Thinking Anglicans

TEC lists Principles for Same-sex Blessings

The Standing Liturgical Commission of The Episcopal Church is developing resources for blessing same-sex relationships.

As explained here:

The 2009 General Convention of The Episcopal Church acknowledged the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call forth a renewed pastoral response from this Church. In light of these circumstances, the General Convention directed the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to collect and develop theological and liturgical resources for blessing same-gender relationships. At the same time, we were asked to invite theological reflection from throughout the Anglican communion…

The Commission has recently published two documents as PDF files:

These materials are discussed in an article at the Living Church SCLM Lists Principles for Same-sex Blessings.

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Robert Ellis
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Robert Ellis

Perhaps their attention could be drawn to an excellent little book published last year by Cairn Publications and Jim Cotter. Price £10 “The Service of my Love-the celebration and blessing of Civil Partnerships” It is an excellent pastoral and liturgical handbook that is worth having a copy of. It was financed and sponsored by over 300 contributors.Some of whom were quite surprising. The author hopes that it will “help rather than hinder the process.” ….and it certainly does that!

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

Right now in the Diocese of Virginia we are about to have our annual council or business meeting, and one of the resolutions has to do with this topic, urging our bishop to move forward on this. We’ve had a very thorough report put together by a committee appointed last year, and also a series of ‘listening sessions’ across the diocese. The irony for us, of course, is this is not a response to the availability of civil unions or gay marriage in the state of Virginia, but as a pastoral response to the fact that such things are forbidden… Read more »

Robert Calderwood
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Robert Calderwood

There is another book under the authorship of (Fr.) Robert Calderwood called “Some Will Say Heresy”, which includes a suggested liturigy. Or one could merely check out the following web-site
http://www.booksbycalderwood.com

JCF
Guest
JCF

“”Some Will Say Heresy”, which includes a suggested liturigy”

Goodness, that title is defensive! Why not just let the dead bury the dead?

Thanks for these PDFs: I look forward to checking them out!

Bill Dilworth
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Bill Dilworth

“At the same time, these rites must resonate as natural speech in contemporary ears. A sacral register must be achieved without the use of arcane or antiquated words or patterns of speech.”

This would seem to make a Rite I (“traditional language”) ceremony impossible, and I wonder why that has to be the case.

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

What very excellent statements of principle. I would have no argument with either statement, and I am sure they will be very useful in a number of contexts.

One comment. The term “God-in-Christ”, occurring several times in these statements, is a new one on me. I understand what it means, but have not seen the phrase used in this way before. Is it a common piece of jargon in USA contexts?

Edward Prebble
Auckland, NZ

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Bravo to TEC for ‘getting on with the task’. Hopefully this initiative might break the log-jam for other Provinces of the Communion. re Edward’s remark about ‘God-in-Christ; I personally have no problem with it. I guess it has something quite important to say about the scriptural reference to ‘all the fullness of God – dwelling in Christ’
– God Incarnate!

william
Guest
william

As far as Genesis gives us the ultimate theological framework for marriage, and Jesus Himself went back to that framework when questioned about divorce[Matthew 19], we see that the basis for the marriage union was that God had created mankind ‘male and female'[Gen 1] – ‘for this reason’ male and female ‘became one in marriage’ [Gen 2, Mt 19]. To bring civil partnerships/ same sex relationships under this umbrella is to give another definition to marriage outwith the biblical one. Should that not be sufficient to give pause to any pseudo christian discussions aimed at accommodating the aberrational thinking of… Read more »

Allan King
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Allan King

2 Cor 5:19. “God was in Christ reoncoming the world to himself.”. This is sacrificial language, not baptismal language. A generally good set of papers, but I wish they would not so strongly put all their eggs in the ” baptismal covenant” basket. That I find a weak argument.

Rosemary Hannah
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Rosemary Hannah

Jesus directs the comment to a situation concerning the break-up of the first-formed bond between any man and a woman – usually, in his period,the break-up was where a man abandoned a wife for another woman. We know the situation of these women was often pretty dire. He is not laying down rules about who may and may not form a marriage, but issuing rules about the permanence of the bonds we form in a union. It is just a statement of fact that most people seeking a partner seek one of the opposite sex, and that God blesses such… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

This tread seems to be taking a decidedly heterosexist turn – nothing for me in that.

The williams of this world can never just rejoice with those who rejoice — can they ? I have never understood why heterosecuals can be so (relentlessly) mean.

I’m mean to just smile back or shrug then — am I ?

Tobias Haller
Guest

William, Jesus is using the rabbinic technique of taking two texts together to reach a new conclusion. His conclusion — which is at odds with the Law of Moses and the prevalent rabbinic view, as he notes — is that the union of marriage is not to be broken by human agency. He does not teach, as the rabbis did, that all people must marry (on the contrary he commends celibacy). Nor does he teach that same-sex couples cannot marry (which the rabbis held as off limits to Jews, but about which Jesus said nothing). It presses this text well… Read more »

Christopher (P.)
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Christopher (P.)

William–

I am a bit confused–Jesus was indeed redefining the first-century notion of divorce, wasn’t he? On the basis of a deeper principle!

Adam Armstrong
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Adam Armstrong

The union of male and female descibed in the Gospels is the only union Jewish culture could have known, or most other cultures throughout the ages. Thisis doesn’t mean that all unions must be between the two sexes, even if they are normative. To use a simplistic argument, the Gospels don’t forbid or even mention them. We often use scripture as if everything we know in 21st century western culture was known to First Century Jewish Christians or could have been anticipated. The Gospel may be eternal and universal, but was not written by people who had a time machine.

Pensamento Positivo
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Pensamento Positivo

Hi, Bill Dilworth! I understand your point but I have an alternative view on that. Perhaps TEC is learning something with the conservative wave on RC Liturgies with the return of traditional language and the Latin Mass… Churches declines aren’t only related with Social Justice, science understanding and modern issues, but generally related with Church methodology and language use. A quick search on TEC Parishes websites suggests that Rite II is used on at least 80% of TEC Services, covering perhaps more than 90% of TEC worshippers, just because usually Rite I Services are 7 o’clock Sunday simple said services,… Read more »

Michael
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Michael

I believe that the Church should ask G-d to bless many and various human relationships, and I will gladly preside at, and participate in liturgies which call upon G-d to bestow such grace.

In other words, I am a convinced “progressive Christian Priest”.

And yet I think that the proposed liturgical and theological principles of TEC (as expressed above) are very feeble, maybe even sophomoric.

For G-d’s sake, are there no Anglican theologians of liturgy and of theology who could take us deeper?

David Shepherd
Guest

Adam Armstrong: ‘The Gospel may be eternal and universal, but was not written by people who had a time machine.’ We need to make inferences where the Bible doesn’t explicitly address a particular type of behaviour. For instance, Peter Tatchell may happily advocate lowering the age of consent to 14 as a means of de-criminalising sex between consenting teens. Inadvertently, the change in law would also excuse a monogamous sex act between a mature adult and a 14 year old (who, grooming aside, is considered by progressive legislation as capable of giving consent). Well, Jesus was also curiously silent about… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
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Bill Dilworth

Pensamento Positivo – Your post certainly outlines what many people in the “progressive” wing of ECUSA think about the withering away of Rite I. The problem, I would submit, is that there’s no sense in the BCP that Rite II is more valid than Rite I – indeed, it give specific permission to conform Rite II services to Rite I language. Maybe Rite I will be excised in future revisions, but I think it will be done to the detriment of ECUSA. Until that happens, however, I would expect the Powers That Be in the ECUSA not to act as… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

David,
where is all this stuff about lowering the age of consent coming from? This is the second time you refer to it, but as far as I’m aware no-one in the church is proposing it and it is not the subject of this thread.
Shall we stick with the topic that’s actually being discussed here?

Tobias Haller
Guest

David Shepherd, your comment raises precisely the question of culture — as opposed to eternal biblical standards. In the biblical world (of both testaments) a young woman was considered marriageable from about the age of 12. (The tradition has long held that the BVM was about that age at the Annunciation.) That would not have been considered paedophilia in those times. But times have changed. In addition, there is no New Testament standard of monogamy in the text, except for clergy. (And the fact that it is specified for clergy seems to indicate an aspiration but not a law for… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

Erika,

I referred to a specific statement of one contributor who suggested that lack of first-century foresight would limit the applicability of scripture to 21st century issues. So, no I didn’t simply address same-sex blessings

I maintain that we must approach matters consistently for all of these issues. For this purpose, I gave two alternative modern instances to highlight an inconsistent approach towards making scriptural inferences in situations where the Bible appears tacit.

So why can’t I do that without incurring censure?

JCF
Guest
JCF

“So why can’t I do that without incurring censure?”

The venerable tradition of “Looks Like a Duck/Smells Like a Duck/Quacks Like a Duck”, David.

On a thread titled “TEC lists Principles for Same-sex Blessings”, you posted (apropos of nothing) “Well, Jesus was also curiously silent about paedophilia.”

Quack, quack.

Susannah
Guest
Susannah

The big problem with heterosexual marriage is not the risk of it being subverted by gay or lesbian couples marrying too, but the reality that it is subverted by heterosexual infidelity, heterosexual selfishness, heterosexual divorce. The threat to heterosexual marriage lies solely with heterosexuals. Whether gay and lesbian couples also choose to celebrate the sacredness of their relationships, and their commitment and fidelity to one another, in marriage… or not… should be a matter of no significance to heterosexual couples. It won’t harm them. Heterosexual couples have more than their work cut out, just to sustain their own relationships, judging… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

@David Shepherd. The issues to be considered are these. 1 – what situation is the text of Scripture intended to address? e.g. Paul’s condemnation at the start of Romans addresses a social situation where almost everybody is married, regardless of their attitude to this, and therefore same sex sexual relationships are almost always adulterous. In addition they are almost always (because of social mores) between free people and salves, and where not, between adults and much younger teenagers, thus frequently exploitative. 2 – what are the consequences of whatever sexual relationship we are considering? Are the consequences likely to be… Read more »

Simon Dawson
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Simon Dawson

Adam Armstrong wrote “The union of male and female descibed in the Gospels is the only union Jewish culture could have known, or most other cultures throughout the ages”. In my opinion this is simply wrong. Most cultures knew of some form of same-sex sexual activity and love. They would have had a different concept of it than we have today, just as they had a different view of marriage than we have today, but that is not to say it did not exist. To say so is a common misreading of Foucault. There are many examples in the Hebrew… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

David, Why are you incurring censure? Because you’re doing exactly what I already dismissed as unacceptable earlier on in the thread. You are automatically assuming that same sex blessings are an evil, and to illustrate that you draw on the example of something else you find unacceptable. You are sitting in the judgment seat, demanding that I explain that I’m not condoning adult grooming of youngsters for sexual abuse, and you are asking me to explain why accepting my marriage isn’t the thin end of the wedge in this respect. In a slightly less offensive manner you are doing what… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

David:

“I gave two alternative modern instances to highlight an inconsistent approach towards making scriptural inferences in situations where the Bible appears tacit.

So why can’t I do that without incurring censure?”

Because in doing so, you equate same-sex relationships between consenting adults with pedophilia. You don’t understand why that’s problematic?

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

Hi Erika/Pat, I was no more equating same-sex relationships with the first instance that I mentioned than I was equating monogamous same-sex relationships to the second example of polygamy in Africa. I can understand if you draw the line when the reading of scripture descends into a reductive and selective use of the bible verses in order to dismiss your entire morality on the basis of your sexual orientation. I did not do that. Tobias’s response was a completely acceptable, rational and exemplary one and identified the underlying dilemma in each case. Rather than interpret my comment as a personal… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

David Shepherd, This is the failing of conservatives in their long-unchallenged and privileged position: you lack any capability for self-examination. You make presumptions based on your own biases and proceed from there – exactly the same accusation you level at those interpreting the Bible differently than you do. Interpretation of religious text is not a static principle. It is not easy, nor is it “set.” The Jewish tradition recognized this with the growing Talmud – questions of law as interpreted in a specific instance, adapted to differing circustances, and reapplied through that lens. What is the basis for interpreting Scripture… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

David, I appreciate that your consideration of other interpretive cases didn’t imply moral equivalence, but nevertheless you would do well to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest JCF’s Duck Principle.

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

Umph – although I whole-heartedly support same sex marriage and I agree that the roles in marriage and the imperative to heterosexual marriage were different in Biblical times, I don’t think you can use Rachel and Leah to show this. Very plainly in the story, Jacob falls in love with Rachel in a really quite modern way. As it is told, too, the King and the bathing beauty story of David and Bathsheba is worthy of, and more believable than, modern soap opera. The possible provenances of these stories,the date of their conception and final form and the reasons for… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Thank you, David S. What you suggest is exactly what I have attempted to do in the book which Erika so kindly “plugged.” My goal is to apply biblical, traditional, and reasonable “lenses” to address the question, “Where is the locus of morality in sexuality.” My conclusion is that fixing morality on gender or anatomy (as the narrowest traditionalist position inevitably must do in this case) is ultimately unacceptable for a number of reasons, chief of which: it focuses on the aspect of our embodied being that we share with the animal world, rather than upon what it is that… Read more »

Susannah
Guest
Susannah

I think I may hold a different position to David Shepherd on the question of marriage equality for gay and lesbian couples. As David says, “scripture’s applicability” is the area of pivotal significance in trying to discern if there is a standard for Christians that rules out certain things. The trouble is, of course, that “scripture’s applicability” is the heart of the liberal-conservative (hate using labels but you ‘get’ what I mean) debate, and the reason for so many tensions in the Anglican Communion today. There simply is no consensus. What do you do then? Split, or opt for comprehensive… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

“I cannot and will not subscribe to the concept of some trickster God who is silent and allows ongoing discovery to mislead us, a mad God who demands we do exactly what we cannot see as providing benefit, nor a God who is so weak that we have broken completely free of the moorings of His image which requires a static interpretation by some mysteriously-pre-destined human proxy in the ecclesial structure.” Thank you! This is what I find so baffling about the “anti” side of the debate. Sure, you *could* derive that reading if you want to (but why would… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

I will take the time to read Tobias’s book. I can follow and want to discover the structure of his reasoning. At first sight, it does concern me that, should we unhinge our morality from gender or anatomy, we could fall into a gnostic dualism. Yes, we share our embodied being with the animal world and it can even be the occasion of sin. However, it is as integral to the humanity that Christ took upon Himself and redeemed, as the mind and spirit. The body is the temple of New Testament worship, whereby its actions become a living sacrifice.… Read more »

Geoff
Guest

@David Shepherd: So basically “the Lord works in mysterious ways” – funny how this devastating capriciousness only extends to other people.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Dear David, hope you enjoy the book and find it helpful, even if you find yourself in disagreement with conclusions I reach. I spend a good deal of time on the “gnostic” issue and hope you find my reflection helpful. And, of course, as one can judge from the title, I believe that same-sex couples can indeed present their embodied selves as a reasonable, holy and living sacrifice — in their gift of the self one to the other and to God; which is precisely the primary understanding of Christian marriage. This understanding is not gnostic, as it does involve… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

David, “Is it a ‘trickster God’ who eventually abandons Ahab. . .?” Yes. “Is it a ‘mad God’ who challenges Abraham to sacrifice His entire covenant posterity in the form of Isaac?” Yes. “Is it a ‘weak God’ who appoints twelve fallible men as eye-witnesses to the resurrection of His Son, favouring an indirect relay of faith via apostolic proxies over direct epiphany?” Yes. *If* you accept that it was God who did these things. You do. I don’t. They are only myths, and largely interpreted, as all history – even mythic – is, by the winner. “If we believe… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

So, in an earlier post, you happily recognise the value of the growing and adaptable Talmud. How does the Talmud escape your critical scrutiny, when, along with its scholarly explanations, it treats the Torah as factual? Was it not developed from the Oral Traditions (that Jews claimed to be handed down from Moses with the written Law)? The Talmud was also written by ‘groups of politically-invested theologians’: the natural successors to the Pharisees, or is the KJV the only target here? So give up your position on the value of the Talmud. You can’t have it both ways. Why don’t… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

Do you have any idea how this self-pity makes your position look, David? It’s all an attack on *you*; there’s no extension of understanding of the attack your position makes on others. Your arguments, if they can be called that and not knee-spasms, proceed from an entirely self-centered worldview. First, you presume to apply to *me* views that *you* believe I hold. I applaud the adaptability of the Talmud, which in no way means that I applaud the acceptance of Biblical myth as literal fact. To this end, you may also want to find out how wide a spectrum Jewish… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Can we return any further comments to the actual topic, namely the content of the TEC documents, and avoid ad hominem tendencies, please.