05: Homosexual Bishops: A Theological Oxymoron
Just when we thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. American Episcopalian bishops celebrated our cultural moral collapse by receiving a divorced, openly–practicing homosexual into their august ranks. These meddlesome priests are out ahead of the cultural curve. Can marital status be refused to gays when those with the spiritual authority to administer the rite of marriage are already gay?
This radical sector of the Church has abandoned any objective moral standard for sexual behavior. Doubtless lesbian bishops are already waiting in the wings. A homosexual Roman Catholic priest states that the “only authentic spirituality is gay spirituality.” Some in mainline Protestant churches declare polyamory (“committed” group sex) to be “holy.” Will we soon see be–robed bishops ordaining a man accompanied by his adoring bi–sexual family of three “wives” and the other “husband”? Such an act will be lauded as a unique statement “of the unity of the church…[that] none of the rest of us can make,” to quote Douglas Theuner, retiring bishop of New Hampshire, reflecting on the unique “Christian witness” of Gene Robinson and his male lover.
The Anglican communion is in shock, but this state of affairs became inevitable when doctrinal discipline was abandoned. Broad churchmen could be lax when eccentric bishops denied “only” the doctrines (the divinity of Christ, his physical resurrection and even the biblical doctrine of God). But theological deviance often precedes moral degeneracy. Ideas have consequences. We react once the moral cat is out of the theological bag, but by then, there is little to be done. An unbiblical view of God inevitably leads to the justification of homosexuality.
People are bending over backwards to be polite. Some optimistically speak of separated brethren who will come “back together.” English Primate Rowan Williams declares both that the ordination of Robinson was done in “good faith,” and that “the effects will have to be confronted with honesty.” Will he ever ask the impolite but necessary question: “what is the nature of the ‘good faith’ of the American bishops?” A previous “primate,” the apostle Paul, named two kinds of faith: “the good teaching of Jesus Christ” and “the teaching of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1,6).
Paul used strong language because the false teaching he denounced in the Ephesian church eventually rejected the biblical doctrine of God and the very nature of Redemption itself — which is what the demonic world has always done. Today’s theological justification of homosexuality grows out of a similar apostasy. Honoring homosexuality fails to respect the structures of difference (night and day, waters and dry land, male and female) that God as Creator placed in the world. Such distinctions are dismissed as mythological nonsense of no theological importance. Normalizing homosexuality redefines the notion of sin and thus nullifies the Gospel account of Christ’s atoning death for sinners. It renders meaningless the biblical doctrines of repentance, holiness and sanctification and makes a mockery of the church as salt and light to the sinful world.
We are not dealing with another good faith version of Christianity, but, as Archbishop Williams should know, its antithetical opposite. A lesbian pastor, commenting on the conflict with the conservative wing in her church, said: “Maybe we are talking about a different god.” There are not too many gods about whom to talk. There is the transcendent God of theism and there are the nature gods of paganism. The espousal of homosexuality is certainly a “good faith” position if one’s belief system is that of pantheistic spirituality. But such apostasy cannot serve as a basis for re–established communion within the confines of a meaningful Christian confession. The apostle Paul refuses such a mixture: “What fellowship is there between the temple of God and idols?”
The issue of homosexual bishops brings us to an historic moment, with only two realistic options. 1. Either worldwide Anglicanism will split definitively over the issue of truth, on the basis of Scripture’s exclusive “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” and the Creed’s “one holy, catholic church,” or, 2. the old “live and let live compromise” will bring everyone back together on the basis of pseudo–Christian syncretism. In the final sermon at the Convention in August, 2003, when Robinson was voted in, presiding bishop Frank Griswold said: “This Convention has been about love…something has happened that is larger than any one perspective…” Here, in perfectly Postmodern fashion, truth and falsehood have become “perspectives,” and a new kind of church unity is unveiled. Citing not the Bible but the Sufi (pagan) poet Rumi, Griswold declared: “Out beyond ideas of wrong–doing and right–doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
“Back together” on this basis would be a momentous victory for unabashed paganism. The unifying field is no longer Christian truth but pagan oneness. Lutheran historian Frederic Baue’s prediction would become a reality. Baue asks: “What comes after the Postmodern?” He answers: “a phase of Western/world civilization that is innately religious but hostile to Christianity…or worse, a dominant but false church that brings all of its forces to bear against the truth of God’s Word.”