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One Man Is Not Worth Bitterly Dividing A Church
The consecration of the Rev. Gene Robinson as Episcopal
Bishop of New Hampshire is history, despite the likely fracture of the
bonds between the Episcopal Church and the greater Anglican community,
and in spite of the predictable loss of much of the financial support
given to the church's national organization.
If ever there was a case of a personal agenda being set
above a greater good, this has to be it.
What a startling demonstration it also is of the pathetic
inability of Episcopalian leadership to just say, “No! Church unity
ranks higher than any personal agenda, and if anyone thinks that ‘anything
goes' in this church, let us say it again: No!”
When the full vote count taken on Aug. 8 on the Robinson
ordination is analyzed, we find that the Dioceses voting nay on the issue
represent 40 percent of the financial support pledged to the National
Church, where Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold racks up his
miter. He evidently expects those on the losing side
to fall back into line and to go along with him on his road over the cliff.
Not likely so. In everyday terms, he is the manager of a business with
some $148 million in annual sales. Having grossly offended 40 percent
of his customer base, he appears to assume his job is safe. Were he in
fact CEO of an enterprise that is responsive to its shareholders, his
next board meeting would probably feature a regime change, if not the
presence of one or two butterfly nets.
Furthermore, the assisted reality check the presiding
bishop ought to be experiencing is not limited to the disastrous consequences
of a bad decision. It also includes an unvarnished look at the cause of
the problem – the Rev. Gene Robinson himself. Only unarguable features
of “super worthiness” of the individual should be admissible
to justify the horrendous damage to the greater good of the Church that
is now imminent.
Are there any such features? Emphatically not. On the
contrary, when the varnish and the loving murmurs are removed and stilled,
we are left with a practicing male homosexual, probably an adulterous
husband, whose extramarital homosexual activity appears to have begun
while married by Christian vows to the mother of his children. And he
has the effrontery to expect others to accept his claim to have been released
from his marriage vows not by a legal divorce as is required of others,
but by a private “ceremony,” in which his ex-wife participated,
conducted by a friend. When he achieves his obvious next goal, which will
be same sex unions in churches in his New Hampshire Diocese, and partakes
of the same himself, he will then be able to add to his distinctions that
he is a practicing male homosexual adulterer who is also, in the eyes
of the law, a bigamist.
What a protagonist for whom to wreck the historic unity
of the Episcopal Church with its Anglican affiliation! What a personal
agenda to accept at the cost of the needed financial support of the Church
over which Bishop Griswold presides! What a questionable character to
be foisted into leadership ranks of the Church! If ever there will be
anyone wholly unable to say “No!” to the most egregious behavior
of which clergy and laity are capable, the putative Bishop Robinson will
be the one. Surely, his mantra will be “Well, why not?”
Those of us who have been deeply offended by the supine
leadership of Bishop Griswold, and who are terribly apprehensive for the
future of our Episcopal Church – as I have known it since 1937 –
we only wish that when the vote was taken in Minneapolis which brought
us to this situation, the proverbial note could have been passed aforehand.
I have in mind the famous story – which is perhaps
apocryphal – of the powerful, overbearing, highly-effective and
much admired corporate treasurer who was then selling himself to his board
to become president of the company. While he was extolling his own merits,
a note was passed quietly from place to place at the table. It stated
what everyone knew to be true but of which no one dared speak. All it
said was “He beats his wife.” The board elected someone else.
What should a note in Minneapolis have said? Never mind!
This is a family newspaper.
What seems clear to many of us is apparently not clear
to Bishop Griswold. The issue of gay clergy in our church is a completely
separate issue from that of gay membership as parishioners and their worship
in our churches. Membership and worship is not an issue and must never
be made an issue. The gay clergy issue is a leadership issue, where very
different standards should be applied. It is one thing to share worship
with persons having an inclination to exercise their sexuality in a way
contrary to the purpose of their gender design, and another thing to signal
that their behavior matters not, by including them in leadership ranks.
There is such a thing as a disqualifying defect, like
color blindness for a military aviator. It only takes a moment of reflection
on the physical fundamentals inherent in male homosexual activity to make
By Nov. 2, at least, Rhode Island Bishop Geralyn Wolf
sufficiently recovered her mettle and her concern for the greater good
that she did not “shove it in our faces” by attending the
consecration of the Rev. Robinson's unseemly election as bishop. Having
stated loud and clear her own prohibition against performing any form
of same sex union by her clergy “on or off Church property,”
how could she possibly have attend in support of the one person who has
exactly that as the next step on his agenda?
Full Credit Given for This Story To: The Day