Anglican Samizdat

May 26, 2009

The youth of the Diocese of Niagara, gender-neutral language and rainbow flags

Filed under: Diocese of Niagara — David Jenkins @ 1:57 pm

Youth at the Diocese of Niagara Youth Synod had this to say among other things:

Delegates will be asking their local municipalities and schools to fly the rainbow flag on International Day against Homophobia, and they challenged themselves to offer support to those who have been hurt by homophobic language.

They vowed to take a stand against homophobia and bullying wherever they encounter either. At the successful passing of the Homophobia motion, delegates presented a rainbow flag to St. Christopher’s asking them to fly the flag every May 17. The delegates pledged to volunteer their time and energy to a youth ambassador program that connects parishes to diocesan youth ministry events, and is a presence at diocesan events. And they didn’t stop at challenging themselves! They invited the church to use gender-neutral language in liturgy in diocesan worship services; asked the Diocesan Youth Ministry

Committee and the Program Consultants to set up the Youth Ambassador Program, and to provide training to volunteer staff and Youth Ministry program participants about bullying. Finally, the delegates of Youth Synod 2009 affirmed the Diocesan vision and resolved to continue the leadership role of Youth Ministry as the vision unfolds and they invited Bishop Michael to affirm his commitment to living out the diocesan vision in partnership with them.

Barring the repeal of Pr. 22:6, it’s hard to believe that the youth of the hyper-liberal diocese of Niagara would be this interested in homophobia and gender-neutral language without a little coaching from Michael Bird and his cohorts.



  1. The LGBT crowd have long been in the forefront of this “ministry” with Peter Wall leading the charge. Would you send your kids to a synod like this if you had known the outcome?

    Comment by Gawk — May 26, 2009 @ 2:29 pm

  2. This is not new in the Dio of Niagara – St Hilda’s hosted a Servers’ Festival many years a go and our worship leader (hi David) was told off for singing “God is Our Father”. We had a youth delegate – again many years ago- who tried to speak to the movement of the gay agenda in the church and was treated very poorly – even though he was very gracious in his speech. So much for the ACoC having room for all kinds of opinions.

    Comment by Muriel — May 26, 2009 @ 2:41 pm

  3. Sounds to me that this ministry is teaching compassion and respect for all people. Who here is for homophobia? Inviting youth to stand against discrimination of others seems to me to be a very Christ-like thing to do. Peace!

    Comment by Brian Kirk — May 26, 2009 @ 4:43 pm

  4. Brian,

    I doubt that anyone here would advocate not having respect and compassion. Part of showing compassion is to make clear the standards that God has set for us; we are all sinners and fall short of what God requires, but to condone what God forbids isn’t compassionate – it’s being party to a delusion.

    God loves us too much to leave us as we are; his expectation that we change is not discrimination, it is an expression of love. For the church to expect less makes it a social club instead of a church.

    Comment by David — May 26, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

  5. If the ministry really wants to promote compassion and respect, why is it using the bogus notion of homophobia? Christian opposition to homosexual practice is not based on fear, it’s based on biblical teaching. Which is more loving: to call sin “not sin” and so encourage disobedience to God’s word, or to call sinners to repent and become disciples of Christ?

    Comment by Scott Gilbreath — May 26, 2009 @ 6:46 pm

  6. Here is where the discussion grow more complex. To say “Christian opposition to homosexual practice is not based on fear, it’s based on biblical teaching” is to assume that the Church speaks with one voice on this issue. We know, of course, that it does not. Some see only one right answer to the question of homosexuality and only one way to intrepret the Bible when it comes to same sex relationships. These youth obviously see the issue as more complex…as do I. I would hope that we can debate the issue and still respect all people. Can this respect include being open to the possiblity that one can be right without the other person necessarily being wrong?

    Comment by Brian — May 26, 2009 @ 7:21 pm

  7. How can you talk about “respect” when you invoke the prejudicial and bogus notion of homophobia?

    Comment by Scott Gilbreath — May 26, 2009 @ 7:26 pm

  8. Well, again, the assumption that homophobia is prejudicial or bogus is an opinion, is it not? I certainly have not suggested that anyone following this discussion is homophobic. In fact, I made the assumption that we are not nor would we condone irrational hatred of others for any reason. I assume as Christians that all here have compassion and love at the center of all we try to be. Is homophobia bogus? I suggest we could debate that. Perhaps a better term might be heteronormativism which does not carry the weight of judgment with it but simply argues that many of us have been born, raised, and drink deeply of cultures that are strongly heterosexually centered and therefore we assume that what is normative is better and preferable. Were we raised in a different culture we might think quite differently. For example, the youth raised in 21st century United States have a much different view of same-sex relationships than do their grandparents simply because they are being raised in a culture where diversity is more normative than heterogenity.

    Comment by Brian — May 26, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

  9. Brian,

    the youth raised in 21st century United States have a much different view of same-sex relationships than do their grandparents simply because they are being raised in a culture where diversity is more normative than heterogenity.

    No doubt, but setting one’s moral compass by the prevailing culture has nothing to do with Christianity.

    Comment by David — May 26, 2009 @ 9:16 pm

  10. David, I agree with your assertion. Where I wonder how much we differ is on my assumption that Christianity as a fledging movement was influenced by the prevailing culture of the ancient near east (as was Jesus), just as Christianity today is influenced by the many contemporary cultures in which it sits. Those of us living in North America thus see Christianity through a different set of lenses than do, say, Christians in rural China. These lenses (some of which we may not even be aware of) affect how we understand our faith, the Bible, the mission of the Church, etc.

    Comment by Brian — May 26, 2009 @ 9:49 pm

  11. Brian,

    To imply that Jesus was influenced by his culture is, I would agree, in once sense true: in his humanity obviously he spoke the language of his time and related to people in ways they could understand. However, to argue that this limited him in some way would be to diminish his divinity.

    Similarly, if God intends his revelation to be clearly understandable in the bible – and I believe this to be the case – then the meaning of the moral imperatives it contains would not be so culturally coloured as to make them incomprehensible to us in our society 2000 years later.

    Specifically on the homosexual issue, homosexuality was not only common at the time but culturally acceptable in Rome and Greece – in some ways more so than today; nevertheless, Paul was clear in his letters that it is something that is not permitted for a Christian. If we take the bible at all seriously, it is difficult to get around this or to cast it as cultural prejudice on Paul’s part.

    To address your point of different contemporary cultures viewing Christianity differently: although worship styles and outward expressions of faith vary, the fundamental understanding of the faith is remarkably consistent. The exceptions are the decaying liberal Western denominations.

    Comment by David — May 26, 2009 @ 10:31 pm

  12. Brian, with all due respect, if you questioned those very same teenagers about premarital sex, casual sex (ie “friends with benefits”), so-called serial monogamy, and sexual experimentation, you’d also find a high degree of acceptance for all of those practices.

    They may be Christian youth, but they’ve been raised in an ultra-permissive society by parents whose idols were Madonna and Michael Jackson, and even their grandparents were probably into Free Love. Pop culture tells them to go ahead and “do it”, and their schools just hand them condoms. Yet they still get pregnant, and they still catch diseases. Why are you so opposed to the Church taking a stand against all this?

    Comment by Ellie M. — May 27, 2009 @ 11:56 am

  13. Ellie, your first point is well worth consideration. I think permissive sexual attitudes have been the norm for a long time (probably longer than we think) but it’s just been in the last several decades that we’ve been willing to admit it openly. And youth today are much more interested in knowing WHY certain sexual behaviors are edifying or damaging. It isn’t enough to simply say “Don’t do it because the Bible says it’s wrong.” I don’t think many Christian folk I know are taking their cues about sexuality from the Bible anyway — and I’m not sure I want them to. There is much in there that was an accepted part of sexual behavior in the ancient world that we would now find unacceptable.

    On the other point — I’m not opposed to a church taking a stand on the issue of homosexuality. However, it would be next to impossible to say that THE Church (big “C”) has any sort of unified stand on the issue as we all read and interpret biblical texts and Christian history in different ways. My hope is to help Christian youth, in community with others, to discern how they hear God and the Spirit moving as it refers to the issues of same-sex attraction.

    David – thanks for your response. I would not argue that the texts are so culturally conditioned as to make them incomprehensible. In fact, I would argue the the more we know about the culture in which they were written, the more we will understand them and their context. It is, in my opinion, the reading of ancient texts through 21st eyes that makes them incomprehensible (or at least allows us to twist them to have a modern interpretation that could never have been the intention of the original authors).

    I appreciate the opportunity to dialogue on these issues. We clearly do not see eye-to-eye but those of us in the Church need to keep talking to each other.


    Comment by Brian Kirk — May 28, 2009 @ 1:17 pm

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