My friend (and onetime fellow Episcopalian) David Mills speaks dryly, slyly, of the Episcopal Church’s “usual irrelevance” in “Pulling the Trigger” (Vital Signs, March).  Well, you know, the question is: “relevant” to what?  In this present case, to the received Christian Faith?  Ha and double-ha.

Stand Christian morality on its head, as did the Episcopal General Convention in confirming the election of a homosexual as bishop, and you deserve scant credit from the sort of Anglican who prefers John Wesley or John Newman to John Spong.

Nevertheless, to the large, mysterious purposes of the Lord, I think I might detect some relevance in all this mess.  Namely, this: At last we get to watch this whole gay-liberation saga, in its religious context, play out on the stage instead of via suggestions in the ads and playbills; the full orchestra tuned up and sawing  away; the dialogue and recitative given out word for word, rather than cunningly excerpted.

Even now, a few “relevancies” pop up amid the Johnson grass and clover.

1.  The inexhaustibility of the homosexual agenda.  This is Mr. Mills’ central argument, and he is dead right; because the effect of the General Convention’s vote is to sweep away signs that denote moral limits.  Where would Episcopalians post such signs now, having moved beyond the Scriptural/theological understanding of sex as the means of male-female fulfillment and of propagation?  Doesn’tanything go now?  If not, why not?  On what principles of morality do we now defend natural sex as against the nonnatural kind?  The dike has been breached.  Anything can seep through.

2.  The shamelessness of a theological left willing to override historic Christian understanding with shabby, feel-good arguments—claiming the direction of the “Holy Spirit” (a spirit that evidently talks out of different sides of its mouth to different parts of the Church).  The agendas of the ecclesiastical left are congruent with those of the political and cultural left, and that is no bad thing to keep in mind.

3.  The existence and comparative unity of an in-house resistance movement.  A characteristic of members of modern American society is the felt need to nod sympathetically at group claims of deprivation.  No nods come from the Episcopal conservatives now organizing opposition to and, ultimately, physical detachment from, the gay-sayers.  I do think my friend David is a little starchy with those conservatives who do not yet see the verifiable connection between women’s ordination and gay lib.  Give ’em a little credit, I say, for maybe beginning to see or, perhaps, just to ask questions.

4.  The intolerance of the newly tolerated.  Think the Episcopal Church is going to recognize the rights of those who assert what the Church Herself used to assert?  Think again.  The hierarchy’s attitude, respecting dissenters, is, Dammit, we won, and you lost!  Or, as one bishop recently declared with sweet Christian charity, those who don’t like the new state of things should go elsewhere.  Maybe they will.  Many are on their way now.  Whatever the case, it is with eyes and ears tuned in to realities no one can any longer call dreams or distant prospects or one-day-perhapses.

        —William Murchison
Dallas, TX