Walking together … to the City of Destruction

A Word from the Bishop Smooth-It-Away’s of the Anglican Church of Canada

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We see your tears, we hear your cries, and we weep with you. We have caused deep hurt. We are profoundly sorry.

So say the bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada in a deep, deep grovel. The “your” refers to those LGBT constituents to whom the bishops had promised “marriage equality.”

The heartbreak resulted from the failure of the General Synod to neuter its canon with respect to marriage of a man and a woman. Indeed, it was the bishops themselves that could not muster the two-thirds vote to overturn the Church’s deeply unjust canon on marriage – and yes of course, the deeply unjust teaching of 526 bishops of the 1998 Lambeth Conference – oh, and also of the deeply unjust teaching of the Book of Common Prayer, the Bible, the Creator of the Universe (Genesis 1:27 and 2:24) and the Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 19:4-6).

They came close to righting this wrong and no doubt will reach their destination next time.

But many stalwart Mounties are not willing to wait till next time. In fact, they have not even waited until now, as “local” dioceses already have stamped their blessing on same-sex weddings. The bishops assure us that these trail-breakers are not violating God’s the church’s law:

Although the bishops are not of one mind, we look with hope to the “Word to the Church” and its affirmations which General Synod 2019 overwhelmingly approved on Friday, July 12.

So what does this “Word to the Church” say:

This has been a long season of deep pain for the whole church. We have witnessed disdain and failure of charity toward those who hold differing understandings of marriage:

a. toward the LGBTQ2S+ communities; [note: 2S refers to “two-spirit” shamans]

b. toward those who stand in one of the traditions regarding marriage that would lead them to oppose the change;

c. toward those who stand in one of the traditions that would lead them to favour the change;

d. toward indigenous persons; and

e. toward those who have proceeded in good faith to authorize rites for same-sex marriage.

The framing logic of these options leads to one and only one end-point: the full endorsement of same-sex marriage. To prove my point, just imagine: What if after further deliberation the ACoC were to rethink (repent) its doctrine of marriage and conclude that option b) is the only faithful way? What would those in options c) and e) say to the couple in position a)? We are deeply sorry, you may have been told your marriage was blessed by God, but the Church has changed its mind.

Of course, they don’t tell you that up front. Rather they say:

We are walking together in a way which leaves room for individual dioceses and jurisdictions of our church to proceed with same-sex marriage according to their contexts and convictions, sometimes described as “local option.”

Please understand: we in the West are in the advanced stages of a culture-war. The proponents of LGBTQ2S+ know this. They also know the Art of War (Sun Tzu): “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.” “Walking together” is a tactic for breaking down resistance, but the goal in any war is to subdue the enemy: “Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

If anyone doubts this point, just travel south of the border to the Episcopal Church USA, where the thunderbolt has fallen and same-sex marriage is now mandated in every diocese. “Walking together” is a stage in [Richard] “Neuhaus’s Law“: “Where orthodoxy is optional, orthodoxy will sooner or later be proscribed.” Twenty-five years ago in the Episcopal Church USA we heard talk about “continuing the dialogue” on same-sex marriage – until it was “time’s up.”

It should come as no surprise that the Lambeth Conference 2020 has adopted as its theme “walking, listening and witnessing together,” and the Conference will ponder the “Living in Love and Faith Report” about evolving perspectives on human sexuality. In its Letter to the Churches, the Gafcon Assembly last year warned that “slogans such as ‘walking together’ and ‘good disagreement’ are dangerously deceptive in seeking to persuade people to accommodate false teaching in the Communion.” To date several hundred bishops have heeded this warning and are not coming to Lambeth.

Walking together is a very good thing but only when you are going in the same direction, in the right direction, in the footsteps of Jesus. Otherwise, walking together is spiritually dangerous. Jesus Himself put it clearly:

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (Matthew 7:13-14)

So which way is the Anglican Church of Canada walking? Despite its tip of the cap to (d) “indigenous persons” (note the response of the Diocese of the Arctic), it is not walking at all but is taking to the rails. People in Toronto and Vancouver do not walk together nowadays. Jog perhaps. Cycle maybe. Or for longer distances, there’s the glorious Canadian Pacific Railway. But walking together – that’s for pioneer days.

The 19th century American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote a short story “The Celestial Railroad,” which parodies John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress in the light of modern “progress,” technical and moral. The protagonist of the story dreams that he is traveling by rail from Pilgrim’s City of Destruction (this world) to heaven (the Celestial City). His companion is Mr. Smooth-it-away, the largest stockholder in the railway, who serves as a travel guide to all the old places on the road such as Vanity Fair, which has been greatly modernized since Pilgrim’s day. At the end of the story, the dreamer transfers to a steamboat ferrying him across the River, only to discover that he was headed to the wrong city and that Mr. Smooth-it-away was an impudent fiend.

“Walking together” as proposed by the Bishop Smooth-it-away’s of the Anglican Church of Canada and the Anglican Communion is a deadly ruse. Disciples of Jesus will stick to the hard and narrow way of obedience to His Word.