Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Blessing of Same Gender Unions

September 3, 2008

At our last General Convention deputies passed a resolution that promised that they would exercise ‘caution’ or some such thing in the election of a partnered gay or lesbian to the Episcopate. One of our deputies voted against it as he was not willing ‘to achieve unity at the expense of gay people’; another told me that he voted for it because it bought time without really committing us to anything.’ This is the basis for the Episcopal Church agreeing to a ‘moratorium’ on the consecration of any GLBT people as bishops. The basis for our moratorium on the blessing of same gender unions is that there has been no official move in convention to develop or allow such liturgies. What is happening now, we say, is that some bishops are allowing a ‘pastoral response’ to some of our members. Neither of these measures or moves will ever satisfy those who insist that the church must provide no affirmation of any kind to homosexual people unless they realize that intimate relationships are not open to them if they wish to be faithful and fulfilled Christians. That being the case, and given that people of such a belief (or at least willing to go along with leaders who hold to such a belief with passion) are moving ahead with their quest for ‘parallel jurisdictions’ and the like, then what is stopping us having a conversation about whether or not we should be developing liturgies for same gender unions and changing our constitution to allow the possibility that marriage, expressed legally, can be entered by two people of the same gender?

At the moment, our ‘muddling through’ appears not to be working very well for us. We have a bishop in a relationship that is only sanctioned by virtue of his consecration as bishop. We have bishops and clergy in at least two states where parishioners are getting married by the State and the church says ‘we cannot bless tht union’ getting us into all kinds of logical problems. (It is arguably worse in England where as I understand it, clergy may enter into official partnerships as long as they promise to be celibate.) We are in a situation where our gay and lesbian members cannot celebrate their commitments to one another in the church building (on the basis that we are attempting to honor where the rest of the church and of our diocese find themselves and not do anything that could be construed as ‘illegal’ or against the spirit of where we are as Anglicans and so on.) But if none of this ‘charitable restraint’ is to make any difference then I think we should move full steam ahead to doing what is right and seek to persuade the church as a whole to move forward decently and in order on this matter. For that reason I am making a personal contribution to an organization called ‘Claiming the Blessing’. You can find out more about it here:

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