Distracted by disagreement

A widely quoted report in Canada’s Anglican journal (9 Jan 10) described the observation by representatives of the Archbishop of Canterbury of pessimism among bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada about resolution of questions on sexuality at the church’s upcoming General Synod in Halifax this June-particularly the blessing of same-sex relationships, which has been long debated in Canada. Any outcome is possible-from anarchy to acceptance. The visitors noted an encouraging "infectious enthusiasm for the Gospel and the Kingdom." If Canadian Anglicans can find a way to break through the impasse over sexuality "it could well become a vibrant model of the kind of renewed Christian community that has much to teach the wider church," they said.

The visitors also noted "a widespread sense of weariness with the whole business of same-sex blessings," as well as a "palpable desire to get on with the business of mission." One bishop said, "We have no heart for any more arguing and certainly have no more energy left; we just wish it would all go away!"

Just so. Sigh.

It might "go away", if we could (a) agree on how to decide what is right and true on a matter that is not essential to the faith and the Gospel, (b) decide accordingly, and (c) all abide by the decision in good conscience. It’s not possible, at least not this millenium.

So the sooner we agree that debates about sexuality are not so important that we can’t live with disagreement and difference of practice, the better it will be for ourselves and for God’s service. Otherwise these tediously endless debates will not go away. If we cannot agree to differ on sexuality (and other things), we risk permanent distraction from the work of the Gospel and from God’s presence.