01 March 2007

The Body & The Tradition.


This is the sort of thing that always shocks me, although I don't know why it should any longer. Katherine Jefferts-Schori on the Bible & justice & marriage & our bodies & the Anglican ethos:
The greatest challenge in all of this is the inability of many to live with the tension that these changes represent. Anglicanism has traditionally been comfortable, or at least willing to put up with, a significant diversity of theological opinion and of practice. The system we call the Anglican Communion is at present seemingly unable or unwilling to live with that kind of diversity. Parts of our own church are in a similar situation. Some see our current situation as rooted in competing values – either a justice that seeks the full inclusion of all, particularly sexual minorities, or an appeal to a traditional understanding of sexual ethics. Yet there are aspects of the current situation that cry out for a broader understanding on all sides, that call us to see those not as competing but as complementary Christian values. An ethic of justice and inclusion would seemingly also urge us to include the dissenter. A traditional understanding of sexual ethics has a great deal to say about fidelity and monogamy and relatively little to say about the gender or reproductive status of the partners.

So . . . is she willfully obfuscating or is she ignorant of the Christian tradition at this point? If anything, God's creation of male and female* is more central to the tradition than is monogamy (not that monogamy is inconsequential - not at all). As the Prayer Book has always been explicit that procreation** is one of goods of marriage, it's hard to imagine ignorance is the answer - at least not in a comprehensive way.
*Note the striking words of Harvard Univeristy's Dean of Freshman in the piece cited below: "ALL students of every gender are welcome!"
**Philip Turner insightfully notes (not with regard to this utterance of KJS) that the subsitution "reproduction" (a manufacturing term) for "procreation" (a theological term) both reveals and portends much.
Having said all that, it is certainly true that Anglicans and Protestants generally (whether the former is necessarily a subset of the latter is a discussion for another day) have not spent a great deal of time reflecting on the Church's natural law tradition and what John Paul II called "the theology of the body" these last several decades. And, without a doubt, much of the current controversy is the fruit of our uncritical acceptance of the contraceptive mentality. As KJS has herself noted, Episcopalians have no good theological reason to bear and raise children. Of course we actually do, but many of us just don't, apparently, know it.
 

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who can be ignorant of the unfortunate history of Christian “traditions”? “Traditions” of prejudice and bigotry. “Traditions” of slavery and other acts of racial and gender segregation and discrimination. “Traditions” of murderous crusades.

Enter the miracle of truth faith which reveals that these are not the “traditions” of Jesus who taught us to love one another and to do unto one other as we would have done to ourselves.

01 March, 2007 20:58  
Blogger PSA+ said...

I usually delete anonymous comments, regardless of their content, but . . .

Anonymous above first of all doesn't understand the difference between the Tradition and traditions (much less between Tradition and sad, sin-filled history - a difference helpfully illuminated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
The Tradition here in question comes from the apostles and hands on what they received from Jesus' teaching and example and what they learned from the Holy Spirit. The first generation of Christians did not yet have a written New Testament, and the New Testament itself demonstrates the process of living Tradition.

Tradition is to be distinguished from the various theological, disciplinary, liturgical or devotional traditions, born in the local churches over time. These are the particular forms, adapted to different places and times, in which the great Tradition is expressed. In the light of Tradition, these traditions can be retained, modified or even abandoned under the guidance of the Church's Magisterium.


Secondly, the command of Jesus to love one another and "do unto others as we would have done to ourselves" is a part of the Tradition and unavailable apart from that Tradition (and remember Jesus was just quoting Leviticus in the "do unto others" saying.
Jesus didn't write a gospel of Himself. Instead, he called, equipped, and sent Apostles who handed on to their successors a Tradition, a Tradition which the reflects upon and includes the Church's reflection. The same Tradition that gives us Jesus, that tells of his Incarnation, tells us that our bodies matter, and that God's having created us male and female is significant for our understanding of sex and marriage.

02 March, 2007 08:09  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That you would delete ANY comment - 'anonymous' or otherwise - which disagrees with yours is not surprising. You have spent your tenure at St. Joseph's "deleting" Anglican parishoners who, by the grace of God, recognize bigotry and injustice when they see it, and who fully well understand this is not the way of Jesus. Call us what you will, shout to the world that we are not Anglican, but you cannot change the fact that we are. You may steal our church, but you cannot steal our faith.

02 March, 2007 09:02  
Blogger PSA+ said...

This is a great example of why so little helpful conversation on these matters - after all this time - has occured in the Episcopal Church. It immediately devolves in to name calling and false accusation - and, too often, anonymously so, which we should all be able to agree is un-Christian. Again, I usually delete anonymous comments whether I agree or disagree with them. as I said above, "regardless of their content," but simply because they are anonymous.

I'm not aware of any one leaving St. Joseph of Arimathea because of my stance on the current controversies.

When did I say anyone was "not Anglican"?

I've made a simple point with regard to comments of KJS sited in the post - namely, that - contrary to KJS's assertion - the differentiation between male and female (and related procreational potential) has actually been central to Judeo-Christian reflection on marriage. In fact it has been the starting point for that reflection. The Prayer Book liturgy for holy matrimony bears that out. If you'd like to discuss that point, I'd be happy to oblige - but the name calling and false accusations help no one.

In the very few times I have addressed these matters, I have been as clear as I can be that homophobia or any behavior that demeans human beings is sinful and to be deeply repented of. I would love to have the conversation about pastoral care of our brothers and sisters who experience homosexual attraction. But, because of the Episcopal Church's precipitous actions, that is a conversation we haven't been able to have.

Again, anonymous conversations conducted over the internet are seldom if ever helpful. I would be glad to meet with you in person.

02 March, 2007 09:54  

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