MANCHESTER, N.H. -- The first openly gay Episcopal bishop says he was falsely accused of suggesting that Jesus might have been homosexual, and is being deluged with angry messages.
''I can assure you with absolute certainty that was not my implication and certainly not anything I ever said," Bishop V. Gene Robinson told the New Hampshire Union Leader in a story published yesterday. ''I am furious for my remarks to be interpreted in a way as to mean something I never said."
Religion writer David Virtue apparently was the first to suggest otherwise in a blog entry based on remarks Robinson made Feb. 13 at Christ Church in Hamilton, Mass.
Other blogs and conservative publications took it from there, including The Daily Telegraph of London.
As a result, Robinson said, ''my office is being flooded with angry messages from around the country, and from around the world, about something I never said."
Robinson spoke at a church forum on sexual issues and said he was making the point that the nuclear family is a relatively new construct and that even for his time, Jesus apparently led a nontraditional life.
''Interestingly enough, in this day of traditional family values and so on," Robinson said in a recording from the forum, ''this man that we follow . . . was single as far as we know; who traveled with a bunch of men, although there were lots of women around; who had a disciple who was known as 'the one whom Jesus loved'; who said my family is not my mother and father, my family are those who do the will of God -- none of us like those harsh words. That's who Jesus is, that's who he was, at least in his earthly life."
Later Robinson said: ''Those who would posit the nuclear family as the be-all and end-all of God's creation probably don't find that much in the Gospels to support that. On the other hand, I happen to think the traditional family is a wonderful thing. I'm a product of it. I dearly love my family, and I love my own family, with my own two kids. It just looks a little nontraditional. But this Jesus, when you ask who is Jesus, he was not terribly mainstream, was he?"
Pointing out that Jesus was not married with children ''is a long way from saying Jesus is gay or saying that he had sex with anyone, male or female," Robinson told the paper.
Robinson was married and has two daughters. He has lived for years with his male partner.