The Anglican Communion suspended the Episcopal Church for three full years over its acceptance of same-sex marriage. All voting and decision-making is forbidden to the American branch of the Anglican faith. This made most of the African bishops in the Anglican church pretty happy, I guess. I like what director of communications for the Washington National Cathedral Kevin Eckstrom had to say:
Do y’all think this will drive a wedge between the the two groups that cannot be repaired, or is this just another bump in the road?
I am told by a member of some ordination or other within the Episcopalian church that this is being misreported, and that the Primates of the anglican Communion have no legal authority to do what it’s being said they’ve done.
As not an American Episcopalian, I note that even the Eastern Orthodox and the Roman Catholics annulled their mutual anathemas after about a thousand years, so I think a cooling-off period is in order - you never know.
Christianity has, for reasons I cannot fathom, decided that gay rights is the hill that it will die on. People nowadays are increasingly coming to perceive Christianity as an institution that exists for the sole purpose of denying gay rights, and they are increasingly shunning it as a result. As far as I’m concerned, it cannot die fast enough.
Arguing over which interpretation of Christianity is “right” is about as meaningful as arguing over which Star Trek was best, and it’s completely terrifying to me that people are allowed to make political decisions on the basis of their idiotic dogma.
So what, of substance, is the American Episcopal Church actually cut off from for the next three years? Can the Anglican Church make changes to the Episcopal division without their involvement, or is this just window dressing?
The short answer to this question is “nothing of any substance whatsoever.”
The Anglican Communion has essentially no authority. The member churches (which are on a national level) exist almost entirely independently of the AC. Churches of the Anglican Communion are said to be “in communion” with each other, one part of which means that there are not supposed to be any barriers between the churches regarding the eucharist (that is, if I go to an Anglican church in Rwanda or New Zealand, I can supposedly take communion with no questions asked)*, and one part of which means that they are basically in agreement in matters theological.
But the AC is not the same as the Vatican, and the Archbishop of Canterbury is not the Pope. The bishops of the AC have no power to intervene in the internal affairs of the Episcopal Church. The most they can do is to decide that they are no longer “in communion with” the Episcopalians, or “suspend” their voting privileges. Which is kind of a hoot because the AC, having no authority to speak of, can mainly vote on questions like “who should be a member” and “do we support genocide or not.**”
I just got a note from my bishop, btw, saying that this decision will make absolutely no difference in the way the EC does business. It’s just grandstanding.
*The way many Episcopal churches work these days (including mine and most of the ones I’ve visited lately), this is a fairly meaningless stipulation. My church has an “open table” at which everyone is invited to take Communion. It is not necessary to be Episcopalian, or Anglican, or baptized, or for that matter Christian. And the church as a whole is “in communion with” a couple of other non-Anglican denominations as well IIRC.
In my opinion, just about every other Christian “sin” can be hidden most of the time (anger/hatred, lust, adultery, greed, gluttony, alcoholism, laziness [“sloth”], pride/selfishness, envy, and in general just being a bastard), or has gained grudging acceptance over time, such as birth control, or is seen as something that can be repented of/healed/moved on from, such as heterosexual divorce. So no harm (to reputation of yourself or the church), no foul.
Being proudly and openly gay, and/or wanting a gay marriage, or wanting to serve as an openly gay clergyman on a continuing basis, on the other hand, presents mainstream Christianity with an insoluble problem based on traditional interpretation of the Bible. “The Bible says that to lie with a man as with a woman is an abomination”, or St. Paul declaring that those who have same-sex sex are also, inevitably and as a due consequence, “filled with wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice…strife, deceit, craftiness,…they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless…yet they not only do them but even applaud others who practice them” (Romans 1:29-32, the Christian scriptures).
Whew. I don’t know how anyone could get through that laundry list everyday and still have time or energy for a same-sex relationship. It’s a wonder they haven’t killed us all by now, those gays. So yeah, I can fathom why Christians feel this way, especially for American Evangelicals who, lacking an infallible Pope, have tried to substitute an infallible book. “Look, this is not my opinion; it’s just what the Bible says.” Folks, no book ever “says” anything, and especially in translation. Try to make an audio recording of a book sitting on a table, and you’re just wasting your time. Books have to be read, thought about, understood, and interpreted correctly for any message to transfer - and none of that is easy at all.
So until that little problem is solved in Christianity, the gay rights question won’t be solved, either.
You do realize the branches of Christianity that are growing the fastest are the evangelical/conservative denominations and the ones that are shrinking the fastest (including the Episcopalians) are the culturally/theologically liberal ones?
I think there’s a distinct possibility that there will be Anglican Communions in the future rather than a single AC. The divisons over female clergy and LGBT issues won’t be going away anytime soon, and one side, the other, or both may eventually decide that enough is enough.
Look at how Eastern Christianity is divided. Eastern Christians who accept the Pope’s authority are Eastern Catholics. Among those who don’t accept papal primacy, the Eastern Orthodox accept the first seven ecumenical councils, the Oriental Orthodox accept the first three, and the Assyrian Church of the East accepts only the first two. Granted, female clergy and same-sex marriage weren’t quite on the horizon yet, but the theological and cultural differences that caused splits among the early church(es) have modern parallels. We may well end up with different groups of Anglicans that have competing claims of legitimacy. Perhaps the biggest question is where the Church of England itself will go.
That’s nonsense. There are a number of more-or-less objective measures by which you can judge different Star Trek episodes: the quality of the acting, the quality of the story, how much Marina Syrtis appeared. Or do you mean between ST and ST-TNG, but even there, there is some meaningful objective differences.