The first openly gay Episcopal bishop says he is being falsely accused of suggesting that Jesus might have been homosexual.

"I can assure you with absolute certainty that was not my implication, and certainly not anything I ever said," Bishop V. Gene Robinson (search) told the New Hampshire Union Leader.

He said he is "being flooded with angry messages" because of Web log comments about his comments at a Feb. 13 forum on sexual issues at Christ Church in Hamilton, Mass.

Robinson said he was making the point that the nuclear family is a relatively new idea 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 says in a recording from the forum on the church's Web site, "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."

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 said Monday.

Robinson married and had two daughters before accepting his own homosexuality. He has lived for years with his male partner.

"I happen to think the traditional family is a wonderful thing. I'm a product of it," said at the Hamilton forum. "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?"

Robinson did not immediately respond to a phone message from The Associated Press seeking comment Tuesday.

The Episcopal Church (search), with 2.4 million members, is the U.S. branch of the 77 million-member Anglican Communion (search), which traces its roots to the Church of England. The church has been roiled by controversy since Robinson's ordination in 2003.