Feudal Morality? Or Blind Perversity?


I wish that there was nothing more to say on this topic, and indeed, I had resolved to leave it alone for a while, but then there comes a piece which is so contrary to everything that I have held and written that I cannot refrain from making a response. From Episcopal Cafe‘s Jim Naughton comes this example of specious reasoning:

A touching, revealing moment at the press conference just now. The bishops have been talking for several days now about sacrifice. “What are you willing to sacrifice” to keep the communion together?” The clear implication is that Western churches must sacrifice their desire to include gay Christians more fully in the Church.

Katie Sherrod of the Lambeth Witness asked the question I wanted to ask. In sum: who exactly do the bishops think is authorize to negotiate on behalf of gay and lesbian Christians throughout the Communion? The primarily male, exclusively heterosexual delegations from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada?

The people who are being asked to make a sacrifice are not represented at this conference.
Katherine Ragsdale, also from the Witness, put a finer point on it with her question. It is the essence of Christianity to sacrifice one’s self for others. It is in the inverse of Christianity to ask others to sacrifice themselves for you. The future of the Anglican Communion may rest on the willingness of gay and lesbian Christians to “sacrifice” for it.

And the Communion doesn’t have the good grace to ask them to make that sacrifice directly, preferring to pretend that the Western churches have the moral authority to act as their surrogates.

This is the feudal morality—lords making decisions for their vassals.

At least Bishop Charles Jenkins of Louisiana had the good grace to say that he recognized that gay people had been disenfranchised, and to say that this presented a moral dilemma for him.

All right—that was the piece in all its perquisquilian splendor. Now let’s break it down:

A touching, revealing moment at the press conference just now.

Touching? revealing?—Yes, Mr. Naughton: that it was “touching” is more revealing than you could ever imagine.

The bishops have been talking for several days now about sacrifice.

Actually, Mr. Naughton, that statement represents a distortion of what the bishops have been talking about. Here is what the Archbishop of Canterbury actually asked the bishops to do in his second address to the Conference:

But whatever your views on this, at least ask the question : ‘Having heard the other person, the other group, as fully and fairly as I can, what generous initiative can I take to break through into a new and transformed relation of communion in Christ’

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