Sunday, October 19, 2008


George Will concludes a commentary entitled, "Episcopal churches insist on the ordination of gay clergy", by stating the following:

"The Episcopal Church once was America's upper crust at prayer. Today it is "progressive" politics cloaked - very thinly - in piety. Episcopalians' discontents tell a cautionary tale for political as well as religious associations. As the church's doctrines have become more elastic, the church has contracted. It celebrates an 'inclusiveness' that includes fewer and fewer members."

Just as it must be remembered that the prohibition of women becoming priests in the Anglican communion [and Roman Catholic Church] was man-made and not in any way biblically commanded, so is the prohibition of ordaining Gay clergy! All too often, institutional Church leaders and followers use what they read into the Bible as a proof text to justify their already preconceived prejudices and, when such attempted justification fails or needs further support, they then resort to such criteria as "tradition" to maintain and propagate those prejudices.

People leave churches for a variety of reasons, and it may be that people who leave the Anglican communion in the U.S. and in Europe, as well as many other mainline and other churches within the institutional Church, might well be doing so because they are finding that man-made prejudices cloaked in God-talk and poor biblical exegeses occur all too frequently and are inimical to living the Christian life.

All too often, thugs go from the secular side of the street to the "religious" side of the street, and engage in the very same types of politics of exclusion and discrimination within denominational and/or church structures that offend the Christian who takes the mandate of Jesus for us to love and not judge others very seriously.

Moreover, when the Christian sees so many corporate sins, such as rampant greed, waging unjust wars, etc., that truly need to be addressed by their denomination and/or church that are summarily ignored in favor of a virtual single minded intensity seeking to exclude and discriminate against others, such as Gay people, in the name of Jesus and in the name of "love," no less, they are properly offended and leave.

Their leaving under such conditions winnows the institutional Church down to a bunch of people who are quite comfortable with incestuous socialization and building beautification programs, along with their having their preconceived prejudices of exclusion of "the other," regardless of who that "other" at the time might be, reinforced from the pulpit and in their interaction with each other. It might well be seen that such a winnowing process helps separate the wheat from the chaff, and shows that many churches within the institutional Church are not meeting the spiritual needs of their members or addressing crucial societal concerns that reflect and manifest the love of God.

In a thoughtful commentary in the April 6, 2007 issue of "Commonweal" entitled, "Why People Leave the Church: Don't Blame the Zeitgeist,", John Garvey states:

" is too easy for some of us who stick with the church to say, 'Where else have we to go?' That was said of Jesus Christ, not of the institution. These days there are many other paths a seeker might choose-not only other churches (all of which have their own share of sorrows), but an honest, individual, inquiring search that might or might not end up leaving the searcher open to the truths of the gospel. Such an individualistic course is a great loss, I think, where the life of the sacraments and spiritual counsel is concerned; but I can see how someone might end up there.

"We excuse the institution and its representatives too easily. One of my teachers, the late historian and theologian John Meyendorff, pointed out that Jesus’ denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees, the representatives of organized religion at the time, can-and should-be understood as a criticism of a similarly complacent and self-satisfied Christianity."

Since we are all flawed human beings, all churches will contain flawed human beings, including the Church of Jesus! However, what separates the Church of Jesus from most of the institutional Church is that members of the former do their very best to love God with all their hearts and put other people's interests and feelings ahead of their own.

When such people finally see the naked corruption of the Christian life celebrated within man-made structures, they are rightly offended, and we can expect that sooner or later even more of God's people will flee these oppressive institutions and take spiritual shelter in the arms of God within churches worthy of the name and/or within the spiritual house, the sanctuary, of their very own souls!
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