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FIRST-PERSON: No sympathy here

McMINNVILLE, Ore. (BP)–One of the definitions The American Heritage Dictionary assigns to the word sympathy is “a feeling or an expression of pity or sorrow for the distress of another; compassion or commiseration.” Based on this description, I have no sympathy for the Episcopalians whining over their denomination’s recent election of a homosexual to the office of bishop – not the slightest bit.

I have to ask, “Were they really surprised?” For several years, the Episcopal Church has allowed for the ordination of homosexuals as well as the blessing of same-sex unions. V. Gene Robinson, the man at the center of the most recent denominational disagreement, has served as an openly gay minister since at least 1989. He is not alone. There are many others.

Given the Episcopal toleration of homosexuality, it was only a matter of time until the appointment of an openly gay bishop. It was simply the next logical step in Episcopalian theological/sociological evolution. Even the dullest of Episcopal conservatives had to have seen it coming.

While USA Today reported that some delegates “stormed out” of the meeting and called Robinson’s confirmation “a grave turn down the wrong road,” The Washington Post put things in perspective and indicated that of those protesting the appointment of the homosexual bishop, “none said they are leaving the church.”

The reason for my lack of sympathy lies in the fact that the Episcopal conservatives seem to do nothing more than whine. Just how much heresy are these so-called conservative delegates going to endure before they set sail in a new direction? How liberal is too liberal for them?

When the Episcopal Church began to allow for the ordination of homosexuals, I am sure many of these same conservatives, now upset over the appointment of a gay bishop, stormed out of meetings and read statements of dissent. However, they stayed loyal to the denomination.

When the Episcopal Church began to allow for the blessing of same-sex unions, I am certain that those who are now fuming over the confirmation of Robinson made their disapproval known. However, to this day they remain in a denomination that, in their words, “has left the historic faith and fractured the Anglican Communion.”

The Washington Post reported “about 30 deputies stood behind” the Rev. Kendall Harmon as he “read a vociferous protest.” The address appealed to the archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Communion’s spiritual leader, to intervene concerning Robinson’s appointment. It also included a pledge to a faithful and loving effort toward restoration of the Anglican Communion.

The Episcopal conservatives remind me of a spouse who tolerates adultery. He or she may yell and scream at the offending partner and might even complain to the neighbors. However, so long as he or she continues to live with the adulterer, no one is going to take serious the protestations. Not the neighbors and certainly not the unfaithful spouse.

As I have observed the current drama in the Episcopal Church, I have asked myself, “What would I do if my denomination — the Southern Baptist Convention — ever affirmed homosexuality in any shape, form or fashion?” While I doubt it is likely to occur in my lifetime, if it did, I would protest loudly, very loudly. I would then shake the dust off my feet and take my leave.

My loyalty is foremost and only to Jesus Christ and not to a denomination. It was He who died on the cross for my salvation, not a national religious body. No matter in what direction or with what velocity the politically correct winds of culture blow, the Word of God remains fixed and immovable. Jesus Christ is not a weather vane; He is an anchor.

“Stand with anybody that stands right. Stand with him while he is right and part with him when he goes wrong,” declared Abraham Lincoln. Sounds like advice the conservative Episcopalians should heed.
Boggs’ column appears weekly in Baptist Press. He is pastor of Valley Baptist Church in McMinnville, Ore.

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  • Kelly Boggs