Marriage task force calls for gender-neutral language in marriage canon

Proposed change would allow clergy to solemnize same-sex unions

[Episcopal News Service] The A050 Task Force on the Study of Marriage is recommending that the 2015 meeting of General Convention authorize Episcopal Church clergy to officiate at same-sex marriages.

The task force proposes the change in its just-released Blue Book report by way of a resolution (numbered A036) that would revise Canon I.18 titled “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” (page 58 of The Episcopal Church’s canons here).

The revision removes, among many edits, the language of I.18.2(b) that requires couples to “understand that Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman.” Removing that and other gender-specific language from the canon, the report says, addresses the mandate in the group’s enabling resolution that it “address the pastoral need for priests to officiate at a civil marriage of a same-sex couple in states that authorize such.”

Section 3 of Canon 18 would be rewritten to, in part, remove the requirement that the couple sign a declaration stating they “solemnly declare that we hold marriage to be a lifelong union of husband and wife as it is set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.”

The revision would recast the requirement in the canon’s first section that clergy conform to both “the laws of the state” and “the laws of this Church” about marriage. The rewritten portion of that section would require that clergy conform to “the laws of the State governing the creation of the civil status of marriage, and also to these canons concerning the solemnization of marriage.”

Canon I.18 contains the majority of the rules in the church’s canons about clergy officiating at marriage. Canon I.19 governs the “preservation of marriage, dissolution of marriage, and remarriage” and as such refers to “husband” and “wife” in its third section. The Book of Common Prayer, which Article X of the church’s constitution authorizes, refers to marriage on page 422 as Christian marriage being “a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God.” It uses gender-specific language throughout “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage,” “The Blessing of a Civil Marriage” and “An Order for Marriage” rites, as well as in its “Additional Directions” section.

The task force says in its report that its revision of Canon I.18 makes the canon “focused on the actual vows made in The Book of Common Prayer marriage rite, rather than on the purposes of marriage in general,” which it adds are stated “in literally creedal form.”

The clergy’s discretion to decline to solemnize any marriage is preserved and extended to include the choice to decline offering a blessing on a marriage, the task force said.

The 122-page report, the majority of which includes resources the task force developed for the study of marriage and essays on various issues concerning marriage, is available in English here and in Spanish here.

The task force was formed in response to a call (via Resolution A050) from the 77th General Convention in July 2012 for a group of “theologians, liturgists, pastors and educators to identify and explore biblical, theological, historical, liturgical and canonical dimensions of marriage.”

That same meeting of convention authorized provisional use of a rite to bless same-sex relationships. Use of that rite, Liturgical Resources I: I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing, is due to be reviewed by General Convention in 2015.

Noting the rapidly changing social and legal landscape of marriage, the Task Force on the Study of Marriage says in its report that “this time of flux bears continuing discernment and attention by our Church.”

Thus the group will ask convention to consider Resolution A037 to continue the task force’s work into the 2016-2018 triennium as a way to “explore further those contemporary trends and norms” the current group has identified.

Those trends and norms, the group’s report says, include “those who choose to remain single; unmarried persons in intimate relationships; couples who cohabitate either in preparation for, or as an alternative to, marriage; couples who desire a blessing from the Church but not marriage; parenting by single and/or unmarried persons; differing forms of family and household such as those including same-sex parenting, adoption, and racial diversity; and differences in marriage patterns between ethnic and racial groups, and between provinces inside and outside the United States.”

While doing its work this triennium, “the Task Force became highly aware of a growing contemporary reality in society and the Church that is redefining what many mean by ‘family’ or ‘household,’” the group says in its report, adding that “this changing reality is felt in our congregations.”

Marriage “as a normative way of life” is being challenged, yet the group says it “did not have the time or resources to fully address this reality.”

“More broadly, our Church has done very little to respond to it,” the task force says.

The task force’s two resolutions, as well as other expected proposed resolutions on marriage, will be handled by a special legislative Committee on Marriage when the General Convention next meets June 25-July 3 in Salt Lake City.

Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, said in July that they would appoint the committee “to ensure that the work of the Task Force on Marriage and resolutions related to the rapidly shifting contexts of civil marriage in the United States and in several other parts of the world can be given appropriate consideration.”

— The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is an editor/reporter of the Episcopal News Service.


  1. Rich Basta says:

    “Noting the rapidly changing social and legal landscape of marriage, the Task Force on the Study of Marriage says in its report that “this time of flux bears continuing discernment and attention by our Church.”

    How sad and pathetic. But, I know that I am a minority in this church. This Resolution will pass with an overwhelming majority, I suspect. I will pray daily that the EpiscopalChurch repents (“turns around”) from this error. Ultimately God will judge the correctess of this action, not I.

    I always thought that the Church has been and should be a counter culture, a counter-weight to the whims of the prevailing culture . “Be not conformed…but be ye transformed” is the cry of Scripture, specifically St. Paul. By going along with the culture on this very serious issue, the Task Force abuses Scripture, compromises the catholic church’s stand,a stand not shared incidentally by Roman Catholic Church, Mormans, Baptists, Muslims, orthodox Jews and the vast majority of the world’s religions.


    • Jesus’ teachings were often challenging to the established religious norms of his day. Jesus broke the rules in order to fulfill a greater law and purpose. Always a way to bring more people into the embrace of God’s love.

      • Doug Desper says:

        Hmmm… I don’t think your application is germane about marriage Donald.

        In Matthew 19 Jesus didn’t liberalize to the Greek, Roman, or pagan understandings of marriage, just to “include everybody”. He missed the golden opportunity if that’s what it’s all about. He returned the listener to Genesis 2 to understand God’s design for marriage:

        4 “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’5 and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

        Jesus had a whole history of aberrations of “marriage” to look back on including polygamy and other guises and had the golden opportunity to make marriage into something “new”, but he instead returned the listener to Genesis for “how to do marriage”. So, that implies that there is design and a value much greater than hospitality, generosity, or perceived notions of fairness.

        The reliance on “Reason” to make marriage what Jesus himself didn’t make it defies…well reason. We can make anything seem reasonable to ourselves and that should scare us.
        I have no doubt that General Convention will be ruled more by what looks fair than by the plain words of Christ. Doctrine by vote between lunch and the open cash bar.

        By all means, let’s just continue to irritate the pews by debating something that should be settled by the plain word of Christ himself.

        • F.W.Atkins says:

          Notice that Jesus says ” God said” and quotes a piece of the narrative of Genesis 2, not a piece within quotation marks. That is, Jesus understood Genesis to be spoken by God, and that it is God, not church or state, who defines marriage.

  2. Richard D Thorn says:

    Our Church continues to bend to the winds of Political correctness. So much that at times , it really stands tall for nothing.
    Give a “traditional couple” the choice of whether gender specific language is used or the time honored traditional language which may actually have a special meaning to the couple.
    Why make everything so homogenous? Is it marriage? Is it still a sacrament ? Do we have sacraments? Watering everything down won’t save the church and thank God 90 % of marries are hetero. Why step on the many to please a few? Give the traditional couple something they can use.

    • John Fitzgerald says:

      If the church is going to allow same-sex marriage (which I believe it should), then the only way to address the legalistic structure behind it is through gender-neutral language in the canons. It’s not semantically possible to recognize these equally worthy marriages while maintaining language in the canons that specifically excludes them.

      Mixed-gender couples can still select the rite and wording for their marriage ceremony that has meaning for them. The fact that others can do the same does not “water down” their marriage or the sacrament as a whole.

      For those who would still wish to specifically exclude others from marriage, the church has devoted much thought, prayer and discussion to this matter, and has not reached the same conclusions that you, personally, have reached. Whenever an institution weighs the opinions and positions of its constituents and comes to a conclusion, there will always be those were were not proponents of that conclusion. These days, it’s inevitable that the term “political correctness” will be bandied about. Those who lost the debate may want believe that the church is therefore guilty of some offense, and “political correctness” is a readily available terminology. But the church is not guilty of this or any other wrong-doing – you simply did not get your way on this matter.

      • Doug Desper says:

        “….For those who would still wish to specifically exclude others from marriage, ..” John, I think that the problem a lot of us have is to know by what authority anyone has revised marriage to “include” what Christ Himself did not. A group of voters on the matter does not right doctrine make. That single council of the Church called General Convention must know that it may act to make what Christ did not, but then it cannot continue to claim to be a part of a catholic Church due to its aberration undertaken apart from the advice and wisdom of the rest of the Communion.

  3. Julian Malakar says:

    Lord Jesus Christ never broke the law as many think. He interpreted meaning of God’s law only, preserving its sanctity for benefit of human spirituality. Sabbath day is a holy day, a day of rest as God rested on 7th day, Christ interpreted saving a child from a well in Sabbath day does not break sanctity of Sabbath day rather improve it by saving a life. Jesus told us evil spirit comes from inside of our spirit not from dirty hand that Israelis complained to Jesus for His disciples. God commanded to kill adulterer by stone throw, Jesus told Israelis mob to kill the prostitute woman by someone who committed no sins.

    And again He advised the woman not to commit any more sins according to laws of God. Ten Commandments were given to make us holy, inclusive for all His children. Inclusion of gentiles like us into God’s children was nothing new to God, He had plan from the beginning. By one man’s sin (Adam) we were separated from God but again by one man’s (Jesus Christ) sacrifice we were brought close to God as children of God. Definition of sins, according to eyes of God has never been changed since creation. God knows our heart, mind, body and souls and laws are given to save our souls, not to destroy it. Jesus fulfilled the laws only. Any changes should be in consistence to God’s law of saving souls, for which Jesus paid the price at the CROSS.

  4. I have been supportive of the blessing of same-sex unions, but I see an entirely new initiative in this proposal. Marriage is being redefined, and honestly, I do not see this as a necessary step to gender equality. In the long run, I expect that this redefinition will be problematic for the church. In addition, this continued rapid advancement leftward will leave our pews even more empty than they already are. We are not a church that values dissident voices when those voices are conservative.

    • Doug Desper says:

      Prof. Switzer: This news comes the same week that our beloved Episcopal Church LOST in South Carolina court to prevent the dissenting diocese of South Carolina from retaining its property as it left TEC. The reason that these people (among so many others) have dissented, and even left, is due to the very mindset shown by re imagining Christian marriage; something that will more than likely be enacted at General Convention. Such actions by General Convention are making the case that critical decisions are being made that cannot be reconciled with the Holy Scripture, nor by the Church catholic.

    • Bowman Walton says:

      The public’s (1) rapid acceptance of homosexuality, (2) slow rejection of procreation as the essence of marriage, (3) support for civil regulation of marriage, and (4) rejection of nomistic religion have have combined faster than the usual parties can update their thinking. Those who see (1) and only (1) in this report have the shrillest voices today, either for it or against it, but in the long run all of these deep forces will have to be considered carefully and both jointly and severally. After the children have gone to bed, the adults will talk, but it may be a long time before they know what to say.

      • Doug Desper says:

        The main concern that some of us have is that the adults in the room talk from the perspective of a Church that values Scripture-Tradition-and Reason above the culture’s noise and Caesar’s whims, and that when Christ Himself has spoken clearly on a matter that the Church does not pull out the voting cards to see “what fits”.

  5. Cynthia Katsarelis says:

    My partner of 23 years and I got married. Really married, legally and using the beautiful I Will Bless You and You Will be a Blessing liturgy.

    Our relationship has always been sacramental, an inward Grace that was finally expressed outwardly a few weeks ago. We were very surprised that after 23 years, that the vows before God, supported robustly by our fellow parishioners, and legal in my state could have such a beautiful and loving impact, and yet it did.

    No one on earth is qualified to be judgmental about our marriage. It is between me and my partner and God and our loving parish. If you think you have the right to withhold the outward expression of God’s Grace in the church, please go back to the NT and read where Jesus says don’t judge. Read how he always stands for the oppressed against the status quo, especially when the status quo was using the Law to exclude others.

    “Conservatives” would use the law to exclude LGBT people in the very same way the law was used to support slavery, anti-semitism, and the burning of witches. Sadly, “traditional” values include those awful things. And thus in TEC we also use Reason.

    We, my LGBT sisters and brothers, are not “positions” from which it is OK to just dissent, as if it were about smaller or bigger government. The fruits of the exclusive position include homeless LGBT teens who’ve been cast out of their “traditional religious” homes, and many of them are subjected to sexual abuse on the streets. The fruits also include bullying, hate crimes, suicide, depression, etc. There are negative consequences as the fruits of the “traditional conservative” position. And that should give everyone pause. Why did God create us all? It wasn’t for hate and exclusion.

    History is not going to look kindly on the excluders. And I don’t see how that position is compatible with the commandment to “love your neighbor” – every last one of them on the planet.

    • Bruce Marshall says:

      Thank you, Cynthia Katsarelia. I would only add that not only is “History… not going to look kindly on the excluders;” but God is unlikely to do so either. “Traditional Conservatives” should also remember that “it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles!”

    • God bless you, Cynthia Katsarelis, and your marriage.
      I hope the naysayers will actually read the report of the Task Force. The sacrament of marriage should be a holy covenant before God and our congregations, not the enforcement of a civil contract enforced by the State. I hope and trust that this change will enrich our church, as I am pleased to hear it has blessed your married life.

  6. Great article on the work of the Task Force, Mary Frances.

  7. James Stoctkon says:

    I’m wondering if we have the capacity to be genuine and honest about marriage and so to admit that it is was a pagan social covenant that was adapted by the ancient Hebrews from the various cultures from which they emerged to become a people, then a secular contract in which the Church had little interest until the 11th and 12th centuries. As any attorney should be able to confirm, the language used by this Church today for sealing the covenant of matrimony is, in many places, exactly the same as is used for the purchase of real estate. Marriage is a secular contract in which the Church has chosen to involve itself, and one that the State has chosen to recruit the Church to serve as its agent. There is no reason that the Church may not or should not define the covenant of marriage as it deems fit, regardless of the State’s definition of same. There is nothing legally to prevent or forbid the Church from sealing a covenant between two persons that the Church recognizes and honors, even if the State does not. The Church should not allow itself to be bound, restricted, or defined in its ministry by the State. The Church should not allow the State the de facto role of declaring the sanctity of a union. Determining a legal definition of a contract is the State’s or government’s business. Determining the Church’s definition is the Church’s business. There is no inherent link. The Church could, and I think it should, determine sacred union for ALL the Church without exception and irrespective of differing laws of States. The only distinction, then, would be whether or not the union would be recognized by State law; but this is a concern rightly to be addressed by the couple concerned. It is important only that the Church be forthright with the couple and with all concerned that the union will or will not be legally recognized by the State; but the Church should be clear and declarative that the State does not determine the union’s sanctity before God. Homophobes and xenophobes will not be changed in their opinions. So be it. May the Church, then, with the courage granted her by the inspiration of those saints in ages past who challenged brutality wed to scriptural justification under the guise of tradition, press forward with confidence that God indeed is Love.

    • Amen, my brother. I suspect those commenting negatively here haven’t bothered to study history or to read the Task Force report. You are exactly right.

  8. Reading the responses of those opposed to this proposed change, I must ask, “Really? Did you actually read the report, or are you just reverting to your narrow, heterosexist understanding of the marriage covenant?” Please read the Task Force report. Marriage has long been a contractual construct regarding property (including the husband’s “owning” the wife) and not a sacramental one. As we did in creation and adoption of the 1979 BCP, I believe the Task Force has returned to First Principles. I applaud the work of the task force, and I hope GC will adopt the gist of their recommendations.

    • Doug Desper says:

      The question Lisa: By what authority are you making marriage into what Christ Himself did not? Where is there any ambiguity in Matthew 19 or Genesis 2?

  9. Jim Stockton says:

    Doug, the ambiguity is present by virtue of the fact that the texts of scripture were written by human beings rather by God. More , it is but certain that they were written by men exclusively. This is why we Episcopalians do not worship the Bible. We worship the God with whom the authors of the various books of our bible had inspirirational relationships. But just as the New Testament authors were entrusted by God to use the sacred gift of thoughtful reflection to interpret their ancient scriptures in light of their own times and experiences with Christ Jesus, so also God trusts us and expects us to do the same. To approach the text of scripture as a rule book is simply pharisaical; there’s nothing Christlike about that. To approach scripture as though it is God is simply superstious and lazy. Again, there’s nothing in this approach that is faithful to Jesus or to the example that he left us. However, I have no illusion that you are likely to find any of this persuasive. God’s blessings to you and go in peace.

    • Doug Desper says:

      I can think of nothing worse to say than that the words of Jesus Christ are not “Christ like”. Is this really where we are as a Church? I dread to think so. We are being asked to replace the Biblical witness and over 2,000 years of catholic faith with the private revelations of revisionist activists. Such views are predicating themselves on how erroneous and superstitious it is to believe in anything other than one’s own reasoned thoughts. If such becomes the case then God will not prosper this Church and we will continue to decline as the current trajectory so clearly indicates. Isn’t it interesting that the more faith and practice become revised and replaced that we increasingly think of how to survive as an institution; a subject being addressed separately at General Convention? I also find it interesting that as our Church assaults God’s 1st institution so clearly affirmed by Christ that we are grasping for how to go on with our own structures and institutions.

  10. If “the texts of scripture were written by human beings rather [than] by God,” why do you waste time going to church on Sunday? If we’re free to “interpret” the Bible “in light of [our] own times and experiences with Christ Jesus,” than “Christ Jesus” is nothing more than pseudo-theological jargon and the Christian religion is worthless.

  11. Jason Matthews says:

    As a libertarian, I absolutely believe that consenting adults should be able to get married. Right or wrong, my sense of morality nor any church’s sense of morality should not be the law of the land. That said, this report doesn’t change my mind that Christian marriage is between one man and one woman. Sadly, many “progressive” Episcopalians speak out of different sides of their mouth. Many Episcopalians are all too happy to “churchify” secular progressive politics and use the force of government to ram their beliefs down the throats of others (taxes, gun control, social welfare, etc.) and declare it the Gospel. Episcopalians are all too happy to make their sense of morality the law of the land, it’s hypocrisy folks. Frankly, many “progressive” Episcopalians behave no better or no different than the conservative “fundamentalists” that they love to vilify. I don’t want to get off topic, but I have been called vile things by so-called “inclusive” Episcopalians for supporting gun rights. In no way are all who call themselves “inclusive” guilty of this, but I’ve found that those that have to parade around about being “inclusive” are generally some of the most close-minded people you will find.


    All this slinging of Canon Law and court cases which the Church has lost or won, and Doug don’t go counting the china yet. The State Supreme Court is next step, and then Supreme Court of the USA. So I shall say now, It ain’t over till it is over. I say this for one very good reason, if the courts would uphold the lower courts ruling that would mean every Roman Catholic Diocese as well as Episcopal Diocese and any other church institution who holds the property of its Church in trust for it’s membership would be threatened to be broken up as a bad marriage, at the whim of a the few over the many? I just don’t see it.

    When people start quoting or mis-quoting if the case be, and Jesus said this and G-d said that be very careful because you shall not use the Lord’s names in vain! It is also my experience that for every quote of scripture to back up one point of view there is another to back up the other point of view.

    I tend to go along with Occums Razor, whereas ” researchers should avoid ‘stacking’ information to prove a theory if a simpler explanation fits the observations. Occam’s razor is the process of paring down information to make finding the truth easier.” Encyclopedia of Philosophy p.456 v. 3

    So here goes, ” G-D IS LOVE! THOSE WHO ABIDE IN LOVE ABIDE IN G-D AND G-D IN THEM” Color me simple!

    I ask myself with each one of the above criticisms, witticisms, and out right meanness, “WHERE IS THE LOVE?” “WHERE IS G-D?” I know where, if you look close in the eyes of those in love with each other, young and old, and yes gay and straight. Isn’t that beautiful. It’s Love, It’s G-d.

    Now on a personal note leaving all argument aside. I know one of the Women on the Taskforce. I don’t agree with a lot of her views on many things, but she is a Woman of G-d, She is a brilliant thinker, and she truely loves people, even me, and I her. Though we really do have our disagreements. I am laughing out loud as I type those words. My point being, she wouldn’t sign her name to such a task if it wasn’t worth reading. By the way, I wonder how many of you out there in ENS land have actually read the report?

    I think someone even brought up Caesar, to cool. So with the Colosseum? Coliseum? Colloseum? (they are all correct before you start screaming about my spelling) brought to mind, and lions and christians and bears I say, “Let the games begin!”

    In Truth,
    John-Albert Dickert
    Christ Church Cathedral
    Cincinnati, Ohio

  13. There is no love in calling something what it is not! Civil society aside, Christian marriage as defined by Jesus himself, who seemed to have not mentioned nor condemned same gender relationships is quite clear in the gospels. Matthew 19: 4 “…Haven’t you read…that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? No Task Force report, appeals to emotion, GC resolutions, our desire to be nice or charitable can change that! Christian marriage as presupposed by Jesus includes biological difference, complementarity of genders, a husband and a wife…! Same gender relationships, even holy, loving ones, are biologically different, ordered differently! There is not a lot of discernment that needs to be done to see this clearly…it is written in creation ! We do ourselves and all couples a disservice by pretending otherwise. I applaud our society’s progress in equal access to civil marriage, our Church’s pastoral provision for those same gender couples who want a blessing of their union, but to change the language of the marriage canon there is no justification! It seems a poor attempt to blurr what Christ made clear and pretend as if biology never mattered in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony ! I expect more people will flee our parishes over it! Lord have mercy on us all!

    • Doug Desper says:

      Miguel, Jason, Julian, Bowman, Prof John, and many others —

      After this thread started and heated up a bit I was contacted by a few people. Two were priests. The priests are afraid of publicly agreeing with the traditional meaning of marriage as is being stated here because they will get “marked” as bigots, homophobes, and all the other tags used to squash thoughtful, reasoned exchange of views. There is fear of career-ending stands made from the perspective of the Scriptural and catholic meaning of marriage. Neither believe that they will remain able to follow their consciences and decline a same gender wedding (based on previous temporary seasons for dissent on issues that ended up being retracted). Ain’t that a kicker? I guess that it’s up to the laity to do the standing.

    • Geoff McLarney says:

      Christ did not “define” any such thing as “Christian marriage.” That is an anachronism not to be found in the Bible.

  14. Terry Francis says:

    As God is my witness the hypocrisy of my progressive brothers and sisters never ceases to amaze me. Is it really any surprise that even Episcopal priests like the two Doug Desper mentions are afraid to say openly they agree with the meaning of traditional marriage for fear of being labled bigots? That their careers could literally be ended because of such views is truly pathetic. I totally agree with Jason Matthews, progressive Episcopalians truly do speak out of both sides of their mouths. A perfect example of that is the earlier letter by Cynthia Katsarelis. Cynthia rails about how unchristian it is to be judgmental toward people like her and her partner because they chose to marry. And yet in that very same letter she puts people who differ with her on this issue in the same realm of immorality as slave holders, witch burners and anti-Semites. Maybe it’s just me but that sounds about as judgmental as it gets! You say no one on earth is qualified to be judgmental about your marriage, yet you apparently consider yourself perfectly qualified to be judgmental of people who consider it wrong. And by the way Cynthia, I will make a deal with you – don’t put quotation marks on words such as traditional values, traditional religion, or conservative in regards to people like me and I won’t put quotation marks on the word marriage in regards to you and your partner. You said in TEC we use reason (I will use a lower case r), I am going to assume you were referring to progressive Episcopalians. Are you saying that no one can claim to be using reason unless they arrive at the same conclusions you and other progressives arrive at? I am going to leave Cynthia and all other progressive Episcopalians with this: God loves all of us equally, conservative as well as progressive. And neither side should think they are spiritually, morally or intellectually superior to the other on this issue or any other issue for that matter. I certainly try to follow the concept of love thy neighbor that Cynthia mentions, but until progressives in this denomination stop looking at fellow conservative parishioners that disagree with them on issues, with such utter contempt, then someday soon all those signs that say The Episcopal Church Welcomes You will be replaced by signs that say The Episcopal Church Welcomes You UNLESS: You’re against same sex marriage, You question climate change, You’re anti-choice, You believe in the literal interpretation of the Bible, You question evolution, You believe illegal aliens should be kept from crossing the border, you question gun control, You belong to the demonic republican party, You embrace capitalism etc etc. You get my point. I wish everyone a happy Ash Wednesday and an equally happy Lent.

    • Geoff McLarney says:

      I have never quite understood why same-sex marriage should be a position associated with “progressives” (which is itself a peculiar label to use in a theological context). Surely it is a “conservative” position to maintain marriage as the exclusively appropriate context for a conjugal relationship between Christians. In that light, if same-sex couples do _not_ marry, then they are living in sin!

      I don’t entirely follow your laundry list at the end. Capitalism, armed violence, and oppression of the “stranger within the gates” are unacceptable to Christians _because_ they defy the “plain meaning of Scripture”. If “you believe illegal aliens should be kept from crossing the border, you question gun control, You embrace capitalism,” them it follows you do not “believe in the [sic] literal interpretation of the Bible.”

  15. Jean de LaVallette says:

    Christianity: In this world but not of this world.

  16. Jim Stockton says:

    Those who worship texts instead of God will always do so and will never be persuaded from the certainity of their reading into it what they are determined to find there. Scripture, aka the Bible, aka Jesus’s own words (as claimed by those who composed the Gospels), have been used variously to justify racism, misogyny, discrimination against red-heads (yes, people with red hair). left-handed persons, the prohibition of inter-racial marriage, slavery, and slaughter of Jews and other non-Christians. Of course, for most of the text-literalists of today are fond of claiming that ‘this is different.’ For you test literalists, then, note that neither God in genesis nor God incarnate, Jesus, in the gospels is presented as using the word translated to English as ‘marriage.’ By the way, you do know, right? that the Bible wasn’t written in English? that what you’re reading is a thoroughly human and subjectively chosen translation of Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic texts, don’t you? You know, don’t you, that you are putting your faith in translations determined by the thoroughly human choices of thoroughly human beings? This is not faith in God. This is idolatry. To admit this will deprive the literalists of their comfortable certitude and require to think for themselves, for a change. They will never willingly pay these costs. Their God is made of ink and paper. I’m happy to let them have it.

  17. Terry Francis says:

    Jim, try to put away your sarcasm for a moment. (For you I know that may be hard to do, but give it your best shot!) Yes Jim, I am well aware that the Bible wasn’t originally written in English. Yes Jim, I know all about the original Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek texts. And your point is? I guess by your reasoning we shouldn’t pay any attention at all to the book because it has now all been written in English. I do not “worship” the Bible Jim, I worship Who it tells about. I am putting my faith in translations written by yes, “thoroughly” human beings but they were also godly human beings who tried to translate these sacred texts as accurately as possible. Maybe they didn’t get it 100% right, but close enough. As for your assumption that there is literally no mention of the word that would eventually be translated in English as marriage mentioned in either the Old or New Testaments, again what is your point? The concept of marriage is mentioned everywhere in the Bible; Genesis2:18, Genesis2:24, Hebrews13:4, St Matthew19:4-5, St Matthew19:1-30, St John2:11, shall I go on Jim? I don’t mind engaging in an honest debate but people like yourself seem to take pleasure in ridiculing, and being condescending to those who have a different point of view. Let me assure you that I do think for myself, even if, God forbid, my conclusions run counter to yours. You said that the God of people who have a more literal interpretation of the Bible is a God made up of ink and paper. Your God is made up of what you perceive to be your superior intellect and I will happily leave you to that.

  18. Father Mike Waverly-Shank says:

    Jesus said He did not come to change the law but to fulfill it. And every and I mean every reference to marriage in the Bible is gender specific – male and female. And that for me settles the question!

  19. Richard McClellan says:

    I want to know more about the pagan roots of what we so boldly proclaim as “Godly marriage”. Is it true that wedding rings were started by pagan Romans? Defenders of DOMA sadly tried to push THEIR version of God into the civil courts and when the Supreme Court called them on it, their house of cards has crumbled. Conservative Christians can rant about separation of church and state unless it’s their version of Christianity. We are all God’s madmen in some way, shape, fashion or form. Personally, I am torn between TEC or attending/joining one of the “continuing” Anglican churches. Both hurl mud, both are stuffy, yet TEC in my area is much closer than the “traditional” Anglican church. Can we not get along? Kudos on the Bible idolatry example. Scary.

    • Doug Desper says:

      Richard: Laying aside all of the mistakes, manipulations, and “getting it wrong” about marriage Jesus returned listeners’ attention to Genesis 2. Nothing else touched or invented by humanity before that day or since that day matters. He even reminds us that God allowed divorce only because our hearts were sinful. That does not detract from the return that Christ makes to the original purpose and design for marriage. The question remains whether or not the words of Christ or private revelations blamed on the Holy Spirit matter more as authoritative. If the latter, then walk out during the Gospel reading this week, because it’s all a lie. C.S. Lewis boiled it down in sum to say that Jesus is either a lunatic or the Son of God. He can’t be both. Therefore, his words either matter or don’t. Buffet-bouncing through His words in the Gospels won’t do. We’re either a Church that believes that the Holy Scriptures contain all things necessary for salvation or we are Unitarians playing at church in fancy dress.

      • Richard McClellan says:

        Good post. As I mentioned, I am torn. I will say this, I’ve heard nothing from any of the Episcopal churches I’ve been to that in any way at all sounded anti-Christ. Quite the contrary. I have been in plenty of evangelical churches growing up where attacks on other Christian groups and other people in particular was quite the norm, often with shouts of AMEN. So, we’re either a church that believes Christ loves all or we are people that try to turn God into our image. Peace.

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