09 July 2009

"The Chruch of Tomorrow has come and today we should welcome it"

I told you that B012 might be the hot button at the convention but, so far, there has been virtually no opposition to the resolution.

At the first discussion there were no speakers from the floor who opposed the resolution. Instead, there were a string of people who told their own stories in support of same-gender marriage blessings.

The debate over homosexuality is hurting the church. Not the debate or the condition/activity, but the double talk that TEC is spouting - "The Episcopal Church welcomes everyone. Well, actually, well, you see, it's like this, well, you can attend but you can't have full access to all the sacraments of the church."

Bishop Shaw (Mass) stated that in his diocese Episcopalian high school students told him they would not invite friend to a church that did not welcome everyone in deed, not just in words.

A member of the youth delegation stated “in some places the church of tomorrow has come today and we should welcome it.

Two other youth delegates agreed.
Lucky Middaugh of Western Michigan and Elizabeth Anderson of Michigan, both representing Province V, spoke in favor of the measure. Middaugh said that the biblical prophets didn't understand homosexuality. "I do not believe God addressed this issue," he said. Anderson said it was "critical" to develop same-sex rites as a matter of justice.
Thank God for the youth of this church! I think that should be the theme of TEC. What I have decided is that the youth of our church understand the church and our future far better than we "oldies" do.

A priest from Connecticut, Janie Donohue, told the committee that most of her friends and family are not Christian. However, when same-gender marriage became legal there, those friends came to her to have their marriages celebrated. Donohue said that she found it difficult to explain the canons of the church which forbid her to do so, but at the same time, convey to her friends that such action is not a rejection by God.

She went on to submit that people who leave TEC because they believe TEC is too liberal do not actually leave the church. Instead, they find a church that espouses "conservative evangelical" theology.

But people who do not believe they are not accepted by this church actually leave the church -- completely leave. Her point is absolutely valid. No one stays where they feel unwelcome. (Run, do not walk, to The Wounded Bird for a confirmation of this very point. Tip of the biretta to IT.)

By the end of the hearing no one had spoken against B012, so one of the committee members, the Rev'd Robert Hennagen of Southwest Florida felt he must rehearse the same arguments against inclusion. "I want to say some things that [other people] would like to have said." Well, where were the other people? If this resolution is so odious, why weren't they therir to express their opinion?

Hannagen then quickly covered the same clobber saying "they were well known." He pointed out that just because something is legal doesn't mean that it is always right, and that the Episcopal Church has never officially said anything about whether a same-gender union is an appropriate model of Christian marriage.

I agree, just because divorce is legal doesn't make it right. And the Church has for nearly 2,000 years said divorce is not an appropriate model for Christians. There are scores of examples of inappropriate models of Christian marriage. On that ground, I would say that at least half of the House of Bishops are in marriages that are inappropriate models of Christian marriage. But no one is objecting to those unions.Why is it that same gender-marriage is the only one people want to legislate against both civilly and ecclesiastically?

The interesting part of B012 is that it isn't a Hail Mary pass or even an end run on the canons of the church. The resolution is a temporary response to a very real situation. It has four aspects
  1. It would eliminate a two class membership in TEC and create one uniform standard for all members
  2. It would adapt resources already available in the BCP and clergy will not make up their own liturgies
  3. It would create accountability through the exercise of the ordinary's guidance/direction
  4. It would allow data to be gathered for the use of the whole church.
There should be a fifth aspect: It will eradicate the “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” duplicity

Is the issue of same-gender marriage settled? Is it a done deal? Is the painful debate over no matter how one feels about the issue? Absolutely not.

But, the reality is that same-gender marriage is coming - that is the plain truth. How TEC responds now will chart the course for the future of TEC. Are we the church what exhibits God's love, or are we going to be a church of hypocrites?

I believe for the vast majority of TEC, the talk is over and we are ready to be that Church of God's love. Will it be painful? You bet it will, but dong the right thing is usually not an easy thing. But Jesus said he didn't call us to an easy life. He told us to pick up our cross and follow him. That we would be reviled for following his commandments
A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."(John 13:34-35).
The cross of justice is not easy or soft. But it is what we are called to carry. We can do no less if we bear his name.

Yes, the the church of tomorrow has come today and we should embrace it - It does not requite a change of mind: it requires a change of heart.

For another blogger's take on the discussion, check out Fr. Jason Cox post at Bloggers on the Ground.

There is a resolution fr the House of Deputies, D043 that you should read. I touched on it here and IT posted the text of the resolution at Friends of Jake. The full "official" text of Designation of Inquiring and Discerning Parishes for the Blessing of Same Sex Unions is here.