A Tragedy For More Than The Couple Involved


Gene Robinson, the openly gay bishop whose election split the Anglican church, has announced that he is divorcing his husband. Robinson, 66, who retired in 2010, made his announcement in an email to the diocese of New Hampshire and in an article for The Daily Beast. He and Mark Andrew entered a civil union in 2008 and converted it to a marriage when New Hampshire legalised the institution, in 2010.

I am disappointed in Gene Robinson. He has let us down by doing exactly what the haters said he would. That is possibly the worst possible sin a campaigner for justice can commit. However, we can't all be Louie Clay (né Crew) who I am sure I will be mentioning when the trolls begin to crow.

Susan Russell writes: "Gene Robinson has not let you down. This is not about you. It is about the sad reality that sometimes our highest and best hopes are dashed and when that happens, to deal with it with the kind of transparency and integrity Gene and Mark are dealing with this very personal tragedy is, I believe, an example to us all."

To which I reply: "I don't condemn him. But I am disappointed in him. And it is about all of us who will have to spin this one. It will not be so much of a problem in the USA where the inclusion of gay people in the Episcopal Church is pretty much a fait accompli but it is going to be a challenge for us still fighting for justice in the UK and elsewhere. I think at times like these we should be honest about the damage."


A Tragedy For More Than The Couple Involved — 11 Comments

  1. I do think this sad event will be used by those who cynically oppose the justice issues in England and elsewhere. It is not Gene or Mark’s fault, but it is none-the-less what we can expect.

  2. I’m not disappointed in either +Gene or Mark; I am very sad for them. It sounds as if they really tried. According to Gene’s announcement, they went several times for counseling but couldn’t resolve their differences. Having been down that same road (though not as clergy), I understand how difficult it is to try to hold a marriage together and find it impossible to do while staying true to oneself.

    As the kids say, haters gonna hate – unless, of course, it’s one of their own. They will make excuses for the Jerry Falwells and anyone else who subscribes to their own views, regardless of how egregious the behavior. And we know they’ll jump at any opportunity, real or imagined, to criticize anyone who rejects their world view.

    In the same way that +Gene couldn’t deny his call to the episcopate based on the opinions of others, so he could not – and should not – stay in a marriage that wasn’t working just to avoid the criticism of others. A bad marriage, more than any other bad relationship, can kill one’s spirit. To willingly accept that death would be the real sin.

    • Are we not being just as guilty as those evangelicals. I see no difference between our justification of Gene’s actions and their justification of their idols actions. At least they have the decency to go through the motions of demanding repentance. We are in danger of being seen as people with no moral standards whatsoever.

  3. I don’t think so, Jonathan. Perhaps some, but not all. I certainly don’t condemn sinners – it’s above my pay grade. However, I do have an issue with people who condemn others’ behaviors while engaging in the same – or worse – behaviors, and that’s what I see happening here. I don’t see divorce as a sin anyway, but adultery is, IMO.

    If you have the chance, watch the documentary “Outrage.” It addresses the issue of hypocrisy among closeted US politicians, and expresses exactly the kind of excuse-making I’m referring to.

  4. I read such news, and get a sense of “heaviness” for which I don’t have a better word. I suppose it’s because of my own experience and the loss of relationship due to the other’s wanderings through the fog of addiction. But regardless, I would not wish the end of relationship on my worst enemy since it’s like death minus the ability to understand it. Am I disappointed in Bishop Gene? Yes, as much as I’m disappointed in myself. The detractors will celebrate, not realizing that they are revealing more about themselves than they are about same-gender relationships.

  5. Justification? I don’t have any idea that anybody did anything wrong, that I need to “justify” it.

    Human beings are inherently broken, and the evidence of that is everywhere. Because these two people are known in particular to me, their brokenness makes me particularly sad.

    Beyond that, it’s ALL to the mercy of God . . . as it always it.

    {{{Gene & Mark}}}

  6. I think I get it. I’m disappointed too. I realize they must have had enormous pressures that took a toll on their marriage and my heart goes out to them. Still, it does indeed feed into the ammunition of the naysayers.

  7. MP you are coming dangerously close to saying the same thing Justin Welby said: We mustn’t do something that will cause difficulties for other people.

    Co-dependency is co-dependency no matter who is buying into it.

    Life happens. All we can do is deal with it; we can’t change it. Bigots will be bigots no matter what is done or said. If one excuse doesn’t exist, they will find another. Trying to eliminate their excuses puts them in control.

    • I’m not saying that Gene shouldn’t get divorced. I am saying that I am disappointed in him for breaking a promise and letting the team down. If I was the priest of somebody in his position I would tell them exactly the same and then tell them about the God who forgives all who truly repent. God does not make excuses for us, God forgives us. Of course, many, probably most, people now believe that divorce is value neutral, just something that happens, like changing your dentist. I don’t. I believe that it is a sin that is sometimes the better option of two evils. I’m not forcing that view on anybody which is why I say that “I” am disappointed. If other people are not disappointed that is their concern. But I fear that the haters may be right when they call us relativists and goal line changers.

  8. Jesus is very clear about divorce in Mark and in Matthew. Don’t do it. Yet we do it. We sin, we repent and we are forgiven. Sometimes we humans have little choice except to sin if we are to continue to live, but we cannot brush off our sin by calling it sad. We are called as followers of Jesus to regret that we sin and ask forgiveness. We are called to change, to walk differently than when we sinned. Sometimes we can do that; sometimes we can’t. How many times does God forgive sins? Seems to me as if it is every time. Sin affects everyone connected to it; so we who hold +Gene in our hearts are affected by his divorce. But, we don’t have to forgive him; God takes care of that. Therefore, we should use it as caution to be better followers of Jesus ourselves.

    • I went to all the trouble of replying to Deacon Charlie and then read Margaret’s comment which says everything I was trying to say but much better.