Edward Hicks, The Peaceable Kingdom, circa 1826 - 1830
The General Convention of the Episcopal Church voted by large margins in all houses to draft a blessing for same sex unions. As IT points out, this is short of full marriage equality, but it's a huge step in that direction. The Episcopal Church becomes the largest and the oldest Christian congregation to officially bless same sex relationships including civil marriages.
The Episcopal Church now stakes out a clearly progressive position on the Gospel. I think it would be unjust to claim that progressives like myself view the Gospel in the light of our politics. I view politics in the light of the Gospel, and it is that Gospel proclamation that made me a progressive. I remind readers that I started out as a libertarian conservative (still too far left for today's right wing).
It is that Gospel proclamation of "Peace, Good Will to All People" that cut through all the tangled bigotry to show me that I was included in that greeting, and no, that I did not have to "choose" between the Gospel and my sexuality.
Locked away in the hard amber of doctrinalism beats the revolutionary heart of Christianity, a faith that proclaims a new heaven and a new earth for the old heaven and earth have passed away. Such a proclamation will never fit comfortably with the traditional role of religion to legitimize established power. No faith that makes such a proclamation can call itself conservative.
"Behold, I am making all things new."
"The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone."
With this act, the Episcopal Church moves the world a tiny step in the direction of Isaiah's vision of the Holy Mountain of God.
The actions of the Episcopal Church may not be enough for some of us, but for others, it was way too much. The South Carolina delegation at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church walks out.
The 12 bishops who voted against the same-sex rite issued a statement at the Convention.
As far as they are concerned, this rite IS marriage by another name:
The liturgy entitled “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” is for all practical purposes same-sex marriage. It includes all of the essential elements found in a marriage rite: vows, an exchange of rings, a pronouncement, and a blessing. We believe that the rite subverts the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer, places The Episcopal Church outside the mainstream of Christian faith and practice, and creates further distance between this Church and the Anglican Communion along with other Christian churches.
I actually agree with the bishops. This really is marriage by another name, and it is time for the Church to come clean and to quit trying to distance ourselves from what this really is for the sake of political expediency. Our opponents are not appeased, and we've not earned any more credibility with the larger gay community. Half measures never work.
Of course, the dissenting bishops want nothing but the best for their gay-lesbian parishoners, and we certainly would not want to accuse them of being homophobic, heaven forbid!
We are committed to the gay and lesbian Christians who are members of our dioceses. Our Baptismal Covenant pledges us to “respect the dignity of every human being” (BCP, p. 305), and we will continue to journey with them as together we seek to follow Jesus.
Sorry your graces, but no sale.
Tips of the fedora to Grandmere Mimi and to IT.
EVEN MORE EXTRA:
This decision is half a loaf. But which is better? Half a loaf or starvation?