If there’s one thing that can turn a moderate Episcopalian into a raging radical, it’s a column about the church by the hyper-righteous George F. Will:
Episcopalians’ discontents tell a cautionary tale for political as well as religious associations. As the church’s doctrines have become more elastic, the church has contracted. It celebrates an “inclusiveness” that includes fewer and fewer members.
The elastic doctrine in question is the admittedly modern idea that homosexual behavior is not inherently sinful and that gay and lesbian people are entitled to full access to the church’s sacramental work, including ordination as deacons, priests, and bishops. Many good, loving people with differing perspectives have worked the problem in our church for a generation or more, bringing to bear the witness of Holy Scripture, the church’s traditions, and the God-given reason of the people of God. As for Will, sniffing his way through a column that’s already been written 50 times by other church critics, he gets no further than the theologically bankrupt argument that righteousness resides with the majority view. Only schismatic ex-Episcopal bishop Robert Duncan, who has tried to take his diocese out of the Episcopal Church because of the homosexuals, gets a voice in Will’s column.
In TEC’s life, critics once accused it of doctrinal elasticity for letting African-Americans come down from the church balcony. A generation ago, skeptics could risk putting “inclusiveness” in quotes when the elastic church was stretching to include the then more easily ridiculed idea of the ontological equality of women. Today, some of the women who, thanks to the second big stretch, were welcomed to celebrate Holy Eucharist at the altar of Christ have turned and tried to bar the way to gay and lesbian people. Will is now proud to be an advocate of these self-styled traditionalists. I wonder how his column will sound 50 years from now.