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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 the connection.

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

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