CEP: We Have Another Winner

Setting aside the fact that a person from one of the Bible Churches gave another boring “I don’t usually respond to anonymous emails” answer and asked me to meet him offline, we’ve got yet another response tonight (am I the only one who’s a little surprised that a priest would answer an email at 10:54 PM on a Saturday?).  This one comes from a bilingual (Spanish-English) Episcopal church, and its verdict: positive.

Hello S.

I suppose that I should start by saying that, while people often imagine doctrines to be a broad range of view points, in our Episcopal tradition, church doctrine covers a very narrow field, specifically how to live out Christ’s two great commandments: loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. There really is no Episcopal doctrine regarding asexuality any more than there is one regarding heterosexuality, homosexuality or whatever.

Um.  Sir, I think there might be people who would disagree with you on that last one.  I mean, I’ve never seen anti-gay rhetoric specifically in connection with Episcopals, but I don’t think any Christian denomination would become thoroughly hate-free without taking a particular stance on it.

That being said, all baptized Episcopalians have taken a vow to respect the dignity of every human being, and this stems from a belief that all of us are created lovingly by God and that our diverse perspectives, cultures, genders, modes of life, and so forth are gift. This means that we endeavor to treat straight people, gay people, asexual people, latino people, anglo people, asian people, middle-class people, rich people, poor people, and so on as beloved siblings, rather than arbitrarily selecting one group as those on God’s team and deeming the rest to be a bunch of sinners.

It’s always awkward when Church people try to do one of those complete list things.  Even if you ignore all the races he was leaving off — bisexual people and trans people don’t exist, I guess?  But yet he made a point of being thorough when it came to economic class.  Ugh, just don’t do things this way.  There is literally never a time when you need to assure people that you accept the humanity of rich Anglos.

This is not because we approach the world with rose tinted glasses; instead we see everybody as a bunch of sinners — by which I mean that we all fall short of the fever pitch of love and goodness and peace shown to us in the incarnation, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We’re all made perfectly in the image of God, but end up acting like selfish jerks a lot of the time, as well as participating in societal sins like racism, discrimination angst others based on gender or sexual orientation, the economic exploitation of others, and all the other terrible stuff we as humans do to one another. On top of all that, Jesus taught that we have to get to a point of totally eradicating our own selfish jerk-y-ness before we can turn a critical eye on anyone else’s.

Hey look, a priest who acknowledges that economic exploitation is a sin.

That’s a bit of a long theological answer to your first question, but to put it concisely — if you are an asexual person or are asking on behalf of someone who is — come join us for church sometime — you’ll be most welcome! Alternately, if you ask all of this because you’re someone preparing to write a vehement screed against some specific group of people and are looking for a faith tradition to back up your arguments, you’d best look elsewhere.

Look.  Look at this.  Look at this guy.  This is so great.

Your second question is quite a bit easier:

Nope. We have lots of lay people who have taken vows of celibacy, and one of our great saints, St. Paul, writes in his first letter to the Corinthians:

To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is well for them to remain unmarried as I am. But if they are not practising self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.

This would suggest that, from Paul’s persecutive, celibate life is preferable to partnered life, but that both are good.

Ah, that quote from Paul joins us again.  Good ol’ Paul.  I remember thinking that man must be an aro ace even before I knew the words for it.

I hope that this has been helpful, and that you’ll come visit us some Sunday!

Peace,

[name redacted]

Well, that just smoked the Presbyterian guy who claimed this topic was too sensitive for us to talk about it effectively online.  Admittedly, what he said was,

it is my pastoral practice to respond to these types of questions in person and not via email or us mail.  Tone, intent and clarity of message are too easily lost using these means, especially when dealing with sensitive concerns.

which I understand, but dude, the Episcopalian priest managed it just fine.

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8 responses to “CEP: We Have Another Winner

  • Calum P Cameron

    “Selfish jerk-y-ness”. I love this man.

    As for Paul’s sexual and romantic obliviousness… yeah, that’s a good point. He sure does seem to have some curious, outsider-y views on marriage and such. Huh.

  • Brin

    clarity of message are too easily lost using these means

    Wait, what? Using a method of communication in which you’re allowed a while to think through what you’re going to say (rather than constantly scrambling to keep up) damages clarity of message?

    “Selfish jerk-y-ness”. I love this man.

    My thoughts exactly.

    That quote from Paul does make him sound really aro-ace-y, but I only have the level of New Testament knowledge you get from growing up in (north-eastern, so not Bible Belt) America and later hanging out with the occasional Bible nerd, so I don’t know if there’s some preponderance of evidence in less-quoted sections that points to something else.

    • acetheist

      The more responses I get, the more irritating those non-responses are, because it’s clearly something the other pastors are capable of. I have to assume those particular guys are just less internet-literate.

      No, believe me, there’s no reason to believe Paul wasn’t an aro ace and every reason to believe that he was.

  • sciencenerdess

    I like the Episcopalian priest’s response. “Selfish jerk-y-ness.” Haha. Makes him seem really approachable you know? None of the imams at my Sunday School would speak like that. Or even be internet literate enough to find out what asexuality is, even with links. :/
    Anyway, I think this church project is really interesting! Please keep posting!

  • doubleinvert

    As a seminarian-to-be and an aspiring pastor, I find this blog series of yours terribly important. I heartfully thank you. I can see that following these posts gives me, an allosexual, insights that will make me a better pastor.

    -Connie

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