"If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?I guess it all depends on what they ask for.
Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Luke 11:11-13
How about when they ask for your vote? Would you give them a hard time?
The recent disclosure of habitual "sexting" by one candidate for mayor of New York City has a lot of people talking about whether or not this behavior should disqualify him for the job. There are a number of other issues involved, but there has been little discussion of most of them. I will list a few here:
1) Is the behavior right or wrong?
2) By what standard do you judge the behavior?
3) Does this behavior disqualify the candidate for a position of responsibility?
4) What signal does support for him send to children?
Refer for a moment back to my post of last week, "Sin is in The Eye of the Beholder" before you condemn the man.
I have taken the "screed" (written by what I might consider a prototypical liberal Episcopalian) found in that post, and I substituted the word "exhibitionist" for "homosexual".
"Yes, I will explain it to you. Sin is in the eye of the beholder. What you view as sin, others view as beauty. I am not an exhibitionist, but I believe that the same God that made me and others non-exhibitionist made other people exhibitionist. I think it is counter-intuitive to think that ideas of 3,500 years ago should still be followed today. The fact that a tribe of Hebrews wrote a book 3,500 years ago encapsulating their history and philosophy does not compel us to follow all their ideas as though they were cast in concrete for all time. Hopefully we have learned something in the passage of time. We have learned that slavery is ignoble. We have learned that women need not be subservient to men. We have learned that black people are equal to and indeed no different from white people. At least many of us have learned this. Now we have learned that certain people, about 5%, are born with exhibitionist orientation. It is not a life style they choose, any more than a person chooses to be born black or hispanic or asian. If Jesus stands for anything, he stands for the proposition that we should love one another, and 'by this all men shall know that you are my disciples, by the love you have for one another.' So I suggest that you quit casting stones unless you are that rara avis, the person without sin. Exhibitionists are not committing sin. They are doing what is natural for them to do by reason of the way God made them. Okay?"Going back to my questions and applying Episco-reason (the one strong leg of Hooker's stool that people try to stand on):
1) Is the behavior right or wrong? It must be considered "right" because "What you view as sin, others view as beauty", and "They are doing what is natural for them to do by reason of the way God made them". Another way of looking at this is that it is a type of sexual orientation and therefore the behavior is appropriate for that orientation..
2) By what standard do you judge the behavior? We musn't apply some ancient standard or our inner sense about the behavior because "Sin is in the eye of the beholder", therefore there is no standard by which we can claim to judge him or his behavior. So we should back off and leave him alone.
3) Does this behavior disqualify him for a position of responsibility? To claim that would be akin to "casting stones unless you are that rara avis the person without sin" so we can't go there either.
4) What signal does support for him send to children? It sends the signal that we "stand for the proposition that we should love one another" and part of that love is to approve of another person's sexual orientation.
Given the above and with the assumption that a significant number of clergy and laity would agree with our liberal Episcopalian's statement on the issue of homosexuality, I would anticipate a sermon or two in support of candidate Weiner, or a letter of support from the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal church co-signed by other liberal denominations.
Or maybe they will join a street protest or rally?
It might even be a "Moral Monday" issue that is worth getting arrested for. I am referring to the Presiding Bishop's screed about the "Moral Monday" demonstrations going on in our neighboring state of North Carolina about which she said,
"Our neighbors in North Carolina are wrestling with that reality right now. The legislature is passing bill after bill trying to turn back the clock on the fruit of several decades of justice-making that had helped to create a more enlightened society – education for as many as possible, just working conditions, care for those who can’t care for themselves. At the moment the folks in the state house are undoing piece after piece of that just community. The fruit is being squashed and thrown in the rubbish bin, in a fit of pique. The most surprising element is that most of the legislature is unwilling to engage in dialogue.I may be making a mountain out of a molehill here, but where are the Episcopalians for Weiner?
Some of our fellow Episcopalians, together with other people of faith, are doing something about that famine of hearing the word of the Lord. They’re going up to the state house on Mondays to preach about God’s basket of summer fruit and the justice of the Lord."