Long Island (NY) Bishop on Same-sex Marriage

Given that the State of New York has legalised marriage between people of the same sex, the Bishop of Long Island has issued a very interesting letter.

In many, if not all states, the ordained person acts also (and sometimes more exclusively) as an agent of the State preparing the legal documents to be signed to insure the legal arrangement of the civil agreement that is a by-product of marriage – little of which is the Church’s real concern or impinges on the sacramental nature of the marriage.

Therefore, until further notice, all Clergy in the Diocese of Long Island are hereby Charged as follows:

As has always been the practice, no priest will be required to officiate at any particular marriage.  It will remain the obligation and pastoral duty of our priests who will officiate at marriages (either gay or straight) to fully prepare all couples, whether gay or straight, for marriage in similar fashion.  No one is entitled to have his or her marriage blessed by a priest of the Church, unless he or she is willing to profess to holding true the teachings of the Church regarding marriage.  Clergy wishing to bless and celebrate the marriage of those previously married and whose spouse is still living, whether gay or straight, will require the permission of the Bishop Diocesan for such marriages, as in the past.

For the gay and lesbian clergy of this Diocese who are living in domestic partnerships or civil unions, I hereby grant a grace period of nine months from the effective date of the New York State Law permitting same-gender marriages for those relationships to be regularized either by the exchange of vows in marriage or the living apart of said couples.  I deem it to be honest and fair, and I do so direct and require, now that it is legal, that only married couples may live together, either in rectories or elsewhere as a clergy couple living in the midst of our faith community.

The Gospel reveals in the words and actions of Jesus Christ the divine desire for unity: unity between individual persons, and the union of humanity with God.  As in all else we do together as the Body of Christ, we are called today and in the future to continue to celebrate and live the sacramental nature of marriage as a gift of unity and a share in divine love.

In some senses this is good pastoral practice. If “straight” couples are required to be sexually abstinent until marriage, the same should apply to “gay” couples. What I find interesting though is the reference to “No one is entitled to have his or her marriage blessed by a priest of the Church, unless he or she is willing to profess to holding true the teachings of the Church regarding marriage”. What constitutes for TEC the “teachings of the Church” in this matter?

Well, like all good Anglicans we find that our liturgy defines our doctrine, so a quick look in the TEC BCP yields,

Dearly beloved: We have come together in the presence of God to witness and bless the joining together of this man and this woman in Holy Matrimony. The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people.

The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God.

Husband and Wife.

Just to be sure, let’s check Canon 18.

(e) “We, A.B. and C.D., desiring to receive the blessing of Holy Matrimony in the Church, do solemnly declare that we hold marriage to be a lifelong union of husband and wife as it is set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.
(f) “We believe that the union of husband and wife, in heart, body, and mind, is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord.
(g) “And we do engage ourselves, so far as in us lies, to make our utmost effort to establish this relationship and to seek God’s help thereto.”

Husband and Wife.

There you go. Until TEC changes the Prayer Book or amends its Canons accordingly, the “teachings of the Church” are that marriage is between a husband and wife. Why then is the Bishop of Long Island encouraging gay clergy to get married?

By all means, get the 2012 General Convention to take yet another step down the path of apostasy and change Canon 18, but what we have at the moment is TEC blatantly ignoring its Canons when it suits its moral agenda and rigorously enforcing them when it suits its political agenda. This criticism has nothing to do with an opposition to same-sex marriage and everything to do with pointing out the rank hypocrisy currently abounding inside TEC.

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