As I listened to the debate at General Synod about the blessing of same sex unions, I heard the concern about the unity of the church raised many times. It occurs to me that the unity we are so keen to preserve does not exist in the way that we perceive it. The reality is that our church is fractured and fragmented in countless ways, and always has been. After all, the Anglican denomination is a result of broken unity, as are any number of mainline denominations. Many denominations with which we are in ecumenical relationships are the product of disunity, and yet we are enriched by the various strengths those denominations offer. The Christian faith is continually being expanded by those who, in good conscience, dissent from the current teachings of the church and, like Martin Luther, choose to walk apart, saying, “Here I stand.” Therefore, I am not convinced that the disunity that is spoken of with such fear and distress is the dire consequence it is made out to be.
I became aware of an example of the disunity within the worldwide Anglican church when I visited my sister in Sydney and was faced with the fact that, if I wished to, I would not be able to serve as a priest within that diocese (Sydney remains the only diocese in Australia that does not ordain women). Thus, our unity has been fractured repeatedly throughout history, sometimes in small numbers that go unnoticed, sometimes in large numbers that create a new expression of Christianity. Therefore, holding forth that our “unity” must be upheld is simply an illusion that we have created for ourselves. Meanwhile, we sacrifice justice in order to preserve this illusion.
Rev. Krista Hilton