I know that just about the world and his dog has been commenting on this recently, and I’m late to the party anyway, but I just wanted to add my two cents. I heard last week that Jeffrey John was reported to be thinking of suing the Church for discrimination.
Now this was galling to me last week, but what pushed me to actually blog about it (I know, BLOGGING about it, can you believe!) was a lecture we had today on 1 Timothy 3.
Let me try and explain: it’s nothing to do with Jeffrey John’s sexuality, or at least – it’s only indirectly related.
The point is that he is wanting to sue the church for discrimination in not making him a bishop. Two things need to be said:
- Bringing lawsuits against believers in this manner is, I believe, prohibited by 1 Corinthians 6. What message does it send out to the world, let alone to the church?
- It seems to me that Dr John, by (contemplating) bringing this lawsuit, is denying the fact that there are people in the church who would be at all opposed to his appointment. In other words, hang the unity of the body of Christ – I want to be appointed a bishop. This leads onto the third thing.
- What’s the big deal about not being appointed a Bishop? Can one not serve God by being a dean? (To be honest I don’t really like the fact that he’s even a Dean but that’s another matter). The point is, he seems to be displaying a level of ambition which would make me question his motive for becoming a bishop. This is where 1 Timothy 3 comes in: apparently the word translated ‘sets his heart’ in the NIV in v1 has the meaning of over-ambition. The question is, does Jeffrey John want the office of Bishop, or the service?
On that last point, the lecturer this morning quoted John Chrysostom. I can’t find the exact quote, but this seems relevant:
That we may have glory with men, we lose ourselves with God. What profit in such honor? How self-evident its nothingness is! When you covet the episcopal rank, put in the other scale, the account to be rendered after this life. Weigh against it, the happiness of a life free from toil, take into account the different measure of the punishment. I mean, that even if you have sinned, but in your own person merely, you will have no such great punishment, nothing like it: but if you have sinned as bishop, you are lost. (Source)
It seems to me that anyone who desires the post of a Bishop that much, to the point of suing the church about it, is not really Bishop material.