20 bishops sign minority report on marriage equality

The 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church, in passing Resolutions A036 and A054, has made a significant change in the Church’s understanding of Christian marriage. As bishops of the Church, we must dissent from these actions.

We affirm Minority Report #1, which was appended to the text of Resolution A036:

The nature, purpose, and meaning of marriage, as traditionally understood by Christians, are summed up in the words of the Book of Common Prayer:

“The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored by all people.

The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord” (BCP, p. 423)
The nature, purpose, and meaning of marriage are linked to the relationship of man and woman. The promises and vows of marriage presuppose husband and wife as the partners who are made one flesh in marriage. This understanding is a reasonable one, as well as in accord with Holy Scripture and Christian tradition in their teaching about marriage.

When we were ordained as bishops in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church, we vowed to “guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church of God” (BCP, p. 518). We renew that promise; and in light of the actions of General Convention, and of our own deep pastoral and theological convictions, we pledge ourselves to “Maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). The bonds created in baptism are indissoluble, and we share one bread and one cup in the Eucharist. We are committed to the Church and its people, even in the midst of painful disagreement.

“Speak the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15). When we disagree with the Church’s actions, we will do so openly and transparently and – with the Spirit’s help – charitably. We are grateful that Resolution A054 includes provision for bishops and priests to exercise their conscience; but we realize at the same time that we have entered a season in which the tensions over these difficult matters may grow. We pray for the grace to be clear about our convictions and, at the same time, to love brothers and sisters with whom we disagree.

“Welcome one another . . . just as Christ has welcomed [us]” (Rom. 15:7). Our commitment to the Church includes a commitment to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. We will walk with them, pray with and for them, and seek ways to engage in pastoral conversation. We rejoice that Jesus’ embrace includes all of us.

We are mindful that the decisions of the 78th General Convention do not take place in isolation. The Episcopal Church is part of a larger whole, the Anglican Communion. We remain committed to that Communion and to the historic See of Canterbury, and we will continue to honor the three moratoria requested in the Windsor Report and affirmed by the Instruments of Communion.

We invite bishops and any Episcopalians who share these commitments to join us in this statement, and to affirm with us our love for our Lord Jesus Christ, our commitment to The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Communion, and our dissent from these actions.

Communion Partner signatories:
The Rt. Rev’d John C. Bauerschmidt, Bishop of Tennessee
The Rt. Rev’d Gregory O. Brewer, Bishop of Central Florida
The Rt. Rev’d Daniel W. Herzog, Bishop of Albany, resigned
The Rt. Rev’d Paul E. Lambert, Bishop Pro Tem of Dallas
The Rt. Rev’d Edward S. Little II, Bishop of Northern Indiana
The Rt. Rev’d William H. Love, Bishop of Albany
The Rt. Rev. Bruce MacPherson, Bishop of Western Louisiana, resigned
The Rt. Rev’d Daniel H. Martins, Bishop of Springfield
The Rt. Rev’d Edward L. Salmon, Bishop of South Carolina, resigned
The Rt. Rev’d William J. Skilton, Assistant Bishop of Dominican Republic, resigned
The Rt. Rev’d Michael G. Smith, Bishop of North Dakota
The Rt. Rev’d Don A. Wimberly, Bishop of Texas, resigned
Other signatories:
The Rt. Rev. Lloyd Allen, Bishop of Honduras
The Rt. Rev. Jean Zache Duracin, Bishop of Haiti
The Rt. Rev. Francisco José Duque Gómez, Bishop of Colombia
The Rt. Rev. Orlando Guerrero, Venezuela
The Rt. Rev. E. Ambrose Gumbs, Bishop of Virgin Islands
The Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, Bishop of Florida
The Rt. Rev. Julio Holguin, Bishop of Dominican Republic
The Rt. Rev. Alfredo Morante, Bishop of Ecuador Litoral

Comments

  1. The Rev. Brian Cannaday says:

    So very grateful for this courageous and bold statement, and for the invitation for all who agree to sign it. Well done, good and faithful servants!

  2. Tod Roulette says:

    I don’t understand what it means when it says ‘resigned’ after their names?

    • Jody Greenwood says:

      “Resigned” just indicates that they are no longer active bishops, but still have voting privileges at General Convention.

  3. Thomas Hofer says:

    I fully support these bishops in their dissent from that canonical action. I would also maintain that marriage is between a man and a woman. That is how God instituted it, and that is how Jesus re-instituted it at the wedding feast in Cana of Galilee.

  4. Michael Hartney says:

    Regarding ‘resigned’ after their names: Sometimes bishops resign their sees to serve the church elsewhere or pursue other ministries. Example: Bishop Herzog resigned his see as Bishop Diocesan of Albany to become a Roman Catholic. He has since returned to The Episcopal Church and been restored to the ministry of this church.

  5. Timothy J. Mannion says:

    I fully support the rights of these Bishops to dissent; however, I must point out that if our good God thinks so highly of marriage, why was Jesus only a guest at a wedding? Why was he himself not married? Wouldn’t that be the ideal argument in favor it, just like our Catholic brothers and sisters maintain that only men can be priests because Jesus was incarnate as a male? And what about selling your daughter for goats and sheep? Hasn’t marriage been redefined more than once? What of Solomon’s 600 wives and 300 concubines? I don’t see the point of the dissent; so I dissent from the dissent myself, as is my right and duty.

    • Bruce Bogin says:

      I agree with what you write, but why do you assume as do so many other people that Jesus was not married? There is nothing in the Bible which says that he was not married, only the assumption based upon the lack of a definite statement to that affect. My own view is that Jesus was almost certainly married. People should not forget that Jesus was a Palestinian Jew. He had a trade as a carpenter and by all accounts, he was charismatic. In a word, he would have been a “catch”. While admittedly people have changed in 2,000 years, the Jews of today bear certain characteristics of their ancestors, and one of these is a cultural disposition to marriage. To this day being single is frowned upon and effort is made to find a girl or a man for an unmarried. “Wow, do I have a girl (guy) for you.” It’s in the genes. So it is my very best guess that Jesus was married.

      • EDWIN BECK says:

        I get it: like the “Matchmaker” in “Fiddler On the Roof!!”

      • Susan Zimmerman says:

        …46% of population is now single…and should not be frowned upon…do you remember who Jesus said ‘his’ family was?

    • Donald Heacock says:

      Marriage may have changed may have changed many times but not in Christian Church history. It seems to me the church has change at best sacrament of marriage. A very all slice of even the Anglican Community. I was taught it the mind of the whole body make such a drastic move. Has not the G. C. admitted we have 2 sacraments rests are ordinances that we could change?

  6. Ira Phillips says:

    I also applaud these Bishops for their dissension from the canonical action. I believe the change in the canon violates God’s law and it degrades the status of the Episcopal Church in the eyes of God and Christians worldwide. Is the Episcopal Church God’s church or the church of misguided Supreme Court Justices?

  7. Bruce Bogin says:

    I have found it interesting to observe over my lifetime that when a person has a particular prejudice, he quickly wraps himself in an available scripture (Jews and Moslems are as guilty of this as Christians) and finds some phrase that seems to support his view, and he then goes on to say, in my view, with hubris, that this is the intention of God, or the will of God or the desire of God, as though any of us mortals is given to know the mind of God. And so, two hundred years ago there were clergy people and lay people who proclaimed that it was God’s certain intention that black people were inferior to white people and should be their slaves, so that white people could look after them (lots of luck with that). A hundred years ago you could find all kinds of clergy opposing woman suffrage on the grounds that God obviously meant for woman to be subservient to their husbands and that by their nature women did not have the emotional stability to vote. Sixty years ago you could find clergy opposing the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education that segregated schools were not equal. There were clergy who opposed mixed race marriages even after the Supreme Court ruled that laws limiting such marriages were unconstitutional. And so it goes. People have prejudices, even clergy, and they do not hesitate to wrap themselves in scripture and announce that their interpretation of God’s will is the correct one. It has taken us a long time to learn that homosexuality is not a learned nor an acquired behavior but affects about five percent of people from birth. The same God which made people heterosexual made a certain number homosexual. They are entitled to the same rights and rites as all other people. Much as I hate to disappoint the 18 bishops and those who support them, God did not invent marriage. God created the world and everything in it, but He didn’t invent marriage or other customs. Those are man-made. And to declare what God’s intention is or was is tantamount to declaring that you have an insight into the mind of God. You don’t. You may think you do, but you don’t. I’m glad I belong to a church in which all are treated the same—white and black and Hispanic and Native American, male and female, straight and gay, and I hope transgender as well. We are all God’s children without exception. All are entitled to the same rights. Those who think otherwise are welcome to find another church which shares their prejudices. I would much prefer to belong to a smaller Episcopal Church which is true to its values than to belong to a huge church which discriminates against some of God’s children. And I certainly don’t need a bishop or other clergy person who believes that he knows the mind and intention of God.

    • Dottie Thompson says:

      Amen to Bruce Bogin. Thank you for such a clear response to tour continuous issues of bringing wrongs to our consciences

    • EDWIN BECK says:

      Brilliant – nothing short of it.

    • Another blogger said it best, scripture is clear on this subject Bruce. Finding opinions that are wrong to justify more wrong is silly. Objective Moral Values exist. God exists. Objective Moral values come from God revealed in his word. The Redefinition of the Institution of marriage is a contemporary political and cultural effort. Most reasonable people accept same sex couples rights to property, inheritance and survivorship. Few disagree with granting them the legal equality of marriage. For believers however it is far more than a civil arrangement. The church has a long and sad history of heresy and this is just another chapter.
      ” 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…” Marilyn Harms

  8. Annette Graw says:

    Amen to Bruce Bogin…A wonderful response…

  9. Bruce Babcock says:

    Thankfully the rest of the bishops recognize that we live in the year 2015 – and not the Iron Age. The patriarchal authors of Leviticus had no knowledge of sexual orientation or homosexuality, a word which would not be coined until the 19th century. The Biblical authors were equally wrong about epilepsy, leprosy, left-handedness and skin color. TEC has (finally) decided to end their institutional discrimination against LGBT persons. These eighteen bishops voted to continue that discrimination based on an a very selective and out-of-context reading of the Bible which states that anything not understood is evil.

  10. Religion seems to be leaving ministry and embracing militancy. Religion should be ‘in the world but not of the world.’ Same-sex marriage is now ‘in the world.’ To oppose same-sex marriage seems to be a morale boost for churches which see their membership declining. It is discouraging same-sex partners to pursue a commitment to a particular religion , even one they may value. Even though it is luminously clear in the New Testament that God will judge, He even has promised a day of judgment in which the good and bad will be separated, nevertheless many of the clergy, supported by many of the laity, are impelled to judge, and consequently punish. Marriage, whatever it be, pre-dates many established religions. It has been appropriated by the general collection of churches, and then the churches, manifesting a freedom of definition, have created a definition of marriage. It is somewhat disappointing that the Bible never advised the import of evolving of social conventions over time, nor mentioned how the relationship of religion and social conventions would mesh as the latter changed. For instance, the Roman Catholics insisted at one time the world was flat. The idea was discarded, as it became apparent the world was not flat. Priest celibacy, for instance, wasn’t ordained on the day of Pentecost, and is presumably, subject to revision. So it seems the church can accommodate new insight. Sale-same relationships have existed historically. Religion, instead of observing the ‘per se’ of same-sex relationships, ignored that creatures which God created did not form a monolithic element. One wonders why God would permit same-sex inclinations in the first place? Why would he have those created in His image to be damaged goods? Why not discriminate against green eyes, and venerate blue eyes? And why not prohibit red-headed persons from being married in the church, but welcome brunette couples to the altar? Why not integrate same-sex couples into the church, and permit God (even, perhaps, grudgingly) to judge and either punish or reward same-sex couples and other alleged sinners at the ‘great day of judgment.’ There is no indication in the Bible that God has relinquished His judgment, nor that He could, in good conscience, entrust judgment to the church? By the way, it is obvious that heterosexual couples, unmarried, are engaged in sexual activity, and are neither bewailed nor bemoaned by the hierarchy of the church(es) Should premarital sex between male and female be on the agenda of convocations and treated as grave issues? The obvious contemporary atrophy of religion might be as important as an issue as same-sex unions.

  11. The dissent is necessary because the majority view has not taken into account some important needs of the people we serve. We now can minister to those dedicating themselves to each other in an equal manner. That battle is in the rear view mirror throughout the country.
    What is forgotten and was pushed aside as of little importance and an after thought in the 1973 Prayer Book is the birth of children. This is the big modern issue and the Episcopal Church, now that it has dealt with equality of marriage needs to offer leadership in the particular blessing of those who are intending to bring children into the world or are intending to adopt children. Childbirth is a big deal, and we have minimized it. My wife and I married in middle age and we did not intend to have children. Our needs are no different from any couple wanting to dedicate themselves to each other. However, our dedicating ourselves to each other is not the same at all as two people agreeing to have a child in which the woman is going to give up her freedom for nine months, have her body changed for ever, and have an emotional appendage for decades. Nor does it require the couple to: set their needs aside for the sake of the child, to acknowledge the total dependence on them of another human. Neither does it challenge the man to grow up and take on himself the role of providing a safe environment physically, psychologically and materially for the mother and child. Such a demand means he has to surrender his own personal needs and step up to a life of sacrifice to support mother and child. This does not mean returning to the old role divisions, or male dominance. Being a father is a profession in itself and requires intentional dedication and willingness to learn as well as grow up.
    I would like to see our church take leadership in providing a service of dedication for those who intend to have children one way or another that would explicitly lay out just what people are doing when they give birth or adopt another totally dependent human being. We have the ability to determine when we have children, and therefore to be totally prepared for the demand on us as parents is vital. This is one great step we could take to define the role of the male in today’s society, to give recognition and value to the sacrifice women make and lay a foundation for the formation of families.
    This would not detract at all from the dedication of one person to another expressed in our general marriage service both as it has been and now as it is being expressed to serve our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters. It would be separate, take a very different format and serve a separate purpose.

    • Raymond G Roach, Jr. says:

      It would be helpful to know the total vote for, the total that abstained and the total eligible to
      vote.

  12. Kit Wang says:

    The information on the two votes are contained in the article at this link:
    http://episcopaldigitalnetwork.com/ens/2015/07/01/general-convention-approves-marriage-equality/

  13. Paul Heymann says:

    The situation is very simple and straightforward. There are no semantics needed. There is no “task force on marriage” needed; (the task force mission is now clearly to destroy the sacrament of Holy Matrimony and what it stands for). There are no interpretations of scripture, seminary degrees, nor ecclesiastical platitudes needed.
    Again – simple and straightforward. To wit: The rite of Holy Matrimony must not be stricken nor altered, and must remain fully available to Episcopalians. The convention does not have the right to remove this sacrament. Consenting couples consisting of one man and one wonan, their children, grandchildren, and future generations have the right to elect to be married in Holy Matrimony. This right is sacred and cannot be removed by a vote.
    I will withhold my parish pledge for the duration between now and the beginning of Advent, and will notify vestry accordingly. If the sacrilegious vote to strike Holy Matrimony at the beginning of Advent takes effect, I and many others will thereby have been EXCLUDED from the Episcopal Church, where “All Are Welcome”.

    The laity of the church apparently does not have a vote – except with their pledges and their feet…..

    Yes Conservatives can in fact accommodate other views, but we cannot agree to the elimination of one of the Sacraments in the Book of Common Prayer by liberals and “inclusives”. It may be time – as Henry the VIII split from the Roman Catholic church – for devout believers in the sanctity of Holy Matrimony to establish a church that holds to true values that do not change.

    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?

    THIS IS A SACRILEGE.

    The Book of Common Prayer is intended to reflect the common beliefs and worship of the entire church. No longer.

    There was no advance discussion about this in the 2015 Diocese Council, nor in our parish (Roanoke VA).

    This vote betrays the trust placed on the bishops ans delegates by the church body. It will cost the Episcopal church dearly in controversy and dissent. 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 and makes unwelcome those who devoutly believe marriage is one man and one woman, and desire to teach their children and grandchildren accordingly.

    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, dissent, or revision.

    The EC is under no obligation to follow the Supreme Court’s marginal 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 God’s design, natural law, Jesus at Cana, and millennia of tradition. It should uphold the sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

    The SLC measure has a delayed implementation until the beginning of Advent.

    I request, pray and call upon the Dissenting Bishops to appeal to the Presiding Bishop to suspend the implementation of this Orwellian re-write to our church doctrine, indefinitely.

    This is too important and fundamental an issue to be decided by those 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 is not true that I will have left the Episcopal church. Rather, the truth is, that the church will have left me – and others who share my views. I will begin looking for another denomination to join, prior to Advent.

    Paul Heymann, Episcopalian, 1956 – (2015)

  14. Ron Pirnie says:

    I am saddened by the selective use of THE BIBLE to justify what marriage is and is not. Marriage at a court house should be a civil marriage. It does not include a church blessing which can be denied for several reasons. I hope the premarriage classes will help the priest become more comfortable blessing the couple or decide they are not ready. Dictating from THE BIBLE for what is right today drive us away. These political fights suck our energy to focus on the love of Jesus and his teachings

    • G Forrest says:

      Ron – how do you find out about the love of Jesus and His teachings, if not for the Bible? Can you accept that the teachings of Jesus are “right for today” by dismissing things that you don’t agree with? Very confusing.

  15. Rexford Jarrett says:

    We all have to face our Maker one day! Today, mankind overrules God: that which He says is bad, man proclaims to be good; and that which He says is Good, man claims to be bad. We all try to justify our sins and shortcomings by manipulating the TRUTH and passing laws to accommodate our desires, and that of what the so-called majority or popular culture clamors for.
    Nevertheless, we MUST always remember that Civilizations and Empires rise and fall (remember the Chinese; Babylonians; Egyptians; Greeks, Romans, British etc), but GOD’s Word and His Kingdom through the Lord and Savior JESUS CHRIST (GOD) stand FOREVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  16. Bob Shaw says:

    Dissenting Episcopalians have a home available to them by joining a member parish of the Anglican Church of North America, ( ACNA) where conventional marriage if practiced per Gods will.

  17. Margaret L. Schmidt says:

    I agree with the Minority report. I and a number of other members of our church (St. Peter’s , Ripon, WI.) are very upset about the decisions of the Convention. We were recently discussing how we could possibly stay Episcopalians. It is all the same pc lala land of the liberals. This is what is destroying our society and our families. Dean Inge said “The church that marries the Spirit of the Age will be a widow in the next”

  18. Paul Emmons says:

    I am disappointed that the church has decided to be content with a single one-size-fits-all rite, when rites for the making of brothers [sisters] have marked centuries in church history and should be recovered instead.

    The gender of one’s chosen partner is not incidental or interchangeable. Gays and straights should be able to agree on that if on nothing else. But use of a single rite for all cases trivializes the distinction.

    What has happened is by no means a deal breaker with me– I’m still a loyal Episcopalian. I adamantly believe that committed same-sex partnerships deserve the blessing of the church, and this response was made with good intentions. But really– what has happened to our renowned subtle thought and good taste?

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