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“Dante speaks of the ‘highest love’ that built the walls of hell. We shudder at the medieval grimness. The opposite and more dangerous extreme is to lavish what Bousset calls a ‘murderous pity’ upon human nature and, and under cover of promoting love, be ready to subvert justice.” –Irving Babbitt
One of the sentimental little sweets tossed out by the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Michael Curry, at the Harry and Megan extravaganza was a misuse of the Prophet Amos. It ran: “When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook.” Whatever the gaseously expansive word, “love,” might mean to Curry, Amos never said, “When love is the way.” He said,
“I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the peace offerings of your fattened animals, I will not look upon them. Take away from me the noise of your songs; to the melody of your harps; I will not listen. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”
Curry might claim that some sense of “love” underpins Amos’ notion of justice, but such love would have to be God’s love of justice and not the un-Godly love that consists of the physical sexual attraction now condoned by Curry. The prophet was not talking about love. He was urging the repentance of a people wallowing in irreligion and moral laxity.
At the direction of the sentimental and hedonistic Presiding Bishop Curry, for whom “love is the way,” after some legal back and forth, Bishop William Love of Albany recently was forced to resign, perhaps to keep from being defrocked. Episcopalians in convention recently passed a Resolution, B-012, that required any bishops such as William Love who oppose same-sex marriage to find some other bishop to do what they themselves could not do, and would not do in good conscience, namely, invite some other bishop to handle same-sex marriages within their diocese. Instead of preparing to comply, before requests for same-sex marriage arrived in his diocese, Bishop Love simply ordered his clergy not to perform same-sex weddings. Curry did not like that.
B-012 had been intended as a compromise — as if one were possible — between a small orthodox minority opposed to same-sex marriage and a heterodox majority that approved of it. B-012 failed because it was silent on the question of which side was right, and “split the difference” between the two groups. One might say that B-012 never “deviated from the straight path between right and wrong.” But Bishop Love, by directing his clergy not to perform same-sex marriages, showed that he had resolved the question of who was right.
B-012 itself was an unsuccessful attempt to moderate the effects of the forty-year-old Resolution A-069 that welcomed everyone into the church while requiring no repentance. A-069 says in its entirety, “It is the sense of this General Convention that homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.” This was obviously orthodox — except that it omitted any call to repentance. This omission paved the way for the Episcopal Church eventually to perform same-sex marriages and allow the ordination and even the consecration of non-celibate homosexuals and lesbians – not, perhaps, to mention non-celibate heterosexuals.
But the scope of A-069 was not limited to homosexuals. It stated that homosexuals with all other persons have a full and equal claim upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the church. It therefore includes, as it should, all those engaged in “evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander” (Matt.15:19); and those guilty of works of the flesh, “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these”(Gal. 5:19-20). A church must welcome everyone, but it must preach repentance. A-069 does not preach repentance. The phrase, “pastoral concern and care” could have been understood as a call to repentance, but it was not. When welcome and acceptance replace repentance, the Episcopal Church devolved into a hedonistic sect like the licentious heretical groups opposed by the early Church.
Do the sect’s bishops now welcome everyone from those who have “evil thoughts” to those who enjoy “orgies and things like these” and say to them, “Repent”? If so, then why not do so for sexual deviates? Are desires benign because they are “natural”? Then what about the children of God born genetically inclined to addiction, to anger, sloth, theft, or with some debilitating condition? Should the bishops of the sect say to them as it says to some sexual deviants, “Do not resist your nature”?
B-012’s requirement that action be delegated is reminiscent of those Inquisitors of former times who, thinking it morally permissible to condemn but immoral to kill, handed heretics over to the secular authorities for execution. They forgot that sin originates in the will, that “those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and defile the man,” and that “Whosoever looketh on a woman [or anyone or anything] to lust after her [or him or it] hath committed adultery with her [or him or it] already in his heart.”
Until about a year or so ago, any ecclesiastical authority who disciplined a member of the clergy for failing to perform same-sex marriages would himself have been defrocked, possibly sent to a mental institution, or in Medieval times, possibly sent to the stake. Eighty years ago, when the apostasy began to be apparent in the Episcopal Church, one of its bishops defended artificial birth control, accepted un-repentant and non-celibate LGBT people, and questioned basic Christian beliefs including the virginity of Mary, and the doctrines of Hell and the Trinity. This bishop was married thrice and divorced twice. Between his second and third marriages he lived unmarried for several years with a fourth woman. Orthodox bishops brought heresy proceedings against him in 1962, 1964, 1965, and 1966, but he was never brought to trial because the House of Bishops was already too tolerant of deviations. He was censured in 1966, but the flaccid statement that the censoring bishops could devise was that his works were “too often marred by caricatures of treasured symbols and at the worst, by cheap vulgarizations of great expressions of the faith.” In 1996, another innovative bishop wrote that theism is dead, that the Incarnation, the creation story, the virgin birth, miracles, the cross as the sacrifice for sin, the resurrection, the ascension, the trinity, life after death, and objective ethics are, in effect, dead. He was never deposed or censured by his indulgent colleagues. In 1987, a divorced priest with two daughters from his marriage to a woman came out as gay and shortly afterward married a man. In 2003 this same priest was consecrated bishop in the approving presence of fifty-five bishops. He and his “husband” divorced in 2014. In 1989,The sect’s first female bishop was ordained in 1989. Its first lesbian bishop was consecrated in 2010, and its second in 2019. The “solemn assemblies” of the hedonistic Episcopal sect now punish a cleric for resisting same-sex marriage while encouraging what catholic orthodoxy has always regarded as a sin.
With Isaiah, we may say of all this, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (5:20).
And about God’s law versus mankind’s Resolutions, we have Sophocles:
King Creon: [to Antigone who had buried her brother’s body in defiance to the King’s decree] And you had the boldness to transgress the law?
Antigone: Yes, for it was not Zeus made such a law; such is not the Justice of the gods. Nor did I think that your decrees had so much force, that a mortal could override the unwritten and unchanging statutes of heaven. For their authority is not of today nor yesterday, but from all time, and no man knows when they were first put forth” (450 ff.).