Tuesday, 28 July 2009


I wrote in my last post about not knowing whether things are right or wrong, not wanting to engage in irrelevant debates, when what we ought to be doing (or at least, the nearest thing I can discern that I ought to be doing) is showing the people of the world that they are loved.

Denying someone's experience of their committed relationship does not show them that they are loved.

Denying someone the opportunity to practise what they have discerned as their vocation on the basis of the fact that you do not recognise or acknowledge their committed relationship does not show the world that it is loved. Denying the right of another church to recognise those relationships does not seem to me to be a loving action, either.

I don't know whether to engage in debate about same-sex marriage or about ordination of people who are in homosexual relationships. I don't have the background to do the exegesis; I don't even have the skill to contribute artful language. But if I implied that the debate shouldn't happen, if I implied that things are okay as they are, if I implied that the debate doesn't matter, I was wrong. It matters.

Perhaps if more people asked "How can I show God's love to the world?" instead of "What is right?" the debate wouldn't exist. I don't know.

And I don't know what my role is in this debate, me, the not-Christian-by-some-standards heretic, drawn to C of E prayer structures and attempting to live by the Summary of Law. I don't know how I can show love to the world in this context; all I can say is that even if the Church of which I am not a member (and may never be at this rate) doesn't recognise these relationships, I do; that even if the Church doesn't acknowledge these vocations, I do. And if I'm wrong to do that then may God have mercy on me, this mercy that we're all told of. I'd rather fall on God's mercy than tell another they cannot have it.


Rick+ said...

     Your only role, as I see it, is to share what's in your heart. You've done that well.

     One aspect of classical Anglicanism is we belive we also find the Holy Spirit and discernment in conversation with one another. I don't see the debate or discussion as the problem - I see that as healthy. It is when, as you've said, we impugn another's faith or motives that we are on shakey ground.

Rick+ said...

Uh... gotta proofread better... belive = believe.

Song in my Heart said...

Oh, thta's okay, I read typoese. :) And as far as Freudian slips go, "be live" is rather wonderful.

Thanks for your comment, Rick.

I value conversation with humans in the process of discerning what I should do; if nothing else, I often don't really know how I feel about something until I have managed to put it into words, whether those are written or in conversation. But I don't know how to respond to a conversation where one person tells another "I know, better than you do, what is right and true and good," especially in matters where I can see no objective harm.

Rick+ said...

     You know, when someone uses that kind of reasoning ("I know better than you"), I'm always reminded of a quote by Ghandi:

     "Never do what your friends tell you to do when the friend inside you says, 'Do this.'"

Kathryn said...

"I'd rather fall on God's mercy than tell another they cannot have it."
I'm standing right here beside you on this my friend...though I hate the prospect of finding myself cut off from the church that has nurtured me and allowed my vocation to flourish, because that same church seems intent on excluding from its ministry some of the most spiritually gifted priests I have encountered...and I hate that a man whom I respect and love is using language that makes me want to run away and hide.
In fact, I hate pretty much every aspect of the current situation.
Lord have mercy...

it's margaret said...

Like what Rick and Kathryn said....

DanG said...

The institutional church often gets caught up in orthodoxy and forgets that "we seek and serve Christ in all persons and love our neighbor as ourselves" Don't be afraid of the orthodoxy police for those who most try to preserve outdated thinking have often lost sight of the prize; communion with Jesus Christ.

Song in my Heart said...


I hate that a man whom I respect and love is using language that makes me want to run away and hide.

I would seriously like to have him 'round for a cup of tea and a friendly chat, or write him a letter and know for sure he would read it and answer it.

I wonder what would happen if everyone who felt that way wrote to him, not in a gesture of attack, but in a spirit of seeking dialogue and understanding. If I thought it would make any difference I'd do it in a flash. Unlike so many people who care deeply about the situation, I have nothing to lose: I can't be kicked out of something I'm not formally a part of, after all.

Song in my Heart said...


I'm not afraid of the orthodoxy police; I'm fortunate enough to live in a country where I won't be seriously persecuted for my religious views, and--thanks be to God--I do not have a vocation to ministry. Personally, I have little or nothing to lose in all this.

But I am a human being and although I have no immediate reason to be frightened, I am very saddened that we humans treat one another so shabbily. And yet changing that, even on the small scale of my own personal relationships, is a daunting and formidable task.

Though there's nothing for it, really, but to keep trying to act with love, and keep hoping that it helps, and keep praying God will take up the slack where I inevitably fall short.

Kathryn said...

Song - the old Rowan would occasionally even answer his own phone, and would never ignore a letter...but I really don't know now whether any response would be forthcoming. I'm tempted too...
Eeek...Time whizzed when I wasn't looking. Must run..............

Song in my Heart said...

I should clarify, I don't think I Have a vocation to ordained ministry. I do recognise a more personal invitation to attempt to convey God's love for the world, and that is another sort of ministry.

Zair said...

Well written!

I for one do not understand what we get by havin this debate. Deciding that someone's love is wrong because it makes us uncomfortable or just plain hating is unlikely to get us closer to God. Surely is it not love that does that? Love of God, love of the universe we live in, love others, love of ourselves, love of each other.


Grandmère Mimi said...

And if I'm wrong to do that then may God have mercy on me, this mercy that we're all told of. I'd rather fall on God's mercy than tell another they cannot have it.

Song, you're not wrong. God will not judge us harshly for declaring God's bountiful mercy. At least not the God that I worship.

I am sad to see someone like you, trying to find a place in the world of faith, put off by such a message as the ABC's letter. It appears a kind of scandal to me, and as a Christian, I'm embarrassed for the ABC and for myself.

Song in my Heart said...


It is very sad that this is happening, but I think any sadness anyone feels for me in this should be quite minor in the grand scheme of things. I'm unlikely to get put off of God at this point... of course, I could be wrong.

The ABC is human. So are you. So is every Christian I know. And that means that mistakes will be made, and I must try to forgive those who cause harm even as I seek some way to prevent that same harm from happening, I must accept that people are doing the best they can and making faithful decisions even as I instruct where I have the confidence to do so (which isn't much) and question where I'm just completely baffled.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Song, I've read or listened to Rowan make what I see as the same sort of mistake over and over again, and I'm tired of it. I wish he's leave us in TEC to handle our own affairs and stop interfering in our governance.

So there will be consequences to our actions. We know that. What will be, will be. That should not keep us in the Episcopal Church from doing what we think is right.

Song in my Heart said...

Grandmère Mimi,

Of course what Rowan Williams says should not stop you from doing what you think is right.

One of the things I struggle with is that we all have to discern right and wrong for ourselves. We can talk to people about it and do research to inform our decisions, but we still have to decide.

I think that Rowan Williams is doing the best he can to do what he thinks is right. That does not mean I condone or support his words or actions. That does not mean I think it is good or just for him (or anyone else) to place an outward appearance of unity ahead of mercy, control ahead of lovingkindness, governance ahead of Gospel.

I think it is possible to make a faithful decision and still be wrong.

I don't think that what Rowan Williams says should stop the Episcopal Church from doing what it has discerned is right. In fact, I think Rowan Williams' words show just how important it is that TEC does move ahead. Because those who value outward unity, control and governance more than they value mercy, lovingkindness and Gospel need to see the latter coming from somewhere before it will break through their prejudices and fears and start to affect their own processes of discernment.

I don't think the Archbishop of Canterbury actually can stop you. And the sooner TEC realise that and get on with it -- as I think is already happening -- the better for all concerned.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Song, I don't question Rowan's motives. I don't understand him, but I don't know what's in his heart. He lectures TEC for allowing what he knows goes on in his own church. On the surface, he seems hypocritical. If he, or someone, can explain to me how he's not, then I'm more than ready to listen.

Song in my Heart said...

Grandmère Mimi,

The best of my understanding is that he has come to value the appearance of unity over the teaching of mercy, and that he has managed to get control, obedience and uniformity confused with unity.

I certainly cannot defend him from any claims of hypocrisy, but I don't think hypocrisy is his biggest problem.

Listen to Rowan Williams if you can stomach it, or don't if you can't. But either way, do what you feel is right.