He may be beloved of progressives everywhere, but the Rev. V. Gene Robinson, now bishop-elect of the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire, is a flaming fraud.
Insensitive, you say? Consider his conduct. Fifteen years ago, Robinson dissolved his marriage, dumped his wife, abandoned his two little girls and went off to shack up. He thus violated his marriage vows, flouted the teachings of the Anglican faith he was ordained to uphold and entered into a sinful liaison his church has always taught was perverted.
Having failed to conform his life to scriptural command, Robinson now demands that Scripture be reinterpreted to conform to his deviant life style. To see Robinson elevated to bishop is to be reminded that in the French Revolution, the Paris mob used the high altar at Notre Dame Cathedral to canonize the town tramp as their Goddess of Reason.
Now, with massive moral arrogance, Robinson protests that if the Episcopal faithful do not accept him as a consecrated bishop, they -- not he -- will have broken communion and be responsible for dividing the church.
Faithless to every vow he ever made, this impious cleric now proclaims undying faith to boyfriend Mark Andrew. My advice to Mark: Have his eminence fitted with one of those ankle bracelets that lets you know where the suspect is every moment of the day.
Robinson is being portrayed in the prestige press as a man of moral courage. But a man of moral courage would have stayed with his family, kept his vows, fought his temptations. Robinson ditched his family, dishonored his vows and disgraced himself. He should have been defrocked and excommunicated, not elevated to bishop.
As for the Episcopal faithful, they have little choice but to break communion. For if Robinson is morally qualified to be bishop, then Scripture is wrong. If Scripture is right, Robinson is a reprobate. You cannot teach it both ways. Either homosexual acts are immoral or the Episcopal Church has been teaching homophobia 600 years.
To witness the moral confusion at the Minneapolis convention of the American Episcopal Church is to understand which way the wind is blowing. Gay rights has become the civil rights cause du jour of our cultural elite, and politicians -- those most reliable of weather vanes -- are signaling recognition of the new correlation of forces.
Asked his own views on the morality of homosexuality, the president himself bobbed and weaved, saying, "we are all sinners" and should "respect each individual."
When Rep. Janice Schakowsky railed that he had just called gays sinners and should apologize, the White House meekly retorted that President Bush "doesn't believe in casting stones. He believes we ought to treat one another with dignity and respect."
In the Big Tent, the only mortal sin is being judgmental.
In his answer, however, the president had carefully added, "I think a marriage is between a man and a woman, and I think we ought to codify that."
This response was 100 percent political. An amendment to the U.S. Constitution to restrict marriage to a man and a woman is a wedge issue that can rip the Democratic Party apart. As long as President Bush sticks to his Briefing Book, he holds the commanding heights in what is likely to be the fiercest battle of the Culture War in 2004.
The Vatican, however, seeing the movement gaining ground, has issued a document of moral clarity calling civil unions "gravely immoral" and homosexual acts "deviant," and urging Christian leaders to oppose homosexual marriages and adoptions.
"There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family," declared the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Roman Church's watchdog of orthodoxy. Its 12-page guide, approved by John Paul II, states, "Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law."
With the Episcopal Church heading for schism, the Supreme Court discovering sodomy to be a constitutional right, President Bush maneuvering to back an amendment outlawing gay marriage, and the Pope denouncing homosexual unions as immoral and homosexual acts as deviant, there's no way this issue can be kept out of the campaign of 2004. Nor should it be.
But it does reveal a painful truth. America is again a house divided. The "don't ask, don't tell" moral community in which we grew up has dissolved irrevocably. Christianity, dying in Europe, is under siege in America. A paganism that holds homosexual unions to be "sacramental" -- the Rev. Robinson's term -- is ascending.
The sad sundered Episcopal Church is a mirror for America.