Thou Shalt Now Covet by Robert Hart

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Thou Shalt Now Covet

Robert Hart on Spiritual Evolution & the Myth of Equal Rights

I did not know the man I was drinking tea with in the parish hall below my office. He had introduced himself as a retired Episcopal priest a few days before, when he'd called for this appointment. He told me then that he was offering something called "coaching," and was asking for referrals from local clergy. At the time of the call I had thought he was running some sort of sports team, but now, over tea, he was telling me what he meant by the word "coaching."

"We ask five power questions to help people change their lives," he told me (I cannot remember even one of those power questions). "This helps individuals grow and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and recognize his working in their lives."

"So far so good," I thought to myself. "At least up until now he has said things I cannot fault." Still, something felt wrong. And then he told me what coaching had done for him.

"It helped me evolve," he said with a wide smile. Since he appeared to be an average homo sapiens, I awaited an explanation. "Why, just last week I drove up to Maryland and did my first ever same-sex wedding."

"That's because you evolved?"

"I believe the Holy Spirit evolves us." His grin was not one whit diminished.

"I would never even consider such a thing," I said, looking him square in the face. "I don't see that as evolving, but as backsliding. You have fallen away from Christ. I will not be referring any of my parishioners to you for any sort of guidance, or 'coaching.'"

His grin disappeared, and he looked shocked. "I think that's a harsh judgment for you to make," he said.

"I have made no judgment; I have simply remained faithful to what was revealed in the Scriptures long ago," I told him. Our conversation was substantially over at that point, and within a few minutes I was rinsing out two cups, while he was in his car, driving down our long wooded driveway to the road.


Robert Hart is rector of St. Benedict's Anglican Catholic Church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (Anglican Catholic Church Original Province). He also contributes regularly to the blog The Continuum. He is a contributing editor of Touchstone.

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