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Taking the Pig out of the Poke

F. Earle Fox

[COMMENT: The following is adapted from a letter to a bishop, raising the most fundamental of issues for Christians -- speaking the truth in love, wielding the Sword of the Spirit.    E. Fox]

Dear Bishop ....,

I have been cogitating over our short discussion of a few weeks ago. I had asked why you thought that Episcopal clergy were either unwilling or unable to force the homosexual issue to the fore so that the real issue, homosexual behavior, could be put into the light. The homosexualists are successfully selling the Church and Western Civilization a pig in a poke [Scottish for 'bag'], but no one (with a bully pulpit) is willing to ask them to take the pig out of the poke.

I took the pig out during my brief bully pulpit at the Gene Robinson event, but (not entirely to my surprise) the conservative leadership were quite offended at what I did. Few of them would speak to me afterwards. As one prominent rector has let it be known, I am a "troublemaker". Nevertheless, I went home bubbling over with joy because it was clear that Griswold was caught in a position from which he could not escape. It astonishes me that so few (almost always lay folk, and mostly women) see that.

Many, of course, thought I was being insanely rude. But it is Griswold and his team who are out of touch with reality, and full of rebellion against God.  Even worse, conservative leadership, to a man/woman, so far as I can see, is not willing to force the pig into the light. I have listened to or read many debates on homosexuality, and shake my head at the inane responses from "our side". Not a single person has been willing to go for the jugular vein -- not of the person, but of the argument -- simply by speaking the truth in love and asking the pointed questions which will force the behavior (and its consequences) onto the table.

It is behavior, not "love", which they want us to affirm. "Love" is just one of the many rabbit trails down which they lead us by the nose. How can we make a reasonable and Godly decision about that which we have never put into the light? It makes no sense. Clarity always favors truth, unclarity always favors falsehood.

We are told on good authority that evil is to be exposed, but we have been incapable of doing so, with the result that evil is parading down the middle of the road, waving its banners of "love", "compassion", inclusiveness", and persuading the public that they really are of that sort. The truth is that they are either pathologically ignorant or deliberate schemers and liars.

Presiding Bishop Frank Griswold cut me off with, "We know where you are going...." So he knows the nature of homosexual behavior, yet has successfully and deliberately kept that from ever coming to the floor of General Convention. But, again, worse, the conservative leadership never made a respectable and concerted attempt to force it to the floor. If they had, there would have been nothing the other side could have done.

So I have to conclude that we defaulted the Episcopal Church away. They did not "win" it.

You replied to my question above that I had the "charism" for this task, suggesting, almost, that I should get used to being alone. If I have the charism, it is because I cannot see any good reason for not insisting on the truth of any matter under discussion. If I am wrong, I want to know. Surely, that is the Godly way, which means that the charism is available to all who pursue the way of the cross.

It appears to me that my generation of leadership, and most of those following, are incapable or unwilling to engage that fight for truth spoken in love, unwilling or unable to go with Elijah to the top of Mount Carmel, and challenge his own people, "How long will you go limping on two opinions? If Baal be God, then let's go with Baal. But if the Lord be God, then let's go with the Lord. And now, let's find out which one really is God..." And then he got out of the way to let the real God prove His own case.

I am no doubt thought of by some as a "one issue" person -- homosexuality. Bishop Ackerman asked me to do a clergy day for him last spring. I proposed, and he agreed, on "Spiritual Warfare in our Pseudo-Scientific Culture". Most of the time was spent on looking at how Western Civ. got into its present mess. We got into it because we Christians lost our capacity for truth-seeking and truth-speaking. We alienated ourselves from both science and due process in public policy, and so have been waving a rubber sword of truth with our pants falling down around our knees. Only in the very last section did homosexuality come up, as one, though primary, example of our mess.

When a thief is invading our house, we become very "one issued": Stop the thief. Then we can delve into the background issues of why he is a thief. The homosexual attack is the primary thrust of evil in our land today -- the sharp edge of the evil wedge. There are many background issues to be dealt with, as the other conservative protesters, including the AAC, at the New Hampshire skating rink rightly noted. But Frank Griswold did not have to shut them down. He knew he could talk around them since he had been doing it for years. He could not talk around behavior and had to shut me down.

We must, we must, learn to get the facts out in the open, and let the truth and the Lord of truth speak for themselves. Whenever we get in the way of that openness to truth, we get in the way of the Lord. If we have not the courage to risk that, then we will continue to be, as Terry Fullam says, not much use to the Kingdom of God and not much threat to the kingdom of Satan. We will be forever preaching to the choir, answering questions which only Christians are asking, and have little to say to a broken world, much of which is hungering for reliable, substantial truth.

In many schools, our children are encouraged, in graphic detail, to experiment with those very behaviors which I began to list at the skating rink (see the enclosed article and audio tape on the situation in Massachusetts).  That is criminal abuse of children.  Do we not care? 

But we adults are not competent to talk about them, or refuse to do so out of misplaced modesty. So it should be no surprise that our children are abandoning the faith of us parents at the rate of 80% by the time they leave college or go to work. They do not trust our reality contact. Why should they if we can talk only of "polite" things, and cannot deal with the dirty realities of sexual behavior and sexual temptation which every child growing up must face.

Our generations of leaders have failed. Nor do I see any sign of that changing. But I am aware of growing numbers of young folks, college age and younger, who are fed up with the mess we have given them, have a passion for Jesus, and want to make a difference.

Sometime this, or early next, year, I will be moving to Vista, California, to live as a companion member of the Christian Community of Family Ministry (CCFM), an Anglican religious community which has raised such children, and to be in touch with similar young folks at Biola University near Los Angeles. Biola has one of the finest Great Books programs in existence, producing young Christian men and women who are educated, articulate, and passionate for the Lord Jesus Christ. If all goes well, I will be teaching courses to some of them.

My heart is still with the Episcopal Church. The alliance between Forward in Faith, the Network, and others is doing so many things right in the ecclesiological issues, preparing defensively for the inevitable split. But it does not appear to be willing to hit the enemy where it is attacking.

My fervent prayer is that Episcopal leadership, on both sides, will have an outbreak of graceful courage. If we do not have the charism to be truth speakers -- at any cost to ourselves -- we had better get it. I cannot conceive of picking up my cross and following Jesus without it.

In any event, I desire to be helpful. You might talk with Bishop Ackerman about how I handled matters with his clergy. If it seems right, I would be delighted to talk with your clergy about how we can retake, not only the Episcopal Church, but Western Civilization, including the sexuality part of it, for Jesus Christ. It might perhaps be worth my visiting to present my case to your core leadership.  

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