Friday, November 16, 2018

Here we go again, Albany edition

The Bishop of Albany, who is remarkably named Love, refuses to accept the results of General Convention and the resolution B012. To remind you, this was widely viewed as a compromise on the issue of same sex marriages.  As the ENS described it,
The resolution provides for:
  • Giving rectors or clergy in charge of a congregation the ability to provide access to the trial use of the marriage rites for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Resolution A054-2015 and the original version of B012 said that clergy could only use the rites under the direction of their bishop.
  • Requiring that, if a bishop “holds a theological position that does not embrace marriage for same-sex couples,” he or she may invite another bishop, if necessary, to provide “pastoral support” to any couple desiring to use the rites, as well as to the clergy member and congregation involved. In any case, an outside bishop must be asked to take requests for remarriage if either member of the couple is divorced to fulfill a canonical requirement that applies to opposite-sex couples.
  • Continuing trial use of the rites until the completion of the next comprehensive revision of the Book of Common Prayer
Of course, no priest or parish can be required to marry LGBT people,  or indeed anyone else.  But for those who want to , they will be able to.  Of the 100 dioceses in the US Episcopal Church, this really applies to the 8 holdouts, those few bishops who are opposed to same sex couples marrying in the church.  Seven of those bishops have indicated that they will live within these rules, and their choices range from a temporary and limited role for a fellow Bishop, to refusing to have anything to do with the inclusive parishes (except presumably accept their money).  But still, progress, particularly for gay people yearning to be recognized in their faith community, and cover for the bishops who don't have to have anything to do with them.

And then there's Bishop Love of Albany NY.  He released a letter refusing to allow ANY LGBT people marriage in his Diocese, resolution or no resolution.  As the Episcopal Cafe notes, this is a direct challenge to the authority of convention.

The letter is hard and hurtful.  He uses the term "same sex attracted" which is the conservative's current favorite in their attempt to deny our lived reality and make us into a sickness.  (I wrote years ago here about the effort to make us a pathology, rather than a normal human variant.)

Bishop Love writes,

The fact that some in today’s sexually confused society (to include 5 of the 9 U.S. Supreme Court Justices in2015) may have broadened their understanding of marriage to be more inclusive, allowing for same-sex marriages, doesn’t mean that God, “the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth”(BCP 96) has changed His mind.....B012 by its very intent of making liturgies available for same-sex marriages, (while perhaps well intended) is in fact doing a great disservice and injustice to our gay and lesbian Brothers and Sisters in Christ, by leading them to believe that God gives his blessing to the sharing of sexual intimacy within a same-sex relationship

There is the usual citation of Levitical and Pauline clobber passages, and he defines us as distorted and unnatural, struggling with this apparent illness of "same sex attraction". And there are threats:
There are many in the Diocese of Albany who have made it clear that they will not stand for such false teaching or actions and will leave – thus the blood bath and opening of the flood gates that have ravaged other dioceses will come to Albany if B012 is enacted in this Diocese.
Given that Albany and surrounding areas are not backwards or ignorant, I'm going to assume that there are just as many who are outraged at this letter.

And this:
To engage in sexual intimacy outside of marriage between a man and women, is against God’s will and therefore sinful andneeds to be repented of, NOT encouraged or told it is ok.
So, about all those straight couples who are having sex before or outside of marriage--what 's he doing about them?

But what I really want to do is focus on this attempt to minimize our marriages and our relationships.
the Bible does not forbid two people of the same sex from loving one another in the sense of caring deeply or having a strong sense of affection for one another. Strong friendships are a blessing and gift. As already mentioned, God commands us to love one anotherboth male and female. The Bible doesn’t forbid two people of the same sex from sharing a home or life together. It doesn’t forbid two people of the same sex from being legal guardians for oneanother or health care proxies for one another. All God has said through Holy Scripture regarding relations between two men or two women is that they should not enter into sexual relations with one another, and that marriage is reserved for the joining together of a man and woman. 
As we have gone over and over, marriage is not about sex.   Many married couples cannot or choose not to engage in genital behavior, for one thing.  For another, even a sexually active couple spends far more of their time out of bed than in it, and if they are sensible, always working on all the other aspects of relationship that make a marriage.

Moreover, we are not suddenly un-gay when we are not having sex.

Dear Bishop Gene Robinson addressed this lunacy a number of years ago, when the Church of  England decided that gay priests could have civil partnerships as long as they promised to be celibate:
I don't care whether any couple, gay or straight, has sexual intimacy or not. That's not my business. That's their business. But to require someone to give up this piece of one's life, which is so central to who each of us is as a human being, just seems, it seems cruel, and it also, it bespeaks something that I think is not talked about enough around the issue of gay sexuality, which is that gay is not something you do, it's something we are. 
I'm not just gay when I'm making love to my husband. I'm gay all the time. I'm gay right this minute talking to you. And it affects how I relate to the world, how I relate to people. And it comes out of this notion that, you know, it's OK to be gay as long as you don't act on it. 
Well first of all, I don't think that's - I think that statement is disingenuous because the people who say that don't act as all as if it's OK to be gay. But taking them at their word, you know, when do you become gay? I laughingly will say to a more conservative audience, you know, OK, so if it's OK to be gay but not act on it, could two men live together? Could we sleep in the same bedroom if we slept in twin beds? 
Well, could we sleep in the same bed if we didn't touch each other? Well, could we touch each other as long as we only held hands? I mean, at what point, at what point is it gay? Do you know what I mean? It just doesn't make any sense. And it comes out of what I think is a very male understanding of sexuality, which is you're only being sexual when you're making love. 
But the fact of the matter is we are sexual all the time, and this bifurcation of, you know, being gay versus acting on it just seems to me ludicrous at best and cruel at worst.
Indeed.  But here we are, again, with one last holdout.  Bishop Love has drawn a line in the sand, to the dismay of some, but not all, of his flock.  He stands defiant, waiting to see what will happen.  Bishops in neighboring Dioceses offer support to those affected. Presiding Bishop Michael Curry writes that he is considering the implications, and reminds us
As members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12), we also are committed to respecting the conscience of those who hold opinions that differ from the official policy of The Episcopal Church regarding the sacrament of marriage. It should be noted that the canons of The Episcopal Church give authority to all members of the clergy to decline to officiate a marriage for reasons of conscience, and Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention does not change this fact. 
Indeed it is Bishop Love who does not respect the conscience of those who disagree.

PB Curry also says, “In all matters, those of us who have taken vows to obey the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church must act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the Church.”

Discussions on the Episcopal Cafe suggest that due to differences in New York state law, we aren't going to see an attempt to walk away with the whole Diocese a la Mark Lawrence in South Carolina.  It appears that Bishop Love wants to martyr himself on Title IV, which will bring scandal and bad press on the church he presumes to love.  He should do the honorable thing, and resign.  But I'm betting he wants to be a martyr to the Big Bad Gay Agenda.

1 comment:

8thday said...

I am not Episcopalian, in fact I have come to loath almost all institutional religions for being even more hypocritical than our current political parties. But I do live within the Albany diocese and when my partner and I had children, and she wanted them baptised, an Episcopal church was the only church that agreed to do it while still acknowledging us as a couple. And for that I am grateful.