Christians of good heart and good faith sincerely disagree about whether or how biblical passages regarding homosexual behavior relate to the current debates. Exegesis is not solving the problem. What to do? One way is to seek help from a parallel situation in the Bible, like the one Israel faced following the exile. The question was how to reconstitute the nation. With its institutions shattered, how would Israel move forward?
Resisting efforts to eliminate organizational havens for congregations that welcome gays, American Baptist leaders and delegates meeting in Denver maintained an open stance on homosexuality—even if that means living with a “paradox,” as it was put by the denomination’s top executive.
In an appeal to American Baptists last November, the denomination’s top official said he suffered “many sleepless nights” worrying whether controversies over homosexuality would shatter the fragile unity of the denomination. “I agonize over the fact that many feel a split is inevitable,” wrote A. Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A.
Seeking to accompany its apology to overseas Anglicans for the anguish caused by approving a gay bishop’s ordination in 2003, the U.S. Episcopal bishops have decided to withhold consent for any new bishops elected by dioceses over the next 14 months.
Almost more than any other Christian group, Anglicans are notoriously—and proudly—hard to pin down. They are not fully Protestant yet not quite Catholic; hierarchical yet independent; scripturally literate but not literalistic; equal parts New York and Nairobi.
After nearly four years—some say 15 years—of discussion the largest U.S. Lutheran denomination will soon hear if it has some practical and moral wisdom for dealing with homosexual issues that have divided other mainline church bodies for decades.
Long-awaited recommendations will be made public October 18 in London on how the Anglican Communion should cope with tensions and threats of schism created by the election and consecration of gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire and a proposal in the Anglican Church of Canada to authorize a service of blessing for same-sex unions.
A proposal: Let us stop fighting one another, for a season, about issues of sexuality, so that we can focus on what God is saying to the church about our complicity in the violence that is the deepest moral crisis of our time. And let us call the church to fasting and prayer in repentance for the destruction our nation has inflicted upon the people of Iraq.