A recent wandering uncovered a list of individual submissions to the Commission on the Marriage Canon. Most of the submissions share an uncritical and non-biblical view of marriage. Most letters toe the "progressive" line which is more sociological than theologically orthodox, not that orthodoxy matters much in certain circles these days. Anglicans, it seems, prefer to conform more to contemporary societal norms than the teachings of the Apostles, the Faith for which martyrs past and present have died rather than surrender their Christian dignity to a pagan society.
Like the members of this Commission and many others in the Anglican family I have wrestled with the issue of same sex couples in light of Scriptures' teaching and my life's experience of knowing a number of committed Christians who have felt excluded from various churches... not only Anglican... because of their sexual orientation. The anguish of some has been great and we have to admit the church has not always dealt kindly with these non-conformist believers. Jesus showed us in deed and word the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father for all humanity and this has always been a challenge in the life of the church through the ages and in our personal response to people who come into our lives too. (God has unconditional love for the human person, but does not necessarily approve of his or her actions. Everyone needs redemption in Jesus Christ. God, while loving his children and calling them to holiness, condemns sinful behaviour. Jesus' inconvenient first words at the beginning of His public ministry were '“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”—St. Matthew 4:17. Jesus said repent. Jesus did not say 'Bless you, keep on sinning'!) However when it comes to Marriage I do stand firm that this one relationship was ordained by God as a joining of man and woman for comfort and support and the creation of new life. As far as same sex relationships are concerned I have come to accept their validity and seen love and faithfulness expressed between partners so as Pope Francis has recently declared... who am I to judge?? I have often wondered if a name other than Marriage might have helped us in our acceptance of such unions. For all Commission members I pray the Holy Spirit will keep your hearts and minds open as you continue to seek the way forward in love and peace. Sincerely [N], St. Peter, Comox (Diocese of British Columbia).
As a priest of the Diocese of British Columbia I have already blessed one same-sex couple, two men who had been living together for a quarter of a century. This was done with the permission of the bishop, and after the parish in which I ministered approved such blessings unanimously. The couple was married by a marriage commissioner earlier that day.
People who were at the General Synod in 2001 may recall that I stated on the floor that I was in favour of same-sex marriage, provided that General Synod authorized it. Since then a lot of water has gone under the bridge, and my views have evolved. If I were a bishop (1) and had ius liturgicum I would empower any cleric within the diocese to go forward and marry same-sex couples. Bishops within The Episcopal Church have already done this (2) without waiting for an amendment to their Marriage Canon. Given that the Canadian and American churches are already condemned by conservative evangelical Anglicans in North America and by prominent ecclesiastics and provinces in the Anglican Communion, (3) what do we have to lose? (A whiff of (1) ambition or careerism? (2) defiance? (3) arrogance and/or indifference?) The bonds of affection have already been strained to the breaking point. (So, who cares, right?) I have personally dealt with the results of radical conservatives (Radical, as in faithful to the teaching of Christ?) breaking away, despite great restraint ('I'm so Christian!' See Note 3 below.) by the bishop and synod of the Diocese of British Columbia around the issue of same-sex blessings. ("Great restraint"? Those opposed to such "blessings" had called for restraint by asking their "progressive" brethren to not conduct such "blessings". Nevertheless, the writer has admitted to proceeding "with the permission of the bishop" while denying the sensitivities of those calling for restraint.)
Arguably the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada does not forbid same-sex marriage, but merely endorses different-sex marriage; if the church does not forbid something explicitly, can it condemn those who do it? (If the church does not affirm something explicitly, what then? The ACoC credo in a nutshell: Just because something is not expressly forbidden it must be permissible. The writer is conveniently forgetting the constant teaching of the Church. Then again, he's not alone in his absent mindedness.) I recognize that this is a radical (disingenuous, presumptuous, unfounded, illogical and therefore untenable) position, but after encouraging restraint (There's that word again. 1) Didn't the writer just admit to proceeding to act without restraint? 'Oh, but his bishop permitted him to act.' A reasonable person might conclude that both he and his bishop acted without restraint, i.e., without regard for their fellow Anglicans; 2) Apparently, it's ok to be one kind of radical and not another?) and instead receiving nothing but vituperation and schism from my more conservative brothers and sisters in Christ (Can you blame them given the get-my-way-at-all-costs behaviour of their "progressive" brethren?), I see no reason not to move forward (Of course, the realization of the "progressive" agenda is always a "move forward". Or is it?).
- I have already blessed... with the permission of the bishop... ." The writer of the Citation B excerpt, who shamelessly declared his involvement in a situation of a kind in question, has contributed considerable effort to support a trajectory that was and is the cause of much anxiety for those who hold to a view of marriage contrary to the writer's own views. The writer, like so many of his ilk, seems oblivious to the reality that his brand of action is entirely responsible for rupture in the Anglican Communion. Demonstrating a lack of restraint, his actions are the cause of rupture, whereas the actions of those defending traditional marriage who have reacted with understandable upset are merely the effect of his and other "progressive's" lack of restraint. The writer's finger is pointing in the wrong direction. He accuses his adversaries of the very flaw which he himself has demonstrated.
- "... after encouraging restraint and instead receiving nothing but vituperation and schism from my more conservative brothers and sisters in Christ, I see no reason not to move forward." a) Judging from the writer's own comments, it is difficult to imagine him offering anything other than mere lip service and condescension toward those who have objected to an agenda they held/hold to be inconsistent with Christians belief and practice. b) What does it make one when one is in schism from a schismatic group?
- The writer of Citation B would be the Anglican minister who took over responsibility for a parish after its pastors and people were locked out after voting to realign with the Anglican Network in Canada (ANiC). "Parishioners (at St. Mary's Metchosin) decided 105-14 to separate from the national Anglican body (ACoC) over a variety of issues, including interpretation of scripture and the blessing of same-sex marriage."—Canada.com. "Locks have now been changed and a monitored alarm system installed at the church’s 4125 Metchosin Rd. site — a step that caught the outgoing St. Mary clergy by surprise."—Times Colonist/Canada.com. The writer of the submission to the Commission was at the time of the conflagration the executive officer and commissary to the Bishop [Rand V Anglican Synod of the Diocese of BC, Supreme Court of BC, p.9. note 25: link].
- Given the Citation B writer's stated position, it seems difficult to imagine any deference will be shown to the position advocated by indigenous Anglicans and their representatives who have expressed, in charitable and no uncertain terms, that the neo-colonial attitude of the pro-change position advocated by the writer and others is unacceptable. The Statement of the Anglican Indigenous Bishops concludes — "We, as the Indigenous bishops of Indigenous communities, declare our commitment to what we understand to be the traditional, spiritual, and Indigenous understanding of marriage. We, therefore, cannot accept any changes that might be made without consultation with our communities. We pledge our love and pastoral care to all, within and without our communities, whatever their position may be. We uphold the inherent right and ability of our communities to make these decisions on their own. Finally, we promise to continue in a spirit of reconciliation and conversation with any who are willing to join us in the fellowship of Christ’s disciples. With this statement, we believe that we must also commit ourselves to the renewal of family life in our communities, through our love and respect for every one of our members. At the same time, this discussion and the crisis of our communities, call us to begin a new era of the honoring of the ceremony and discipline of marriage." To read the complete Statement of the Anglican Indigenous Bishops, CLICK HERE or on the following link: http://www.anglican.ca/wp-content/uploads/7-8-2015-Anglican-Indigenous-Bishops.pdf
- "(W)hat do we have to lose?" Given the Citation B writer's stated positions, it seems highly unlikely that he will lose much sleep if (when?) another schism occurs in the Anglican Church of Canada and within the global Anglican Communion. The African Anglican prelates, after having pushed for and achieved a reprimand of the TEC/USA for its actions, appear to sense, as many in the blogosphere sense, that the reprimand is practically meaningless. Given that the writer's lack of restraint is not atypical among "progressives", it seems obvious that others will similarly deny due process, not to mention Apostolic Tradition, and appropriate the license to proceed in a manner modelled by the writer in question.