Anglican clerics have just wrapped up the Lambeth Conference, a three week gathering of bishops that takes place every ten years in the UK. This year's conference was marked by the debate over how to preserve the unity of the church as it teeters on the brink of self combustion over the issue of homosexuality.
The star of the caucus was Gene Robinson, the openly gay and spotlight-seeking bishop of New Hampshire, who was not invited to the proceedings but showed up anyway to remind the clerics of their gay and lesbian parishioners back home. His consecration in 2003 caused an international uproar but turned the right reverend into a media sensation.
And he's been loving the attention ever since.
Robinson's most notable TV appearance was in 2004 when he allowed a 60 Minutes camera crew follow him to XL, a then Chelsea hotspot for us boys. The visual of a priest sipping cocktails while sitting underneath plasma screens playing male erotica may make for salty Sunday night television, but it also confirmed that Robinson is not only out of touch with the needs of his church, but with the teachings of Jesus Christ all together.
As a gay Christian, I'm offended by Robinson's "look-at-me" antics. They reinforce negative stereotypes about gays - that we're out to corrupt pious institutions and force our point of view on others - and they create unnecessary turmoil for gay Christians who have come to terms with their faith and sexuality. While Jesus may have preached to all sorts of people he also spent a lot of time reflecting on his faith in private, and forging a relationship with God. That's what many gay Christians do today as they look past the hate and ignorance of some of the "faithful." They draw close to God in prayer, humbly, hoping that He understands their needs.
The Bible is very clear on homosexuality, and as long as the Anglican Church chooses to use the Bible as its play book, Robinson has no business being a bishop. That doesn't mean there isn't a place for him in the world, that doesn't mean he can't help communities in need - as he claimed to want to do in an interview with Episcopal Life, " it just means he can't run a church.
And there's the rub. Strip Robinson, the consomate showman, of the power of the pulpit and suddenly helping people becomes a less exciting and worthwhile pursuit.