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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Let Me Count the Ways

The AP story from May 4, 2014, opens with this paragraph.
The first openly gay Episcopal bishop, who became a symbol for gay rights far beyond the church while deeply dividing the world's Anglicans, plans to divorce his husband.
What's wrong with this picture? Let me count the ways.

There is the phrase, "openly gay Episcopal bishop". Scripture is not unclear when it requires that "A bishop then must be ... the husband of one wife" (1 Tim 3:2). Read that in as many different ways you would like. It cannot be read to say "a bishop must be the wife of one husband." But that's a different question, isn't it? Yes. So, it cannot be read to say, "A bishop must be the husband of one husband." No matter which way you translate the text, the context, the intent, the content, a bishop (KJV) must be "the husband of one wife." You can read that to mean "a one-woman man" or "only ever married to one woman" or perhaps several other possibilities, but none of them include "the husband of one husband."

There is the phrase "plans to divorce". Without reference to "gay" or not, we can clearly see from Scripture that God hates divorce (Mal 2:16). When they asked Jesus what the valid reason was for divorce, His reply was, "What God has put together let no man separate" (Matt 19:6) and assured them that the only reason there was an allowance for divorce in the Law was "because of your hardness of heart" (Matt 19:8). Without determining whether or not this particular thing is actually marriage, it cannot be questioned as to what God thinks about divorce, so "plans to divorce" must not be in the language of a church leader.

There is the phrase "deeply dividing the world's Anglicans." The biblical term for it is varied, depending on the translation, but it isn't unclear. It is "a factious man", "an heretick", "a schismatic", one who causes division (Titus 3:10-11). The Bible says without apology, "After warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned."

You see, then, without addressing the meaning of marriage or the morality of homosexual behavior, there is already a host of problems found in one sentence. That he retired in 2012 is vaguely helpful. That such a man ever served in the role of "bishop" anywhere is largely disturbing. That a church body ("Episcopals") would allow someone who fails the 1 Cor 6:9-10 test and the standards required by 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1 for an overseer of this office (Note that he suffered from alcoholism, which, by itself is sad, but laid alongside 1 Tim 3:3 and Titus 1:7 is an additional problem.) as well as all these other difficulties to serve as an "overseer" is profoundly disturbing.

The Episcopal Church is "urging prayer for Robinson and Andrew." May I add my agreement here. Since they "went out from us" ("that it might become plain that they all are not of us") (1 John 2:19) and since in their current condition they "will not inherit the kingdom of God" (1 Cor 6:9-10), I, too, urge prayers on their behalf, that "God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth" (2 Tim 2:25). Prayer for a self-professed church body intent on accepting as leadership that which directly violates the Word of God is another matter.

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