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A justice issue and a matter of theology

By  on June, 06 2016

June 2016 issue

Thank you for publishing the article about Jen Warren and myself and why we brought the motion to amend the marriage canon (Resolution C003: The inside story, June 2016, p.9). I was pleased at the interest and generally happy with the article. There is just one thing I would like to correct.

Although I am nearly finished my MDiv. and hoping to be ordained soon, and although I would be in the invidious position of having to choose between my conscience and my ordination vows if this change does not happen, that was never my motivation. It was never actually about me. As a matter of fact, when I first launched this process, a call to ordained ministry wasn't even on my radar.

I brought the motion to change the marriage canon because I believe that homosexuality is an integral part of God's good creation, intended by God from the beginning. It grieves me deeply, more than I can say, that lifelong members of the Anglican church are excluded from the sacrament of marriage. I wanted to redress this, which I see as a justice issue and much more than a justice issue, a matter of the theology of the church as the body of Christ. I wanted to enable full inclusion for my LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) brothers and sisters in the church. That was my motivation.

Michelle Bull
Nova Scotia 

 

Words of wisdom from an unlikely source 

The most pithy response I can imagine to your story, Order of Bishops unlikely to support gay marriage (April 2016, p.1), comes from an unlikely source: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, six-time NBA champion.

In the March 28, 2016 issue of Time Magazine, he writes, “We fear change so much that we fight it, even when change reflects our founding principles. We just have to push against the pushing. Only harder.”

Jean Gower
Kingston, Ont.

Unsustainable consumption 

Two letters in the March 2016 issue (Why the silence? and The plank in the eye, p. 4), which defend the value of fossil fuels and the benefits accruing from associated industries, accuse both the Anglican Journal and church leadership of hypocrisy. The actual sin is not hypocrisy, but misconception. 

The facts (and there are enough facts) demonstrate unequivocally that something is happening, reversibly or irreversibly, to the world’s climate, through causes that may be either natural or induced, or a mixture of both. But it is not simply a tussle between different sources of whatever are the interfering anthropogenic agents; to see it that way is to miss the essential point that it is the amounts of natural resources being used rather than their types and sources.

Two factors are working in tandem to exacerbate the situation. World population has increased relentlessly, while at the same time the “developed” world has unfortunately learned to confuse “want” with “need.” Those who believe they need to use tap water for gardens or other outdoor tasks, who need to run lights all night or who need to make frequent car trips when public transport is available, should practise replacing that word “need” with “want.” We all have planks in our eyes. Between us, we are using up resources at more than a sustainable rate, and that is the whole crux of the matter. The onus is on us to reduce how much of irreplaceable resources we use. 

Elizabeth Griffin
Royal Oak, Victoria

 

Change and compassion

The experience of my own family has given me pause when I considered the ongoing discussion of proposed changes to the marriage canon. 

My mother divorced my father in the 1930s, a time when divorce was not as commonplace as it is today, nor as easily obtained. Thirty years later, she met a man with whom she fell in love and wished to marry. This was obviously not the carefree whim of a young girl. My future stepfather, in keeping with the custom of the time, asked my permission to marry her. This, I joyfully granted. But it was a great shock for us all when we were informed that, on account of her divorce, my mother could not be married in the Anglican church. 

Lifelong Anglicans, my mother and future stepfather had met while singing in the choir I directed at St. Paul’s Runnymede. In any event, a minister of the United Church married them in a private home.

Despite this experience, I have remained steadfast in my love for and loyalty to my church. My youngest son, born at the time of which I write, was baptized at St. Paul’s Runnymede, the same church that refused to marry my mother. 

As I have entered my 90th year, I am willing to concede that I hold many of the views and occasional prejudices of my generation. But when I remember the experience of my mother, I cannot help but reflect that there are no doubt many Anglicans who, from personal experience or the knowledge of that of family and friends, have reason to be grateful that our church’s position on the marriage canon has not, in fact, been immutable. Rather, that position has allowed for change and growth, not simply in response to changes in social mores, but in order to answer that call to love and compassion that Christ requires of us all.

Roma Page Lynde
Toronto

It's time for Anglicans to consider Plan B: Repeal the marriage canon 

I write in support of a wise letter by Anton Lovink (God’s time, April 2016, p. 4), who wrote, “The difference between our [same-sex] civil marriage having been blessed, compared to being married in the church building, is not enough cause for dividing our Communion.”

After the wedding and blessing of my son and his wife the same way in 2014, I couldn’t agree more. On the other hand, homosexuals have not been treated well by the church, and so I also sympathize with those who prefer to improve our evenhandedness. 

In view of the bishops’ statement in February that they have multiple sympathies, what is needed is a Plan B. It is time for public discussion of the simplest and most obvious Plan B I have heard of: instead of amending the marriage canon, which is misnamed and is actually a wedding canon, it must be repealed. That would, I’m told, have the effect of making church weddings, but not blessings, unavailable to heterosexuals, as they are unavailable to homosexuals. Evenhandedness is achieved without offending the opponents of same-sex weddings either in Canada or abroad. 

As this is a matter of policy and not of doctrine, it could be made effective at any chosen date, presumably exempting weddings already arranged. 

Robert Thomas   
Winnipeg

 

A better path forward

Roy Fletcher writes, “I consider fossil fuels to be a gift to humanity…fossil fuels have enabled billions in the developed world to escape abject poverty and continue to do so in the developing world” (The plank in the eye, Letters, March 2016, p. 4). 

He makes an important point, but let’s think a bit further about the use of gifts. Alcohol could be thought of as a gift. I like a glass of cold beer on a summer’s evening. The church uses wine in its central ritual. But used in excess, alcohol can become a curse. 

Fossil fuel has been good for humanity. Fossil fuel heats my family’s home and allows us to drive our cars. But used carelessly and in excess, it can do much damage. We know about smog and acid rain, and now, climate change due to the greenhouse gas effect of great amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. 

Climate change is likely to bring extreme weather: floods, droughts and heat waves. Rich countries like Canada can deal with climate change and nobody is likely to starve if it brings global food shortages. It is the poorest who will suffer the most.

It could be that much of the known reserves of coal and oil and gas will have to be left in place for a long time to come. We  have to be willing to assist people and communities who depend on the fossil fuel industry and are anxious because jobs are disappearing and may not come back. 

As for abject poverty at home and in the world, equitable sharing and wise stewardship of the world’s wealth seems a better path forward than uncontrolled burning of fossil fuel.

Garth van der Kamp
Saskatoon 

 

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June, 06 2016

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