The elevation of a homosexual priest to the level of bishop in the Episcopal Church (search) raises some profound questions for the future of that denomination and the future of Christendom as a whole.

The church is never more powerful than when it opposes culture and never less powerful than when it embraces it. The World Council of Churches once had a slogan, "The world sets the agenda for the Church." Excuse me, but shouldn't it be the other way around?

The rules concerning sexual expression are set down in Old and New Testaments. Man doesn't get to re-write them any more than the owner of a condominium can re-write the covenants to suit his tastes. For the church, or any part of it, to bend and break those rules is a violation called "heresy."

If you don't care that V. Gene Robinson, the  "gay-bishop-elect" as The New York Times calls him, is a homosexual, what about the fact that he divorced his wife and left his two children?

The Apostle named Paul wrote the job description for church leaders in a letter to his young protégé, Timothy. Paul said that an "overseer," or minister, "must be the husband of one wife," and "must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect."

Robinson fails to meet this standard, so like some Affirmative Action program, his church has lowered the standards.

Paul then asks an important question, "If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God's church?"

People often derided as "fundamentalists" for believing the Bible says what God means and means what God says have warned for generations about what happens when the church engages in "cafeteria theology" -- picking and choosing what it likes and ignoring what it doesn't like. Once you start editing the text, all things become not only possible, but probable.

The Anglican Church in Africa is exploding precisely because it sticks to the original intent of Scripture, as constitutionalists might put it.

The American church is losing members and their contributions precisely because too many are embracing cultural fashion, instead of the One to whom their allegiance is due.

And that's Column One for this week.

What do you think? Send your responses to: afterhours@foxnews.com.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.