Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Episcopal Church Votes To Bless Same Sex Unions

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.


This decision is half a loaf.  But which is better?  Half a loaf or starvation?


JCF said...

"I view politics in the light of the Gospel, and it is that Gospel proclamation that made me a progressive."

Preach! [That's to this whole post, not just the quote ;-)]

Tristan Alexander said...

And a spokesman for the church on CNN made it very clear that he agreed with the "blessing" but was NOT in favor of same sex marraige. He said this was NOT a step to making that real in the church!So, is this realy anything but lip service?

MarkBrunson said...

Who was the spokesman? What was his position within the church? What, indeed, did he actually say, without interpretation from someone with an axe to grind against all Christians (everywhere, forever, even if they were to cure cancer and bring peace and prosperity for all)?

It really is getting tiresome, Tristan. What is the point of answering you? What is the point of your asking? Nothing any Christian ever does will be enough to stop you bashing all of us. Is that the great, glorious, new world of atheism? Doesn't look much different from what went before, to me.

Counterlight said...

I think Gene Robinson and Mary Glasspool are both quite a bit more than lip service.

This may be too short a step from full marriage equality, but for a lot of other people, it is several steps too far. The Anglican blogs are crackling with outrage.

Counterlight said...

Here's a small sample of the right wing reaction on the comment thread at Thinking Anglicans:

"Far from the zenith of heavenly Zion, this 'liturgy' represents the nadir of contempt for Holy Writ."

"Heaven above, the Holy Spirit is being banded about as if it is something bought from an off- licence. The result of this decision of the American Episcopal Church will be more significent defections to other denominations, not necessarily Rome, and many of them young married people. Already the TEC is a ghost of itself and it will soon be a wraith. But the reality is that for some time a significant number of Episcopalian parishes (some with openly lesbian incumbents) have been performing same-sex marriages without let or hindrance. For example, Google Emmanuel, Boston, and read its website in full. They even perform marriages for Jewish gays!."

Murdoch Matthew said...

Something may be both/and. It was the best of times and the worst of times, as Dickens might say. TEC has recognized same-sex relationships. This is a big deal, and moves the conversation forward. All the effort to reform the church is worthwhile, and helps keep it out of the hands of those who would use it to oppress. So, Yay!

A friend notes that activists have been working for thirty years to drag the church this far. You'd think that something spirit-filled would be lighter.

I fear that, from outside, this little bit of progress only marks the church as irrelevant. In NYS, Canada, and many other places, we have MARRIAGE. Who needs blessings?

General Convention did take a bold stand against DOMA, however. Every bit of religious opposition to DOMA helps.

Murdoch Matthew said...

Counterlight: What you said on Thinking Anglicans:
"This IS marriage by another name. We should come clean as a church and embrace these rites for what they are instead of trying to distance ourselves from same sex marriage for the sake of political expediency. We certainly haven't fooled or appeased the opponents of marriage equality, and we've not earned any credibility with the gay community. Half measures never work." --Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 1:15pm BST
Right on.

Tristan Alexander said...

Well Mark, any comment or critisism is seen as attack by people like you! I am not against all Christians, just the orginization itself! And I am NOT an atheist! I have said that before. You assume that anyone critical of Christianity is an atheist...and that well, lest just say, you judge me alot for someone who complains that I judge others!

Look it up on CNN I am sure they wil have the interview and names since I do not recall who te spokes person was that I saw! And my not having that name at hand in no way changes MY report of the matter how much you imply it does!

JCF said...

I am not against all Christians, just the orginization itself!

What does this mean? It's OK to be isolated Christians, here or there, but as soon as we get together to, um, organize (for love, service, worship), then we become your personal bete noire, Tristan?

This is a denomination that did NOT break up over slavery/the Civil War. You may find that regrettable (I do), but it IS our long-time not-pertaining-to-sexuality tendency. As such, we tend to take 1 step back, for ever *2* steps forward...

...but we ARE moving forward. As fast as a Gallup poll re SSM? No. But we haven't been BANNING ssm in the past 10 years either! Give us *something* for our consistency?

Remember, EVEN when "Legalize Gay" isn't trendy, Episcopalians will STILL be there for you. We're faithful that way!

MarkBrunson said...

You prove what I say, Tristan. You're nothing but angry and given to rejection. There's no point in engaging with you. It means and does nothing - it's doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

I just wanted others to see it, and you've shown them. Thank you.

Tristan Alexander said...

Well Mark, you got me, I am only here to prove you right! Ego much?

And JCF I am just returning practicing what has been preached to me, If you can hate the sin but not the sinner, I can hate the beliefs but not the beliver.

JCF said...

But hate WHAT beliefs? EVERYBODY has a belief-system, Tristan. Every sentient human being! If you hate them ALL, then you hate yourself, too (cuz you most certainly have one).

But if you don't hate them all, then which ones? Can you look at my Episcopal beliefs *specifically*, w/o covering it w/ the blanket hatred you reserve for others?

Just about every belief-system gives explicit value to "the good" (however the word good is translated), even the Nazis. You wouldn't hate every belief-system just because they share the word "good". So why do you dismiss my belief-system, just because it shares words w/ the (execrable) Christianists?

As gay people, we are sick-unto-death for answering for the crimes of pedophiles (we ain't Them!). I feel the same as an Episcopalian. I ain't a Christianist, so don't diss me that way!

Counterlight said...

"As gay people, we are sick-unto-death for answering for the crimes of pedophiles (we ain't Them!). I feel the same as an Episcopalian. I ain't a Christianist, so don't diss me that way"


Tristan Alexander said...

Well, you all love to label others as NOT you, and claim those you disagree with who call themselves Christians are NOt "real Christians", This is not a valid argument to me, so play the word games all you want. I think you know what I mean and being attacked for my oppinions and trying to explain them is an old tactic of those who know they are in the wrong! Christians are the only ones I have ever heard use the "Hate the sin but not the sinner" so WHO do you think I was refering to in my hate the belife comment! Come on, try a new tact...Or just tell me to go away and I will stop commenting. I do in many casses agree with our host on many subjects, and I only read this page becuase he posts some things I learn something from on occasion! But if not getting sunshine blown up your butts and being chalenged and doubted by someone who used to follow your "Christian" ways is to hard for you all, I can just deleat this blog and never disturbe your issolated little fantasy land again!

Counterlight said...

I don't think equating "gay"and "pedophile" is a word game.

Neither is equating "Muslim" and "terrorist," or "Christianist" and "Episcopalian."

As for whether or not you want to continue following this blog, it's your call. I don't think I've ever read a single comment of yours where I'm not being shouted at.