director Max Niedzwiecki.......

A September 25th article in The Times  quotes Archbishop Rowan Williams as saying, "[T]here's no problem about a gay person who's a bishop. It's about the fact that there are traditionally, historically, standards that the clergy are expected to observe." According to the Archbishop, gay and lesbian people are just fine – but unless they abstain from sex with members of their own sex, they should not be bishops.The Archbishop goes on to say that "The question about gay people is not about their dignity or the respect they deserve as gay people, it's a question about a particular choice of life, a partnership, and what the church has to say about that.”

The Archbishop, who serves as the symbolic head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, is clearly an intelligent and well educated person. This makes it especially difficult to understand how he can say that gay people deserve respect, and at the same time require that their opportunities for leadership in the Church be limited if they make the same choice as the vast majority of bishops and other good Anglicans, including Mr. and Mrs. Williams – that is, to live in committed, loving, intimate relationships with adults with whom they share mutual attraction.

Maybe the Archbishop doesn’t actually think that gay (and lesbian, bisexual and transgender) people deserve respect, or that God really loves them. Or maybe, against mountains of scientific evidence, he thinks that people choose their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The most common way of making sense of the Archbishop’s argument, at least among the people who pay attention to Integrity, reflects rather badly on him as a moral leader. Perhaps he really has nothing in particular against gay (or lesbian, bisexual or transgender) people, but he simply doesn’t think that their freedom to live in loving, intimate, and committed relationships is as important as keeping the Anglican Communion together. Keeping the party going with its current guest list is the important thing, even if it means that some people need to be blocked by bouncers at the door.

Assuming that is the case, my gut response is to say I don’t want to go that party anyway. But the truth is, I do want to go to that party, and I think everyone should be able to go. Because no matter how grandfatherly the Archbishop might seem, or how venerable his office might be, or how pointy his hats are, it’s not his party. This is God’s party, and the Archbishop should be the Coordinator of the Welcoming Committee. His job should be to make sure that every guest gets a hug and a drink within ten minutes. (He might also bring me a sandwich while he’s at it – cultural polemics make me hungry.)

There are plenty of parties that should be God’s parties – a.k.a. places of worship – that are being run by people who want to keep “the wrong kind of person” out. The Archbishop, Church of England, and Anglican Communion are hardly the worst offenders. But here is what I would say to the Archbishop if I had the chance to speak with him for just half a minute: Archbishop, there are already plenty of churches and other places of worship that limit people or make them feel like dirt because they are born to fall in love with members of their own sex. Let the Episcopal Church be different. If you really believe that we all deserve to be treated with respect, then stop the double-talk, be a brave leader, and trust God with the rest.

Max Niedzwiecki became Integrity's Executive Director in September, 2010.



And let the people say, "AMEN!"

Lois Keen said...

AMEN! and Bravo.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

I wish you would stress more what you finally come to in the 'graphs beginning "The most common way..." This is in fact exactly what the ABC means and thinks, and that is where the focus of discussion ought to be. He is holding to a "party line" for a party with fewer and fewer guests. He is not holding things together. That is the core of the problem: he cannot engage his personal opinions because he thinks his job is simply to mind the store. He is not engaging in double-talk; but he has set his priorities wrong.

JimB said...