Oh my goodness – tomorrow is our last time to meet to discuss Epiphany! We will look at the final two chapters, 4:”The Future” and 5:”Last Words”. Well, chapter 5 isn’t really a full chapter…
Anyway, Coren argues in chapter 4 that a large part of the reluctance from mainline churches in North America and Europe to proceed with the acceptance of same-sex marriages, stems from the sense of being a global church. This is very true for Anglicans and Episcopalians in Canada and the US. The movement within our global Anglican communion to prevent same-sex marriages gaining acceptance and approval seems often to stem primarily from Africa and from a homophobia that exists in there. Coren points out that much of that is a result of colonialism, and that this continues to be a factor through funding from American evangelicals.
BUT there are cracks even within the American evangelical movement. Coren is not alone in arguing that a generational shift is coming, and for most millennials, this isn’t even an issue worth debating.
Coren argues convincingly that there is a myth of right-wing Christians being persecuted (no longer having sole access to a voice and funding , having to be ‘one of’ many denominations and approaches, does not necessarily equate to persecution!) And once again, Coren points out that Jesus seems to be unequivocally anti-divorce, and yet evangelicals speak of divorce as simply something that is ‘regretful’ versus an ‘abomination’.
So questions that arise from chapter 4:
- How much of Anglican (and other mainline denominations) reluctance to proceed is based on the sense of splitting apart the global church? How much are conservatives also a strong voice within our more local and national context? Conservative voices are much louder – does that fool us into thinking there are more of them?
- The issue of the ordination of women is not agreed to by all members of the global Anglican communion. Why can the issue of same-sex marriage not also be something where we ‘agree to disagree’?
- Do you agree this is a generational issue?
- Is it hard to admit to being Christian in our society? Is that because of anti-faith sentiments – or because Christianity is so often equated with conservative attitudes?
In chapter 5, Coren puts forward his claim that there are no non-religious arguments remaining against same-sex marriage. The only opposition seems to be faith-based. He then pushes – the church needs to repent and to rejoice in love.
Questions from chapter 5:
- Are there really no non-religious arguments? Is that because everyone else has ‘seen the light’ – or because the stalwarts have joined the conservative branches of the church where there is support for such a position?!
- The church is notorious for moving slowly, sometimes with good reason. Can the church move too slowly? Is moving slowly always a sign of being cautious around the weighty matters of doctrine, or is it simply institutional inertia?
Looking forward to a good closing discussion at 12 noon tomorrow in the Ministry Centre!