Dearly Beloved in Christ,
As the Western world turns further and further away from God and His ordered plan for humankind, and more and more toward the devices and desires of humanity's own thinking, chaos enters our churches, our legal systems, our schools, and almost every aspect of the communities that we live in.
Two areas of public interest that the news media exploit regularly are money and sex; ears perk up, eyes pop wide open, and the reader or listener is immediately paying attention. For many people, the two areas that they have the most difficulty responsibly and properly managing are money and sex. Both concern basic drives within human beings that at times are difficult to control, such as gratification, power, needing to be needed, and others. Both areas are of concern to God, and they can become a contest - whether we are willing to do things God's way or rebel and do things the way we want to.
The tithe (10%) that God asks for is a first step in our learning to properly use the 90% that is left over. The prohibitions and directions in Scripture about sexual relations are to channel the reproductive drive as well as other human needs into positive and protective relationships, which honor the physical structure that God has given each of us as male or female, and the family structures that we are born into, and then re-form in our own marriage and children, and then enjoy as aunts, uncles, siblings, parents, grandparents, etc. Although both areas, finance and sexuality, are under attack in today's Western culture, I want to focus here on the chaos in human sexuality.
The other day, television personality Larry King volunteered that he had been married eight times, but only was in love for three. Although this is an extreme, it highlights the problem of marriage in a world of throw-away relationships, and the insecurity that is imparted to children who go through a parental divorce. Many of my readers in the West will have gone through divorce, either their parents' or their own, and can testify to the pain and hurt which tearing a family apart inflicts on everyone. The problem of failing marriages is an important part of the chaos within the normally-oriented world, but it is only a part of the larger problem when all of the alternative sexualities are considered - there is the disorder and chaos within the Anglican church that surfaced with the consecration of V. Gene Robinson as the bishop of New Hampshire (despite the fact that his homosexual relationship with a declared partner disqualified him from any order of ministry in the Christian Church), the adoption of same-sex blessings and the development of liturgies for such in the church, and the move by governments to legally establish perceived gender descriptions, orientations, or ways of dressing and acting within protected classes.
We read in the news that the Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) is near splitting over the issue of gay clergy assignments. We are aware that pastors in Europe have been arrested or investigated by the police for reading passages from the Bible that speak against certain sexual behaviors, and now we are advised that the US House of Representatives just passed H.R. 1913, a so-called hate crimes bill that makes 'sexual orientation,' 'gender,' and 'gender identity' into federally-protected classes under the law. Without further definition of these categories, it gives these sexual behaviors federally protected minority status. Has Congress lost its collective mind?
The rebellion against God within the culture is unnerving, as we see behaviors that formerly were against the law and punishable by the courts now become exalted and given special protection. The rebellion within the Church is even sadder, for with the churches divided over even the basic Christian beliefs of the uniqueness of Christ and the authority of the Bible, there is clearly a stiff battle ahead. In a little over a month the American Anglican Council will be present at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, working to support orthodox deputies, and reporting the truthful news back to the world. One of the newer ministries of the AAC, the Episcopal Desk, which focuses on work with those orthodox people who are staying inside TEC, will help to encourage the orthodox deputies with daily worship, and provide them with committee news so they know what is coming up and what to watch for on the legislative floor.
In late June, in Bedford, Texas, the AAC will also be present for the first Assembly of the Anglican Church in North America, which is an Anglican province organizing so that it can receive recognition and full communion status with the separate global Anglican Provinces. Some critics of the American Anglican Council ask how the AAC can work inside TEC and outside TEC at the same time, but such a question demonstrates a lack of understanding of the mission of the AAC. The AAC has a commitment to stand with orthodox Anglicans whatever church structure they may find themselves in, and to work for reformation and renewal within the larger Anglican Communion.
In the fall of 2003, the AAC partnered with Christ Church Plano to bring forth the Plano Conference, which soon had to be moved into Dallas, as the size grew far beyond even Christ Church's seating. Now the Common Cause Partners, who are becoming the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), together with Christ Church Plano, are again sponsoring a mega event in the enthronement of Bishop Duncan of Pittsburgh as the first Archbishop and Primate of ACNA. A large crowd is expected - it will be an historic event of the first order.
The great hope is that the orthodox Anglicans, in coming together, can more effectively witness to the world around us with a visible sign of unity, more effectively spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and counter the culture around us that seems to be slipping into disorder and ungodliness.
Pray for the first Assembly of the ACNA, wherein the Constitution and Canons will be put to a vote of the representatives, and pray for the General Convention of The Episcopal Church in Anaheim, and those faithful orthodox Anglicans remaining inside TEC. Pray for us too, since we will be fully involved in both events.
Blessings and peace in Christ Jesus,
The Rt. Rev. David C. Anderson, Sr.
President and CEO, American Anglican Council