By Donald P. Ames
Although it is common knowledge that several congregations now exist strictly for the benefit and encouragement of people with homosexual thinking, the movement continues to come more and more into the open. And, simultaneous with their advancement, morals in other areas are declining. As we look about us, one is made to wonder where the morality of this nation will be in another generation if things do not change rapidly.
The latest advancement of the lesbian movement is now within the ranks of the Episcopal Church itself. According to an article that appeared in the Gary, Indiana Post-Tribune (1-12-77), Ellen Marie Barrett has been sworn in as a priest, despite the fact she is an “avowed lesbian.” Her appointment was greeted with applause from the congregation of 200 people there to witness.
The sad part of this story is that one man did have the courage to stand up and be counted. From the congregation of 200 present, when the statement was made, “If any of you know any impediment or crime because of which we should not proceed, come forward now, and make it known,” “The Rev. James C. Wattley, a priest of this diocese” was the only one to come forward. Mr. Wattley opposed her ordination “on the ground of her self-proclaimed lesbianism.”
Several things come to our attention at this point. (1) There were other serious objections to be raised here as well. All Christians are to serve as priests before the Lord (I Pet. 2:5, 9), and there is certainly no Scripture to justify selecting one special class within a congregation to be appointed to such a position over the rest. (2) The fact a woman was being considered in the role of officiating over men was a clear violation of 1 Tim. 2:11-12. Unfortunately, neither of these points seemed to bother Mr. Wattley — first because he was already himself identified as a special “priest,” and secondly because he raised no objections as another woman was also sworn in as a priest. (3) It was interesting to note that his objection was not because of what the word of God taught on the subject, but rather because “the Church has viewed and still views homosexuality as ‘a sin against the order of the Creator and against the order of Creation.'” Since “the Church” so taught, then that made it wrong! Suppose the “Church” quit so teaching-would it then be wrong (and such is now a real possibility since they have appointed a Lesbian to be a priest)? Regardless of what “the Church” teaches, the word of God still teaches such is a perversion and sin (Rom. 1:27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:1921; Eph. 5:4-5; etc.)!
“Bishop Moore” however was ready for the objection, and defended “Ms. Barrett” for having “not made a secret of her homosexual orientation.” His defense was based on three arguments: (I) “Many persons with homosexual tendencies are presently in the ordained ministry.” This argument is basically that sin must be all right if everyone else is doing it. However, regardless of what everyone else is doing, if the word of. God has identified it as sin, then to practice it will only send us where “everyone else” is also going (Matt. 7:13). The Lord strictly warned the nation of Israel, “You shall not follow a multitude in doing evil” (Ex. 23:1). (2) “She is highly qualified intellectually, morally and spiritually to be a priest.” Since when is one qualified to be a leader of others spiritually when they openly admit to practicing and condoning sins that will damn one’s soul in hell? Paul admonished Timothy to show himself as an example to those who believe in his speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (1 Tim. 4:12). James reminded us, “Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we shall incur a stricter judgment” (3:1). The very fact that our actions have far greater impact, and our teachings carry more influence (whether justified or not) made this so. The Lord also reminded us, “Woe to the world because of its stumbling-blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling-blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling-block comes” (Matt. 18:7). Since Lesbianism condemns one’s soul for practicing it, to condone and tolerate it by placing such a one in a position of authority not only places a stumbling block before those thinking in that direction, but also those whom she may influence with her false teaching as well. (3) The fact that the congregation responded with a “thunderous”acceptance of Ellen Barrett as a priest “obviously in of the majority was not to be denied. Thus the word of God was repudiated that the voice of the people might be satisfied. This reminds us of the sin of David when he said, “If it seems good to you, and if it is from the Lord our God”-but then settled for the fact “the thing was right in the eyes of all the people” (1 Chron. 13:2-4). Again, we must remember that “it is not in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23), and “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts” (Isa. 55:8-9).
I do not know what Mr. Wattley’s feelings were following the ordination, other than the paper quoted him as saying it was a “travesty and a scandal.” However, it is a sad day for religion in general when the word of God is passed over to support lesbianism and when those who freely admit condoning such are appointed to positions of leadership and influence. It now looks as if the “stigma” of being guilty of such perversions is seeking respectability through religion. Indeed, Satan is a clever adversary (1 Pet. 5:8)!
Truth Magazine XXI: 19, pp. 293-294
May 12, 1977