Integrity Official Argues Opposition to Homosexuality Rooted in Opposition to Change

on April 24, 2013
Rev. Caro Hall on right with Integrity USA founder Louie Crew (Photo Credit – Sharon Sheridan

By Aaron Gaglia (@GagliaAC)

“Homosexuality has become the symbol of the changes which are happening in our society” claimed Integrity USA President Caroline Hall last night at an event discussing her book, A Thorn in the Flesh: How Gay Sexuality is Changing the Episcopal Church. Hall argued that the controversy about homosexuality within the Episcopal Church and beyond is not mainly about theological arguments but more fundamentally about deep changes in our society and what relationship the church should have to these changes. The event was sponsored by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC).

Richard Weinberg, director of Communications at Washington National Cathedral gave introductory remarks about the Cathedral’s commitment to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) persons. RCRC President Harry Knox introduced the speaker. Knox is well-known in the LGBT community, having worked previously for both Integrity USA, the unofficial LGBT caucus in the Episcopal Church, and the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual advocacy organization in addition to serving on the President’s Faith-Based Council. Knox is also an ordained minister in the Metropolitan Community Church, a majority-homosexual denomination. Though abortion is the predominant focus of RCRC, the coalition also has an interest in related issues of sexuality.

In addition to being president of Integrity, Hall is priest-in-charge at St. Benedict’s Episcopal Church in Los Osos, California. She begin by showing  why the issue of homosexuality is so important to her, chronicling her journey as a lesbian through trying to make herself straight in an Evangelical church to still having lingering doubts after she was ordained as an Episcopal Priest on whether her opposition in the church was right.

Hall intended to write a theological work exploring the arguments used in the Episcopal Church against being both gay and Christian, yet she realized “we really have not been having a theological argument.”

The California clergywoman explained that the Episcopal Church is changing and “it’s changed in the same way that are society is changing and that’s really what this is about.” As the Episcopal Church is a derivative of a state church, the Church of England, it thus has “very porous boundaries” in regards to society. “I think that that history, that DNA, if you would like, makes the Episcopal Church far more influenced by what’s happening in the wider society” than other denominations.

Hall saw the biggest changes in society relating to equality. “Since the civil rights movement there has been a great shift toward equality as a value.” This expressed itself in both women’s rights and in gay rights. She argues that this shift toward public affirmation of homosexuality does not threaten heterosexual marriage as conservatives argue but instead threatens the patriarchal system where “white male power was privileged.” Hall argued that homosexuality has been brought to the forefront in the last three decades because of what it threatens, namely “the patriarchal system,” “purity codes,” and “the political use of those things.”

The Episcopal priest partially attributed controversies in the Episcopal Church about sexuality to the resurgence of evangelicals in the church in the 1970s through the charismatic renewal movement. Hall noted that many evangelicals departed the Episcopal Church in the 1870s when the Reformed Episcopal Church split off. The author asserted that evangelical Episcopalians returned to prominence during a rise in evangelical Christianity in the 1970s. Hall reported that those same evangelicals then largely left in the late 2000s to form the Anglican Church in North America.

Hall explained how evangelicals became focused on homosexuality as a sin in this way: “The political right were able to harness these people who were very excited about God and were very excited about the Bible. And they were able to harness them politically by setting up homosexuality as this bogeyman which the Bible was against and therefore they as evangelicals should be against.”

In Hall’s estimation, homosexuality was not condemned by the church because it is considered a sin by the Bible and the church throughout the ages, but rather because of politics and fear.

The Episcopal priest concluded by briefly talking about the East African country of Uganda and the Christian influence there in regards to sexuality. Hall charged that evangelical Anglicans are reinforcing an idea among Ugandans that gay sexuality is a Western decadent phenomenon and is not African.

In closing, Hall mentioned that her research revealed that the church is having a debate about “what it means to be Anglican and who gets to define it” and those same questions as relating to Christians in general.  In her estimation, this debate is much bigger than theology.

Hall’s talk is a good reminder that the issue of homosexuality inside the church is not an isolated issue but is integrally related to questions of authority and how the church should relate to the world.

  1. Comment by Clare Flourish on April 24, 2013 at 10:51 am

    She is of course right about the politics. The insane fixation of some Evangelicals on homosexuality, rather than, say, feeding the hungry and healing the sick, is more a fear reaction of those whose power is draining and whose time is short than any sort of care for the value of Scripture.

  2. Comment by skotiad on April 28, 2013 at 8:38 am

    The so-called “transgendered” obviously are not objective about the issue of same-sex “marriage,” since they clearly have a vested interest in bashing the whole concept of normality, urging people to accept that down is up, up is down, that a circle can be a square, that 2 + 2 = 6, etc. I hardly call it an “insane fixation” to make a case for clear thinking and common sense. In fact, although Christians often quote the Bible in their discussions of this issue, a case can be made for traditional marriage without even referring to God, Christ, or the Bible. Nature obviously created 2 genders – JUST 2 – and the bodies were clearly intended to complement and complete each other. That is something 2 men or 2 women cannot do, just as they cannot blend their DNA to create a child. A person is born male or female, “hard-wired” into the DNA, and whether someone accepts that or not is a moot point, just as a fair-skinned Scot may believe he is “really” a swarthy Italian, but the facts say otherwise. Men are men, women are women, different physically, emotionally, and mentally. The fact that 2 men can have pleasurable sex together is hardly the basis for marriage, since and man and his daughter could also have pleasurable sex together, but everyone thinks that is sick and perverted, because it is. Radicals have great belief in the power of words – just say that two men are “married” and that makes it so. Facts are stubborn things. Christians are called to love our neighbor, but also to love the truth. God doesn’t ask us to shut down our brains and ignore the obvious.

    I gather this Caroline Hall person has zero interest in being a faithful Christian, she is motivated by the desire to valid the lifestyle she has chosen, plus her hatred for the evangelicals she has distanced herself from. I would say the term “insane fixation” fits her to a tee, bashing a large group of very decent people who, in her view, are “haters” because they don’t approve of her immoral lifestyle.

  3. Comment by Noel Weymouth on April 25, 2013 at 7:08 am

    I wouldn’t get so cocky about the demise of Christianity if I were you, it’s been around 2000 years and it’s an anvil that has worn out a lot of hammers. You seem to gloat that our “time is short,” but we tend to look at things in the long term, i.e., eternity. Evangelicals do care about the “value of Scripture,” since we take it as a guide to life in this world. If you think the mission of Christians is to feed the hungry, heal the sick, and give our approval to every sexual abnormality, give yourself an education and crack open that New Testament. The Jesus of the Bible isn’t even remotely like the fictional Jesus of the liberals’ wild imaginations.

    Noel Weymouth, male (born that way)

  4. Comment by Ray Bannister on April 26, 2013 at 6:59 am

    I read the New Testament in both English and the original Greek text, but I’m not familiar with the Scriptures that command Christians to condone homosexuality. What verses are you referring to?

    This isn’t a “fear reaction,” as you put it, just the conviction that Christians ought to live our lives according to the Bible, particularly verses like “Do not be conformed to this world” and “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong.” It also condemns hypocrisy, which is what this Ms. Hall is guilty of, since she accuses Christians of being “political,” when it’s pretty obvious her own religion is hyper-politicized – the old double standard.

  5. Comment by cleareyedtruthmeister on April 26, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Evangelicals do not have an “insane fixation” on homosexuality, they are simply responding to the insane fixation modern liberals have with it. What are they supposed to do, just shut up when people trash Biblical teaching?

    Although we can all do much more, from a statistical standpoint conservative Christians donate more of their time and money to charitable works than do liberals.

    Ergo, the idea that conservative Christians are obsessed with homosexuality and do not aid the poor is a myth generated largely by the liberal media.

    In addition to media conditioning, part of the reason many people buy into those myths is we have lost the capacity for independent thought.

  6. Comment by Jon Andrew on April 27, 2013 at 7:57 am

    That last paragraph is partially true as far as how the Episcopal Church should frame their relation to the world and society, but perhaps a bigger question may be just the very definition of Christianity and what is set out as the basic dogmas of the faith—in both belief and practice. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems telling that the Episcopal delegation could not unanimously vote on a resolution affirming the divinity of Christ (some years ago—have to check when and which convention this was). This goes back to the First Ecumenical Council… The issue of homosexuality is really a symptom of a much bigger question of the essentials of the faith, how that defines authority, and how practice should follow on that belief. I only hope that the Anglican/Episcopal Churches, should they care to hold on to the ancient dogmas and beliefs of Christianity, may take a close look at the past in relation to the present and really think through these things a bit more… instead of flat-out catapulting to whatever political and social demands of the day are out there.

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