Day by Day

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

The Gay Bishop Brewha

I've been holding off from posting anything about the openly gay priest who has just been consecrated as a bishop in the Episcopal Church. Part of is was that everybody else and their brother had an opinion on it. Part of it was that I was raised Catholic, and I really don't give a hoot about the Episcopal Church, or who they consecrate. And part of it was that it just felt wrong, somehow. But I couldn't put my finger on why it felt wrong. So I've been mulling it over, doing some thinking, and on my way to work this morning, it hit me.

The problem is the very fact that this priest has allowed his sexuality to come to the forefront of who he is.

Now for most parishioners, we see the priest once a week, maybe twice a week if we're involved with the church. I never knew the sexuality of my priests, because their sexuality was not part of the job description. How did Robinson's sexuality ever come to the front? Did he openly announce it? "I'm gay, and you have to accept me!" That's Pride, a cardinal sin. Or is he promiscuous? Lust is a cardinal sin, and having pre-marital sex is definitely not in the church's preaching. His sexuality doesn't have anything to do with the way he performs his job, so how did it get pushed to the front? Well, I found this little tidbit from the article.

Though there have been gay bishops in the past, all were closeted when they were elevated to their posts. Robinson has been open about his 14-year relationship with his partner throughout the process in which he won election to the new post.

Alert! Alert! Danger, Will Robinson! Stay with me while I make a trip into Morality Land! For the sake of this discussion, when I refer to "Christians", I am most emphatically NOTreferring to asshats or idiots like Fred Phelps, Pat Robertson, Jerry Fallwell, or any other so-far-right-that-they're-medieval bible thumper, OK?

Pre-marital sex is a sin, according to just about every Christian church I can think of. No matter how long you're together, you're not supposed to have sex until you're married, right? Actually, if you want to get all biblical, homosexual acts are a sin, but most Christians are taught to "hate the sin, love the sinner". However, the Episcopal Church is asking it's congregations to now accept a person as Bishop who is committing not one, but two sins very openly in his daily life.

Priests are supposed to be role models. They are supposed to live their life as sin-free as possible, as an example to emulate. Bishops are even higher on the food chain, as it were. By elevating this man to the position of Bishop, you have just told your congregation "It's OK to sin! Check it out!" And that's not going to go over well with many people.

Had Robinson kept his sexuality and his relationship to himself, I doubt there would have been an issue. But once the cat was out of the bag, it became a big problem. You cannot tell people not to sin, but then elevate a person who openly sins on a constant basis to a high position in the church. In my opinion, the Episcopal Church messed up. Robinson chose to become a priest, and he chose to have his relationship even though it was at odds with what the church teaches. That's a problem right there. But exacerbating the problem by elevating him to Bishop is practically BEGGING for the church to split.

Robinson could have remained a priest, or a pastor, or any number of roles, and the church would have been fine. But this whole episode stinks to high heaven. I think that politics are heavily involved, and the last time politics and the church were intertwined, we got the Spanish Inquisition. (OK, that's an exaggeration, I admit, but you get the point.) More importantly, I think that the political forces in the church are forcing an agenda on other members, and I don't like it. I didn't like it when it happened in the Catholic church (which is why I'm not a practicing member), and I don't like it when I see it in other churches. It's not just one thing, it's the whole episode that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

But, in the end, it's the Episcopalian's burder to bear, not mine, and whether or not their church splits in half over this will be educational to watch.

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