Monday, August 3, 2009

Straining on a gnat

There I was, on Saturday, doing my usual daily websurf, when I found my previous post was the lead link at Thinking Anglicans. Heck, there I was, ahead even of Lionel Deimel's excellent essay and the Mad Priest's provocative ecclesio-political analysis. It's all a bit startling.

Unfortunately, I think that Thinking Anglicans missed one of the most excellent blog essays I've read in some time. Tim Chesterton, one of the most thoughtful bloggers from the conservative side of "the issue," has posted a remarkable reflection on why the Anglican Communion, having survived disputes over biblical interpretation, baptismal and eucharistic theology, liturgical practice, pastoral and canonical responses to the breakup of marriages, the ordination of women and most everything else now threatens to collapse over an issue that Jesus (remember him?) never mentioned - not once. In particular, he contrasts our intractability on this issue with both usury (the lending of money at interest) and war.

His answer is not very complimentary at all.

I have a nasty suspicion about the reasons why the Communion is not going to take a stand on these two issues of war and usury. I suspect that the reason has a lot to do with the fact that taking this stand would have an enormous cost for huge numbers of us. Many Anglicans are in fact investment bankers, or stockbrokers, and many, many more take advantage of the modern capitalist system (which is based on usury through and through) to get loans to buy houses and cars and to start businesses and so on. Dissenting from this all-pervasive system would have enormous economic and social consequences for us. And in a similar way, we all depend (or at least, we think we do) on our armies to keep us safe from international rogue states and terrorists and so on. Making a decision to follow Jesus in loving our enemies and refusing to strike back against them would inevitably have deadly consequences: after all, it led Jesus to the Cross, and he assured us it would do the same for us ('take up your cross and follow me').

Sadly, for the vast majority of Anglicans the issue of homosexuality does not carry that personal price-tag. Most of us are straight; we aren't the ones who would be bearing the cross if the church as a whole agreed that same-sex unions are not a legitimate part of a life of following Jesus. Gays and lesbians are an easy target, because there aren't many of them (tho' more, perhaps, than some Christians would like to think).

Jesus (remember him?) refers to those who strain on a gnat yet swallow a camel. His assessment of them isn't very complimentary either.


MadPriest said...

You're right. Tim is cleverer than most reactionaries.

He's heard of diversionary tactics.

Malcolm+ said...

I don't think you're being fair to Tim at all. It's pretty clear to me that Tim approaches this issue with integrity and with charity. He stands where he feels he must, but he treats those with whom he disagrees with charity and respect.

Suem said...

Well, I read your post on Rowan's relections ( from Thinking Anglicans) while on holiday, thought it was excellent and put a link to it on my blog. Sometimes, I can't be arsed to say what others have already said so well.