Monday, 23 June 2008

A N Wilsom: Gay Bishops have changed my mind

[...] For 30 years, Bishop Moore had a secret lover - whom Honor met after her father's death. The bishop dated other women, as well as having an alcohol-fuelled gay life. Obviously, for the daughter who revered her father, it was shattering stuff.

But the novelistic complexity of it all never once made me feel that he would have been a better man if - an impossible thing at that date - he had "come out" and continued in office as a practising gay bishop. Indeed, the "hypocrisy" and the torment were almost certainly part of what made him such a powerful pastor, preacher and bishop.

Then I turned to Bishop Gene Robinson's In the Eye of the Storm (Canterbury Press). This is the famous Bishop of New Hampshire, who is not being asked to the Lambeth Conference for fear of upsetting the bigots. Whereas I felt that the tormented Bishop Moore's life was marked with the sign of the cross, Bishop Gene's ministry appeared to come marked with one of those smiley faces with which some soppy girls dot their i's.

Like Bishop Moore, Bishop Robinson was married with children. Like Bishop Moore, he is alcoholic. But instead of thinking that torment and concealment and self-criticism are part of life, he seems to believe that the Christian gospel means God accepting everyone as they are - with no suggestion of denying the self, and taking up the cross.

Rather than seeing the collapse of his marriage as central to the story, he raises the issue of "sexuality" to a pinnacle of importance which makes it seem ridiculous. His book is that of an advanced egomaniac. He quotes 1 John 4:18 - "Perfect love casteth out fear" - thereby unintentionally reminding us of the old joke about the person who missed out the numeral 1 in that text, giving the quote not from John's First Epistle, but from the 18th verse of the fourth chapter of the Gospel: "The man whom thou now hast is not thy husband". Read more
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