Thursday, May 03, 2007

Estimated prophecy

From the comments to your front page. Teflon, three days ago:

The curious thing about the Episcopal church of our generation is not that it ordains gays, but that it ordains atheists. Why not just become a Unitarian and have done with it?

And, the un-curious here and now:

Former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey, who resigned and divorced his wife after announcing he was gay in 2004, now reportedly wants to become an Episcopal priest.

McGreevey, who was raised Roman Catholic, became an Episcopalian this past Sunday at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan, according to its vicar, the Reverend Kevin Bean.

Of course, he could just be going for his M.Div. without ordination. The major obstacle is not his orientation, as Tef noted; in fact, it's not even my primary question about it. The real issue lies in St. Paul's instructions to Timothy (1 Tim 3:4-9) on the qualifications for the office.

He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience.

It's not like James McGreevey is an obscure fellow, either. It's hard not to notice that he abandoned a second wife and family, failed in his elected office, resigned amid a cloud of scandal, wrote a book to profit off of the whole mess - and then entered the seminary pretty much the same day he entered the church. He's the anti-Timothy.

That sound you hear is St. Paul up in the yonder slapping his forehead V-8 style. He wrote this for a reason, and it wasn't to be a big meanie who condemns instead of forgives, either. The above passage is not just a leader giving orders, but a description of reality. He isn't just telling Timothy "do it my way," but describing for him what a good presbyter will be. Willfully ignoring the description is nothing more than deciding that you don't want good presbyters in your church. But if you want a healthy church that can actually minister to people who need it most, why wouldn't you seek out people who fit the description Paul gave Timothy?

I am far from saying that the guy ought to report to the outer darkness for wailing and gnashing of teeth; on the contrary, he and I are both in need of the Savior - and of a church willing to do the hard things on our behalf. Giving McGreevey a collar does neither his congregants nor he himself any good. (As one of the sheep of His flock, I really want a shepherd who can fight off wolves, and not a fellow sheep who'll get eaten alive. It does neither of us any good.)

(It is fair at this point to note that in my own church, we have occasionally had actual wolves in shepherd's clothing. This is, if nothing else, proof of the dangers of ignoring 1 Timothy 3.)

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