Sunday, August 10, 2003 4:50 pm Daniel J. Summers
Much has been made over the decision this week by the Episcopalian church's approval of its first openly gay bishop. A lot of the discussion I've seen on this has centered on how this may split the church. I don't see that, and here's why. The Bible is very clear about the qualifications of a minister (check out the books of 1st and 2nd Timothy if you've never read those.) The time that this became a big deal, in my opinion, was when this man was first approved as a deacon or priest. Should those who have responsibility of a congregation be held to any less of a standard that someone who has responsibility over those who lead congregations?
The Episcopal church, as an entity, has made its decision. Of course, as with many denominations, there are good folks who know what is right, and disagree with the leadership when they go astray. The biggest problem with this decision is that it sends the signal that certain precepts, in the Bible in black and white, can be discarded if they do not fit the way one feels. This bishop doesn't feel that the prohibition of homosexuality found in Leviticus and Romans really apply to us today. This is a very dangerous example, especially when it's being set by one that is recognized as a leader of a Protestant religion.
The Bible should serve as a guide, and a source that can tell us if our feelings are pulling us in the right direction. This exactly the thing that Paul talked about in Ephesians 4:22-23, when he says to put off the old nature, with its lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of our minds. If our feelings were a good guide for holy living, we wouldn't need the Holy Spirit to direct us. But, they aren't, and we do. I don't look down on the Episcopal church, either as a whole, or the people in it. I do pray that they will return to a more literal interpretation of the Scriptures, and that no one will take this action as a license to discard parts of the Bible they don't like.