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CENTRAL NEW YORK: Fr. Taylor-Weiss writes to Bishop Gladstone Adams

The following is a letter to Bishop Gladstone Adams written by the
Rev. Doug Taylor-Weiss, Convenor of the Confessing Anglicans of Central New
York (CACNY). It was sent in response to the bishop's notice to the CACNY
that he would allow same-sex blessings "on a case by case basis."


O God, who, by the preaching of thine apostle Paul, hast caused the light
of the Gospel to shine through-out the world: Grant, we beseech thee, that
we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show forth our
thankfulness unto thee for the same by following the holy doctrine which he
taught; through Jesus Christ our Lord. —Book of Common Prayer

My people have changed their glory for that which does not profit. —
Jeremiah 2:11

I appeal to you, brethren, to take note of those who create dissensions and
difficulties, in opposition to the doctrine which you have been taught;
avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own
appetites, and by fair and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the
—Romans 16:17-18

Q. How do we recognize the truths taught by the Holy Spirit?
A. We recognize truths to be taught by the Holy Spirit when they are in
accord with the Scriptures.
—The Catechism

Dear Bishop Adams,

Thank you for responding to our letter regarding your policy on same-sex
marriage in the Diocese. I understand that the consultations you describe
might take some time, accounting for the delay in your re-sponse. It is a
pity that you did not consult the unequivocal teaching of the bishops
assembled at Lambeth in 1998, or the Constitution of the Episcopal Church,
or the Holy Scriptures, or biology and physiology, or the unbroken moral
teaching of the Church from the 1st century until the 21st.

It makes no difference that your blessing ceremonies will not look like
weddings. In fact, I bet they will. There will be special clothes, aisle-
walking, receptions with dancing and cake, rice thrown and so forth. Of
course they’ll look like weddings, your liturgical distinctions
notwithstanding. More importantly, you yourself admit that you see them as
marriages when you state that they must intend “monogamy.” Doesn’t monogamy
come from monos, “alone,” and gamos, “marriage”? But these are
the “blessing of a friendship/relationship,” you say. Really? I have a good
friend here at SS. Peter and John named Tom. We are of the same sex. We
have a relationship. How exactly are Tom and I to have a “monogamous”
relationship since both of us are already married?

You are essentially saying that a same-sex “friendship/relationship” is
fine, but that when it includes sodomy and mutual masturbation, then it
rises to a new level of goodness becoming something to be blessed by the
Church: it becomes a gamos. Your belief, then, is that sodomy and other
stimulations imitating true sexual intercourse are part of God’s intention
for creation, designed for the purpose of human flourishing. A blessing
ceremony reserved only for those “friendship/relationships” that sexually
imitate marriage can mean no less.

I warn you to remember this: these rites will instruct the youth of the
Episcopal Church exactly what you mean by “friendship/relationship.” Young
people will understand what you are now teaching as “gospel” in your
church, even though you yourself may try to deny it. They will conclude
that gay sex is good, that gay “marriage” is equivalent to marriage and
that God doesn’t care what we do with our sexual powers so long as we have
what we feel is “integrity.” Read Mark 9:42. By the way, since you include
sodomy in God’s intentions for humanity, mustn’t you finally argue that the
Lord’s original, creative intention was that it be performed without
condoms? This, too, you will be teaching our children.

You tell me that it is not your perspective that this “is about
overturning ‘…the doctrine of the Holy Scriptures and of the saints of God
throughout Church history…’” Well, your doctrine of marriage is in fact an
overturning of the teaching of the Bible and of the ages. While it may well
be your perspective that what we are debating is not “about” such an
overturning, you cannot deny that you are in fact overturning the faith,
unity and discipline of the Church which you have sworn to guard. Of all
the matters disputed among Christians for 2000 years, never have any of our
forebears in the faith endorsed sodomy as good and holy. If you dispute
this, show me the evidence. Not a single sentence in the Scripture suggests
that homosexual activity is godly. Instead, both the New Testament and the
Old consider it an abomination. So, whether or not this little exchange of
ours is “about” your rejection of the Church’s moral teaching on sex, you
and your diocese do in fact reject it.

You are obviously convinced that you are free from the constraints of
accountability to the worldwide Communion, to the witness of the Scriptures
and of Church tradition, as well as to our Ecumenical partners because you
are instead “living more fully into the Gospel of Christ and his intention
for all humankind.” I find it strange that Christ’s intention for all
humankind would be that we turn away from the objective good of two
complementary sexes that create families into which children might be born
toward a world in which subjective sexual desires govern what is counted
good and where anything that fulfills one’s fantasies and inclinations can,
in time, be construed as good. But, then, once you sever yourself from the
clear Word of God in Scripture and from the Church’s unbroken
interpretation of that Word, I suppose anything at all might be considered
as “the Gospel of Christ.”

I join you in calling for “the interpretive principle for all Scripture and
the moral response we make to those Scriptures” to be “Jesus and his life.”
This is the New Testament’s principle of interpreting the Old, and it is
the principle used throughout Church history. Saint Paul is using that
principle in writing Ro-mans. “In the Gospel,” he writes “the righteousness
of God is revealed.” (Rom. 1:17) Looking through the lens of the life,
death, resurrection and ascension of Christ he writes, “For this reason God
gave them up to dishonorable passions. . . .” in Romans 1:26-27. Paul was
not writing to condemn, but so that the world might be saved through
Christ, saved by seeing the folly of its dishonorable passions and brought
in repentance to the cross of our salvation. Apparently, that is no longer
an interest of the Diocese of Central New York.

Is Paul somehow forgetting about the life of Jesus when he writes that men
who lie with males (the arsenokoitai of Lev. 18:22) will not inherit the
kingdom of God? (1 Cor. 6:9) Is he writing to condemn such people?
Certainly not, but rather to warn them and, even more, to warn the Church
against giving them a false view of God’s mercy. “Such were some of you,”
he writes, “but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in
the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.” (1 Cor
6:11) This is not some regrettable lapse where Paul forgets to interpret
the Scriptures according to “Jesus and his life.” Instead, it is the
Scripture’s call to holiness addressed to the gentiles of Corinth who now
through Christ belong to the children of Abraham. Corinth, by the way, was
well-aquainted with socially-acceptable forms of homosexual practice very
like those in our own day.

The “moral response” we are to make to these Scriptures is precisely to
love those who are living contrary to the holiness of God, to warn them, to
call them to righteousness and to assist them through their many dangers,
toils and snares. I confess that I have failed miserably in my ministry to
love those trapped in same-sex desires enough to warn them, to call them
and to assist them. I have feared rejection. I have been satisfied with the
pale “love” of “inclusion,” thinking that having them sit on the Vestry
counted as love. I repent.

I don’t mean to play dumb. I know you are saying that somehow “Jesus and
his life” means assuring eve-rybody that they are loved (which is true
enough) and then further assuring them that our late-industrialized
culture’s view of “integrity” will do for a Christian sexual morality. In
true gnostic fashion, you are saying that bodies don’t matter, but only our
inner intentions, our “integrity,” our “friendship/relationship.” The
actual Jesus said instead, “from the beginning of creation God made them
male and female.” He answered the question about divorce not with warm
assurances of inclusion, but with a harsh exclusivism. (Mark 10:11-12) He
did not say, as we would, “Ah, well, we all lust a bit now and then. After
all, we’re only human.” He said, “If your eye causes you to sin, pluck it
out and throw it away. It is better that you lose one of your members than
that your whole body be thrown into hell.” (Matt. 5:29) Nowhere, nowhere
does Jesus relax the Old Testament’s sexual ethic. Furthermore, he says to
us, “Do not think that I have come to destroy the law and the prophets. I
have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matt. 5:17) This does
not sound very far from St. Paul’s, “For God has not called us for
uncleanness, but in holiness. Therefore whoever disregards this, disregards
not man but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.” (1 Thess. 4:7-8) Your
implied notion that “Jesus and his life” somehow entails an attenuated
sexual ethic and a gnostic departure from the moral significance of our
bodies is incoherent. You have never shown any evidence why this should be
the case other than that you wish it were so.

I continue to hold you in my prayers, asking God to bring you to
repentance, that you might return to the solemn promises you made at all
three of your ordinations.

–The Rev. Douglas Taylor-Weiss is rector, Saint Peter and Saint John,
Auburn, New York

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