A Bishop’s Decision to Divorce (a.k.a., Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places)All of us sincerely intend, when we take our wedding vows, to live up to the ideal of ‘til death do us part.’ But not all of us are able to see it through. (If it weren't for the fact that same-sex "marriage" is not marriage at all, this would be strike two for GR.)Life is hard. And it just keeps on coming, ready or not. Somewhere inside me, I guess I thought that life in “retirement” would be more peaceful, easier somehow. (Brutal unpredictable injustices to the contrary, the trajectory of one's life largely depends on one's choices, does it not?) But I am also not naïve enough to believe it for long. (It's easy to accept GR's excuses if you accept the premise that his choices have been valid and, through no fault of his own, retirement has been complicated by unforeseen forces. In other words, is it fair to say that GR is not being honest with himself?)Recently, my partner and husband of 25-plus years and I decided to get divorced. While the details of our situation will remain appropriately private, I am seeking to be as open and honest in the midst of this decision as I have been in other dramatic moments of my life—coming out in 1986, falling in love, and accepting the challenge of becoming Christendom’s first openly gay priest to be elected a Bishop in the historic succession of bishops stretching back to the apostles. (There is serious doubt as to whether Anglican clergy are in the line of Apostolic Succession. So saith Pope Leo XIII, Successor to the Apostle Peter, Vicar of Christ, Supreme Pontiff and Universal Shepherd of the Church, in his decree Apostolicæ Curæ that declared Anglican orders are "absolutely null and utterly void".)As my (pseudo-)marriage to Mark ends (Take note how many times GR attempts to lend credibility to his side of the marriage debate by locating the term 'marriage' in statements that presume the debate is concluded.), I believe him to be one of the kindest, most generous and loyal human beings on earth. There is no way I could ever repay the debt I owe him for his standing by me through the challenges of the last decade. I will be forever grateful to him, and as I tell couples in pre-marital counseling, “Marriage is forever, and your relationship will endure—whether positively or negatively—even if the marriage formally ends.” (This is pure sophistry merely used to excuse an inability to be faithful to a lifelong covenant established by God, i.e., authentic marriage. GR appears to be trying really hard to avoid admitting the obvious. I.e., that he's messed up and his failed relationships prove he really needs help.)I know this flies in the face of the common practice of regarding one party in a divorce as the bad guy and one the good guy (Is he saying 'Mark and I are so beyond the norm'? He might as well be saying that he's so above mere mortals. Self canonizing? St. Luke 18:9-14). The fact remains that it takes two people to make a marriage and two people to make a divorce (Why only two? A polygamist might find that offensive!). The reasons for ending a marriage (Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.—St. Matthew 19:6) fall on the shoulders of both parties: the missed opportunities for saying and doing the things that might have made a difference, the roads not taken, the disappointments endured but not confronted. ("Shoulda", "coulda". Thank God for the Sacrament of Penance! GR has articulated the trap well, but his leg is caught in that trap and he's hemorrhaging badly.)It is at least a small comfort to me, as a gay rights and (pseudo-)marriage equality advocate, to know that like any marriage, gay and lesbian couples are subject to the same complications and hardships that afflict marriages between heterosexual couples (Another attempt to normalize irrational behaviour?). All of us sincerely intend, when we take our wedding vows, to live up to the ideal of “til death do us part.” But not all of us are able to see this through until death indeed parts us (What's all the kerfuffle? Doesn't "til death do us part" merely refer to the "death of love" in a relationship? The vow of "modern" men and women = "I'm married to you as long as I feel I love you." You can thank King Henry VIII for welcoming the serpent of divorce into his personal paradise.).(Try not to spew through your nose that coffee you're drinking when you read the next few paragraphs. Cue soft strings; dim the lights; soft spotlight on GR.) My belief in marriage is undiminished by the reality of divorcing someone I have loved for a very long time, and will continue to love even as we separate. Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot. It will take a lot of work, a lot of grieving, and a large measure of hope to see it through. And that’s where my faith comes in.
My belief in marriage is undiminished by the reality of divorcing someone I have loved for a very long time, and will continue to love even as we separate. Love can endure, even if a marriage cannot.(Attempt #426,973 to compare himself to Jesus Christ?) We have just concluded the dramatic remembrance of the events of Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter. The reason this annual remembrance of “The Passion” resonates so profoundly with me is that it is a reenactment of the grand scenario of life: bad things happen, people suffer, some friends fall away and some stay close, no one knows what comes next after what seems like death, and then God acts in a way that brings new life, new possibility and yes, resurrection.The thing that astounds me about Jesus, as told in this Passion story, is that he keeps putting one foot in front of the other, praying that it’s in the right direction, but not knowing for sure (!—So, in a nutshell, here is one problem among many concerning the theology of the TEC/ECUSA. I.e., there is a confusion about what Jesus knew about Himself, which is indicative of a theology that is confused about the hypostatic union, i.e., the two natures, human and divine united in one person, of Jesus Christ. Click HERE for an article discussing the topic in greater detail than space permits.). In the face of his enemies, he prays that God might forgive them. In the midst of his own pain, he cares for his mother Mary and the “beloved disciple” John, commending them to each other’s care. And then, even though God seems remarkably absent at the time of his death (Jesus quoted the first line of a psalm any faithful Jew would know. If one reads the entire psalm to which Jesus was alluding, the proper perspective is clear. The reference in question is to a prophecy, a description of the suffering servant who is ever faithful to God. The psalm includes a phrase that surely would have touched his mother's heart in a way we can only imagine this side of heaven, his mother who stood with John at the foot of the Cross beholding her dying son: Yet thou art he who took me from the womb; thou didst keep me safe upon my mother’s breasts. Upon thee was I cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me thou hast been my God. The psalm also describes Jesus' persecutors.), Jesus nevertheless offers his soul back to God as a gift. To the very end, he would remain an active participant in his own destiny.That all may seem far away from one couple ending a marriage. But I draw much comfort and guidance from this story and my faith in the One about whom it is told. While I would never remotely compare myself to Jesus (Um,... a little too late for that?), I do know that I too have to move forward without knowing (refer to the note above. GR appears to be comparing himself to a caricature of Jesus.) whether the steps I am taking are in the right or wrong direction. I too need to take care of relationships, in the midst of my own pain. (No, it’s not all about me.) (Again, too late!) And I need to be an active participant in my own destiny (He's an active participant in his own destiny, alright. And where are his choices leading him? See below—the very sobering Four Last Things!).Most importantly, I need to hold on to the belief that God will have the last word, and that word is hope (truth? justice?). If God can bring an Easter out of that awful, long-ago Good Friday, then God can bring new life to me and Mark out of the pain of our parting company (Indeed. Might one consider repenting for all the confusion and suffering one has created by leading others to follow a foreign gospel?). That is my faith (A tailor-made, 'golden calf' faith?), even if the pain of the present moment is too excruciating to envision what it might be. Mark and I will need, and welcome, the prayers of our friends and the support of our community.My newest, most favorite piece of bumper-sticker wisdom which I will hold onto in this in-between time is this: “In the end, all will be well. If all is not well, it is not yet the end.” (Word to the wise: the Four Last Things—Death, Judgement, Heaven, Hell. Barring a universalist understanding, the end depends on the choices we make. Choose, therefore, Jesus Christ. Seek to do His will and embrace the teaching of His Church. Catholics live in hope of attaining eternal life. If we are free from mortal sin at death—get to Confession!—we hope to pass through the purifying "fires" of purgatory: Luke 12:59; 1 Pet. 3:19; 2 Macc. 12:43–45; Rev. 21:27; especially 1 Cor 3:15. Purified of every obstacle, only then may we enter into the beatific vision of God in His glory.) Life is hard, and that is true whether you’re in your teens or in your “golden years.” Life keeps on coming at you, ready or not. And sometimes life brings pain and seemingly impossible choices. So, for me, all is not well right now; but I believe—no, actually I know—in the end, it will be.
If a single word was required to explain the popularity of such errors the word would be the one flying from the mainmast of Lucifer's flagship—pride. Not pride as in strutting vanity, not even pride as in I will not serve, not initially anyway. It is the more insidious pride of I know better. That is a pride in which the cosmetics of virtue and devotion can hide the cancer even from the patient. Indeed, especially from the patient.—Leo Madigan.