Sunday, April 21, 2013

Who Is David Virtue? -- I

The biggest source of good press for "continuing Anglicans" on the web is the Virtue Online site, named for David Virtue, "D.D.". Although Virtue has been active on behalf of fractious Anglicanism (which he mischaracterizes as "orthodox" Anglicanism; since Anglicanism has traditionally represented a broad spectrum of beliefs, I don't think there is a particular "orthodox" strain). There have been remarkably few questions about who David Virtue himself is, none recent. You can find a review of earlier issues about his qualifications, dated 2007, here.

The first question raised in that document relates to his objections to the election of openly gay Bishop of New Hampshire Eugene Robinson in 2003 -- I've referred to Robinson so much that perhaps I should just call him OGBONHER. The piece cited there refers to him as "The notorious online source of an aggressive anti-women, anti-homosexual agenda", and from visiting his site now and then over the past two years in an attempt to understand "continuing Anglicanism", I would judge that is an accurate characterization.

This means that I should establish where I stand on the matter of same-sex attraction. Fresh from Catholic confirmation class, I believe I have the Church's teaching on this matter right: same-sex attraction is not in itself a sin. Prejudice or discrimination against those attracted to the same sex, on the other hand, is wrong. Same-sex sexual activity is a sin. None of us, gay or straight, is without sin. The Church deals with sin via the sacraments. What people confess to, and how they deal with sin moving forward, is confidential.

I live in a part of the country that's tolerant of gays, and in a city that's especially tolerant of gays. The late Fr Carroll Barbour, the openly gay former Rector of St Thomas Episcopal Church Hollywood, had a profound spiritual effect on a generation of parishioners there. He converted to Catholicism after retiring as Rector. As far as I can see, there is nothing in Catholicism that is specifically anti-gay, and the teaching of the Church, as well as of mainstream Christianity, is that all our sins can be forgiven. So, lest there be any misunderstanding, I believe my position on same-sex attraction is the same as (and I mean it to be the same as) the position of the Catholic Church.

I think David Virtue, on the other hand, is deeply confused over the Christian position in this and many other areas -- in fact, looking at his posts, I think he's often simply confused. If anyone has links or other solid information that might be useful in this discussion, I'll be most happy to get them.