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A Gay Bishop is Faithful

| 28.10.03
'A Gay Bishop is Faithful', by John P. Streit, Jr.

The recent conflict in the Episcopal Church over the election of a gay bishop is in part a result of sharp differences in how the Bible is understood and applied to contemporary culture. What is often lost in the din of loud and rancorous debate, however, is the fact that both sides of this debate are acting out of deeply held, scriptural convictions.

Yes, I do say scriptural. And yes, I do say both sides. I think this is not always obvious for two reasons. One, the conservative side of the debate likes to accuse the liberal side of not being scriptural. Two, the liberal side of the debate often frames their arguments in terms of social justice, human rights, and other categories that transcend purely religious categories. So it may not always be clear that the motivations flow from, as Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold put it shortly after the vote, "an authentic way of reading Scripture."

In this sermon, preached in September 2003 after General Convention, Streit delivers a positive theology that explains and undergirds the changing times we live in. While God is unchanging, Streit maintains that the Bible as a whole tells the story of gradually changing understandings of how God's will is to be acted out in the world.

Citing examples from the New Testament and Christian history, Streit uses the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman, Peter and Paul's debates over the role of Jewish purity laws for Gentile converts, and nineteenth century Christian abolitionists to paint a picture of Christian history that progressively lowers barriers and roadblocks to full inclusion within God's kingdom.

What made this sermon noteworthy for me was that, unlike so much theological work done regarding homosexuality which focuses on tearing down six or seven scattered texts throughout the Bible that seem to prohibit same-sex sexual activity in very specific contexts, Streit builds up a much more positive view of God's work through all of history and creation drawing on the same biblical foundation.

LINKS: http://www.stpaulboston.org/Sermon%202.htm

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