Bishop Spong is at it again. In a recent document entitled, “A Manifesto! The Time Has Come” Bishop John Shelby Spong takes a hard-line approach against those who would disagree with his view that the church should fully accept gay and lesbian Christians in its life and ministry. Well, “hard-line” is putting it mildly: Bishop Spong refuses to engage further in the debate over homosexuality in the church. He’s done. Thrown in the towel. Packed it in. He writes:
I will no longer engage the biblical ignorance that emanates from so many right-wing Christians about how the Bible condemns homosexuality, as if that point of view still has any credibility. I will no longer discuss with them or listen to them tell me how homosexuality is “an abomination to God,” about how homosexuality is a “chosen lifestyle,” or about how through prayer and “spiritual counseling” homosexual persons can be “cured.” Those arguments are no longer worthy of my time or energy.”
I have sympathy for such a position to a certain extent. I understand that debate can be trying and tiring. Bishop Spong is retired himself, so retiring from the debate is maybe not such a big deal (though his angry prose is a delight to read).
But in his refusal to converse, Bishop Spong chooses the way of the angry prophet over the pastoral approach. And this is a shame. Those who disagree with him on the question of homosexuality are not demons of the right, but brothers and sisters in Christ with whom he happens to disagree. As any child can tell you, refusing to talk when you don’t get your way doesn’t solve anything.
Have a blessed retirement, Bishop Spong, but this young pastor is just getting going.
image by Sigurd Decroos