Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Gay Bishop Responds

The first openly gay bishop of the Episcopal Church, Gene Robinson, has responded to the ultimatum delivered by the Anglican Communion to the American church that it stop allowing the blessing of same-sex unions and the ordination of openly gay and lesbian priests:

New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson said in a statement that Episcopalians should set aside the Anglican Communion's request for now "and get on with the work of the Gospel" even at the risk of losing their place in the Anglican fellowship.

"Doesn't Jesus challenge the greater whole to sacrifice itself for those on the margins?" Robinson said. "Now is the time for courage, not fear."


"How will we explain this 'forbearance' to all those gay and lesbian Christians who have come to the Episcopal Church because, for the first time ever, they have believed that there is a place for them at God's table, not simply beneath it, hoping for fallen scraps?" he wrote.

Meeting these latest demands of the primates may not even avert a communion-wide split, so Episcopalians should decide in their own time whether accepting gays and lesbians is the right thing to do, he said.

"Does anyone believe that our full compliance with the primates' demands, our complete denunciation of our gay and lesbian members or my removal as bishop would make all this go away?" he asked. "For the first time in its history and at the hands of the larger communion, the Episcopal Church may be experiencing a little taste of the irrational discrimination and exclusion that is an everyday experience of its gay and lesbian members."

In a companion statement to gay and lesbian Christians, Robinson said they should not be "intimidated into doubting our own vision of God's will for the church."

This is exactly the right stance to take. Going backwards now would be breaking faith with those who have come into the church and found a place at the table. Better to force the worldwide body to reveal its true stripes and say to the world "homosexuals are not welcome in our church" than destroy the spirit of God that is welcoming home people who for too long have had no genuine spiritual home.

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