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Faith in Lodi and the region Jesus didn’t address homosexuality

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Jim Stickney, interim pastor, St. John’s Episcopal Church in Lodi


Posted: Saturday, April 13, 2013 12:00 am

When I joined the Episcopal church in 1980, my nearby parish seemed to be the Republican Party at prayer — back when moderate Republicans roamed the earth. The church members welcomed me (a moderate progressive), and when they found out I was a former Roman Catholic priest who had just gotten married, they encouraged me to consider becoming an Episcopal priest.

To my surprise, over the following years and decades, the Episcopal church began to explore how to be more explicit in welcoming gay and lesbian persons. Earlier, people just understood that some church members were not heterosexual. But by the 1990s, resolutions were passed to make our welcome explicit.

Same-sex blessings were debated, and at first were not approved. But over time (and with often heated public debate) more and more dioceses (which are groupings of local parishes) began to vote in favor of them. And certainly, by the turn of this century, more clergy were explicit about their same-sex orientation, including the first openly gay bishop in 2003.

As one would expect, the changing stance of the Episcopal church caused some people to depart, while at the same time, some new members have joined us because of what they perceive to be a prophetic stand.

It has not been an easy journey, but over time, our church has evolved its solidarity with a minority who have been persecuted, shunned and condemned. And I have gradually come to see that it's really an issue of justice.

I regret that some conservative Christians select a few scripture verses and fashion them into arrows to exclude homosexuals from their churches. Rather than respond in kind, I reflect that not one of the four gospels recalls any word of Jesus on this topic. In contrast, Jesus, more than once, forbids divorce and remarriage.

I surmise that Christians who claim that the Bible is inerrant carry a deep-seated guilt that their churches indeed do permit remarriage after divorce. It's as if they are trying to say, "Well, we may not follow Jesus' teaching against divorce and remarriage, but we'll step up our exclusion of those other people, whom we don't understand anyway."

What about those pointed "arrow" verses? I make a parallel with the Episcopal church's encouragement for women to be ordained as deacons, priests and bishops. We are not constrained by some New Testament passages that reflect a first-century patriarchy any more than we are constrained by the dietary restrictions of preparing kosher meals.

To sum it up: Our church's leadership and a large number of our members are not in favor of California's Proposition 8. And yet the genius and challenge of our Anglican heritage is a broad tolerance for ambiguity! We enjoy worshipping side by side with people who disagree with us about politics, theology and even Proposition 8.

Above all, we embrace diversity in our community and keep coming together for fellowship, our heritage of compelling sacred music and outreach to the disadvantaged.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Thomas Heuer posted at 1:41 am on Wed, Apr 17, 2013.

    nth degree wise Posts: 1672

    Mr Chapman
    You were trying to engage me in a discussion of incest suggesting there is some correlation with the topic at hand of gay marriage. You stated "Mr. Heuer, your position was one of "consentment" between adults. You mean that doesn't include everyone?". I know you think you have embarked on a course of cleverness but it fails as an issue especially when you use the word “everyone” . I know you want to find equal comparison here but there really isn’t.

    First outside of monarchies trying to maintain royal blood lines I am not familiar with any group that is advocating incest or incestual marriage. As you know there are genetic risks that come with incest which has made it a taboo even from ancient times. I know your argument will next go to the ‘what if they don’t or can’t have children’? I know people who thought they couldn’t have children then all of a sudden did. Could they be allowed to adopt? I really don’t know the answers to the various possible relations that constitute incest. I can see a host of legal issues as well. So you first have to see what group is advocating this and what thought has gone into it? Are there studies? Is this allowed anywhere?

  • Robert Chapman posted at 7:12 am on Tue, Apr 16, 2013.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    Says the woman who freely and often judges others that don't agree with her mantra.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 12:09 pm on Mon, Apr 15, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Mr. Chapman wrote: "What is really telling is when weirdos "pick and choose" what the Bible says and doesn't say to justify their despicable lifestyles."

    So, you are calling Father Stickney a "weirdo?"

    The Bible says, and especially Jesus Christ says an awful lot about not judging others, but that certainly hasn't stopped you at all, has it Mr. Chapman?

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 5:24 pm on Sun, Apr 14, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I find it hilarious that whenever same sex marriage is discussed, the far right inevitably brings up subjects such as bestiality and incest which begs the question:

    Why are right wing, "religious" types ALWAYS thinking about such obscure perversions?

    Quite telling, I'm sure.

  • Thomas Heuer posted at 9:48 am on Sun, Apr 14, 2013.

    nth degree wise Posts: 1672

    Mr Chapman
    I was addressing the comments you made in an earlier post. Because you didn't discuss incest I didn't include it in my rebuttal. So now in its absence you wish to question my moral haracter? You assume now to "know" my standards? How dare you? So what comes next? Can you marry yourself? Get real. Stay on topic.

  • Thomas Heuer posted at 3:21 am on Sun, Apr 14, 2013.

    nth degree wise Posts: 1672

    OK Mr Chapman
    Lets clear something up.
    When you have two adults agree or consent to any activity they hcoose to do together horse racing, dance, go camping, get married and oh by the way have sex they can or shoud be able to do that. You don't need a bible or other handbook to verify you can do it. Now the operative word is consent. Can an animal give consent to anything especially sex or marriage? No. Can a child give consent to anything especially sex or marriage? No.. They will obey your requests but haven't the ability to understand the ramifications of consent.

    Now to do the ole "slippery slope" comparison of gay marriage approval to beastiality or pedophiia approval is rediculous and you again don't need a bible or other handbook to tell you if consent can't be given then it ain't right to pursue.

  • Walter Chang posted at 7:13 pm on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Walt Posts: 1187

    "condemning homosexuality in the Old Testament"

    Colonel you know better.

    God didn't write the old testament, a bunch of old Hebrew men did.

    They didn't like their women, children, neighbors and slaves much either.

    These are the original old angry white guys!!

    So a dozen or so words about homosexuality...

    But thousand words plus about food preparation?

    Even Moses isn't bothered enough to mention it.

    Time to get real.

    Sir, just like today's Air Force!!


  • Robert Chapman posted at 3:02 pm on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Bob Chapman Posts: 997

    To arrive at the conclusion that Jesus Christ condoned homosexuality because He uttered no words in the Bible condemning the act is, a best, absurd. God did a pretty good job of condemning homosexuality in the Old Testament. Jesus also never mentioned bestiality or pedophilia as sin, so His silence on these two abhorrent acts gives His approval for those who indulge? I think not.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 10:16 am on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    I agree with Mr. Diskin. This piece was an excellent read.

    I recall about 10 years ago, shortly after the Rev. Gene Robinson was installed as a bishop in the Episcopal Church, my daughter was attending the Youth Group at TBC mostly because she had many close friends there. One evening, while waiting for me to pick her up, the youth pastor at the time waited with her. He asked if her parents attended church, to which she answered no.

    Pressing further, he asked if they "belonged" to any particular religion, to which she replied, "yes, the Episcopal Church."

    When my daughter, who was all of 13 at the time, related the next statement out of this man's mouth, my jaw dropped to the floor.

    "So," he asked, "are THEY going to be bringing in a lot of homosexuals?"

    Having no clue as to the meaning of the question, she simply answered that she didn't know what he was asking and fortunately he let the subject drop.

    Just amazing!

  • David Diskin posted at 9:05 am on Sat, Apr 13, 2013.

    David Diskin Posts: 185

    This was a very refreshing read. Thank you, Pastor Stickney, for showing that not all of Lodi's churches can be passive-aggressively hateful.


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