Cruising With Style

March 25, 2007

The Rev. Greg Rickel of St. James Austin preached today by opening with a story from a recent cruise vacation he and his family took.

It didn’t take long for him to move to the recent events in the church: 

I loved a paragraph out of a British commentary on the meeting and the subsequent communiqué’ I so hate that I cannot now quote who said this, but it quite good.

‘It would be refreshing if the Churches would step back from this stance, and make it clearer that the evil in adultery is not the sexual act but the betrayal of trust, the cruelty, the endangering of children’s happiness. The deep wickedness of rape and pedophilia is not about desire but about misuse of power, invasion, oppression and injury. The sinfulness of promiscuity and prostitution is not about sex but about using another human being for transient pleasure without caring for the physical and emotional damage you do. The Church’s ministry to gays could preach only honesty, gentleness, and commitment, rather than agonizing about genital practices. Christianity could just grow up, and stop treating sex as if it were innately toxic or radioactive and yet irresistibly interesting.’

Now, just think about it, if Jesus walked in here today and said, hey I really appreciate what you all have been up to, but I would like you to do a new thing. I just wonder what might happen. And we should not forget as we approach Holy Week that this is just what he did, and we shall soon see what it got him.

Click here for the entire sermon.


10 Responses to “Cruising With Style”

  1. John 2007 Says:

    Of course, in the examples mentioned there are things that are wrong beyond ‘the sexual act.’ But (how many times can one repeat this) it is sexual activity that is the presenting issuing in ECUSA. It means virtually nothing to talk about other things that truly are deplorable, or to talk about how important the Millenial Goals are (good as they are), when what we do with our bodies, and what we teach our children to do with their bodies, is very important. All this sermon amounts to, given our current difficulties, is a massive attempt at deflection.

  2. Jeff Says:

    Hi John 2007, let me see if I can clarify the point more succinctly:

    The church does not build its ethics on rules. It builds its ethics on virtues, on character (at least when it does its job right).

    When you build a rule and begin to look at it without looking at how it relates to virtues, you have no idea whether it is “good” or not.

    How does our behavior contribute to living a life that is “good?”

    Are we building up relationships and community or tearing it down?

    That is the point. Looking at sex as an act in isolation does not tell you that, strictly speaking.

    That is why the “debate” over homosexuality has nothing to do with sex.


  3. John 2007 Says:

    The ‘wider vision’ you champion still seems pretty selective though doesn’t it? A Christian thinker, say a CS Lewis, might say “Hmmm. You blinker your eyes to sexual differentiation, you choose not to look at the context of raising biological offspring sired by the couple, and you–really, now–seem to over look the very specifics of some questionable acts (sodomy) which do not seem intuitively right, or right after much reflection.” So . . .the wider vision doesn’t seem to be so wide, either. And what kind of community can really be built on stifling that still small voice of New Testament inspired conscience? (And BTW isn’t community-building, a true good, corrupted into a false idol these days? I mean, the church used to speak of the communion of saints–putting community and holiness, meaning conformity to the NT, right at the heart of things.)

    Yes, I think a Christian from the past might argue thusly.

  4. Jeff Says:

    I don’t know what you’re talking about.

    My children are perfectly happy with both of their dads.


  5. John 2007 Says:

    My children are perfectly happy with both of adoptive their dads.


  6. Jeff Says:

    They weren’t adopted, not that it matters.

    And if they were, do you pose the same argument to opposite-gendered couples raising adopted children? Or opposite-gendered couples choosing not to have children at all? I suppose you would support, then, the petition underway (in Washington) to require heterosexual married couples to have children within three years of marriage or declare their marriage null and void, because you are implying that the sole context for marriage is for procreation?

    In any event, you go refer to an “intuitively wrong biological act.” It is not intuitively wrong for me. Even many conservatives have abandoned this very, very weak argument.

    You still seem to be stuck at some basic fear-based approach which fails to address the capacity of gay and lesbian Christians to positively carry out the gospel. I address you to Susan Russell’s homily, which describes more fully the basic difference in the description of mission which fundamentally seems to underlie some of your issues.


  7. John Says:

    Theological disagreement with attentiveness to psychological studies is the basis of my objections, not fear.

  8. Jeff Says:

    I’m not sure what psychological studies you have been following.

    Every major medical and psychological association in the US has agreed that there is nothing “wrong” with homosexuality, and that there is nothing to prevent gays and lesbians from serving as effective parents to children.


  9. Jeff Says:

    John 2007 –

    Thanks for responding to my question, but if you want to publish entire articles, get your own blog. Comments are for comments, not articles.

    The specific article you were trying to publish contained data from an agency specifically dedicated to the attempt to providing scientific data for a theological end. That goes against everything the scientific method stands for, and is therefor suspect.

    I could publish biased propaganda from “my side” as well claiming to be “scientific evidence”, but I doubt you would buy it.

    More helpful for both sides are national organization like the American Medical Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Pediatric Association, etc.

    All of these have said in various ways that homosexuality is non-threatening for both the self and the other.

    The kind of information you refer to in your article, which has been making rounds in the Episcopal Right lately, that claims somehow that homosexuality leads to premature death, is pure propaganda.

    Again, find a MAJOR scientific view holding such a position and we’ll have something to discuss. There are always dissenters. We still have people who believe in a seven 24 hour creation cycle, after all, and science clearly has disproved that.


  10. Jeff Says:

    For reference, the article John 2007 wanted to post in its entirety is here.

    A rebuttal of the article, discrediting the validity of the “scientific” nature of the research, is here.


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