General Convention approves marriage equality

[Episcopal News Service – Salt Lake City] In the wake of the June 26 U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage for all Americans, General Convention followed suit on July 1 with canonical and liturgical changes to provide marriage equality for Episcopalians.

The House of Deputies concurred with the House of Bishops’ approval the day before of a canonical change eliminating language defining marriage as between a man and a woman (Resolution A036) and authorizing two new marriage rites with language allowing them to be used by same-sex or opposite-sex couples (Resolution A054).

The resolutions marked the culmination of a conversation launched when the 1976 General Convention said that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance and pastoral concern and care of the church,” said the Very Rev. Brian Baker, deputy chair of the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage. “That resolution began a 39-year conversation about what that full and equal claim would look like. The conversation has been difficult for many and painful for many.”

Resolutions A054 and A036 represented compromises reached after prayerful consideration and conversation within the legislative committee, and then the House of Bishops to make room for everyone, Baker said. “I know that most of you will find something … to dislike and to disagree with” in the resolutions, he said, asking deputies to “look through the lens of how this compromise makes room for other people.”

Deputies defeated an attempt to amend each of the resolutions. Following 20 minutes of debate per resolution, each resolution passed in a vote by orders. A054 passed by 94-12 with 2 divided deputations in the clerical order and 90-11-3 in the lay order. A036 passed 85-15-6 in the clerical order and 88-12-6 in the lay order.

Besides authorizing two new marriage liturgies, A054 also approves for continued use “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant” from “Liturgical Resources I,” which General Convention approved for provisional use in 2012, “under the direction and with the permission of the bishop exercising ecclesiastical authority.”

Earlier in the week, the bishops divided the portion of A054 dealing with the existing rite from that addressing the new liturgies for the purposes of discussion, ultimately voting to approve both portions. They approved A036 in a roll call vote, with 129 for, 26 against and five abstaining.

“At my first General Convention in 1991, I don’t think I ever dreamed that we would have such a resolution before us,” Atlanta Deputy Bruce Garner said as debate began on A054. “I came to Salt Lake City a second-class citizen in my nation and my church, and I hope to leave here a first-class citizen in both.”

Among the dissenting voices was Holden Holsinger from the Diocese of East Michigan, a member of the Official Youth Presence, who urged defeat “in order to maintain the unity of the church.”

The two new liturgies, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Marriage” and “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage 2” from “Liturgical Resources 1: I Will Bless You and You Will be a Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015” from the supplemental Blue Book materials of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, are authorized for use beginning this Advent. Those rites offer the option of using “wife,” “husband,” “person” or “spouse,” thus making them applicable for all couples. The liturgies can be found on pages 2-151 here from the materials provided to convention by the standing commission, including one rejected by bishops in their deliberations.

A054 stipulates: “Bishops exercising ecclesiastical authority or, where appropriate, ecclesiastical supervision, will make provision for all couples asking to be married in this church to have access to these liturgies. Trial use is only to be available under the discretion and with the permission of the diocesan bishop.”

The resolution also says that “bishops may continue to provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this church.” During their house discussion, bishops said this was intended to address bishops’ situations in jurisdictions outside the United States, such as Italy and countries in Province IX, where same-sex marriages remain illegal.

Both resolutions say that clergy retain the canonical right to refuse to officiate at any wedding.

Resolution A036 revises Canon I.18 titled “Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony” (page 58 of The Episcopal Church’s canons here). Among many edits, it removes references to marriage as being between a man and a woman. The revised first section of the canon now says that clergy “shall conform to the laws of the state governing the creation of the civil status of marriage, and also these canons concerning the solemnization of marriage. Members of the clergy may solemnize a marriage using any of the liturgical forms authorized by this church.”

Under the revised canon, couples would sign a declaration of intent, which the legislative committee crafted to respect the needs of couples where only one member is a Christian.

The Rev. Joseph Howard of Tennessee said he voted for A054 “because I thought it was a statement of honesty about where the church is and that it regularized what we have been doing.” But he opposed A036 as “a vote against good order because I believe it assumes a belief that has not yet become clear in our church.”

James Steadman of Northwestern Pennsylvania cited the words of the post-Communion prayer in the Book of Common Prayer, telling deputies: “This is the time. Use the courage that you have prayed for all these years and vote for this resolution.”

In other marriage-related legislation, earlier in the week the House of Deputies approved Resolution A037, after several failed amendments, concurring with bishops on the continued work of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage.

The resolution asks congregations to study resources that were created by the Task Force on Marriage to help understand the theology of marriage and the long history of marriage, which are now available to congregations (beginning on page 9 here), Baker told the deputies.

It also authorizes continued work of the task force “because the work is not done,” Baker said. It invites exploration of the cultural and theological diversity to move the conversation forward, he said, adding that too often the study has focused on an Anglo-Western perspective “when we are a church that has people from different nations.”

— Sharon Sheridan is an ENS correspondent.

Comments

  1. david bacon says:

    And how can the Episcopal Church, or ANY church, reconcile this:

    Paul; Romans 1: 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

    • Marilyn Harms says:

      It CANNOT be reconciled… the Church has succumbed to worldly and political pressure while forgetting that God and His word does not change. He isn’t changing his mind but He did warn us that we would have leaders who will take followers down a heretical path. Col. 2:8 “See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world…rather that on Christ.” AND- “Do not be deceived, God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” Gal. 6:7 SOMEWHERE along the line – people/leaders have forgotten that God is the great I AM!! No one can change Him, change His mind or His word. I cannot understand how they have forgotten who HE IS and what he commands – to obey His words as revealed in Scripture. The Church is now legitimizing and normalizing sin and saying it is ok…..that is a very scary precedent to make and what will follow (pedophilia, polygamy, and worse) will not even shock most of the world. Our job is to pray without ceasing and get ourselves to a Bible believing Church – one which knows the Word and has a healthy AWE and respect for the One who created us. Amen.

    • Josh Bowron says:

      Romans 2:1

    • Thomas Coates says:

      David, this passage has a long history of interpretation and disputation. Perhaps one of the most common is that it illustrates Paul’s understanding of a continuum of sexuality (not a spectrum of sexual orientation), with male as perfect (calm) and female as imperfect (weak, given over to passions). Science and discernment has shown us this is not the case: A heterosexual male, no matter how debaucherous, wouldn’t “turn gay”. Also note the important “God gave them up” – God is doing the something here, not reflective of the joy and selflessness of LGBT or heterosexual marriage. For another perspective, check out “Dearly Beloved…” by the Task Force for the Study of Marriage in TEC.

    • John Galt says:

      With scissors.

    • Randall Abbott says:

      I invite those who say same-sex unions are against the Bible to read II Sam. 1:26 but more importantly, Our Lord’s Words in Matt. 19:12 and most importantly of all, St. Luke 17:34, all from the KJV with the latter reading the same in Greek as in the King’s own. Quibblers with that should be aware that the italicized word(s) in that should not be “men” but rather “in one bed” substituting for “on couch one.” But indeed as Jesus says many times, let him hear who has ears to hear.

  2. Laurie Eiserloh says:

    Fellow Episcopalians,
    Please keep in mind that not all dioceses will be open to this action. For many of us, for instance in the Diocese of Texas, the hard work on marriage starts now. We need your prayerful support and friendship as we discern the actions of General Convention.

    • Marilyn Harms says:

      I surely will be praying for those churches/diocese who will stand against this decision. People’s eternal life is at stake here and I am not sure that anyone is really thinking about that – or about the spiritual consequences for the priests, bishops and leaders who are going ahead and saying this is “good and pleasing to God”. I think that is what concerns me the most-people making that arrogant assumption FOR God. I am scared for the Church as a whole. Search your hearts, search the scriptures and PRAY for the TRUTH to be revealed. Many will be leaving their beloved churches and finding ones that stand firm in the Word. In Matthew- Jesus did say he didn’t come to bring peace to the earth. not peace but a sword…to divide people, even families. Choose this day whom you will serve…..prayers for you.

      • Susie Shaefer says:

        Many, many people have done exactly what you ask – to search the Scriptures, and pray for God’s wisdom, and have come to a very different conclusion about God’s love and plan for this world and the next. Even if you think they are deadly wrong, extending the gracious idea that perhaps other people in the Church also pray and read the Bible seems the least we can do when we disagree. I hear your fear – but will not accept your accusations. If you are at all interested in the ways that people in support of marriage equality have come to their positions in a theological and scriptural way, I might suggest the book “A Letter To My Congregation” by Ken Wilson.

        • Beverly Sweeton says:

          It is often difficult for us mere mortals to accept anything or anyone that is different or “foreign” than what we have had instilled in us from birth or early childhood. But we have been given the ability to think and grow in understanding of each other. If we bother to educate ourselves concerning gender differences, we just might be able to honor our baptismal pledge: “Will you strive for justice and peace among people and respect the dignity of every human being? I will with God’s help.”

    • Sue Blake says:

      I am happy to learn not all Episcopal churches have ” caved in” to the world’ s ways. I have no qualms with practicing homosexuals worshipping in any church of their choice, but definitely draw a line in the sand when it comes to sanctioning a marriage between same sex couples in God’s house. Yes, they should be accepted with open arms and a genuine godly love from the congregation and clergy, but definitely not allowed to marry in a religious ceremony. God never changes, His Word and rules have not changed, nor will He tolerate this abomination much longer. Wow unto those doing this in “God’s name”!!!!

  3. Mary Roehrich says:

    It is hard to vote for a measure that you know will cause pain to others even when you think it is the right thing to do. This was a difficult day. Some friends and loved ones are delighted and others are anguished. May God’s grace be with us all.

  4. Jay Abbott says:

    Only a few months passed after I was baptized (in 1996) before the realization sank in that I couldn’t in all conscience remain a Southern Baptist. Looking around for another denomination, I settled on the Episcopal Church, for the most part because of its stands on inclusion — both of women in the ordained ministry and of LGBT people generally. After all these years, many of which have been spent apart from belonging in any formal way to the church, I am proud of the decision I made then to begin learning more about what it means to be a Christian — and to allow myself to begin being formed in my Christian faith as an Episcopalian.
    Today, I was watching live as the church made its decision to finally provide marriage equality to all couples, and I can’t find the words to describe my excitement and my gratitude. After all these decades of debate, everybody can now take advantage of the same human rights. Even though I wasn’t in Salt Lake City today for the church’s decision, at least not physically, in another sense, and a true, I was there, in mind and heart, “and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!”

  5. James Myrick says:

    The Church has always responded to cultural changes. It has to minister to people where they are and how they are. We pray with and for the people who rejoice and pray with and for the people who are not yet ready to rejoice. God is with us. All.

  6. Stephen J Waller says:

    Years ago as a young priest, I was against the decision of TEC to ordain women to the priesthood and the episcopate because I feared it would destroy our relationships with other branches of the Church Catholic. To me, then, it seemed right for us to “wait” for a chance at a united Christian decision on such ordinations. The ordained women of the Diocese of Dallas, by their witness to the Grace of God changed my thinking in this regard for which I am grateful. I thank them for teaching me and others the mysterious ways of God. I pray that those opposed to these decisions on marriage in the Church will allow themselves to remain open to those same mysterious ways of God in the days ahead. God has, it seems to this much older priest, much still to reveal to us all.

  7. Nancy boulton says:

    Next the Episcopal Ch will decide to toss the bible out. Or have they already decided that? I thank GOD my ch is still bible based.

  8. Grace Burson says:

    For those posting references to Romans 1, I commend this perspective to you:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mercynotsacrifice/2015/06/26/are-you-open-to-an-lgbt-affirming-biblical-perspective/

  9. Joe barker says:

    As a 45 year Episcopalian, I accept the fact that gays and lebians have the right to love whom they wish. I am OK with gay priests and obviously gay church members, we should love them all regardless. However, I must draw the line at the church changing the definition of Holy Matrimony to include gay couples. I will now begin a search for a new church that will still stand by the Bible.

    • Darlene Lent says:

      I feel the same way. I have been an Episcopalian for 61 years and my husband for 67 years. I am not proud to be an Episcopalian!!

    • John Galt says:

      Should the Bible be edited to delete the parts that blatantly contradict the vote affirming populist cultural moral standards and secular humanism pervading Christian denominations? Just cut out the abomination and sin references? Should we be passing out scissors to the congregations or just tell them to ignore those parts? Absolutely welcome and embrace all sinners (which is all of us) seeking Him. But embrace and even celebrate the sins? Seems Biblically contradictory doesn’t it. Either dump the Bible or follow it. Cut the self deluding pretense of honoring God.

    • Bruce Garner says:

      I doubt that you will find any denomination that takes all of Scripture literally. It really cannot be done. We have been using passages taken out of context as rocks to sling at each other for too many decades. The Hebrew Scriptures are about the relationship of the People of Israel and their God. Do you observe all that is in that portion of the Bible? I seriously doubt it. The dietary rules and ritualistic purity rules must be kept in the context of the time and culture that they were written and in the context of the larger narrative of which they are a part.

      The Christian Testament is the story of the relationship between God and humankind through the death, resurrection and ascension of God in the form of Jesus Christ. Again, the narratives must be kept in the context of their larger narrative and the time and place of the culture in which they were written. They can’t be cherry picked to throw at other children of God.

      Scripture is not a “handbook for humans.” It is the narrative about God and the people of God over several thousand years. It was written and translated by human beings, however divinely inspired they may have been. We know there are errors in translation because we learn of them in searching the various ancient languages which is their source.

      The bottom line is that we are to first love God and then to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. It could not be simpler. There are no exemptions or exceptions provided, so we should not find ways to exclude either. I’m sorry you cannot make room for all at the table. But I would gently remind you that it is not your table or my table. It is God’s table and it is God who issues invitations and we don’t get to pass on the guest list.

      Why is it that I always make room for you but you never reciprocate? It’s been that way for decades. When do we all understand that all of us can be at the table together regardless of our differences? God must surely weep.

      Bruce Garner

      • Beverly P. Jones says:

        I am stunned as I read the vitriol aimed at LGBT Episcopalians, and I am curious about what these brother and sisters in Christ who are so certain that God did not create LGBTs do at the point in the Eucharist that invites those who are “in love and charity with their neighbor” to come forward to receive the body and blood of Christ at God’s altar? Certainly I am not without sin, but I this old woman (79) knows wrongdoing when I see it. Why cannot you accept LGBTs
        as children of God who love and live just like the rest of us?

    • M Hayden Sutherland says:

      How unbelievably arrogant and self-righteous for you to declare that you’re “OK” with “letting” gay people do this and do that, but YOU “draw the line” at treating them fully equally. And Maryln Harms, I won’t even take the time or energy to break down your self-righteous all you can eat buffet. Let’s just suffice it to say that the Pharisees and Sadducees would be jealous of your religious piety and judgment. The Christ only ever showed anger and disgust with ONE group of people; no, not prostitutes; no, not tax collectors; no, not homosexuals; no, not atheists or witches or Samaritans or “sinners”. The ONLY people he showed utter disgust for were self-righteous, judgmental, hypocritical, busy body religious leaders and lay people who beat people up with laws and regulations and judgments and exclusions. You cannot provide a SINGLE verse of scripture in red letters where the Christ EVER condemned or chastised or shamed or excluded or marginalized or “drew a line” for ANYONE other than judgmental religious people. I challenge you to do so. Then maybe you’ll consider re-evaluating what it means to be “Christ-like” and “Christian”.

      Gandhi had it absolutely right when he said, “I like your Christ. I don’t like your Christians. They’re so unlike your Christ.”

  10. Christine Tsotsos says:

    I watched the proceeding online and have a question about Bishops’ discretion. If my Bishop does not approve of marriage equality, can he disallow the Priest in my parish to marry a gay couple?

    • Barbara Finlay says:

      Christine: I believe a bishop cannot do that. He/she must make an accommodation for a couple who want to marry. But any particular priest may decline, as long as he/she finds another to do the service. At least this is my understanding, based on listening to a report from my bishop.

  11. Carol Powell says:

    I wonder if there is any way to find out how individuals voted on this. Was it a secret ballot or a public vote?

    • Bruce Garner says:

      Go to the General Convention website. You can see how both bishops and diocesan deputations voted on these resolutions.

      When you get there you may have to search for legislative actions or votes. I found it but don’t offhand recall where!!

      Bruce

  12. David Measer says:

    Do we forget that the Curch is the body of Christ? The body does not tell the head what to do or what is acceptable. The Head governs the body. When I sin I do not blame my body, I know it was the sin of my fleshly soul. I thank God everyday for his Grace as I need it desperately. Gods word is either Truth or fiction. If you believe it is Truth then do not try to change God’s word to fit your feelings and desires. The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it? Jer 17:9. If it is fiction then it has no power or authority and what we want is fine and accaptable. I do not lead a perfect righteous life but I know what God wants me to do. I know because His Word tells me. I know when I sin because I know His Word. God has spoken clearly about this issue and those who question the Makers choices need go to him in prayer and ask for forgiveness. If you cannot see past your own desires you need to ask yourself if you are part of the Body or are you s wolf in sheep’s clothing or just deceived.

    • John Galt says:

      “I know because His Word tells me. I know when I sin because I know His Word.”

      And when I disagree with His Word I can deny that it is His word and get my church’s leadership to vote that parts of His Word are misinterpreted or in error in their inclusion in the book that is kind of God’s Word.

  13. Bill Shehee says:

    I am so deeply hurt, sad, and betrayed by my little part of the Body of Christ. I don’t know where to begin….

    To those who voted for the approval…..

    In your arrogance and human wisdom, you have decided that God is no longer sovereign, the Bible is no longer the inspired word of God and is not relevant for our times, you have gone one major step further in disrupting the unity of the church, and have greatly harmed our ability to spread the Good News because the Good News depends on the fact that all of the aforementioned are true and unchanging.

    I am sure that your hearts were in the right place in your attempt to love an include one segment of society in the Body of Christ. But, God already had that covered in His word!

    As a result of your action, our children, our grand children, and those who seek love and acceptance in ungodly ways (sex outside of the marriage of a man and woman as ordained by Jesus Christ himself), you have given the “blessing of the church,”…. a legitimate reason to explore those ways.

    So I will end this with a scripture even though you might think that it is not relevant for our times:
    “It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. (Luke 17:2)

    Jesus wept…..

    • Jaan Sass says:

      This reply from a fundamentalist is sad. Basically without dialogue judgement has been thrown from a passage in Romans dealing with religious prostitution at the Greek temples and other horrendous sex cults prevalent in the Roman Empire especially in the middle east and Greece. Also a study of how doctrines meaning can change over time. even in the old testament one can see a progressive revelation over time. We are not a fundamentalist Church we are a catholic church which values the bible tradition reason and experience. We recognize the word is not the bible but Jesus is the word. The scriptures were not written in a cultural vaacum and though it contains doctrine it is for the most part a progressive story of God’s work in the world. The base of are faith comes from the counsels of the early church developments from the middle ages and the magisterial reformation and developments in 19th and 20th century. My point is central doctrines remained the same but each movement, advancement of culture science has enhanced or changed the way we understand the doctrine creation is a good example.

  14. John Fitzgerald says:

    This is the same gnashing of teeth and rote, inapt pronouncement of Bible verses as followed racial integration. No, race and sexuality are not the same thing – but they both fall under the mantle of justice, and the correlation is exemplified by the near identical reactions then and now. In another decade or 2, these people and churches who fell momentarily behind will come around – most will point at decisions like this and say “See? WE the good Christians were at the forefront of this justice!” while those few who doggedly retain their outdated prejudices will be looked at in the same light as we would now look at an unabashed segregationist. History will put them in the exact same bucket. I am proud that my church actually IS at the forefront of bending the moral arc toward justice.

    • Layman Hendrex says:

      Amen, couldn’t have said it better. Lived through the 60’s civil rights movement desegregation etc which is ongoing. I hear the same arguments and rants now, once this issue was labeled discrimination it was only a matter of time. Have never been prouder of our church.

  15. Fr Samuel Torvend says:

    The first reply above, quoting from Romans, manifests a pervasive condition/problem in our church: reading the Bible Without the hard work of understanding the original languages, the cultural context in which authors wrote (in this instance Paul), and the larger intention of the writer. One expects literalists and conservative evangelicals to throw bits of Scripture about, but not Episcopal clergy (yes: you, too, dear bishops who we trust have been well-schooled in critical scriptural methods) and parishioners whose knowledge of scripture has been guided by such methods. The first question is Not how church practices might be reconciled with one scripture verse But rather: What did Paul intend in his context?

  16. Rev Peter A Williams says:

    We Episcopalians are Christians.
    We are not Fundamentalist Christians.
    Jesus was not a Fundamentalist.
    Why is this so hard for some in our denomination to understand?
    It’s really not that difficult.
    Please forgive me if I am not sympathetic to the dissenters on this.
    We are Christians, not Fundamentalist.
    Listen to the Spirit. SHE is not fundamentalist, either.

    • Doug Desper says:

      Gee Peter, you’re against an awful lot — I always thought that we HAD fundamentals.
      After all, “fundamentals” are building blocks, basics, beginning places.
      According to the canons our “fundamentals” are: The Bible, the Creeds, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Catechism in BCP (well…not anymore). Speaking of “dissenters”, are you dissenting from these as the building blocks and beginning places? They ARE fundamental.

      I marvel when people find “the new thing” that can’t be reconciled with Scripture or Tradition (and barely with reason) and then blame the Holy Spirit for it.

      The Mormon Prophet is recognized as someone who can make new pronouncements and that they are on the same authority as Scripture. How appropriate that General Convention met in Salt Lake City.

      • John Galt says:

        And like Reverend Peter, Mormons first and foremost claim to be Christians.
        That’s the lure in LDS evangelization. Yet as they interpret the Bible the do not believe in the deity of Christ. But how we as culturally enlightened and progressive Christians choose to interpret and vote on the Bible is truly God’s way and everyone else is bigoted and denying God’s true perspective on sin. Brings to mind Matthew 7: 21-23. But maybe that’s part of God’s word that had been misinterpreted or should be excised from the Bible. Let’s vote!

        “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’

    • John Galt says:

      We believe in the parts of God’s Word that suit us. The rest we discard. How fortunate that our God is created in our image.

  17. Thomas Ivinson says:

    Well surprisingly the text of the service is carefully neutral so as not to invoke God’s name or blessing. My only concern is this very blatantly claims the Episcopal Church condones this behavior. Is this not exactly what God forbid?

  18. Barbara Finlay says:

    A good decision. Makes me very proud to be an Episcopalian, and I hope everyone will move forward toward complete acceptance and inclusion of everyone. I have good friends who just were legally married in a Presbyterian church in Texas Sunday after 29 years together. It has been a joyous occasion for them, for their church, and for many others. These guys are both leaders in their large congregation, very faithful followers of Christ. So the decision of the General Convention is very welcome. I understand that some have not accepted this, but the overwhelming majority of church leaders, who have studied the issue prayerfully for years, have made their decision. It is time. Thank you to everyone who supported this.

  19. John Light says:

    There are eight passages of scripture, four in the old testament and four in the new testament that condemn same sex relationships. So, it appears that when churches perform a same sex ceremony, it becomes meaningless. There is already a discussion in many quarters to allow threesome marriages. Where does it end? While the church is at it, why not rewrite the last section of Revelation which says, “”And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
    If people are in a same sex relationship, make it a legal civil union, but not performed by the church. Otherwise, it is just blowing in the wind.

  20. allen brady says:

    the episcopal church has been heading to all ways liberal for some time. this decision unfortunately does not surprise me. i assume ultimately this is the church’s response to declining membership. i doubt this is going to accomplish what they want and rest assure it is more seats in the pews. follow the money. they think they just hit the jackpot. the church now follows the many cults of mainstream liberalism. add gay marriage to the list, along with the science fiction of global warming. the episcopal church has lost their way and is grasping at straws to become relevant. this current tack will spell the end of the church. the church is a boat with no rudder floundering at sea. whichever way the current fad blows it will follow, out of desperation. its heading towards the rocks.

  21. Esteban De la Cruz says:

    You can also reconcile this: Leviticus 18:22 “DO NOT practice HOMOSEXUALITY having SEX with another MAN as with a woman, IS A DETESTABLE SIN” (New International Version). Maybe YOUR CHURCH may not be reconciled with the LORD anymore.

    • Bruce Garner says:

      That is not an accurate translation. The word “homosexual” did not even exist until the early 1900’s. Similarly, the “acts” that were condemned were from people who did not know about stable, loving, committed relationships between people of the same gender. All of the same sex behavior they knew was that forced on conquered people essentially to humiliate them by putting them in a “woman’s place” in a sex act. The real perversion is any use of sex as a form of punishment…..yet another long and misunderstood story line.

  22. George DeCarlo says:

    I left the Roman Church to flee from hate here in the Philippines. Will I need to change once again from what I read in this forum?

    From gaystarnews on the web:
    How the Bible was re-written to attack homosexuality: Lies, mistranslations and anti-gay editing

    “The only source of anti-homosexual rhetoric in the New Testament is the writings of Paul, specifically the first letter to the Corinthians and, more extensively, Romans I.

    The Gospels are, crucially, silent on the matter.

    The Greek text of Corinthians says that ‘the corrupt, and men who lie with men’ will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

    But a version in Aramaic, a language commonly spoken among Jews and Gentiles in the Middle East, reads ‘the corrupted, and those who rape men’, a significant reversion. Most likely, Paul was condemning coercive same-sex acts not homosexuality.

    Romans is, on first reading, more problematic in that it denounces women who ‘changed their natural use’ and men who are ‘ravished with desire for one another’. But context is everything as the passage relates to the punishment of people who had abandoned the one God in favor of an animal-headed throng.

    Let’s face it, Paul was a misery and likely had in his sights devotees of various racy cults, who engaged in that old Biblical bother ‘ritual prostitution’.

    As these cults formed a significant threat to Christianity in the early centuries, Paul was warning his flock against them. Even John Chrysostom, whose homophobia borders on hysteria, suggested Paul wasn’t speaking of men who were ‘enamored of, or lusted after one another’ but those who made a ‘business of it’.

    Put simply, modern Christian homophobia is based on manipulations of the original Bible.”

    • allen brady says:

      the issue here is not hatred towards gays or whether being gay is a sin. the bible is clear on that subject and plenty of other sins. we are all clearly sinners. the issue is whether the church will now perform marriages between same sex couples. where is the logic in same sex marriages? marriage provides a safe wholesome home for children with 2 different sex parents that produce them. this is not biologically possible with same sex marriage for obvious reasons, tab a does not fit slot b to produce offspring. the human population does not even continue to grow with gay coupling. is that gods plan? civil unions were designed to give all the benefits of marriage to same sex couples. the radical gay agenda thinks that because they can now be legally married (according to the supreme’s) it washes their sin and makes them the equivalent to heterosexual couples. sorry not possible. only jesus can forgive sins (all) and he already did that. the episcopal church is off course. which way will they be blown next? if you think things have been settled with this “compromise”, you are wrong. there are plenty of other radical directions to head. what about adults marrying children or animals? oh that is ridiculous you say. who knew what LBGT was not too long ago? lets see what the future holds. all it takes is a loud organized minority to get the attention of hollywood and mainstream media. the percentage of “LGBT ” population is estimated by the left wing washington post as around 1.7 percent. so we have bent and compromised morals and logic for less that 2% of the population.

  23. Steve Marks says:

    I was introduced to the Church in 1969 by my future wife. The church and I had shared beliefs, and I felt comforted. I had something that I could believe in. I wore my Episcopal Service Cross with my dog tags during my time with the Navy during Vietnam. Despite watching the United States go down the drain, I always thought that the Church was the one thing I could hang on to.
    Times change. At this time with a corrupt President, corrupt Congress, and corrupt Supreme Court, I could no longer serve the country if called upon. And now, I no longer have a Church I can believe in.
    As Ronald Regan once said, “I didn’t leave the Democrat Party, they left me”
    I am not leaving the Episcopal Church, it left me.
    There is probably a Christian church out there that will adhere to their beliefs and the Bible.
    Goodbye

  24. Steve Hayes says:

    It appears that Will and Ariel Durant’s publication titled ” The Lessons of History” no longer applies.

    Relevant text from “The Lessons of History”[1]
    Intellect is a vital force of history, but it can also be a dissolvent and destructive power. Out of every hundred new ideas, ninety-nine or more will probably be inferior to the traditional responses which they propose to replace. No one man or woman, however brilliant or well informed, can come in one lifetime to such fullness of understanding as to safely judge and dismiss the customs or institutions of his or her society, for these are the wisdom of generations after centuries of experiment in the laboratory of history.

    Therefore, the conservative who resists change is as valuable as the radical who proposes it-perhaps as much more valuable as roots are more vital than grafts. It is good that new ideas should be heard, for the sake of the few that can be used; but it is also good that new ideas should be compelled to go through the mill of objection and opposition. This is the trial heat that innovations must survive before being allowed to enter the human race. It is good that the old should resist the young, and that the young should prod the old. Out of this tension, as out of the strife of the sexes and the classes, comes a creative tensile strength, a stimulated development, a secret and basic unity and movement of the whole.

    ——————————————————————————–

    [1]Durant, W. and A. Durant. 1968. The Lessons of History, Simon and Schuster, New York, N.Y. 117p. (citation pp.35-36

  25. allen brady says:

    We are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about
    by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful
    scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him,
    who is the head, even Christ.

    The Church is supposed to stand immovable against “every wind of doctrine.” By contrast,
    the fad-driven church is a windsock. If you want to know which way the wind is blowing,
    the latest teachings, the newest programs or the most current methods, just look at the
    fad-driven church.
    Ironically, the fad-driven church often excuses its lack of discernment in the name of
    saving souls. It justifies its appetite for fads in the name of evangelism. “Whatever it
    takes” is the creed of the fad-driven church. “Whatever it takes to reach the lost” is
    supposed to be a courageous new strategy for evangelism. But “Whatever it takes” isn’t a
    strategy. “Whatever it takes” is an admission that you have no strategy. Sinners aren’t
    saved by “whatever,” sinners are saved by what Jesus did at the Cross. “Whatever it takes”
    is just another way of saying, “Whatever people want,” or “Whatever everyone else is
    doing.” Rather than seeking the lost, the fad-driven church is just seeking its next fix.

    The Fad-Driven Church
    by Todd Wilken

  26. Paul Heymann says:

    I am gravely concerned about the vote in Salt Lake City.
    How can the sacrament of Holy Matrimony literally be stricken from the Book of Common Prayer?
    There was no advance discussion about this in the 2015 Diocese Council, nor in our parish.
    This will cost the Episcopal church dearly in controversy, dissent and loss of members. It will hasten – not slow – the decline in membership.
    This travesty will result in more children being denied their right and duty to honor their father and their mother – which is one of the Ten Commandments. By trying to be “inclusive” this vote excludes those who devoutly believe marriage is one man and one woman.
    There was a deliberate and open discussion process in 2012 about a trial liturgy for blessing of same sex couples. While many disagreed, it was at least to some, a reasonable effort to accommodate different viewpoints.
    The SLC vote is the exact opposite – it is forced upon the church body with no opportunity for review or dissent.
    The EC is under no obligation to follow the Supreme Court’s misguided 5-4 ruling, which takes 100 pages to ‘justify’. The EC does NOT need to “follow suit” as the website posting blandly states in acquiescence. Church and State are separate and this is a good example of why that is so.
    In fact, the Episcopal church should support natural law, God’s design, Jesus at Cana, and millennia of tradition. It should uphold the sacrament of marriage.
    What’s next – and do not think that it’s not coming – the liberals will want to remove the references to parents at Baptism.
    The SLC measure has a delayed implementation until the beginning of Advent.
    I request, pray and call upon the Presiding Bishop to suspend this Orwellian re-write of our church doctrine indefinitely.
    This is too important and fundamental an issue to be decided by a few liberals who wish to erase the institution of Holy Matrimony.
    Civil Union or blessing? Perhaps. Erasing gender from marriage? No. Striking out Holy Matrimony? NEVER.
    Let it be known that it will not be true that I left the Episcopal church. Rather, the truth is, that the church will have left me.
    Paul Heymann

    • Bruce Garner says:

      There was plenty of “advance discussion” about these issues. They have been under study for the last 3 years. The Standing Committee on Liturgy and Worship and the Task Force on Marriage have been public about their work. The “sacrament” of Matrimony has NOT been taken out of the Book of Common Prayer. The various rites regarding both same sex and opposite sex marriage are part of the materials approved. And, quite frankly, this will enhance marriage by making it available to all. (Heterosexual marriage hasn’t done much for the institution anyway since the divorce rate hovers at around 50%.)

      The Episcopal Church has been studying and praying about this issue for 40 years, so it is not following any mandate of the Supreme Court. Few actually have studied marriage. It was not originally an entity of the church. There is no example of a marriage ceremony in Scripture. The miracle at Cana was about Jesus turning water into wine at the reception. So He did not hallow the rite. Instead He literally helped with the reception. The comment used is taken out of context anyway. If you read that Gospel you can tell that it was apparently “dropped” in at some point because it follows nothing that the narrative was saying. Marriage actually came into being as a secular ceremony to insure that property passed to legitimate heirs upon death. Men didn’t seem to be keeping their pants up and had children outside of a relationship to the point that it complicated inheritance. Marriage has always been to the benefit of men, never women. Remember in the ancient world a man was compensated if his daughter was raped. She was property and if she had been raped and was no longer a “virgin” he had damaged goods on his hands. The history of marriage is rather sordid if you research it. It wasn’t designed initially for the mutual benefit of the two involved.

      I would also note that, at least according to rather ancient teaching, there are only two sacraments: Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist. The others have been the result of votes by councils of the church as even Scripture as we know it was the result of a vote by a council of Nicaea.

      So rather than lamenting these actions, why not see them as a way of reaching others who could benefit from hearing the Good News of Jesus Christ? Why not see our actions as tools for evangelistic action?

      By the way, no one can be forced to officiate at a same gender wedding, just like no one can be forced to officiate at any wedding. There is, however, a requirement that where a bishop will not allow for priests to conduct same gender weddings, that bishop must arrange for a same sex couple who meet the requirements of the church, to be married.

      And really, this has been a topic of study and research and prayer since the 1976 General Convention declared gays and lesbians to be children of God….as if we were not already so.

  27. Julie Waller says:

    I’m confused. If the Episcopal General Convention approved marriage equality, why is it that the sacrament of marriage will be denied same sex couples in my diocese (Dallas, TX)? Should we as Episcopalians profess to have marriage equality when some are still denied the sacrament? If the Book of Common Prayer is revised will my bishop have the authority to deny permission to use it in the diocese? What authority does the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops have if a local bishop and/or standing committee can choose whether or not to abide by their decisions? I don’t mean to imply criticism. I am quite simply confused.

    • Bruce Garner says:

      One of the provisions of the approval is that where an individual bishop or priest does not want to marry same gender couples, he or she is allowed that option. However, he/she must provide the couple with a way to be married. Keep in mind that even under existing canons, no priest or bishop can be required to marry a couple and they never have been.

  28. Seth Duncan says:

    Hmm I wonder how many will now leave the Church? It seems the Episcopalian Church is trying to drive the faithful away. There’s nothing left but ‘academics’ cashing in on the endowments, real estate, and assets built up by those who actually believed in something. No more. The Episcopalian Church is bound to be cut loose by the other Anglican branches and will be a faded shadow of what it once was. Nice buildings, empty pews.

    • Bruce Garner says:

      I am inclined to think this will, if we are evangelical about it, bring people into the church rather than drive them away. Your comment about “academics” is disingenuous at best. We have many thriving dioceses and congregations. We grow, like any faith community, when we reach to serve the community around us. Jesus told us to go out into the world with the Gospel, not sit in our buildings and wait for the people to come to us. Since we literally created the Anglican Communion it is not likely we will be excluded from it. We are not the only province who has been moving in this direction either. The Anglican Church of Canada is close behind us and others as well.

      • Doug Desper says:

        Bruce, facts are hostile witnesses. The truth is that our Church has been decidedly left-leaning (revisionist, avante gard, etc.) for well over 40 years. We have continually been on the hunt for “the new thing”. One would think that if there was going to be a massive influx that at least a trickle would be discernible by now. Instead, the Church has shrunk drastically – some have even said how great it now is to be rid of those contrarian conservatives “who held the Church back”. Now, the hostile witness of truth emerges and notes how since 2003 the Church has lost nearly a quarter million members. Five dioceses are gone with only tiny unsustainable buds left in their place. Attendance has augured into the ground over 40 years with not even half of us showing up on Sunday. Parishes closing, cathedrals shuttering, seminaries seeking a future, most of our churches unable to sustain a full-time clergy leader. Most of our churches now have less than 100 on Sunday. Please, do tell, when, oh WHEN will at least a trickle of new growth start after this 40 year progressive ride? It’s time to deliver on the promise of the direction taken. Forgive me if I am not too impressed about how further theological revisions will draw people in. It ain’t happening in any discernible way. Ignoring Scripture, Tradition, and most Reason to invent what Jesus didn’t think to and call it a marriage will not open the floodgates of happy congregants. It is past time to deliver on the promise of this liberal redirection of the Church. Long overdue. Now very costly.

        • allen brady says:

          as far as this move helping grow the church. keep in mind gay couples will not be bringing future generations (children) to the church. they are 1 generation couples. where is the future in that? this will pretty much spell the death of the episcopal church.

  29. Robert Horwath says:

    I always said The Episcopal Church is what the Latin Church will look like in a 100 years with our women bishops, glbt inclusion all the way to the top, an ecclesial shattered glass ceiling, etc. God has graced us to model the future Catholic Church for all the other Catholic Churches…go Episcopal Church!!! You will earn a prophet’s reward…but in the end justice will have her day.

  30. Jullianna Martin says:

    It is said that pride is Satan’s favorite sin. But it’s really the pride IN sin is his most favorite sin. Sin doesn’t just suddenly stop being sin.

  31. Gary Barns says:

    This is the start of the great apostasy spoken about by many Catholic saints, people of same set attraction should be treated with human dignity yes but the church can not under any circumstances approve get marriage or even make a special blessing…this has been prophesied many times that even the Catholic Church would embrace apostasy and the Episcopal church is the first to do so. The bishops have put a lot of souls in danger by compromising doctrine, Christians need to be in the world but not of the world and we need to be dead to the world too. Our Christian Churches are now in God’s hands, I hope and pray that Christianity is still the same in another 50 years or so.

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