I should have my head examined. When I started this blog, I really had the intention of steering clear of THE issue as long as possible. And, it seems I haven't even lasted the first week.
So, the spark for this comment is Bishop Gene Robinson's letter to the Diocese of New Hampshire, admitting his alcoholism and his admission into a rehab facility (see http://www.nhepiscopal.org/). For conservatives, this situation seems so emblematic, yet it seems so uncharitable to comment on it. Not that that has stopped people, but it almost stopped me. Almost.
I'm not interested in making mean-spirited comments about Bishop Robinson. A man in recovery from an addiciton doesn't deserve that, especially when he is currently working through withdrawl and the gut-wrenching early days of recovery. That would be kicking a man when he's down. And that is hardly charitable. Not to mention presumptuous.
Addictions happen. And they tend to happen because they are escapes from the painful realities of one's life. I'm sure Bishop Robinson has had his share of these in his life. The problem with addictions is that they take over and they become more important than everything in one's life, including one's connection to God. I won't claim to know Bishop Robinson's spiritual state, but I do note that it is perfectly possible to maintain faith and be helpless against addiction. If this is true in Bishop Robinson's case, he will have the resources to recover, given hard work at rehab and with a spiritual advisor.
Yet, what prompted me to write about this topic is that it struck me earlier today that the state of the Anglican Communion is oddly parallel to the spiritual state of an addict-- not that the whole Communion needs to go into rehab and cut out the communion wine. I really think that the defensiveness that both sides in the Anglican Communion has morphed into idealogies as a means to protect themselves against the (presumed) attacks of their theological and ecclesialogical opponents. It is this committement to ideologies on the extreme edges of the two 'sides' of this debate' which risks blocking our communal connection to God. When we use those ideologies as an excuse to be uncharitble to a fallen enemy (as in the case of Bishop Robinson) or to rage against stronger opponents, we have forgotten charity and, if we have forgotten charity, we have forgotten God. Our desire to defend God becomes the means by which we separate from him.
I have a firm postion on the same-sex issue and I've been arguing it for more than five years on various bulletin boards. I don't think we can find biblical support for it nor can we dismiss the biblical testimony. Nor can we justify hatred either. I fear that, through the very course of this debate, we have fallen into that hatred. And both sides are implicated by that.
My solution? I have no idea. Short of prayer and trying to live a Christian life, even amid controvery and debate, I can't see what else we do.
Meanwhile, I pray for the man, Gene Robinson, as he stays in rehab, facing the demons of alcoholism. May God remain with him and bring him healing. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen