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A reply to Jim Naughton

September 21, 2010

A reply to Jim Naughton on his post Dan Martins and C-056

I do hope that no LGBT people fall into the trap of believing that they, here, are the targets of shame. This is not even remotely the case, and is evident if one examines Fr. Martins’ words (thanks to Fr. Fountain for finding them), or even if one quickly scans them.

The greatest condemnations in the New Testament are not about faulty teaching concerning sexuality; they are about bringing another gospel into the church. Teaching things such as, that Christ did not rise from the dead, or that whether He did or not is unimportant, and that this has rather to do with maintaining progressive ethical views, are much more reasonably considered instances of bringing another gospel into the church, than any teachings regarding sex, or any possible sex acts.

However, we Anglicans are in a situation regarding such denial of Christ like no other church in history; I know of no church claiming to be Trinitarian in which a leader at its highest level has uttered remarks going so far in denying the divinity of Christ and the resurrection as we have with one of our Primates. This is a sad truth which all Anglicans share, and we all live in a shared, communal condition of apostasy. It is this which fuels the greatest passion in the debate. From the beginning, the worry regarding sexual ethics was, that were we to embrace something which many consider to be contrary to Scripture, we would lose our very faith in Christ. Now, we have in a very significant sense lost this faith in Christ. If there is one thing of which we can be sure, I think it is: that this is by no means the fault of LGBT people.

All this, of course, makes almost everything else we do as a church seem trivial, including actions which emotionally wound, skew deliberative processes, or deceive – or anything any of us might say about sex, or even whatever kind of sex act any of us might engage in. Nonetheless, I have a few very, very trivial words about this most trivial issue.

A church in such a situation as ours is in a state much like a civil war. One finds one’s self doing irrational and unjust things, with unintended victims. Here, though Canon Naughton is such a staunch supporter of LGBT ministry, the LGBT people are the unintended victims of his own desire “to score debating points,” the very thing of which he accuses Fr. Martins. He claims even that Fr. Martins had no principled disagreement with the resolution: we would then conclude that Fr. Martins wishes simply to shame for the sake of shaming, without even any reason or cause; that a man who a diocese wishes to have as their bishop, sees fit to shame and stigmatize gay and lesbian people for no reason whatsoever.

Canon Naughton does not wish Fr. Martins to obtain consent as bishop. He feels (perhaps rightly), that long-term, the cause of partnered LGBT people in ministry will be diminished were Fr. Martins to gain consent.

He publishes a piece extracting three words from Fr. Martins’s address to General Convention, without linking to the source. Though those words apply very clearly to Fr. Martins himself (he says “we”) and the other members of General Convention, and Fr. Martins presents his principled disagreement very clearly, Canon Naughton more or less says that Fr. Martins is shaming and stigmatizing LGBT people for no reason whatsoever.

Thus, LGBT people feel shamed and stigmatized in a highly bigoted manner, with an entire diocese behind such bigoted stigmatization. The comments left concerning the article, sadly, demonstrate this quite clearly.

Canon Naughton most certainly did not wish to make LGBT people feel shamed and stigmatized when he set out writing this. But he could not resist the opportunity of finding a reason that might impede Fr. Martins’s progress toward episcopacy. I do not believe he wished to deceive when he first sat down to write this piece; but the final result is indeed deceitful, and it encourages LGBT people to believe they have been shamed and stigmatized where they have not been. How is this good for LGBT people? I do hope that Canon Naughton prefaces the piece with a few words apologizing to his readers and distancing himself from these opinions; I do not think he wishes to be deceitful or harmful, but that he sees that his piece shows a lack of judgment on multiple counts, written with a misguided zeal in the fog of war.

The Anglican Communion is a dangerous place for LGBT people. Spiritually, it is no less so than the battleground of a civil war for those who are on the front lines. They may be shot at from all directions. Sadly, here, the LGBT people are made to believe that they are being shot at not for any strategic aim, but simply because they are hated. But sadly, it is a stray shot, and that shot is not coming from Fr. Martins.

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