A friend recently said that his brother, who is training to be a Baptist pastor, has got engaged to his soon to be third wife. The second marriage only lasted two years.
It brought to mind a conversation with another former Anglican priest friend a few years back who had just exited the Anglican Church. One of the deciders for him was the fact that the Anglican Church seemed to have virtually no agreed standards when it came to marriage. He commented that a church known to him had recently advertised for a priest, and in the ad were the words, ‘marital circumstances not an issue.’ Not too long ago this would have meant that the parish was happy to accept either a celibate man or a married man.
Now, my friend explained, it meant, ‘We’re not asking any questions about your bedroom situation.’ He said in his Anglican deanery there were not only homosexual men living together in the vicarage, but a lesban couple, a woman who had left her husband and family, another woman priest who was co habiting with a man, a man who was divorced and re-married, a woman priest who was a single mother and one situation where two homosexual men lived in the vicarage with a single woman.
He said the most shocking thing was that both laypeople and clergy not only didn’t raise the matter, but they seemed surprised that anyone should think there should be a problem at all. I thought he was exagerrating, but he insisted that the situation he described was fairly typical.
Is this the situation within the rest of the Protestant denominations? I hope not. I believe conservative Evangelicals side with Catholics in upholding traditional moral values, but am I right. Is my friend’s Baptist pastor brother a liberal Baptist, or are even conservative Evangelical denominations getting leaky?
The complaint will be that we Catholics are not ones to throw stones, what with our own sexual scandals, but there’s a difference. Sure, we’ve got pink seminaries and pedophile priests, we’ve even got our homosexualist activists, but what we don’t have is a wholesale acceptance of the twenty first century dating game. At least we’re on the record as supporting the traditional view of marriage and celibacy for the clergy. We value chastity, sexual purity and faithfulness in marriage.
We may not live up to the ideal, but we haven’t thrown the ideal out the window.