Rev. Rich Takes a Stand Against Small Children
Back when the Episcopal/Anglican Church was finding itself fraught with international internal turmoil over the appointment of an openly and actively homosexual bishop in New Hampshire, Catholic writer and blogger Mark Shea predicted, as an aphorism, that the organization would gradually turn toward the promotion of homosexuality. I always considered that a plausible, but not inevitable, course of the future.
After crossing an intellectual line, human organizations have a tendency to correct for excess, to transform into something unrecognizable, or to fade into non-existence. Shea’s prediction was of the second category, but either of the other two (or even other variations of the middle one) remain possible for the Episcopal Church.
Rev. Timothy Rich, a relatively new rector at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in East Greenwich gives some evidence that Shea’s prediction has certainly not been negated. Previously, it’s interesting to note, Rich worked very closely with the aforementioned homosexual bishop, Eugene Robinson, as an assistant and Canon in New Hampshire.
During a summer in which Boy Scouts of America affirmed its policy of excluding “open and avowed homosexuals,” Rev. Rich determined to investigate whether his church had any connection with the group. It turned out that a local Cub Scout pack — mainly boys aged six to eleven — uses the church for meetings.
The fifty boys involved are a bit young for the policy to have much effect, and Cub Master Jeff Lehoullier indicates that Pack 4 would do nothing to actively enforce the rule, even if it applied to pre-adolescent children. And who’s to say but that by the time these actual flesh-and-blood children nearest Rich’s flock reach the age of Eagle Scout, the organization won’t have changed its view?
But Rich has some modicum of power, and he feels he must use it to “take a stand” against a national organization with which the church under his authority has a very limited, indirect relationship. That his action might have an adverse effect on dozens of the community’s children — and that, by his action, he appears to be the one propagandizing a culture-war position beyond their ken — is a secondary consideration.
If radical rectors are to force a change in Boy Scout policy from the outside, thousands and thousands of children will have to be thus harmed and made to feel dirty and excluded by adults who ostensibly hold offices of respect in their community. Rich insists that, when it comes to the individual boys, he “support[s] them and applaud[s] their efforts,” but apparently, when more than one of them gather together, they must be cast out and scorned.
No doubt, he’s flattered by the media attention (his humble claims notwithstanding), and no doubt many people whose opinions he values highly have figuratively and literally slapped him on the back. The rest of us ought to question the motives and assumptions behind the movement of which he’s made East Greenwich a part.
I realize that a good portion of readers don’t find discussion of scripture all that persuasive, but some further thought on this matter led me to an observation that definitely merits mention.
While reading comments on the East Greenwich Patch article on this issue, a phrase from the Bible came to mind: “Let the children come to me.”
It’s from Matthew 19, and the expanded passage is worth consideration.
Just before the disciples attempt to prevent the children from approaching Jesus, He has been explaining that the Old Testament permission to divorce should not apply to His followers because, “from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’… For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
The disciples object that the teaching is so hard that “it is better not to marry.” And Jesus suggests that some are “incapable” of marriage. Some translations of the Bible have Jesus referring to such people as “eunuchs.”
Again, I realize that not everybody assigns spiritual weight to the Bible, but I would think that a Christian preacher would be inclined to do so. And this passage has many layers of profundity, all ultimately reinforcing a traditional view of marriage. The man and woman become “one flesh,” and then the children come forward. Nobody should attempt to “separate” what God has joined, meaning the husband and wife, and then the disciples attempt to separate the children from Jesus, who in Catholic theology is the bridegroom of the Church.
In some practices, Episcopal theology differs substantially from Catholic, but it seems to me Rector Rich should contemplate this passage deeply, as should the members of his church.