Clarity was our prayer as General Convention 2006 approached. No one can dispute that prayer has been answered in spades. In fact the actions of General Convention combined with ever unfolding events have given notice to the world that The Episcopal Church refuses to draw back from its allegiance to self.
Last week the Presiding Bishop gave an interview to the BBC that was a blatant attempt to change the subject from the problem with what is being done to who was doing it. Anyone hearing it knew she was issuing an invitation for open season on those who would oppose the revisionist agenda of The Episcopal Church.
BBC: It must be a pretty lonely place though to know that no one else quite like you is now going to be elected to be a bishop.
KJS: Well perhaps not in the immediate future. But he is certainly not alone in being a gay bishop. He is certainly not alone in being a gay partnered bishop. He is alone in being the only gay partnered bishop who’s open about that status.
BBC: In your own church?
KJS: Within our own church and within the Anglican Communion as a whole.
What parent hasn’t heard this sentiment from an angry teenager stomping her foot and saying “All my friends are breaking the stupid rules and not being punished, so why am I in trouble?” Nevertheless, you just knew that someone would take her words as a challenge to be met.
It didn’t take long. A revisionist blogger has published some information about alleged sexual exploits of a bishop in the Church of England which, if true, is very distressing. I won’t link to the site but you can find it on your own if you are so inclined. The blogger offers no proof evidently assuming that his word alone is sufficient. The blogger insists that he would normally never stoop to such a low level as to “out” another individual, however, based on the Presiding Bishop’s recommendation he is making an exception for this bishop. The reason for this sudden need to come forward? Well, it certainly wasn’t the 15 year old sexual exploits detailed by the blogger. No, it was anger that the English bishop dared hold a conservative point of view. Even worse in this blogger’s eyes was his support of others who hold to that view, especially, Bishop John-David Schofield.
Make no mistake, the anger of the revisionists is real and it is deep and it is boiling over.
There is no mention in the article if the bishop in question continues unrepentant in the alleged acts; only an implication that having participated in homosexual acts, it is now hypocritical to take an Orthodox view or support others in their stand for Biblical Authority. If one follows this logic, it means once you have sinned, you may never condemn that particular activity as a sin. Every bank robber must condone theft, every unfaithful spouse must embrace adultery. Repentance is never even considered. Since we are all sinners in desperate need of the redeeming grace and salvation of Our Lord and Savior, this would be bad news indeed.
Of course, this is really not news, is it? The revisionist are simply taking a page out of the LGBT playbook which says you are welcome to your sins provided they do not interfere with their agenda regardless of how morally depraved those sins may be. From a secular point of view that is bad enough but when you seek to apply that same standard from a Christian standpoint, the clarity becomes overwhelming. The message has become a threat, spiritual blackmail, if you will – the only way to escape seeing your sins in neon lights is to uphold the liberal agenda or don’t sin. It’s a little fuzzy as to whether it is the liberal view that gives you a pass or whether embracing your proclivities keeps them from being sins.
Just to be clear if the things the blogger accused the bishop of are true and he has not already repented of these actions, then he needs to be held accountable. It would not matter whether it was heterosexual indiscretions or homosexual or any of myriad sins that separate us from the love of God. There are sins aplenty to tempt us out there. Exactly, how are we fulfilling our Christian duty if we turn a blind eye to our brother’s sins unless, of course, the person in question makes you angry?
Others are speculating on the various reasons this anger has boiled into rage. One blogger discusses the Anglo-Catholic rage theory in the Church of England. (If you are interested in the URL, you can send a request through the Stand Firm email. To those of you who are familiar with the Anglican blogsphere, it’s where vulgarity and bad taste rise to a new level.)
So what’s the real story here? That a priest has fallen short of the glory of God? If so, it won’t be the first time and most likely not the last. No, the headline here is that the anger of the revisionist has turned into rage. You can be certain this is a shot across the bow of those who hold to a conservative, traditional view. What makes it even worse is that all it would take for an all-is-forgiven-return-to-the-fold welcome would be for their victim to embrace his sins and condemn as fundamental extremist those who hold to Scripture as the Word of God
We would all do well to remember that it is not the sin that makes the man. It is our willingness to repent of our sins and submit our lives to the Kingship of Christ that determines who we are. We should also ask if it is a matter of hypocrisy or the beginning of wisdom when one recognizes a sin in one’s life and refuses to call it holy?
Regular readers of Stand Firm will probably recognize the following words. They were written by a commenter at Stand Firm. They seem especially appropriate right now.
God loves us all very much, exactly as we are, and the Christian life is one of joy, celebration, and fulfillment. But I think the call to conversion is also an invitation to place ourselves, our very lives, between the hammer and the anvil as God undertakes the serious business of forging us into new creatures in Christ, to the extent that we will allow Him to do so. There is a real sense in which we simply must “count the cost” of discipleship if we are to become Christians at all. (And I have tremendous respect for the honest pagan who says, “No, I simply cannot believe any of this, and I am not prepared to live this way.” Such persons can be safely entrusted to the “Hound of Heaven.” I am confident that He too appreciates their honesty, and manages to catch up with quite a few of them!) We are always free to decide for ourselves that the cost is too great, but we are never free to decide on our own just what that cost is going to be. Ultimately, we must accept it upon God’s terms or not at all. He seems to want all of us, all that we are, and all that we have, and, unless we turn Him away, He simply will not settle for anything less. Our sexuality doesn’t change a thing.
Considering the Presiding Bishop’s challenge, we can only surmise this is the first of many such revelations. What should our reaction be?
Prayer. Prayer for the Church. Prayer for her leaders. Prayer for the ones releasing the information. Prayer for the ones about whom the information has been released. Prayer for all concerned. Let us pray that this becomes an opportunity to seek redemption and transformation from the One who knew us in our mother’s womb - the One who loves and forgives and saves.