Sunday, June 08, 2008

Why I left ECUSA, Part 4: The end

The fourth in a series outlining why my family and I believe it is time for us to leave the Episcopal Church (read Part 1: A brief history, Part 2: A crack appears, and Part 3: The deluge)

I am a wife

And a mother.

God created those roles for me, and for thousands of years society has understood their necessity.

Judaism and Christianity specifically have held both roles up for honor and respect as a reflection of God’s plan for men and women. The idea of marriage—husband and wife committed to each other for life to provide a stable, caring environment for raising children and to nurture each other—is the fundamental, foundational structure of our society. Even those cultures that practice polygamy recognize the necessity of both mother and father to raise healthy children. And I believe that it is only through monogamy that women and children are best protected and regarded as more than just possessions.

But my church—and my bishop—have decided that both of these roles, wife and mother (as well as husband and father), are not important or even necessary.

The designation of “wife” is now in California (for the short term, at least) eliminated and officially relabeled “Party A” or “Party B,” as though a lifetime commitment to “honor and cherish” is now a short-term business contract—and my bishop thinks this is just fine.

In fact, Bishop Mathes supports it.

And the role of mother is now optional, a “choice,” a convenience. ECUSA’s affiliation with a group that supports abortion, including partial birth abortion, means that they see children as a commodity, a possession. And if a mother and father are not both necessary to raise a child, if two women or two men will do just as well (even though studies suggest otherwise), then being a mother is meaningless. What I can offer my child can just as easily be offered by a man, according to ECUSA. Of course, this is not borne out by experience, but let’s ignore that because it doesn’t fit neatly into the new paradigm of interchangeable sexes and the commodification of children.

We were hoping to stay at our parish, a wonderful place to worship, until the Current Unpleasantness subsided/was resolved/went away. Our donations were directed so that nothing we gave was going to the national church. When Bishop Mathes brought lawsuits against those churches in the diocese that had left and kept their property, I first began to realize that our leaving might be necessary. We stopped contributing directly to our church because we did not want to fund anything that might be used to sue other churches, but I was prepared to stay and fight—I read Little Stone Bridges

Little Stone Bridges by Sarah Heyand even ordered a TitusOneNine mug

TitusOneNine mug by Kendall Harmon
and a Stand Firm t-shirt.

Stand Firm t-shirt
I was a delegate to diocesan conventions and kept myself informed on what was happening locally and nationally.

But, because I am a wife and a mother and my husband is a father (the best one ever!), once Bishop Mathes made his declaration of support for the elimination of marriage (and that’s what he did—his statement is his admission that he thinks God’s perfect plan for society and for individuals, one of God's first creations, is irrelevant, even unnecessary), we realized we could no longer bring our child up in the Episcopal Church and remain in Christ.

I believe the Episcopal Church as an institution, based on the words and actions of most of her church leadership and her bishops, has left the Christian faith. Not just because of their corporate stance on same-sex blessings/marriage, but because that stance reveals their inability to be part of a global community, and a cultural arrogance that in no way resembles the humility of Christ.

Even if we wanted to stay to remain a voice against these innovations, as responsible parents we felt we could not put a teenager in that culture. He will get enough of the "world" in school and everyday life, he doesn’t need to be part of a larger church that succumbs to the same zeitgeist.

Church should be where he hears what God desires for all of us in the best of all possible worlds. Reality may fall short and we will make mistakes, but we need to know what the expectations are, what the promises say, and what the rewards will be. As parents, we must try our best to provide a solid, faithful understanding of God and His Word for our child, to put him in a place where a relationship with Jesus is encouraged and recognized. To do less is to reject the blessings that God has given us through our son.

So our decision to leave ECUSA came down to

  • our obligations as parents

  • public statements by Bishop Mathes (and other California bishops) that undercut the biblical understanding of marriage and the role of male and female (after years of not listening to the greater Church on these issues), and

  • our inability to continue to financially support our church because of diocesan lawsuits
And right now, we are parents—first.

Coming: Part 5: A new beginning. . .


Marie at Rez said...

"they see children as a commodity, a possession."

No they see the fetus as an ostacle, a hinderance to their plans for their life, instead of the gift from God that it realy is.


Matthew said...

The Episcopal Church is in many ways stuck at the emotional maturity of a nineteen year old. The Church is about what I want at this instance without any real reference to anyone or anything else.

If I want to have sex with someone else, then that should be okay. If I want to have an abortion, that's fine. And at all costs I must hip, trendy, fashionable and with it. Even the ongoing litigation can be explained by the teenage maturity model.

What makes all very sad is when you realize what the average age of an Episcopalian is.....

Judith L said...

Excellent analysis, Anne. Deeply personal, and yet widely applicable.

Anne Coletta said...

Marie at Rez - I think you're right as well. First, they consider whether it's convenient and if not, the baby is an obstacle, almost the enemy. Then if it is convenient, the baby is a possession, a commodity.

Good point, Matthew. Some people never grow up!

Thanks for your comment, Judith - always appreciated!

Anam Cara said...

Just found your blog. I too am from a Charleston Huguenot family. I was married using the marriage service from the Green serives for trial use, though (1971).

In 1996 I realized that I had not left the Episcopal Church, it left me. After a 6 year search, I found my way home to the Orthodox Church. My husband has gone to CANA, one child still Epsicopal, and the others have gone non-denominational. Of the six of us in ECUSA, only one is left.

I don't know where part 5 will take you, but if you are still looking, there are Western Rite Orthodox churches, mainly under Antioch. A quick google will help you find one.

Anonymous said...

Our path mirrors yours. I was hoping to read more of your BSF and other Bible study experiences. For us, that was key. We'd put a good 5 yrs into BSF and felt it kept us safe from the apostasy. BUT it also highlighted the gap/voids in our local Parish. Worst part was when the priest (now a bishop) tried to horn in on our quasi BSF at our parish.
That is, as BSF vets, we decided to bring some Bible study to the church; he found our reliance on scripture too "fundamentalist" and thus injected some puffy / baloney guidebooks (the "how do you feel" guides). And once we hit prohibitions on adultery or other sexual sins....he hit the roof.

So for the same reasons as you (largely to keep our kids from going atheist) we left