“When are you people going to learn? It’s not about who’s right or wrong. No denomination’s nailed it yet, and they never will because they’re all too self-righteous to realize that it doesn’t matter what you have faith in, just that you have faith. Your hearts are in the right place, but your brains need to wake up.” — Serendipity, Dogma (1999)
It may seem that Anglicans are merely the quieter, more modest cousins of Catholics. Many have even referred to Anglicanism as “Catholic Lite.” It may be true that Anglicans tend to be more modest and quiet than their older and somewhat close minded siblings in the Catholic Church, but do not mistake quiet for cowardice.
For over two decades the Anglican Church has been struggling with an internal conflict over the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered members of the church to be fully and wholly able to participate in all the rites and offices of the church. This rift has resulted in the formation of splinter sects whose goal is to either reunite with the Romish church, or at the least have some sort of strengthened relations with them.
CNN reported that “the number of Anglicans wishing to join the Catholic Church has increased in recent years as the Anglican Church has welcomed the ordination of women and openly gay clergy and blessed homosexual partnerships,” according to Cardinal William Joseph Levada, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
Is that really something for average Anglicans like myself to worry about? Well, yes and no. Yes, any time a church loses members it is concerning — not only concerning in the financial sense, but also in the sense that we have been unable to make a loving connection with brothers and sisters who we were in disagreement with.
On the no side, we can honestly say that if someone is unable to accept all members of the church, as Christ would have them do, then perhaps it is for the best that they take that intolerance elsewhere so the rest of us can get on with the pursuit of a more egalitarian form of Christianity. It is not easy to do this, but I cannot allow people to use hatefulness and bigotry to continue to twist the word of God to fit their own intolerant views.
I don’t think Christ supports the exclusion of our LGBT* and female members from fully expressing their love for each other and their God. I think he would walk into the churches of hate and exclusion, particularly the Vatican, and turn over not only the tables — like in the temple of Jerusalem — but would also speak out against the perversion of his word by bishops and popes and clergy over the last century. Living a life in the spirit of Christ, in my opinion, does not mean telling others what to do. It does not mean following 4,000-year old laws and flaunting science because it makes you examine your faith.
Being Christian, to me, means living your life as closely as possible to the Jesus that is written about “pre-Easter”; before rising from the dead. It is about accepting the fact that what you are told may not be what actually is. It is a life of curiosity and of constantly questioning your beliefs to see if they actually are your beliefs. It is about accepting people whose views, gender, politics or sexual orientation may differ from yours.
If every time someone challenges your faith you feel the need to trot out some arcane law from Abraham, then I think you are not living as Christ would have you live. If, when you are challenged by a member of your own faith, you feel the need to take your ball and leave, then I think you have missed the point.
If you are open to listening and rationally discussing questions of faith and are willing to participate in that faith, even with those with whom you disagree, then you are closer to what Christ intended than those whose only defense is dogma and blind obedience.
Stephen Milner is a mature student studying sociology.