Who gets to make the rules?

Cal Thomas

8/7/2003 12:00:00 AM - Cal Thomas

An Episcopalian friend of mine, reacting to the elevation of an openly homosexual priest to the office of bishop, said to me, "If you're a (BEG ITAL) heterosexual clergyman and you're having sex outside marriage, you can be expelled. But if you're a (BEG ITAL) homosexual clergyman having sex outside marriage, they rejoice."

Most denominations that call themselves Christian take the Bible as their text for spiritual and relational instruction. Some in the Episcopal Church take a liberal view of the Bible, just as some do of the U.S. Constitution - it must be constantly updated to suit cultural trends. This view lends itself to constant misinterpretation and confusion. Eventually, it leads to religious or political heresy.

Ancient Scripture sets out the parameters for all human sexual expression. In order to get around the restrictions that limit sexual activity between a man and a woman within a marital bond, liberal theologians have had to construct a theology that says the Bible does not really mean what it clearly says. It is the same with the Constitution, which is interpreted by liberals to allow for the use of God's name in vain as an act of protected speech, but prohibits the favorable use of His name under the same First Amendment.

If Scripture is to be circumvented in the matter of homosexuality and not disqualify one who seeks the office of bishop, what about divorce? The newly approved bishop, V. Gene Robinson, who had been described by The New York Times in deliciously politically correct language as "the gay bishop-elect," left his wife and two children to take up with a man.

In what is regarded by most Christians as the job description for high church office, Paul the Apostle wrote to his young protege Timothy that an "overseer" (or minister) must be "above reproach, the husband of one wife," and "must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect." Paul then asks an important question: "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?" (1 Timothy 3:2-5)

Members of the Episcopal Church, who give their money and their presence in the pews, are being asked to accept a bishop who is not qualified for the office (nor even for the priestly one he holds). Does the Episcopal leadership (and the leadership of the parent Anglican Church) want to send the message that the Bible says only what some people want it to say? Some of Robinson's supporters call him a "holy man." What could that possibly mean since "all have sinned and fallen short of God's glory" (Romans 3:23)? Perhaps holiness, like the word "is" during the Clinton administration, depends on what one means at a given moment.

People who regard Scripture as having passed from God to man without error have warned for years what happens when these texts are treated as something less than accurate. Once compromises are made (and I'm not talking about stoning adulterers, though such a practice might be one way to implement term limits in Washington), all things become not only possible, but probable.

If God is not God and if man says God didn't say what He has said, then what standard is to be used to judge anything? It is more than a slippery slope. It is slippery theology with potential consequences that are eternal. Who gets to decide, God or man? If man, then man becomes God and God is diminished, at least in man's eyes.

If a practicing homosexual priest who divorced his wife and walked out on his children is deemed a fit leader for the Episcopal Church, members are going to have to ask themselves a serious question: Does their denomination represent the will of their God and, if not, why don't they abandon a church that has clearly abandoned Him?