Joel Belz: Homosexuality in church leadership

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Wednesday, September 12th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. WORLD Founder Joel Belz now with some tough advice for church leaders.

JOEL BELZ, FOUNDER: Imagine this scenario. You’re an officer in an evangelical church. The congregation has been thriving and the spirit is good.

But then your assistant pastor informs church leaders that he struggles with a sexual attraction to other men.

Not only that, but he’s making it publicly known. Through his dress, manner, and associations, he demonstrates his preference for a personal identity consistent with homosexuality. But he assures you that there’s no cause for worry, since he is sexually celibate.

How’s a church to respond? Well, probably not by doing what the Roman Catholic Church has been doing for the last few genera­tions.

By most accounts, the Catholic hierarchy has willingly trained and ordained priests who self-identify as homosexual—all on the promise that they would remain celibate.

Those promises have been violated to such a degree that Arch­bishop Carlo Maria Vigano has called for the “eradication” of—quote—“homosexual networks” within the clergy. He says they are “widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, [and] religious orders.”

Archbishop Vigano points specifically to now ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. He was the powerful Archbishop of Washington, D.C., who has been credibly accused of having sex with seminarians and young priests.

As for minors, Archbishop Vigano points to the report of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. It found that over a period of more than 50 years, more than 80 percent of “child” victims of priests were male. More than 85 percent were aged 10 to 17.

It’s the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about. But we must, if we’re to have any hope of overcoming this scourge.

Wisconsin Bishop Robert Morlino put it this way. Quoting now—“There has been a great deal of effort to keep separate acts which fall under the category of now-culturally acceptable acts of homosexuality from the publically deplorable acts of pedophilia. That is to say, until recently the problems of the church have been painted purely as problems of pedophilia—this despite clear evidence to the contrary.”

Protestants and evangelicals should be forewarned. Reaching out with helpful compassion to those entrapped by homosexual temptation is not only good—it’s our Christian duty. And I readily admit some of us need to learn how to be more welcoming on that front.

But giving positions of church leadership to people who embrace sexual disorders—all on the promise they will be chaste—is foolhardy. It sets them up for a fall.

Bishop Morlino is kindly but firm when he says: “For my part—and I know I am not alone—I am tired of this. I am tired of people being hurt, gravely hurt! I am tired of the obfuscation of truth. I am tired of sin. And… I am tired of the regular violations of sacred duties by those entrusted with immense responsibility from the Lord for the care of His people.”

We evangelicals would be wise to take great care that we don’t follow the same path.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Joel Belz.

(AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino) Pope Francis arrives in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican for his weekly general audience, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. 

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