Monday, March 8, 2010

Keeping up with Jones

Some further reflection on +James Jones' presidential address to his synod, see links in post below:

On the whole I do not think an analogy between Christians holding different views on killing in war and Christians holding different views on homosexuality stacks up very well.

It works at this level: you and I are on a panel at a conference where we have opportunity to give our views on a range of ethical matters. It turns out, say, that I am pacifist and agin same sex partnerships being blessed in church, and you are militarist (i.e. agree that in certain circumstances Christians may engage in warfare) and pro such blessings. The next event in the conference is a communion service and we happily partake thereof, two Christians with diverse views united around one table.

It does not work at this level: you are my platoon commander in the middle of a war, just before launching a dawn raid I tell you that overnight I have come to the conviction that it is wrong to kill people in any circumstances, and could I please carry my rifle with the safety catch on? Rightly you tell me off, threaten court martial, and whatever else the military manual prescribes for such situations! On the front-line differing convictions re killing the enemy are not an option.

The question the Anglican Communion is engaged in is partly at the first level (abstract ethical discussions have their place) but mostly at the second level: can we engage in the same mission, the same spiritual warfare, the same front-line or coalface ministry with differing convictions about homosexuality?

The answer is not necessarily 'yes' or 'no'. To return to the military situation: in some contexts of war it has worked to have the militarists as soldiers and the pacifists manning the ambulances. But what that might mean analogously to the church today re homosexuality is not immediately clear to me.

In short: +Jones may be admired for his honesty, but not applauded for the flawlessness of his argument.

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