Canada’s “Disappointing” Vote

I wonder if Canada’s “disappointing” (to some of us) votes on the blessing of same gender unions is not actually a great gift, allowing us to see where many (even “progresssive” Christians)  actually “are” on this issue.

1. Many of us believe that, while this is a matter of “doctrine” (teaching),  it is not “core” — not creedal, not in violation of what is essential to be a Christian and to be in communion with other Christians.

2. But many of us — while continuing to believe that gay and lesbian Christians are full members of the Body of Christ and, as such, are entitled to exercize any ministry within that Body to which they are called and otherwise qualified — know that we who are in a distinct “minority” within the Episcopal Church, the Anglican Communion, and certainly within worldwide Christianity  MUST hear those voices and take them seriously.

We have not done our work on this issue yet (to our shame) and, until we do, we should not be surprised when votes like those in Canada continue to frustrate our efforts.

The Episcopal Church — in my opinion — needs to pay attention to this development, be humble enough to “pause” ( in the words of our Presiding Bishop)  for a season on the “official” sanctioning of same gender union blessings and (even…as painful as this is) consenting to episcopal elections of those in same gender unions.

Otherwise, we run the risk of winning the battle but losing the war in our fight to assure that the Church lives up to its promise to “respect the dignity of every human being” — in the Church as well as in the world!

11 Responses to “Canada’s “Disappointing” Vote”

  1. Linda in Iowa Says:

    As I understand the vote reporting, the laity and clergy (deacon and priest) votes were clearly in FAVOR of the resolution — and the bishops defeated it only by the very narrowest of margins (21 no, 19 yes).

    The lesson I take from this is that the Canadian bishops should listen to the folks in the pews and the rest of the clergy! It appears to me that the “work” that needs to be done, needs to be done among the bishops (not just in Canada).

    Some are speculating that the reason the bishops voted it down is that they were afraid they’d lose their invitations to Lambeth. Some say that was behind the infamous B033 at our most recent General Convention as well. If that is so, I find it appalling.

    “If the people lead, the leaders will follow.” May it be so!

  2. mumcat Says:

    Two people in purple shirts defeated the measure. I wouldn’t say that was an overwhelming defeat but rather the same kind of thing that the primates have been doing in enforcing their will rather than listening to the people they shepherd.

    “Pausing” sounds wonderful, unless you are or know what the cost is for that “pause.” Perhaps we ought to do what was done when the bishops couldn’t agree on the terms of the creed — lock them in a monastery with no frills or extras and force them to listen to the voices they have wanted to ignore in the name of unity.

  3. thomas bushnell, bsg Says:

    this is a new Jesus being preached, it seems to me. this is the Jesus who sits down with the official, and a woman of ill repute comes in, and starts washing Jesus’ feet and kissing them, and drying them with her hair. “cluck cluck” tuts the official, whispering to his other guests. “doesn’t he know who she is? i guess that shows what he is!”

    in this version, Jesus doesn’t do what the Gospel writers so scandalously attribute to him. instead, this Jesus decides that Jewish unity is extremely important. “i must realize that it will take time for these scribes and Pharisees to come round; it isn’t fair of me to expect them to change overnight. i must play it slow.” this Jesus pushes the woman away. he tries to give her a smile, he even considers whispering “i’ll see you later”. (but he doesn’t, for what will they think if they overhear such a thing.)

    some of the leaders have even made noises that Jesus will be punished for his reputation of caring about women like this. he’s even been seen hobnobbing with collaborators! he clearly has no taste for unity, the unity which Moses won for the nation, how dare he?! but this Jesus is wise, he knows what the House of Bishops knows, and the Gospel writers did not. this new Jesus pushes the woman away.

    he does continue to meet with her, in secret, provided all risk of scandal is removed. he thinks about riding a donkey into Jerusalem, but realizes that the cheers of the crowds would be offensive to those who are still catching up, so instead he just comes in privately. the most important thing, after all, is a place at the table.

    i think you can imagine how this new gospel continues, but in case you haven’t read it (for it has not been written down) it has a deliciously different ending. at the end Jesus doesn’t stand for anything worth getting upset about. this new Jesus lives to a ripe old age, saving nobody, even losing himself. he makes a few small improvements here and there; having decided that saving the world is too much to ask, he confines himself to the task of incremental improvement.

    nothing stops Eliezar ben Hanania or Simon bar Kochba, of course, so the Jews still revolt twice and Jerusalem is still destroyed.

    in this new version, Jesus asks Simon who he is, and Simon replies, “I thought you were the messiah, but i think you’re really just a good guy out to make the world a little better.” Jesus renames him πηλός, for he is soft and compliant. “in this puddle we shall all waffle” he says.

    satire over. in all seriousness, i have friends who are like that woman at Jesus’ feet, who suspiciously and nervously look at the Episcopal church, as perhaps being the one place they could meet God, and not quite sure whether this Jesus (or Church) can be trusted. they hear comments like yours, good bishop, and they know, once more, that this Church might suffer their presence, but will certainly not stand up for them.

    which Jesus do you worship?

  4. rwk Says:

    There are competing Jesus’ in this dialogue. One is busy accepting all, chiding the Pharisees, and preaching tolerance — “a bruised reed who will not bend”. The other is turning over the tables of the moneychangers, telling people he meets to “go and sin no more”, and proclaiming as true all of scripture changing “not one jot or tittle”. If the Christ you believe in cannot encompass all of the attributes of God then I would submit to you that your “christ” may be an idol of your own creation rather than one of history. This is a lesson progressives and conservatives both need to keep in mind.

  5. Linda in Iowa Says:

    rwk is right that all of us too easily create God in our own image. I am very conscious of my daily need to hear and heed “go and sin no more”. (I was raised in a staunch, strict Calvinist home!)

    However, I also know — having struggled for years before coming to accept God’s love for me as a beloved child — that the loving, committed, faithful relationship I share with my partner is NOT one of those “sins” of which I need to repent, but a GOOD gift of God. As I confront my own short-comings on a daily basis, I am blessed beyond anything I could ever ‘deserve’ by this gift in particular. The church may “withhold” its blessing from us, but it cannot withhold God’s.

    Thanks be to God!

  6. rwk Says:

    Thank you, Linda. I’ve made a reference on this site before that both progressives and conservatives are a mix up of sheep and goats. Some take the positions they do because it serves their own personal agendas. I will not point fingers or name names because I have neither the wisdom nor the right to call them out. Only rarely is the veil drawn away clearly enough for us to know which is which with certainty — and we only seem to have certainty about the other side. The sheep on both sides see these issues as ones of deep conscience. It hurts. It is difficult. If there were any easy solution, we would have resolved this a long time ago.

  7. Linda in Iowa Says:

    As a white person, it is my responsibility every single day to be aware of and consicously work against the privilege that the society I live in grants me, at the expense of others. It is NOT my place to “decide” on policies to “pause” from dismantling injustice which hurts and harms others, while preserving my comfort and privilege.

    Neither is it the place of non-gay Christians to suggest, ask or decree a “pause” in rectifying and reversing centuries of church-sanctioned oppression of their lesbian and gay brothers and sisters. To presume to do so is selfish, and lacking in love for neighbor.

    I would invite my non-gay brothers and sisters to come and join us, accepting the same second-class status we have in the church, without the option of “escaping” back into their heterosexual privilege…. If you want to maintain your clerical status, give up your spouse/family. If you are willing to have YOUR marriage un-blessed by the church and made into an “issue,” and be treated as a problem rather than a person, then maybe that will inform your understanding in a new way.

    Non-gay Christians who are unwilling to take up the same “crosses” that we bear, have no justification for placing such burdens on us. If they are willing to bear them with us, we can work together to lift the load from all our shoulders.

    Our bishops made a small gesture in this direction a few years ago when they placed a temporary moratorium on any new consecrations of bishops, rather than singling out potential partnered G/L candidates for the episcopate. When that happened, I rejoiced! I thought: They get it!

    But then came B033, and all the “justifications” and excuses for it since…. very disappointing.

  8. JB Says:


    Heterosexual marriage is not only allowed, but commanded and blessed in the Bible. To require a group to give up something expressly commissioned is not equivalent. The onus is on those proposing the “new thing” to demonstrate how the trajectory of Scripture points to ssb’s as being something for which Christ did not die.

    Now, a good equivalent, in my mind, would be the application of B033 to candidates for any ordained ministry who are either non-celibate GLBT or are divorced and remarried. The far right’s ox would be gored enough in the latter that serious discussion might occur (a fact many have uncomfortably dsicovered after they have jumped ship only to find that the African bishops who are so adamantly against non-celibate ordained clergy are also adamantly against divorced and remarried clergy). The prohibitions against both, I would argue, are equally clear, with Jesus actually tightening the noose with respect to the latter practice.

    The only load that matters can never be lifted from our shoulders by our own efforts. Christ has already paid the price and lifted the burden for those who accept His offer.


  9. muthah+ Says:

    As one of those celibate gay priests who felt that she was doing everything she could to abide by everyone’s idea of what a good priest is, I find that the “ick factor” as described at Fr. Jake’s is what really rules. I have a bishop who is very sensitive to the “ick factor”–one who is different, who doesn’t hang on his every word and who disagrees with him, cannot work. Consequently we work in other denominations ‘for a season’ until the diocese sees the truth of the discrimination.

  10. Linda in Iowa Says:


    I think you’re right about the “ick” factor. I do not understand why so many people seem so fixated on the “naughty bits” stuff, even to the point of engaging in what seems to me unhealthy obsessiveness. The emphasis seems way out of proportion to me!

    My relationship with my partner is about FAR more than sex. Without the context of connection, lifelong commitment, shared faith, and a deep friendship, sex would have no place in our relationship, as far as I’m concerned — the “heart connection” is the critical part. It is qualitatively different from any other relationship I have with anyone else — it is distinctive. But perhaps that’s just me (and my partner)? Perhaps it’s different for other people? for men? for people in mixed-gender relationships? I don’t know. I honestly don’t know.

    I am very sorry that you find yourself having to work outside the Episcopal Church because it does not, despite the slogan, welcome you. I will keep you in my prayers.

    God’s peace to you,

  11. To m Rightmyer Says:

    I am grateful to Bishop Epting for his comments encouraging a pause in blessing sams-sex unions and approving the consecration as bishop of those in same-sex relationships for the sake of our common fellowship. I am one of those in the minority of the Epsicopal Church who think that this church made a mistake in not taking the advice of the large majority of the bishops of our communion at Lambeth 1998. I am not yet convinced that this is a church-dividing error, but Lambeth 2008 may have some further advice for the communion.

    Tom Rightmyer in Asheville, NC

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