Weakening the church: The Bible and Rev. Robinson

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The Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News, Aug. 7, 2003 (Opinion)

If one possesses sufficient strength, then precedents make for minor obstacles, to paraphrase F. Scott Fitzgerald.

In America today, tradition and precedent, like the decaying obelisks of some ancient and long-forgotten culture, are toppling with ease against the force of mighty winds stirred by the volatile passions of our ever fluid and intemperate society.

To shield our culture from the full force of these periodic whirlwinds, our forefathers established certain institutions that would serve as giant rock walls, breaking the gales against their firm, broad surfaces. The most important of these institutions has always been the church, whose resistance to change has been weakened by fissures that, long unrepaired, now run deep into its foundation.

When the Rev. Gene Robinson, who openly defies his own churchís doctrine by having a fully active romantic relationship with another man, sought to become the Anglican bishop of New Hampshire, he was challenging the churchís commitment to ancient (and, in 1998, recently reaffirmed) moral teachings.

Though the Bible says nothing about homosexuality as defined today ó because the notion that sexual preferences are determined genetically had never entered the mind of anyone until this century ó it does offer clear and undeniable prohibitions against sex 1) outside of marriage, and 2) with someone of the same sex.

It has been argued that these restrictions are essentially ritualistic and are therefore outdated. But most churches, including the Anglican church, hold that they are moral teachings, and therefore timeless and universal.

By confirming Rev. Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, the leadership of the American Anglican Church, both lay and clerical, has declared that at least one of the Bibleís long-accepted teachings is invalid.

The fear of traditionalists, and we count ourselves in that camp, is that once this is done, there will be no end to the rewriting of the Bible based on the political preferences of the moment. This, not the placement of a homosexual in a leadership position in the church, is why the confirmation of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire is troubling.

We have no doubt that homosexuals have served the Christian faith ably throughout the millennia and will continue to do so. But when a major tradition-guarding institution whose authority is based on the Bible calls into question the very validity of the Bible itself by promoting to bishop someone who publicly contradicts Biblical teachings, then traditional morality itself is seriously weakened.

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