On Monday, I learned about another Robinson -- Bishop Gene Robinson has been invited to deliver the invocation at the opening event of the inauguration festivities next Sunday. I first learned it at Of Course I Could Be Wrong and I wasn't sure it was true until I checked The Lead at Episcopal Cafe. At The Lead, Jim Naughton, who apparently broke the story, reports that it became the biggest blog event of the day at 4:30 Monday afternoon.
There were a few other things in the past few days that I wanted to take note of. Last week, our local weekly The Westsider had an aricle about a shelter for homeless LGBTQ teenagers here in New York City. It's not online, so I can't link to it, and we gave the paper to someone in our church who works with homeless people. The article makes the point that for these kids there are more pressing issues than same-sex marriage (or ordination of bishops and other clergy.) Bishop Robinson is quoted in the Concord Monitor as having told Beliefnet "The difficult thing is that [Rick Warren]'s said, and continues to affirm, some horrendous things about homosexuality." The horrendous things that Bishop Gene is referring to lead to horrendous consequences -- as witness the incidence of suicide among LGBTQ youth, the family rejection that many of the homeless LGBTQ youth have experienced, and violence against LGBTQ persons.
On Saturday I learned, also from MadPriest, that a church in my home town had lost its bid to keep the property ater the congregation seceded from the Episcopal Church. The Church of the Good Shepherd, on the south sde of Binghamton, is one of three parishes in the Diocese of Central New York that withdrew from the Episcopal Church at least in part in protest over the consecration of Bishop Robinson in 2003. Good Shepherd, whose rector is Matt Kennedy, is the only one of the three parishes which actually pursued the legal battle to the end (see this article in the Press & Sun-Bulletin.) Monday or Tuesday, I read in a post by Matt Kennedy over at Stand Firm (I will not link there) that they were given a a little more than a month to vacate the premises -- and they had to pay while they stayed. Well, on the church blog Matt reports they have found a disused RC rectory to house the Kennedys. and the gym of a Baptist Church for Sunday worship -- both within less than a mile and a half of their old church.
In a comment at OCICBW last week, Matt Kennedy wrote
Say what you will about me and my parishioners...as you have...but believe it or not, in all sincerity, we believe those who promote same sex sexual behavior are, albeit unintentionally, hurting people by leading them away from Christ.I certainly believe he is sincere -- I also think he is dead wrong in his approach to the bible and the true nature of orthodox Christianity. I also think he is wrong about Anglicanism, but this is ground that has been contested at least since the days when Richard Hooker and his cousin Walter Travers preached at the Temple Church in the 1570's. I hope to write more about the significance of contested ground, but for now I want to take a close look at Matt Kennedy's statement.
"Those who promote same sex sexual behavior" is an odd choice of words. It isn't about promoting any kind of sexual behavior. It's about affirming people, accepting who they are, and where necessary encouraging them to accept who they are.
Affirming people does not lead them away from Christ. Telling people that God hates what they do when what they do is intimately related to who they are does indeed lead many people away from Christ.
I'll leave it to others to talk about why it is right for Gene Robinson to be a bishop in the Episcopal Church and wrong for Matt Kennedy to teach that same sex sexual behavior is contrary to God's will.
I conclude with part (slightly updated) of a 17th century prayer written when there was contested ground in the church:
O God, the Creator and Preserver of all humankind, we humbly beseech thee for all sorts and conditions of people; that thou wouldest be pleased to make thy ways known unto them, thy saving health unto all nations. More especially we pray for thy holy Church universal; that it may be so guided by thy good Spirit, that all who profess and call themselves Christians may be led into the way of truth and hold the faith in unity of spirit, in the bond of peace, and in righteousness of life.