One Episcopal Priest

When my son was a pre-teen, he became an acolyte in our church (Episcopal). He loved serving at the altar, was active in the youth group, attended an Episcopal high school. He loved (and still loves) the beauty of the liturgy, and was so attentive to detail that he was the one people asked for to serve at weddings, baptisms, funerals, and was always crucifer or thurifer on Christmas, Easter, and other high mass occasions. He was a favorite of the Bishop, who always requested that he serve for confirmations. The compliments he received were numberless and frequent. Tall, handsome, reverent, detail-oriented, he was the epitome of the parish acolyte.

In a tearful, gut-wrenching episode, he came out to me in his late teens and changed forever my understanding of what it means to be a gay youth. Through him, God was able to change my heart and open my mind to the reality of gay teens – the pain, the fear, the incredible efforts to conceal his true self.

About this time, our long-time parish priest retired and the conservative element in the parish brought in a man who began to preach what had never been said from our pulpit: That homosexuality was an abomination. That gays (and Jews and others this priest considered unworthy) were going to hell. That the only way to avoid it was to renounce, repent, change his very nature. Within a year, we had heard this venom so often that our family changed parishes, and my son left the church he loved, returning only sporadically in the intervening 24 years.

He still loves God, he will attend church with me when we’re together (he lives all the way across the country), he knows that there are Episcopal churches out there that are welcoming and where he would find a home, but the betrayal was so profound that it has left him quite afraid to commit to a place. He knows how quickly acceptance can change to rejection. He knows that the very people who asked for him at the important events of their lives wouldn’t accept him into their lives on a personal level.

I believe there is at least one Episcopal priest who will have a lot to answer for when he accounts for his life and ministry.

About Ron Goetz

My first wife used to say, "There's nothing so sacred that Ron won't pick it apart." My desire to be a pastor -- that was a temperamental mismatch. She was so patient. If my birth mother had lived somewhere else, maybe I would've become a cold case detective. But I would have had to be J instead of a P, I think. And that mid-life reevaluation, starting adolescence as a GARB fundamentalist and transitioning to a non-theist, that gave me an unusual skill set.
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16 Responses to One Episcopal Priest

  1. Patricia Brush says:

    That priest is guilty of spiritual terrorism as well as of trying to separate your son from God. Your son probably has a better understanding of God than the priest has.


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Most people never question the beliefs of their tribe. Having a place to belong is really important to us. Unfortunately, innocent little gay and lesbian babies will continue to be born to straight fundamentalist parents, (almost) forever.


      • Patricia Brush says:

        I find it amazing how the “beliefs of their tribe” will block people from accepting proven fact. It’s yet another example of “Don’t confuse me with the facts. My mind is already made up.”


      • Ron Goetz says:

        They also call it confirmation bias. For example, I assume that Trump supporters, if not racists, have a greater tolerance for racism than I do.

        I filter all political rhetoric through a “holocaust filter.” Hitler capitalized on pre-existing Christian anti-Semitism. He didn’t create that prejudice out of thin air.

        The problem? We are mammals, with an instinct for aggression. We exterminated Neanderthals, our most recent rivals. Some of us still insult our fellow primates by calling them Neanderthals.

        Another problem? Harnessing aggressive instincts for competitive politics REALLY works.

        What is crooked cannot be straightened,
        What is lacking cannot be counted.

        Nevertheless, we must fight the good fight. Never give up, never surrender.

        What does it mean that the fascists beat the liberals in Weimar Germany?

        Liked by 1 person

      • xnlover says:

        You ask, “What does it mean that the fascists beat the liberals in Weimar Germany?”

        It causes me to recall, among other things, the ease with which GW Bush got the civil-rights-destroying Patriot Act passed versus the difficulty with which Obama got any kind of bill passed that expanded healthcare for millions of Americans with Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress. Perhaps liberals are to accepting of varieties of opinion, and getting them to agree on anything is more like herding cats than like bringing about a consensus; while conservatives, valuing “authority” and “order” more highly than liberals, are more easily marshaled into lockstep with each other.

        I thought at the time of 9/11 that not only were the perpetrators all killed in the attacks, and that the pursuit of collaborators could have easily – and more effectively – been handled as a law enforcement matter, gaining the cooperation of every Western nation’s law enforcement apparatus to track down the web of instigators and bring them to justice, while capitalizing on the nearly worldwide sympathy for America in light of the death of nearly 3000 innocent civilians and the destruction of an iconic landmark that was recognized around the world.

        Instead, we squandered the good will of the world by starting two wars that killed many more civilians than were killed on 9/11, and even many Democrats were cowed into supporting this insanity for fear of “looking weak,” instead of bearing the cross of crying out for justice at the risk of their political careers with the realization that when one “dies” for doing what is right, one is “resurrected” by being seen in retrospect as the one who had been right all along and whose actions put to shame those who allowed fear and self-preservation to be their guides.


      • Ron Goetz says:

        Every action Hitler took was entirely legal. The ACLU warned that the so-called Patriot Act was too far-reaching. You are right. We will live to mourn the day congress passed the Patriot Act.

        Long live the Republic.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike says:

    Well since the Bible is our foundation for what we stand on and believe in, please show me in the Word (verses) how you come to your reasoning? And another thing, don’t just pull a scripture from here and there. For the Word of God testifies in behalf of itself, not against itself.


    • Ron Goetz says:

      Mike, I have published scores of posts on what the Bible teaches, and does not teach, about gays and lesbians. If you’ll look thru the banner area, you’ll find the many headings under which they are found.

      I have responded to the Clobber Passages, to the Illegitimate Use of the Torah under the New Covenant, as well as Jesus’ specific acceptance of gays and lesbians.

      Those posts, and the lengthy discussion threads, should give you plenty to read over the holidays.

      If you respond with questions I have already discussed, I will suggest you keep reading the discussion threads.

      Merry Christmas!


    • xnlover says:

      Mike, Be careful about having an unteachable spirit, because the Holy Spirit won’t give you the new wisdom that’s available to you unless you truly acknowledge that you don’t yet know the mind of God – and “acknowledge” not just with your rational faculty, but in your heart – which is much harder to do than just saying, defensively, “Well, of course I don’t yet know the mind of God. Only Jesus knew that.”

      Such a statement always has a “but” implied at its end, and that “but” is followed by something like, “I know what I know, and I don’t believe the person with whom I’m arguing knows what’s ‘right’ any better than I, and perhaps not even as well.”


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