Just Wondering about GC2003...
I. Barely Abstract Considerations
What is the Scriptural justification for forbidding the ordination of an unrepentant, active homosexual?
According to those who think all homosexual activity whatsoever is sinful, that question is an instance of a broader one: What is the Scriptural justification for forbidding the ordination of an unrepentant sinner?
It seems plausible answers will stress the fact of obstinance: the sinner has not repented. Here you have a sinner who knows he does wrong and continues doing it anyway without sincerely regretting it and wishing to do otherwise.
Now, what is the justification for forbidding the ordination of a sinner? Is there any? This is clearly a trickier business. In a sense, we are all sinners--and anyone out there still praying the Prayer of Humble Access may add "unworthy to gather the crumbs from under the Lord's table" or some equivalent. Unworthy indeed: if anyone is ordained, sinners are ordained, no? What matters is not that they are sinners--actively sinning--so much as that they repent of their sins; and if they continue to sin--as they will of course--they continue in repentance.
So to be a sinner is not to be an unrepentant sinner, and that makes a difference when it comes to ordination. What are some necessary conditions for repenting of a type of sinful activity, X?
I think all would agree "knowing X is sinful" would be among the necessary conditions. Those who do not know X is sinful are not in a position to repent of it: even if they somehow went through the motions, it would not count. Clearly one can be a sinner with regard to a type of action, X, and not know that about oneself. Call such a person an ignorant sinner. Is there any Scriptural justification for forbidding ignorant sinners from being ordained? I don't know.
We might ordain an ignorant sinner, especially if we and he do not know that he is sinning in doing X-type activities. On the other hand, if he does not know he is sinning, but we do, and we ordain him anyway--well, it seems we would be at fault in some degree. At least a case to that effect could be made.
Suppose the relevant parties have done their homework sincerely and prayerfully, examining text and tradition, Scripture and Fathers. If no party thinks he sins, there would be no culpability in ordaining him, even if he were a sinner who had not repented of the type of sin in question (not recognizing it as sinful from a well-informed conscience).
It may be the community--including the one ordained-- will have some learning to do about activity X. And when it learns X is sinful, it--including the ordained--should repent.
II. A Conservative Estimate
It seems to me a critic of GC2003 could well take this kind of view about TEC. The critic would think all homosexual activity is sinful, period. And she would object to the ordination of an actively homosexual man. But suppose her case falls flat; the other church persons around her debate her but are not convinced of her arguments or use of Scripture. She tries her best; they do too. All to no avail! She does not convince them, they do not convince her. The ordination goes ahead, and he has not repented.
Of course: he does not think it sinful. Nor do his advocates. And they have fulfilled their epistemic responsibilities. They may be wrong; they may even be in a state of material heresy with respect to whether homosexual activity is sinful. But for all that--they would not be in a state of sin from ordaining him, provided they are sincerely doing what they think is right, and their thinking is justified. Their being in a state of heresy does not rise to formal heresy; it does not include obstinance or willful ignorance. The critic of GC2003, it seems to me, could well take such a view of the Episcopal Church in its ordaining VGR.
It also seems to me most critics of GC2003 have not taken such a view of TEC; they see it rather as being in a state of formal heresy, as if it were willfully ignorant or acting out of malice, doing what it knows is wrong. That imputation of sin seems to me deliberately perverse.