The Homosexuality Debate
the Orthodox Need a Better Way ---

[The following is from http://stacks.msnbc.com/news/924716.asp?cp1=1.   David Moyer is a stout and respected warrior, but his approach to this issue has many of the faults that have led the orthodox to defeat time and time again.  My commentary is interspersed below [[in brackets]].   E. Fox] 

 

       (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
       PRESS: Still to come on BUCHANAN & PRESS, tonightís great debate.
       The controversy election of an openly gay bishop up in New Hampshire.
       BUCHANAN: And why is Wal-Mart removing menís magazines from the shelves and covering up the womenís magazines? But first, the MSNBC headlines with Sam Shane.
       (NEWSBREAK)
       PRESS: OK.
       BUCHANAN: OK, Sam. A hot story in New Hampshire these days is not the presidential primary. It is the election this weekend of a new bishop of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire. The winner is Reverend Canon Gene Robinson, who is openly gay and who is living with his lover right now after he had divorced his wife in the mid 1980ís.
       Now, the Reverend Robinsonís election has to be approved by the general convention of the Episcopal Church, which is going to be held in Minneapolis in July. It has never happened that the Episcopal Church of the United States has approved the election of an open homosexual as a bishop. Here to discuss the impact of this on the Episcopal Church are Reverend David Moyer, president of Forward in Faith, whoís a rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd in Philadelphia, and Reverend Michael Hopkins, president of Integrity, which is a group representing gays and lesbians in the Episcopal Church.
       Let me take the first question or give the first question. Reverend Hopkins, thanks for coming over.
       REV. MICHAEL HOPKINS, RECTOR, ST. GEORGEíS CHURCH: Youíre welcome.
       BUCHANAN: It seems to me that since Henry VIII and the founding of the Episcopal Church and the break away from the Catholic Church, still the Episcopal Church has held homosexuality is immoral, itís a violation of scripture. That has been the consistent teaching of the Episcopal Church for over 400 years. If open homosexuality and practice of it by a bishop, that is OK today, doesnít it say the Episcopal Church has been morally wrong for 400 years?

[Hmm.   Henry VIII did not found the Anglican Communion, still less the Episcopal Church.  But that is another matter.]

       HOPKINS: Well, it says that times have changed and that we know now and experience now any number of openly gay and lesbian people in the church, both lay people and clergy, who are living lives of faith.

[That, of course, is precisely the point at issue, which Robinson is clever to put as an established fact.  We do not know any such thing.   What we "know" is that there are people claiming such lives of faith.   Faith must include openness to the truth about the matter at hand, and homosexualists do not show that kind of faith.  What they show is an extraordinary capacity at deception and manipulation.  Not faith.]

PRESS: Father Moyer, let me ask you, Bishop Robinson didnít just fall off the turnip truck for the last 16 years as an openly gay priest. Heís been serving as assistant to the outgoing bishop up there in New Hampshire. The clergy know him, the laity know him. They obviously trust him. They elected him to be their bishop because they believe he is their spiritual leader. Why not?
       REV. DAVID MOYER, PRESIDENT, FORWARD IN FAITH: Well because clearly, active homosexuality is against the teachings of the church and the word of God. And when a priest takes his ordination vows, he vows to uphold the divine revelation of the Old and New Testaments, and those vows are sacred and binding.

[This is true and needs to be said.  But the failure here is neglecting to show how the authority of Scripture is 100% supported by all the available empirical evidence.  

God wrote two Books, not just Scripture.  He wrote the "book" of creation first, which we are to "read".   Then He wrote the book of Scripture because we had so badly screwed up our reading of creation and its relation to Himself.  Scripture is all about getting back to a true view of creation and its relation to the Creator.  

How do we read Creation???   By the techniques of honest observation and reporting, by careful analysis and reasoning.   In short, by pursuit of fact and logic.   Those are the tools of science, academics, and due process.   The Church torpedoed itself over the last five centuries by ignoring or being hostile to science and due process.   Either we recover our reading of the book of Creation and integrate it with our reading of Scripture, or we will continue to be the laughing stock of intelligent people.  

In this present case, we need to point out how the empirical evidence shows why God would say "no" to homosexuality.   That is a vital point to make in public discussions of this sort.   It cuts the opposition's claim to scientific support right out from under them.]  

PRESS: But, Father, there already are ordained gay priests in the Episcopal Church. Why not a gay bishop?
       MOYER: Well, there are ordained priests who are gay. But the difference is between one who lives a life of chastity and one who is active in expressing himself in intimate genital ways.
       BUCHANAN: All right, let me get to-go back to Reverend Hopkins. Reverend Hopkins, I just-Reverend Moyer said that this is a violation of the word of God, it is a violation of scripture, a violation of commandments and itís been so held by the Episcopal Church since its founding. Now, you seem to be saying basically adopting a posture of moral relativism, in other words, the truth changes with the times, morality changes with the times, what might have been immoral, homosexuality for an Episcopal bishop a century ago may be moral now. Is that what youíre saying?
       HOPKINS: Iím saying what would seem to be immoral then is seen to be moral now.

[Same neat twisting of words.  The old way "seems", and the new is "seen".   Subtle, but effective unless you know how to challenge it.   Moyer might have asked for the evidence supporting the "seeing" of the present, and thus challenged the implied self-authenticating of "seeing".   We must learn to press the other side for the specific evidence for what they claim.]

BUCHANAN: All right...
       HOPKINS: Because we...
       BUCHANAN: ... youíre saying the church was wrong then?
       HOPKINS: I am saying it was wrong if there were gay and lesbian people living lives of faith and in commitment to one another in accordance with their baptismal vows in their relationship with God.

[That is a big "if".  There is no evidence that homosexual persons as a group are living such faithful lives today, so what evidence would there be to suspect that they were doing it then?   Hopkins makes his case by suggestion, not fact, which, if unchallenged, wins the day.

If you do not challenge them as to their innuendo and assumptions, they get away with their case.   There is no evidence at all, only individual testimonies, that anything over about 2% of homosexual persons are even considering "monogamy", let alone succeeding at it.  

One cannot say that no homosexual couples are faithful.  But the numbers who try are less than 2% of the homosexual population (and they are only about 2% of the total population), and we have no specific estimates at all on the numbers who succeed.   Public policy cannot be made on the basis of a very small minority of a very small minority. ] 

BUCHANAN: Was the church, Anglican Church, the Episcopal Church a bigoted institution in that event since it did discriminate against homosexuals. It did not approve homosexual marriages. It did not allow the ordination of homosexuals openly living with their lovers of the same sex. Are you saying the church has been in error all these years?
       HOPKINS: The problem is that the church has been in hiding all of these years because there have always been gay and lesbian clergy particularly before the ordination of women, exclusively gay clergy. They were just forced to live in the closet, to live lives of secrecy. They have been around for generations...
       UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
       HOPKINS: The church has been lying.

[Moyer could have asked for the evidence for this claim.   First, lying means deliberate deceit.  And secondly, it means making a statement counter to fact.  There is no evidence to support Hopkins either way.  At every point, Hopkins, et al, want to make their case by sliding in unproven statements as though there were obvious and proven.   They must be challenged on the spot when they do that.]

PRESS: Yes, Father Moyer, itís like saying there are no gays in the military. Everybody knows thatís a lie, and that we have the stupid donít tell, donít-donít ask, donít tell policy. I mean I think Father Hopkins is right. There have always been gay priests. Isnít it better for-Iím sure heís not the only-heís not the first gay bishop. Heís just the first openly gay bishop. Isnít it better to be honest and forthright rather than live a lie?

[So what?  Whether there have or have not "always been 'gay' priests" is irrelevant to the issue -- which is (1) whether homosexuality is approved by God, and (2) whether homosexuality is a safe and healthy way to live. The issue is not whether we have had such clergy. Obviously we have. The question is whether we should have practicing homosexual clergy.  Homosexualists will do anything to avoid the relevant discussion because the evidence does not support them.]

MOYER: No. Well...
       PRESS: What?
       MOYER: One should not live a lie, but if one is going to be forthright that they are actively gay, that disqualifies them from being a leader, especially a bishop.
       (CROSSTALK)
       MOYER: A bishop is the guardian of the faith of the church.
       PRESS: Exactly. Exactly...
       MOYER: Yes...
       PRESS: Heís the guardian of the faith. Heís not the guardian, it seems to me, of the genitalia necessarily. I mean Bishop Robinson said-you used the word earlier, I didnít-Bishop Robinson said yesterday, we can get through this if we keep coming to the altar rail. Isnít that the point? God loves us all. Focus on that. Focus on the spirituality. Come to communion together and forget this nonsense, you know, debate about whether youíre gay or straight.

[Again, the diversion from the real issue.  The first issue is not compassion or unity or togetherness, the first issue is always  truth.   Without truth, we cannot come to any conclusion about the other issues.  Homosexualists want us to approve of homosexuality but prevent us from knowing precisely of what we are to approve.  When we allow them to pull that off, we have no one but ourselves to thank for our failure.]

MOYER: Well I think itís not about being gay or straight. Itís the issue of the authority of Holy Scripture and what the church teaches.

[Yes, it is about Scripture and authority.   But the prior issue we almost always neglect is how do we know that Scripture has the authority we claim for it?   We will never make that case until we put the two Books together -- Creation and Scripture.] 

BUCHANAN: All right...
       MOYER: Iím sorry that itís a gay issue, but itís really a fundamental attack upon the very authority, the foundation of the church.

[Precisely.  It is a concerted campaign to subvert the Biblical worldview and to return to paganism.   But that battle cannot be fought by appeal to Scripture or to the authority of the Church -- which is circular reasoning ("We are right because we say so...").  It can be fought only by a reasonable comparison of the two worldviews in question.  And that requires a clear and reasonable understanding of Creation (the world, the cosmos) as the context for Scripture.]

BUCHANAN: OK, Reverend Hopkins, I think what Reverend Moyer is saying is that by the standards of the Episcopal Church, that Reverend Canon Robinson is basically living in scandal and living in sin and it would be a sacrilege to consecrate him a bishop as he is doing this publicly. Tell me how you think the general convention in July in Minneapolis will deal with this subject, and do you think it will lead to a seism in the Episcopal Church in the United States?
       HOPKINS: Well first of all, if Canon Robinson were living a sacrilege and living in sin, the people of New Hampshire, the good faithful people of the diocese of New Hampshire wouldnít have elected him. I believe that in the end general convention will choose to respect their decision as being a faithful one, and I also believe in the end that the church will survive.

[That is an absurd and silly statement by Hopkins.   He wants us to believe that the people New Hampshire are "good and faithful", just as he wants us to believe that homosexual persons are likewise -- thus making their decisions self-authenticating.   But that, again, is subverting the point at issue, to be proven in public discussion -- which is not the people of New Hampshire, but whether homosexuality is approved by God and whether it is safe and healthy.

Strategy:  assume the point at issue and do an end run around any responsible, evidence-oriented public debate.  Counter-strategy: force the clarity onto the table.

Clarity always favors truth and good, unclarity always favors falsehood and evil.] 

PRESS: OK, Father Hopkins, Father Moyer, thank you both for joining us...
       UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Youíre welcome.
       PRESS: ... and we will keep our eye on that big convention...
       BUCHANAN: Thanks very much, both of you.
       PRESS: ... next month, maybe have you back. Thanks very much Father.
       UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

       (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
              

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