The Impossibility of Bishops
A bishop must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way—for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church? – 1 Timothy 3:4-5 (NRSV)
The United Church of Christ prides itself on not having bishops. We are allergic to the idea.
Is our opposition to bishops based on (A) the noble preference for democracy over autocracy or (B) the scripture above?
I’d say B. Because, really, can any parent on earth claim to have children who are submissive and respectful in every way? If that’s the prerequisite, bishops are impossible to find.
Moreover, if ever there was a person with totally submissive and respectful children, we might question their parenting and leadership styles. Submission is based in fear. Submission is the demand of dictators. Submission tends not to engender trust, genuine love, and free expression.
Is that the management style needed for Christ’s church? Conversely, do we want church leaders disciplined every time Junior gets snippy?
I think not.
Let’s give all church and denominational leaders encouragement and room to care for themselves, their families, and their flocks with the heart of Christ, with love, respect, grace and truth. The church will thank them. One day, their kids might appreciate them too.
Holy Parent, please show me the way.
Matt Laney is the Senior Pastor of Virginia Highland Church UCC in Atlanta, GA and the author of Pride Wars, a fantasy series published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for Young Readers. The first two books, The Spinner Prince and The Four Guardians are available now.