The Gay Bishop, God’s Work, And Civil Rights

By all accounts the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the gay Episcopal Bishop-elect, is a nice man. Still, I must confess to some discomfort when confronted with people who persevere in difficult, divisive activity because they are convinced they are carrying out God’s will. Although I share their hatred of slavery, for example, I’m sure John Brown and William Lloyd Garrison would also have made me uncomfortable.

Rev. Robionson was asked recently if it wouldn’t be better if he stepped aside in the interest of preserving unity in the Anglican communion, and he replied, according to an article in the New York Times, that he believed God wanted him to go forward. “I do have this sense I’m supposed to go forward,” he said, “and I do feel that’s coming from God and not my own ego.”

Although I admire people who remain true to their convictions, what makes me uncomfortable about Rev. Robinson’s comments is the implication they may carry that those Anglicans who oppose his confirmation as Bishop are opposing God’s will. That’s the trouble with conflicts over religion: they turn into religous conflicts.

While I’m at it, and to return to a more familiar theme, I was also struck by another of Rev. Robinson’s comments. When asked why he thought there was so much anger at his selection, he stated that

he believed it was a sign that patriarchy was ending in the church as women, minorities and gays were more fully included. The election of a gay man as bishop is a “threat to the way things have been done, when white men have pretty much been in charge of everything,” he said.

I will leave it to others more versed in theology than I to explain how the inclusion of “minorities” has been a threat to “patriarchy,” but it is at least clear that Rev. Robinson equates his case and cause with civil rights struggles in the past. But this attempt, to me, presents an interesting question: what is the underlying civil rights principle to which Rev. Robinson would appeal?

Before the rise of “diversity” the answer would have been clear. The principle would have been clearly understood to be that no one should be subjected to adverse (or favorable) treatment because of race, or gender, or sexual preference. But now that principle has been superseded, at least for large segments of elite opinion (and, legally, in college admissions), by the “diversity” principle, which requires a regulatory thumb on at least the racial and ethnic scales.

I wonder whether the would-be Bishop means that gays should not be discriminated against because they are gay, or that they should actively be sought out by a “gay-conscious” policy of promoting sexual diversity.

Say What? (5)

  1. Michelle Dulak October 23, 2003 at 8:53 pm | | Reply

    I will leave it to others more versed in theology than I to explain how the inclusion of “minorities” has been a threat to “patriarchy” [ . . .]

    The interesting thing from that perspective is that all the high-level opposition I’ve heard of to Robinson’s appointment has come from the Third World parts of the Anglican Communion. The European & American bishops seem on the whole cool with it.

  2. Bill Wells November 3, 2003 at 2:39 pm | | Reply

    It’s clear from this that nothing matters more to those who are politically correct than the promotion and advocacy of homosexuality. They are even willing to destroy a denomination to get their way. Robinson said anyone who leaves will be “welcomed back.” It is not up to him to welcome anyone back. His arrogance and willfullness appear to be without limits.

    There is a precedent for a church that “celebrates” homosexuality and promotes the worship of the instincts – it was called Baal worship, and there is plenty of information about it in the Bible. Of course, that wouldn’t be trendy.

  3. CPT_Doom November 7, 2003 at 4:43 pm | | Reply

    Actually, Mr. Wells, there is a denomination in this country and around the world with a special ministry to those of us who are gay and lesbian and abandoned by the churches of our youth – it is called the Metropolitan Community Church.

    It is also sad that you cannot see the real concerns of those who believe that we who are gay and lesbian should be accepted into society as full and complete human beings. There is no nefarious “promotion” or “advocacy” of homosexuality, as homosexuals are born, not made. What is happening, and this is denied by those who claim to be Christians but fail to live Christian lives (Jerry Fallwell, Pat Robertson, etc.) is that a large percentage of our country, who are gay and lesbian or who have friends/family members/neighbors/co-workers who are gay or lesbian, want us to be regarded as human beings, and want our lives valued. It is a simple request, but one that is constantly blocked by those who claim that certain passages in the “bible” should trump human understanding and human knowledge of the past 4,000 years.

    We no longer condemn those who are divorced, but St. Paul certainly did. We no longer believe that women are their husband’s property, but early Christians certainly did. A church can and should change when injustice is brought to light, but there will always be unwilling to do so.

    So, the Anglicans may schism, just as the Baptists did 150 years ago. Just as then, the schism will have the moral side (Northern Baptists, Christians who believe gays and lesbians are human beings) and the immoral side (Southern Baptists, those who are anti-gay).

  4. Min. KCB August 24, 2004 at 5:10 am | | Reply

    Though I do not hold any spite, dislike or any other negative feeling toward the homosexual community, the reality of the matter still stands that the alternative lifestyle is outside of the will of God. I don’t care how you look at it, or in what way you attempt to manipulate scripture to support your DESIRED lifestyle, it is stll a sin. That being the case I cannot see anyone who is homosexual holding any office of Episcopacy let alone the Presbytery. How can you lead people in their attempts to holiness, and you yourself are not living Holy.

    I have too much respect for the Bishopric to even entertaint the idea of a homosexual executing the office. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m not for oppression or dscrimination, however you cannot generalize the things of God to be considered in the same arena of basic civil rights and sociological discrimination. You’re talking about an issue of Holiness, when you get to the core of it, not wheter or not a gay man can be a Prelate.

  5. […] deal of the opposition to gay rights is not based on antipathy to gays but on a not unreasonable fear that their demand for equal rights is just a prelude to demands for preferential treatment. […]

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