Homosexuality is a topic of great interest in the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh just now. Like people elsewhere in the country, we have been mesmerized by the not always edifying conversation that took place this week at the U.S. Supreme Court. Additionally, we have begun our own formal dialogue on sexuality in the diocese. (See “A Day of Dialogue.”)
The next meeting of Progressive Episcopalians of Pittsburgh will feature a talk on homosexuality by the Rev. Dr. Moni McIntyre. The title for her presentation is “The Usual Suspects: Homosexuality, Ordaining Gay Clergy, and Blessing Same-sex Unions.” A poster for the April 29 meeting can be seen here.
I was a bit surprised when Moni said that she would use the paper on homosexuality by the Rev. Dr. Harold T. Lewis as her point of departure. At first, I had no idea what she was talking about, but I eventually realized that she was referring to a talk given by the now retired rector of Calvary Church in conjunction with the 2002 annual convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh.
I didn’t immediately know where to find Harold’s paper, but recalled where he delivered it. The convention staged a “debate” on homosexuality between Harold and the Very Rev. Dr. Peter C. Moore, who was, at the time, the Dean
and President of Trinity Episcopal School for Ministry. The event was not really a debate; the two presenters simply gave their separate addresses without any interaction with one another. It was all very civilized.
The paper from the local evangelical seminary dean, “Homosexuality and the Great Commandment” begins with an attack on a paper from the Episcopal Diocese of New York, “Let the Reader Understand.” That piece of scholarship was itself an answer to the notorious Resolution I.10, the statement on homosexuality adopted at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. When “Homosexuality and the Great Commandment” moves away from scripture and its interpretation, as it does about half way through, it begins to seem arbitrary and—in 2013 anyway—quite dated.
Harold’s paper, “Human Sexuality and Its Challenge to the Church in the Twenty-first Century,” on the other hand, seems completely up-to-date in 2013. He deals directly with the important issues cited in the subtitle of Moni’s address: homosexuality, ordaining gay clergy, and blessing same-sex unions. Of necessity, the paper deals with hermeneutics along the way.
Whether or not you can attend the April 29 PEP meeting, I commend both “Homosexuality and the Great Commandment” and “Human Sexuality and Its Challenge to the Church in the Twenty-first Century” to your attention. I especially recommend your reading the latter, as it makes a clear and concise case for greater inclusion of homosexuals in the life of the church. The link in the previous paragraph is to a reformatted and corrected version of the paper that was done with the help of the author. The only other version of Harold’s paper that I know of on the Web is hard to read and contains errors.