Marriage-equality resolutions get long airing during committee hearings

By Mary Frances Schjonberg
Posted Jul 5, 2018

Full ENS coverage of the 79th meeting of General Convention is available here.

This story has been updated with a summary of a second hearing on the evening of July 5.

[Episcopal News Service – Austin, Texas] The legislative committee charged with considering changes to the Book of Common Prayer heard from supporters and opponents of Resolution A085, which would strengthen the church’s commitment to sacramental marriage equality.

The resolution would require all bishops of the church to make provision for all couples asking to be married to have “reasonable and convenient access” to the two trial-use marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples approved by the 2015 meeting of General Convention (via Resolution A054). It would also add those rites to the Book of Common Prayer and amend the prayer book’s other marriage rites, prefaces and sections of the Catechism to make language gender neutral.

Cari Stein, left, executive producer for PBS’ “To the Contrary,” looks over the witness registration list with committee legislative aide Liza Anderson. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

General Convention’s Task Force on the Study of Marriage that has monitored the use of the two new marriage rites was aware of concern about unequal access to the trial-use liturgies. Its Blue Book Report says it found widespread acceptance of the rites across the church. Eight diocesan bishops in the 101 domestic dioceses have not authorized their use.

The task force proposed A085 in part to provide such access. Episcopalians who support that effort were active ahead of convention. The group Claiming the Blessing, which formed in 2002 to advocate for the “full inclusion of all the baptized in all sacraments of the church,” according to its website, published an advocacy piece. Some Episcopalians in the Diocese of Dallas have developed a website called “Dear General Convention” that includes videos and written stories about people who cannot be married in that diocese.

Some opponents also organized their testimony. Among those testifying against the resolution were a number of members of the Church of St. John the Divine in Houston, many of them young people who said they were raised in the evangelical tradition and appreciated the broadness of the Episcopal Church. However, most said they worried about the resolution’s impact on the rest of Anglican Communion and the larger Christian world for what they called a turning away from traditional teachings and interpretation of Scripture.

Julian Borda, from St. John the Divine, said that the Gospel of John warns there are leaders who hear the word of Jesus and who believe it “but then remain silent because they love the praise of men more than the praise of God.” Borda said he is called to be a priest in the church and fears that he that he will be required to “deny an unpopular truth” found in the Book of Genesis that says “God has mandated” that there are men and women, and that marriage is a “lifelong commitment between the male and the female.”

Honduras Deputy Norma Coello said she was raised to believe that what the Bible said was the word of God. “I can’t believe that, at this age, I am going to learn that he was wrong,” she said.

Moreover, many who spoke in opposition said they feared that they would lose their place in the Episcopal Church if the resolution passes.

Emily Hodges, a member of St. John the Divine, told the committee that she felt the resolution would take away her freedom in order to grant it to others. “I have to ask: who’s the winner right now?” she said.

Honduras Deputy José Ramon Juarez registers July 5 to testify against Resolution A085. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

Five Province IX diocesan bishops and one retired bishop who were representing the dioceses of Ecuador Litoral, Ecuador Central, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Honduras warned the task force that if convention makes changes about marriage that would force them “to accept social and cultural practices that have no biblical basis or acceptance in Christian worship,” the action would “greatly deepen the breach, the division and the Ninth Province will have to learn to walk alone.” The bishops of Colombia and Puerto Rico, also dioceses in Province IX, did not sign the statement.

Diocesan of Honduras Bishop Lloyd Allen was scathing in his criticism of the lack of an official translator for the hearing, saying it was symptomatic of the constant feeling he has of being unwelcome in the church.

“If the church continues to change the prayer book and to play with Scripture, it will be a time, probably, for Province IX, who are not welcome, to begin to walk apart,” he said. “It’s not easy to stand before you and utter these words, but what can we do in a church where we are not welcome?”

Other witnesses explained their support for the resolution. The hearing’s first witness, Fred Ellis, from the Diocese of Dallas whose bishop will not authorize the rites, said A085 “gives us the opportunity to have full status.”

The Rev. Casey Shobe, rector of Church of the Transfiguration in Dallas, told the committee he wants to be able to offer the sacrament of marriage to all members of his church, regardless of their orientation. Currently, LGBTQI Episcopalians and their straight allies in Dallas “feel the stinging pain of exclusion.”

Allen Murray from Diocese of Oregon told the committee he would not argue theology in the two minutes allotted to each witness. Instead, he told the committee that he and his husband have been together for 10 years and married for five of those years. How, he asked, could the Episcopal Church baptize their 3-year-old daughter “but tell her parents that their relationship is not equal?”

Los Angeles Bishop Jon Taylor said that the Episcopal Church’s stance on marriage equality is a matter of evangelism. Despite the number of young people who testified against A085, he said, most polls show that the majority of young people consider the issue “a settled matter.”

“Let’s simplify our message and let our ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’” he said, echoing the biblically based motto of some A085 supporters.

Deputies, bishops and visitors packed a meeting room in the Austin Hilton Hotel the afternoon of July 5 to testify on three marriage-related resolutions. Photo: Mary Frances Schjonberg/Episcopal News Service

The Rev. Ruth Meyers, a California alternate deputy and liturgy professor who has long been active in the church’s marriage-equality work, told the hearing that the church’s constitution allows for partial revisions of the prayer book. She said the changes to the Book of Common Prayer’s wording “makes room for different understandings” of marriage.

She also reminded the members that passage of A085 would be in line with actions by the Anglican provinces of Brazil and Scotland.

The gathering was also a hearing for Resolution B012, which would continue trial use of the marriage rites without a time limit and without seeking a revision of the prayer book. The resolution proposes that access to the liturgies be provided for in all dioceses, without requiring the permission of the diocesan bishop. Instead, congregations that want to use the rites but whose bishops have refused permission may request and will receive Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO) from another bishop of the church who would provide access to the liturgies.

“I implore you to help the whole church move forward,” said Long Island Bishop Lawrence Provenzano, adding that he fully supports same-sex marriage. Provenzano, together with Pittsburgh Bishop Dorsey McConnell and Rhode Island Bishop Nicholas Knisely, proposed Resolution B012.

“Some, including member of this committee, have taken great exception to my proposing B012 particularly in the [context of the] long, arduous and faithful work of the task force, but given that, do not, do not dismiss the opportunity that is before you and the church today and in the days to follow at this General Convention,” Provenzano said.

To address the concerns of Province IX, Resolution B012 also calls for a Task Force on Communion Across Difference, which would be “tasked with finding a lasting path forward for all Episcopalians in one church, without going back on General Convention’s clear decision to extend marriage to all couples, and its firm commitment to provide access to all couples seeking to be married in this church,” the three bishops’ news release said. The task force would seek a path consistent with the church’s polity and the 2015 “Communion Across Difference” statement of the House of Bishops, prompted by bishops who objected to convention’s actions on marriage.

Seven bishops, five who refuse to authorize the rites and two of the five bishops who signed the Province IX statement, said on June 28 that they will implement Resolution B012 if it is passed.

The legislative committee – officially titled the Committee to Receive the Report of Resolution A169 – held a second hearing the evening of July 5 to hear from even more Episcopalians.

So many people asked to speak at the committee’s 7:30 p.m. hearing that it was moved to a larger room and ran 30 minutes past the designated time. Most who spoke did so in support of Resolution B012.

One of those was Shobe, Transfiguration’s rector who testified at the earlier hearing. He called the resolution “a good faith effort to provide access for churches like mine in a diocese like mine.” He said he had some reservations about how the Delegated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight process would work in practice, but he said it was important for the church to “discern a pathway forward.”

Dallas Bishop George Sumner called the resolution a “fitting witness as Christians to address a problem.” He noted, to the chuckles of some in the gallery, that if he and Shobe supported the same resolution, “Maybe we’re on to something.”

Among those who opposed the resolution was the Rev. Juan Oliver, the church’s Custodian of the Book of Common Prayer. He called the resolution “well-meaning but problematic.” He said it was wrong for the church to allow the conscience of bishops to take precedence over the will of General Convention. “Bishops should not be above the General Convention,” he said, “and to pretend otherwise is to court disaster.”

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg is the Episcopal News Service’s senior editor and reporter. Melodie Woerman, director of communications for the Diocese of Kansas and a member of the ENS General Convention reporting team, contributed to this story.


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Comments (84)

  1. Jordan Sakal says:

    As a communion, as a public, and as a church we need to be 100% in support of marriage equality, and that includes sacramental marriage equality.

    1. Chris Harwood says:

      And in Honduras, where same sex marriage isn’t legal, the bishop and priests are supposed to…? Perhaps it is time for all the foreign dioceses to be broken off into their own churches. TEC could still give them support, but they wouldn’t feel like they’d been run over by a steam roller every time TEC made a legislative move that their culture/law disagreed with. TEC certainly isn’t going to wait for them to agree before pushing ahead.

      1. Jordan Sakal says:

        Chris Harwood,

        If the Pope ruled ex cathedra that gay marriage were to be legal in the RCC (citing some form of liturgical reasoning) then the expectation should be that the church on the whole would bend the knee to the throne of St. Peter and fall in line.

        In my mind, TEC and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry should expect that same within the Episcopal community. If there was a vote in support of this (and there has been as TEC recognises marriage equality) then applicable prayers/rites of marriage need to be developed by the church for use during same sex weddings. (Just as there is Rite I and Rite II and both are equal, there should be Rite I and Rite II for marriages and they should each apply when needed, i.e. if you are a gay couple, use “Rite II” of marriages because that’s the one that includes inclusive language)

        Make sense?

        Jordan

        1. Doug Desper says:

          No, Jordan, it doesn’t make sense. We are not the Roman Catholic Church. We elect our bishops, we can hold them to account, and each order of ministry (including laity) is part of governance. No one in the Episcopal Church speaks “ex cathedra”. Via Media is still valued because a current majority could be wrong and dissent is therefore necessary.

        2. John Covert says:

          Jordan, the Pope cannot rule ex cathedra that gay marriage is to be legal in the RCC, because the “liturgical reasoning” you say the he must cite doesn’t exist. You express a misunderstanding of “ex cathedra” statements: the Pope may only state ex Cathedra when he confirms together with all the bishops in communion and expounds upon a teaching which the Catholic Church has always taught, but on which clarification and confirmation is required.

          While what you have expressed is a common misunderstanding of the role of the Pope in his teaching office, it is instructive to relate it to the objections of so many both within the Episcopal Church and within the Communion Partners around the world:

          Those who object see no basis in scripture or tradition for the action proposed, and they see GC making precisely the sort of departure from the historic faith of the Church that “even the pope” cannot do “ex cathedra”.

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            And those who support marriage equality believe it to be in line with the Scriptures and Tradition. I recommend this blog series by Bishop Gunter as an example:
            http://anoddworkofgrace.blogspot.com/2015/05/how-i-came-to-change-my-mind-on-ssu.html
            If you’re looking for books on the subject, God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines is an excellent introduction.

    2. Robert Lee says:

      No! That is a complete sentence.

  2. Robert Lee says:

    Why even have a Book of Prayer, if we keep changing it? I guess we now know more than our forefathers because we’re smarter and we’re better.

    1. We haven’t chenged the Book of Common Prayer since 1979, so we hardly “keep changing it.”

    2. James Myrick says:

      The Book of Common Prayer has been changed in different generations to meet the needs of the people. It wasn’t, nor never was intended to be set in stone. Some people find some of the eucharistic prayers in the 1979 prayer book to be out of step with our times now. After all it was forty years ago! We have the BCP so that we may pray as one no matter if the words or rites change.

      1. Robert Lee says:

        I guess by your comment we should change the Bible, it was written in a time not applicable in most cases to present.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          Prayer Book revision is not the same as re-writing the Bible. We have done it before, so there is precedent. The question is “when is the right time to revise the Prayer Book?” I would argue that now is not the time.

        2. James Myrick says:

          No, I don’t suggest we should rewrite the Bible. That was never a thought and I’m not sure how that jump in logic came about. The point is that the church has to minister to people as they are and where they are in their cultural context. Therefore, provisions should be made for those who disagree with or can’t accept the Church’s discernment on this or any other subject. Let us all respect the dignity of every human being and seek the face of Christ in each person we encounter. I once saw a sign in a bank drive-through window that sums up how I try to accomplish this: Be nice to me ’cause God made me and God don’t make no junk!

      2. Matt Ouellette says:

        The Eucharistic prayers are fine. Many of them come from ancient sources in the church, so I don’t see why they would need to be changed. I don’t want Eucharistic prayers that have no connection to the early church. We don’t need to write new prayers to celebrate the Eucharist all the time. I worry that most of those who think the Eucharistic prayers are outdated are those who think the rest of our core theology is outdated (e.g. the Trinity, Virgin Birth, Resurrection, etc.). I’m not interested in TEC becoming Unitarian Universalism with vestments.

    3. Frank Harrision says:

      Or continue to add “supplements” for use in place ot the Prayer Book?

  3. Susan Gage says:

    I was struck by Houston woman’s question of, “Who are the winners right now?” What does “winning” look like in this instance? Is it really “winning” when faithful Episcopalians who, by the mere dumb luck of what diocese they worship in cannot access approved trial liturgies, have to go before General Convention to plead their case for full inclusion? I am troubled by the threats of “walking alone” and I hope the GC does get translators if that’s a problem. And I am more bothered that the “compromise” is perpetual second-class status of the marriage liturgies developed for LGBTQI couples.

    1. James Myrick says:

      I taken aback by the Houson woman’s comment, also. My late husband and I made a life together for 46 years before the nation and the church finally recognized our family. We didn’t feel we had “won”, but finally that some measure of recognition, love and justice had been granted to us. Our friends and families who witnessed our vows wept because they knew that our commitment and faithfulness had been blessed by the church. The only winner, I think, was Love. Isn’t that what God is? Scholars ensure that the Bible is a living document. Our understanding of who wrote the Bible and under what circumstances and in what cultural contexts has changed constantly. The Bible wasn’t written in a vacuum and I can’t believe it was meant to be read in a vacuum. Let’s all step back, take a deep breath and give each other some respect and Love.

    2. Tim Sedgwick says:

      The testimonies in opposition to resolution AO85 (that would require dioceses to make provision for the use of the two trial-use marriage rites for same-sex and opposite sex couples) have largely focused on the need to honor the truth that the witness holds (often with his or her appeals to scripture and historical teachings of the church). The unstated claim of those opposing the resolution is that the church should not honor the differences in the judgments of persons and communities within dioceses regarding same-sex marriage. Instead, the bishop should have the authority to prohibit the same-sex marriages in the church. In claiming such authority—as was the case in opposition to woman’s ordination—the bishop is not a sign and sacrament of the unity of the church in the midst of its differences but a cause of division.

      Resolution A085 respects the conscience of bishops and priests in not claiming an obligation to preside at same-sex marriages. But respect for conscience should never be a sword that divides the church in its diversity. Instead, given the action of the Episcopal Church as a whole, in respect and support of communities of faith that differ, the bishop is a sign and sacrament of the larger unity that is at the heart of communion, koinonia, only when he or she honors the larger actions of the church even while honoring his or her own conscience. As expressed by Archbishop Michael Ramsey and articulated in the ecumenical statements of the Anglican Communion (in the agreed statement with the Roman Catholic Church on “The Church as Communion”), the sign and sacrament of unity in Christ is in bearing each other’s burdens (Gal.6:2).

      Timothy Sedgwick
      Professor of Christian Ethics
      Virginia Theological Seminary

  4. Kenneth Hollingsworth says:

    Why is the Church trying to make legitimate that which it has no right to do? Marriage was ordained by God and not the Church. We have to follow God’s rules, not a certain culture’s.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      If the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church to revise our understanding of marriage (especially in light of our new knowledge of sexual orientation), I would say then that the Church does have the right to do so.

      1. Thomas Prater says:

        That is the question – is the Holy Spirit guiding this or man. I have never known the Holy Spirit to say anything other than what the Bible says.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          And I think affirmation of same-sex relationships can be compatible with the Scriptures. I recommend this series by Bishop Matthew Gunter as an example:
          http://anoddworkofgrace.blogspot.com/2015/05/how-i-came-to-change-my-mind-on-ssu.html
          In terms of books, I’d recommend God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines as a good introduction.

      2. Frank Harrision says:

        Of course, the problem is in your first word: IF.

    2. Daniel English says:

      How is that polygamy working out for you then? So just stop hiding behind God when it comes to your hate for gays.

  5. The Reverend William Stanton says:

    As a priest in the church, one who was able to have his marriage to his husband blessed under the supplemental liturgies, I pray the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies will give serious and prayerful consideration to Resolution B012. I personally do not believe this relegates myself or my marriage to second-class citizenry status. Nor do I believe it diminishes its sacramentality. God’s love and grace is fully present in the rites and the persons lovingly making their covenant before God and the community under those rites. I would hope both Houses would look critically at a partial revision of the BCP. While I agree changes should be made, a piecemeal plan of revision is simply untenable. To me, Resolution B012 provides the best plan forward. It simply provides access of the supplemental liturgies to those churches who wish to offer these rites to members of the LGBTQ community who wish to have their union blessed by the church, without imposing any mandate that the church must offer this rite if that is not the will of that church. For our Sisters and Brothers in Province IX, Resolution B012 offers a means to walk together even through our theological disagreements. I am both sorry and appalled by the Convention’s lack of translators and pray for not only forgiveness but also repentance. As to the young woman from St. John the Divine, I simply would ask, what freedoms would you be giving up should either of these resolutions pass?

    1. Rev. Dr. James Hargis says:

      Respect your views. Don’t happen to believe they are in keeping with the biblically orthodox Christianity in which I was raised, and to which I committed my life.

      1. Matt Ouellette says:

        I recommend this series by Bishop Matthew Gunter of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. It does a decent job laying out how one can affirm gay relationships and still remain faithful to the orthodox faith:
        http://anoddworkofgrace.blogspot.com/2015/05/how-i-came-to-change-my-mind-on-ssu.html

        1. Rev. Dr. James Hargis says:

          Read that. Found it biblically and theologically flawed. Sorry, but these remarks were far from convincing. Besides, Jesus, (not playing to the every whim of modern society), is all I need.

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            Well, I personally find his arguments compelling. What would you have LGBTQ+ Christians do? Remain celibate for life? That’s a novel doctrine! The church has never taught mandatory, life-long celibacy for any group of people in the church (clergy and monastics don’t count, since those are voluntary positions in the church). Rather, grafting same-sex unions into marriage fulfills St. Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 7:9 that it is better to marry than to burn with passion (heterosexual marriage does not work here for gay Christians, since they are not attracted to the opposite sex). I would also recommend the book God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines, as he goes into more detail than Bishop Gunter in laying out the case in favor of same-sex unions.

    2. Frank Harrision says:

      Without offense what YOU believe is irrelevant to the truth of the matter. Over the years there have been many heretics who were firm in their beliefs…but, they were still heretics. I am NOT saying that you are a heretic. I am saying that personal belief is not the touchstone, or even a touchstone, in resolving such issues.

  6. Jodi Gabert says:

    It has always distressed me that my former priest received a dispensation. He could marry who he felt, in his eyes, was worthy. This coupled with his statement, “I don’t have to tell the congregation anything about it”, made me feel that there was a definite class structure in the Episcopal church. If we are truly “Lifegiving, Loving, and Liberating” then we must have marriage equality.

  7. Rev. Robert Carroll Walters says:

    Of course homosexuals should be welcome in the Church, but that doesn’t mean acceptance of everything they want to do anymore than herterosexuals who might want plural marriage.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      This isn’t the same as allowing heterosexuals plural marriages. This is the same as allowing heterosexuals monogamous marriages. LGBTQ+ individuals want the Church to sanctify and affirm their relationships the same as heterosexual relationships.

      1. Frank Harrision says:

        What would you say if a 40-year-old male wanted to marry a 12-year-old girl? Not that for the law forbids it. Well, what of changing the law as was done in the case of same-sex marriages? Just a question.

    2. David Lloyd says:

      LBTQ+ people are asking the Church to assess and redefine marriage as currently set out in the Book of Common Prayer (1979 but also the elder Anglican BCPs); however I sense the underlying issue is that LBTQ+ individuals want the Church to sanctify and affirm their relationship BY redefining marriage as it is currently defined within the 1979 Book of Common Prayer (i.e. between one man and one woman).

      1. Jordan Sakal says:

        David Lloyd,

        There is no “redefinition” of marriage here. Marriage was already “redefined” when two divorced heterosexuals wanted to get married, marriage was “redefined” when anti-miscegenation laws were struck down. You’ve lost that battle mate. Marriage is a union of two loving people. I quote here to you Anthony Kennedy’s closing comments in the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)

        No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find itsfulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
        It is so ordered…

        If equality is so guaranteed under civil law in this country (and civil and religious marriages are indeed different in this country) why then shouldn’t TEC create marriage rites applicable for same-sex weddings given that they recognise and sanctify and bless these unions already? What is adding another chapter to the BCP?

        1. David Lloyd says:

          Were the definition of marriage, in the 1979 BCP, inclusive of same-sex unions, there would be no need to change the BCP to include that definition. Were the definition of marriage, in the 1979 BCP sufficient to satisfy the LGBTQ+ communities, there would be no need to change the prayer book.

          That the definition of marriage has changed throughout the centuries and not just for the TEC is beyond reasonable doubt. That there have been times when marriage has been permitted between divorced people and times when they were not is beyond reasonable doubt – even in the times when Jesus walked the earth.

          I argue that:

          1. LBTQ+ people are asking the Church to reassess and redefine marriage as set out in the BCP 1979.

          That’s beyond reasonable doubt, in my opinion. One could argue they are not arguing to “redefine marriage” but support for that argument disappears when one takes into account that the BCP’s rites are clearly not sufficient if used at a same-sex blessing/wedding.

          Even the most conservative of us see that addressing two people of the SAME gender as “this man and woman” (BCP 1979 p423).

          So, those LGBTQ+ who “want the Church to sanctify and affirm their relationship” (quoting myself) who believe that part of this sanctification and affirmation is for their unions blessed by TEC using TEC’s common prayer have correctly identified the BCP needs to change.

          Pointing out that the definition of marriage has changed over time simply states a given fact. It removes the argument “that the definition of marriage has never, ever changed.” Going one step further, though, and trying to claim that “because the definition of marriage has changed over time IMPLIES THAT this particular change should be implemented/accepted” is overstepping the argument.

          It does no such thing.

  8. The clock is ticking until the conservatives are gone.

    1. David Lloyd says:

      It may be true that the clock is ticking until the conservatives are gone, but I do not see how this adds any useful content to this debate.

      1. The LGBTQ now contols the church. Views of conservative Bible believing Christians are not to be expressed.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          I’m pretty sure most of the church leadership are not LGBTQ+, even if most of them are affirming of gay relationships.

        2. Daniel English says:

          Funny how so many views of conservative Christians are based around how to hold some group back. You can’t love God and hate your brother. So hush!

          1. Robbie Johnson says:

            The LGBTQ controlled Episcopal Church will not be satisfied until they have kicked the Bible Thumper Christians out of the church!

          2. Matt Ouellette says:

            No, we just don’t want conservatives preventing LGBTQ+ people from having access to the sacraments. Otherwise they are welcome and free to believe what they want about gay relationships.

        3. Daniel English says:

          Civility is always great for those who hold the most power. Those who don’t want to face the truth that their actions have consequences in the greater world. No some of us speak the salt of the Earth truth! Instead of trying to mask prejudices behind excuses. The truth is those who are anti-gay marriage do not view LGBT people as equal to them. While at the same time saying how God loves us all. You don’t get to play that card and keep any high ground. Because the truth is you don’t love us. We become your scapegoats just like every other group that those in the majority have despised. And it may have escaped your notice but Christianity isn’t that popular in everyday society. Because those young people can’t reconcile a God who gets pushed down their throats as being love and his hate for his own creations. So you will be held to account for your lies and hypocrisies!

  9. David Louanis says:

    The Church is focusing on the social aspect of marriage, preferences and opinions.
    Christianity is base on Truth.
    May the Episcopal Church believe in the Truth too.

  10. Matt Marino says:

    I am the one who brought the “organized opponents.” Lost in the article is that the young professionals of St John the Divine brought 10 diverse young adults: 5 male, 5 female; 5 Anglo and 5 people of color; 5 progressive and 5 traditional on marriage. They were not arguing against every church and clergy that wants SSM having one from having one. They were arguing the method: that AO85 will drive many from our church, whereas the bishops measured approach provides SSM in the 8 diocese’ that don’t currently have it, and leave the prayer book aligning with the Bible for traditionalists. It avoids the zero-sum game of changing the prayer book creating winners and losers. The were not an “organized opposition”, they were a voice for maintaining room. You can argue that there should be room for dissent, but that is an argument that pits justice against true inclusion.

  11. Rev. Dr. James Hargis says:

    Guess my previous comments may have been censored/removed, since I cannot find them. I’m opposed to A085. My opposition has nothing nothing to do with any animosity towards any person who identifies with the LGBTQ community. All are welcome and invited to be part of TEC. The Bible, our tradition, and my theological Christian reasoning, lead me to espouse Holy Matrimony (one of our 7 Sacraments, 5 of which are optional) is between one biological man and one biological woman. It may seem cool to be hip to modern societal whims, but it’s not who we are as a Christian community.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      This isn’t about being hip. It’s about ministering to a group of people who have been left out of the ministry of our church. I’m sorry, but the non-affirming position on gay relationships does not adequately welcome LGBTQ+ people and fully accept them as God made them. Mandating that all gay people should be celibate and not have any intimate relationships is not a very pastoral response to gay people, not to mention that it is also a novel doctrine (the church has never mandated life-long celibacy for any group of individuals except those in vocational positions). Opening the sacrament of marriage to gay couples is the most welcoming, pastoral response to LGBTQ+ which is in keeping with St. Paul’s advice in 1 Corinthians 7:9.

      1. Rev. Dr. James Hargis says:

        But

      2. Rev. Dr. James Hargis says:

        No one is being hateful, superior, holier than thou, etc. We are simply trying to follow the Bibel, Christ, and be the Good News.

        1. Matt Ouellette says:

          As are affirming Christians. As I’ve posted elsewhere in this comment thread, I recommend this blog series by Bishop Matthew Gunter of the Diocese of Fond du Lac to get an idea of the affirming position:
          http://anoddworkofgrace.blogspot.com/2015/05/how-i-came-to-change-my-mind-on-ssu.html

    2. Daniel English says:

      So basically give mouth service claiming you give a damn about LGBT people until they actually expect to be treated as your equal! You are shameful!

  12. Matt Ouellette says:

    I think the church should consider this perspective from Bishop Gunter (from 3 years ago) before we go about making permanent changes to the marriage rites in the prayer book. I definitely would support the inclusion of a marriage rite for same-sex couples sometime in future, but only after we have done the hard theological work of thinking through what we actually believe as a church about marriage and same-sex unions:

    http://anoddworkofgrace.blogspot.com/2015/06/how-i-came-to-change-my-mind-on-ssu.html

    In the meantime, I think Resolution B012 is a good compromise which provides full access to the sacrament of marriage to gay couples as we work through our understanding of marriage equality as a church.

  13. cynthia seddon says:

    In the Beginning, God created man and woman so that children might be brought into the world.,as He planned. Homosexuality cannot procreate.. Whilst they are welcomed into the church, I do not believe the church should call such unions sacramental and offer the same marriage service as though such unions would be fruitful.Civil services ought to be enough.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      Procreation is not the only reason for marriage, otherwise we wouldn’t marry infertilite heterosexual couples. And gay couples, through adoption, absolutely can be fruitful. Civil recognition is not enough.

    2. Daniel English says:

      You forget in the early Bible God made marriage for one man and multiple women. So your point is invalidated by that fact. You apparently are totally ok with the Bible definition of marriage where women are seen as nothing more than property. You are as arcane as those who believe in polygamy.

      1. David Lloyd says:

        This argument was going well until it gets to: “You are as arcane as those who believe in polygamy” in which it becomes an argument ad hominem; let’s try to be civil.

        1. Daniel English says:

          No I am tired of being civil with the lot of you. I’ve been in the Episcopal Church for seven years as a gay man. What I’ve watched is now a bunch of people talk all about how Jesus and God loves everyone. Giving lip service about how great the Episcopal Church tends to be. Then they head right out to discriminate against LGBTQ people.

          I am done being polite with you all about it. Because you either believe that all people are created equal by God or you don’t. If I can risk every day of my life being targeted for being gay then you can risk being honest about the real motivations behind your views. Because God and love have little do with them. It is more culture and tribalism!

          1. David Lloyd says:

            I’m sorry to hear that you feel the way that you do; if we’re not going to be civil, then we could at leasts argue in ways that are not directed ad hominem as it does weaken whichever point one is trying to put across. There are ways to speak strong and well but insulting each other is not necessarily going to change anyone’s minds, at best, and may be unloving at worst.

        2. Daniel English says:

          Your sins will find you out! So be hypocrites and lie hiding behind some damn prayer book. But the truth is you don’t believe LGBT people are equal to you.

          1. David Lloyd says:

            Some would argue that the Holy Scriptures which TEC still believes is the word of God might support their views, though.

            Over the many years it has obviously been somewhat less difficult to argue that the Holy Scriptures do not support same-sex unions than that they do; please note I’m not making any comments here whether *I* believe they do or they do not – I am simply making an observation.

            So, given this, consider that we’re not only arguing about the prayer book itself, but we might be arguing about the meaning of the Holy Scriptures. The Blue Book seems to argue that theology of marriage is not part of “Dogmatic Theology” but I am sure there are some who might want to argue otherwise – or even if they concede that point – they still might consider the blessing of same-sex unions as counter to what God expresses in the Holy Scriptures.

            And that seems to be the conundrum, don’t you think?

          2. Daniel English says:

            1. The Bible is not the Word. The Bible merely testifies to the coming of the Word. It is not without error. It wasn’t handed down by the angels without a letter changed.

            2. You use the Bible as slave holders used the Bible. As those who believed in keeping the races from mixing used the Bible. The Bible comes a tool for all manner of evil and destruction in the hands of those cherry picking to target their fellow humans. A moral person would say if the Bible which is ordained by an all loving and just God were to condone great acts of evil then the whole thing should be thrown out. Because nothing evil comes from God. The Bible is a reflection of the nature of the person looking in it. So that is why so many homophobic individuals comb it. The Bible has more verses aimed at straight people than any possible anti-same sex ones.

            3. I am sick of the lies behind the reasons you all make these excuses and statements. You are being dishonest when you say you honestly love LGBT people and at the same time deny them their rights. If God doesn’t play favorites then neither should you.

            4. The Episcopal Church just like many others will need to reach a moment where it reconciles what is coming. The future is coming where people view LGBT people as equal to them. And if your church or views put you in line with all manner of bigotry and evil. Then you don’t get to use God, the Bible, and Jesus as your excuses!

            So I am done with this crap because I know like most homophobes you people won’t change. No you will rebel against progress because that is what selfish and cruel people do.

          3. David Lloyd says:

            Thank you for that response; I’m sorry that it can be so difficult to discuss these issues in a dispassionate manner especially when it is felt that one’s point of view is not being heard.

          4. Daniel English says:

            David Lloyd these aren’t just points of view. These anti-LGBT views are harming innocent people. That is what you don’t get! These are harming people. People who walk daily beside you. People you are called upon to love by Jesus himself. These are not academic debates about bygone beliefs. The Bible is being used to harm innocent people in a very hateful way!

          5. David Lloyd says:

            I don’t particularly dispute any of your points, but I’d invite you to reconsider that I don’t get it; and that is the last I shall say in this thread.

            Again, you bring out your passion and care for yourself and other community members with points that some may or may not agree with, and I thank you for that.

          6. Julian Borda says:

            Daniel,
            One of the best tricks the Devil uses is projection. In order to blind you to the sin in you (and in all human beings), he encourages you to project that sin onto others, demonizing them. The hatred that you ascribe to those who hold a traditional view of marriage is in reality the hatred that you yourself feel towards them.
            I pray that you will not forget that Jesus calls you to love your neighbor, especially those that you consider your enemies. It is very difficult, and I struggle with it sometimes, but as a Christian, it is incredibly important to do our best impression of Christ.
            I know that you may not believe me now, but I wish to add that I and others who believe that A085 would be destructive do not hate our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. We really do want God’s plans for hope and a future for everyone to come to fruition. We want what is best for them. But it has been my experience that God’s plan is not usually what I want for myself. This is something that all Christians should learn, and learn to trust: God had something better in mind for us than our minds can imagine.
            Daniel, I will pray for you and for myself, that we can live as brothers in the faith, and both, in our imperfect ways, seek the praise and glory of God.
            With love,
            Julian Borda

  14. Robbie Johnson says:

    “Bygone Beliefs”! I guess you would also claim belief in the virgin birth and the Resurrection of Christ belong with the bygone belief of marriage is to be only between a man and a woman!

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      More like belief in a young earth and denial of evolutionary biology. Our change in understanding on homosexuality and marriage is based on new knowledge of sexuality which was unknown to the ancient world, much like the age of the earth and evolution. The Virgin Birth and Resurrection, which are core Christian beliefs outlined in the Nicene Creed, are not the same as our beliefs on marriage.

  15. Sloane Graff says:

    Men and women with itchy ears can revise the Book of Common Prayer all they want, but it will not change God’s mind.

    1. Matt Ouellette says:

      Yeah, it won’t change His mind that LGBTQ+ people are His children too and that He made them as they are, and that they too should have access to all the sacraments.

  16. Steve Price says:

    I’ve just read 59 comments and did not find a single instance of anyone quoting Jesus condemning same sex relationships or same sex marriage.And there is a good reason for that.It’s not there! You can only get to that viewpoint by Bible verse hopping,taking things out of context and then putting them into Jesus’a mouth.Yes,the Bible only mentions opposite sex marriage.That does not imply by omission condemnation of other marriages.The Bible mentions that Jesus rode a donkey into Jerusalem and doesn’t mention his riding a camel.That’s hardly a condemnation of camel riding.

    1. cynthia seddon says:

      Jesus did not need to make any comment about same sex marriage. The moral law was not changed,therefore the biblical teaching of marriage between a man and a woman is still the biblical standard.

      1. Matt Ouellette says:

        And what do you make of St. Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 7:9? How does that apply to gay people? Or do we just ignore it for them and enforce the novel doctrine of mandatory life-long celibacy on them? The facts is, as many have said here, the early church had no understanding of sexual orientation and, therefore, made no provision for gay people to express their sexuality in a healthy way. The most pastoral, Scriptural solution is to graft their relationships into the sacrament of marriage.

        1. cynthia seddon says:

          The comment about the Church having no sense of sexual orienttion reveals a lack of scriptural knowledge.. Deuteronomy clear deals with the matter, and as Scripture is “God breathed ” (2 Tim 3:16) and tells us that Jesus is “Emmanuel – God with us” (Matthew 1:23) and is the Word made flesh” (John 1 :14)Assuming that we still believe in the Holy Trinity and tha in Jesus dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col 2:9) then what the Father says, the Son says,and the Holy Spirit says.and God said that homosexual practices are abominable to Him, (Lev. 18:22) What happened to Scripture first; Tradition second and Reason last ?

          1. Matt Ouellette says:

            Cynthia, I recommend you read this blog series by Bishop Gunter of the Diocese of Fond du Lac. It discusses how one can read the Scriptures faithfully and still support marriage equality. The passage from Leviticus is not a clear as you make it out to be (nor are any of the other “clobber” passages used to condemn gay relationships):
            http://anoddworkofgrace.blogspot.com/2015/05/how-i-came-to-change-my-mind-on-ssu.html

  17. Steve Price says:

    It’s incorrect history to say that the early Church had no knowledge of different sexual orientation.The Roman Empire of which it was a part was most definitely not a heterosexual only ,culture .particularly so in reference to the eastern,Greek part of the Empire in which the early Church arose.Thus the oft raised argument that Jesus didn’t address same sex matters because it wasn’t an issue in his time is absurd.Of course he was aware.A more likely explanation for his silence is he didn’t see anything to condemn about it.

    1. Sloane Graff says:

      We can argue for a thousand years, some of are going to always believe that God condemns gay marriage and some of us are going to always believe that God endorses gay marriage. No amount of discourse is going to change many people’s minds. If it is such a big, hairy, important deal, the Episcopal Church just needs to split and get on with it.

    2. Matt Ouellette says:

      No, sexual orientation was not something the ancients understood. Their understanding of same-sex attractions was that they were the result of sexual excess, and that anyone could be susceptible to them. This is not my opinion, this is the logic that first-century philosophers give themselves. Here’s a quote from Richard Hays, a non-affirming scholar, from “Relations Natural and Unnatural”:
      “[Sexual orientation] is a modern idea of which there is no trace either in the [New Testament] or in any other Jewish or Christian writings in the ancient world. […] The usual supposition of writers during the Hellenistic period was that homosexual behavior was the result of insatiable lust seeking novel and more challenging forms of self-gratification.”
      I recommend you read Matthew Vines’ book God and the Gay Christian. He goes in depth into how the ancient world understood homosexuality and why it does not apply to our understanding today.

  18. cynthia seddon says:

    Why should He condemn it God already had. Is pagan society to become the norm for the Church Try Romans 12v1ff

  19. Emily Hodges says:

    By “freedom” – what i meant was that just as many have pushed for the freedom to marry within the church, there are also people who desire the freedom to attend an Orthodox Church that hasn’t changed the language of what’s been practiced to gender neutral wording.
    To force this through doesn’t lead to “freedom” for either “side” & if anything will cause even more division & great heartache and this is why i drove to Austin.
    I believe on all grounds that changes to the prayer book that aren’t consistent with the Bible does not lead to progress. I also know that progress isn’t found in alienating either view for their core values, principles, beliefs & identity. Someone who commented after me on Thursday said something to the effect of “you’ve had your freedom, now it’s our turn” – to me that is not progress, nor is it “freedom” – and that is the context to which this small little quote is coming from.

    As i stated Wednesday, i don’t know why the Bible says what it does, but it also wasn’t promised that i would. I want to be really clear that I did not speak into the *removal* of access the ground that’s been made, and i am not referring to that now (this is in response to someone in this comment section who referenced their partner of 41 years).
    A key reason i left the denomination i was apart of before and came to the episcopal church was because of I could not continue to condone the treatment towards the LGBTQ community. I can say this & also say that I believe that A-085 isn’t the approach to changes in the prayer book that will lead to unity or peace. I personally believe that no one “wins” when this is the dialogue & approach regarding proposed changes that will impact an entire denomination. We can look to our society as a whole and the pervasive polarization & find evidence of this.

    1. Matt Marino says:

      Emily, as usual, I am proud of you!

  20. Emily Hodges says:

    I want to be clear that just because i spoke out against A-085 does not mean that l invalidate the commitment and dedication to love and faith of those who support it.

    It is not fair, or productive for any persons entire view and response to be summed up by a 2 minute statement (which for me cut 1/2 of what i was going to say b/c i was trying to say too much & clearly that didn’t work out so well) and an out of context quote. I wish all sides, people, views, etc understood and would consider that, but we don’t & that is why I’ve requested that my name and quote be removed.

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