Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Is the Church THAT desperate for priests?

Oh, goody. Former New Jersey governor James McGreevey's divorce from his wife is in front of a judge again, and maybe we'll get to stop hearing about his alleged three-way sexual adventures and his affairs with/sexual harassment of aides and whatnot.

But I do wonder: is this the kind of person who has demonstrated the stability one would hope would be expected of a priest of the Episcopal Church? Do we really need someone who lies repeatedly, who makes vows he cannot keep, and who gave government jobs to his secret lover, and who, until these scandals broke, was an already once-divorced Roman Catholic? This man was received into the Episcopal Church on May 2, 2007, and immediately embarked upon the discernment process and entered General Theological Seminary. How did he get this sudden burning interest in the Episcopal Church and the priesthood?

He is obviously going through turmoil in his personal life. I have nothing but sympathy for people who have endured such personal trauma, even the self-inflicted kind we've seen in this situation-- but the last thing they need to be doing is ministering to anyone but themselves. Should entering the priesthood be even considered until his head stops spinning?

And I don't care if he's gay or straight. But let's ponder a question: would a straight man who had engaged in such behavior be allowed such latitude? Would someone who was not in the public eye in the same situation be allowed to jump into the process?

I doubt it. Is the Church THAT desperate for priests? Not from what I have seen. And let's also not forget how flighty and unhinged this makes the Episcopal Church appear.

One would hope that a requirement for Holy Orders would be that a person refrain if at all possible from unethical or hateful behavior, that he or she would "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." I'm serious here. Priests are not saints (most of 'em), but I don't think that that standard is too high a bar for anyone. Religion should be about more than just beliefs-- it should be about behavior. We are called to walk in the footsteps of Jesus-- ordained or lay, all of us-- and I don't think Jesus ever used the excuse of "She knew I was having affairs because she was in on it, so that makes it okay."

No comments: