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Don't repeat the mistake on page 847 of The Prayer Book . Here is what God really requires from the chosen people:
A series of essays in the Episcopal Church
The laughing academy formerly known as the House of Bishops of the Episcopal Church in the U.S.A. has distinguished itself after the manner of the United States Senate and other equivocating bodies in attempting to fool most of the people most of the time.
They fooled some journalists on the national desk of the New York Times, because an editor there wrote the following headline about the prelates' hand-wringing in New Orleans last week: Episcopal Bishops Reject Anglican Church's Orders. But further down in its own story, The Times wrote of a resolution adopted with only one dissenting vote:
The resolution affirmed the status quo of the Episcopal Church, both theological conservatives and liberals said. It states, for example, that it "reconfirms" a call to bishops "to exercise restraint" by not consenting to the consecration of a partnered gay bishop. It also says the bishops pledge not to authorize "any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions."
What off-shore buttinski bishops - mostly from Africa - want of their American counterparts is an affirmation that a) the Bible condemns homosexuality, and b) that the Bible is the governing authority of the Church because it contains the will of God. The Africans are joined in those demands by a handful of American bishops who continue to threaten schism if their brethren and sistern don't straighten up.
Oh, come on! What the House of Bishops' latest resolution amounts to is a great big hedge. It says, in effect, "Well, OK, the Bible is sort of the governing authority because we won't let another Gene Robinson don the purple. And, the Bible is sort of the Word of God because we won't create a liturgy to bless gay unions."
And a headline writer at the Mother Of All Newspapers sees that as defiant rejection? The reporter on the scene saw things more clearly and put the most charitable face on it, writing that the House of Bishops appeared to be trying to stake out a middle ground.
Inasmuch as the ecclesiastical solons seem inclined to the Bible, let them read, chant, intone or write 100 times on the blackboard the following verse from The Revelation to John (chapter 3, verse 15), to wit: I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
Thus when the inevitable mandate comes down to read at services the House of Bishops' pastoral letter that will be neither cold nor hot, I will save my congregation the trouble of spitting it out. I cannot and I will not affirm the bishops' attempt to seek a middle ground by saying that, for all practical purposes, they made a mistake in consenting to the consecration of V. Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire four years ago.
Bishop Robinson is what The Times' story called "partnered," or what the more prolix resolution of the bishops call one whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion. The facts of the matter are that Bishop Robinson has been in a faithful, loving and committed relationship with a man for almost 20 years - a fact that lay and clergy electors of the New Hampshire diocese knew well when they chose him as their pastoral leader.
By all accounts, Bishop Robinson is an exemplary pastor and administrator and much beloved by Episcopalians in the "Live Free or Die" state. His fellow bishops have shamed themselves in agreeing to "exercise restraint" by promising, basically, not to admit any more of his kind into their ranks.
And as for further promising not to authorize any public rites of blessing of same-sex unions, the bishops thus stand in opposition to the Baptismal Covenant of their own Prayer Book (see Book of Common Prayer 1979, p. 305) in which the church vows to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.
The bishops have strived for an unreachable compromise with uncompromising fundamentalists, and they have, as a result, disrespected the dignity of a number of human beings I know and love. Their names are: Charlene, Gloria, Terry, Paul, Jerry, Ralph, Steve, Jeff, Sean, Jim, Linda, Ellen - and the list goes on.
Of the 12 named above, two are distinguished priests, five are members of my congregation and the other five are dear and trusted friends. All are gay. All are Episcopalians. And I would, if asked, offer blessings upon their unions as quickly as I agreed to co-officiate at the weddings of my sons and daughters-in-law in 1991 and 1993.
You can choose: I'm either hot or cold on this issue, but damned well not lukewarm.
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