Anglican anxiety in an age of same-sex marriage

From a Christian perspective, marrying two people of the same sex is either wrong or it isn’t. The latter case would mean the church and theologians have been mistaken for the last 2000 years and now, for some odd reason, they have finally seen the light; or, as I suspect, they are children of their times and all their high-minded pontificating is little more than chronological arrogance.

One might be tempted to conclude that whether same-sex marriage is right or wrong is the defining issue to be discussed at the next Anglican synod, the either/or – or as is fashionable to say in our computer infested age, the binary – decision that is uppermost in every bishop’s mind. But no! What is unsettling the equanimity of our bishops and primate is how we talk about the problem, not the problem itself.

The compulsion to discuss how to discuss, must surely be among the last symptoms exhibited by an organisation that has utterly lost its way, one that, on its last legs, exerts its last few gasps to explain to uninterested bystanders the precise quality of those gasps – just before the final death rattle overcomes it.

From here:

“My sense is that there’s a lingering kind of anxiety within the church about how we have a decent conversation about this matter at General Synod 2019,” Hiltz told the Anglican Journal Monday, October 30.

A resolution to allow same-sex marriages in the church passed its first reading at General Synod in July 2016; a required second reading will go before General Synod in 2019.

Hiltz made the comments during an interview about the meeting October 23-27 of the House of Bishops in Niagara Falls, Ont.

A number of bishops expressed concerns, he said, about how same-sex conversations at the next General Synod could take place “in a way that doesn’t leave people feeling marginalized, isolated, pushed out—on either side.”

Many feel that the traditional legislative process that the synod follows encourages contention, he said.  “You basically either speak in favour or against. So immediately…you get some sense of the—in some respects—division in the house.”

Among the bishops, he said, there’s “a whole range of hopes and scenarios” about how conversation at synod might be guided.

Some bishops raised questions about the time limits imposed on General Synod members when debating, given the great importance many place on the issue of marriage.

There’s also anxiety among some in the church, Hiltz said, that the resolution, despite its conscience clause, doesn’t offer enough protection to those who oppose same-sex marriages—that if the resolution passes its second reading, would-be priests who are opposed will find it harder to get ordained or appointed.

A widespread concern, the primate said, has to do more generally with how those in favour and those opposed would be able to live together harmoniously afterward, whether the vote passes or fails.

Crucify him!

Australia is voting on whether to permit same-sex marriage.

As a result, some of those among us who self-identify as tolerant, inclusive, caring and loving have decorated a few churches with the epithet, “crucify No voters”, a salutary reminder that, in 2000 years nothing much has changed or, as Ecclesiastes puts it: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”

From here:

At least two churches in Australia have been spray-painted over the weekend with graffiti that says “crucify No voters,” referring to those who vote against gay marriage in the country’s postal vote survey.

Scottish Episcopal Church sanctioned for one same-sex wedding while Anglican Church of Canada gets away with eight

The Scottish Episcopal Church was rapped on knuckles with a limp noodle at the recent Primates’ Meeting for voting to allow and performing a same-sex wedding. The imposed “consequences” are so laughably meaningless that it’s a wonder that Justin Welby could keep a straight face while announcing them.

To add to the farce, the Anglican Church of Canada voted to allow same-sex weddings in 2016 (to be finalised in 2019) and has now performed eight same-sex weddings (see article below) and no-one seems to care. Even the GAFCON Primates fail to mention it, referring instead to the ACoC “bless[ing] gay relationships”.

From here:

The Primus of Scottish Episcopal Church, Mark Strange, said he recognised the vote in June to permit clerics who wanted to conduct gay weddings to do so had caused ‘some hurt and anger’ among fellow Anglicans around the world.

He accepted the ‘consequences’ – which Lambeth Palace officials insisted did not amount to sanctions – would restrict the SEC’s involvement in the worldwide Anglican Communion.

[….]

A spokesman for the conservative grouping GAFCON, which largely includes African primates, insisted the Scottish Episcopal Church as well as the US Episcopal Church, which has legalised gay marriage, and the Anglican Church in Canada, which blesses gay relationships, must ‘repent’.

The Anglican Church of Canada has performed eight same-sex marriages since July 2016. Read here:

Eight same-sex couples have been married in three Anglican Church of Canada dioceses, ahead of General Synod 2019, when a resolution to allow same-sex marriages will be presented for second reading.

Since General Synod 2016 approved – on first reading – a proposed change in the marriage canon (church law) to allow same-sex marriages, four weddings of same-sex couples have taken place in the diocese of Niagara, three in the diocese of Toronto and one in the diocese of Ottawa, according to the offices of the respective diocesan bishops. Several other same-sex couples in the dioceses of Toronto and Ottawa are also preparing to walk down the aisle.

Diocese of BC desperately seeking same-sex couples to marry

The dioceses of Niagara, Ottawa, Montreal , Toronto and British Columbia are proceeding with same-sex marriages ahead of the final vote to approve them in 2019.

But, having scoured the province for likely candidates, poor Bishop Logan McMenamie has yet to find any men willing to marry another man; or a woman to marry another woman. If Anglicans in BC don’t get with the program soon, McMenamie will have to resort to compelling some of his eligible male clergy to tie the knot.

From here:

Bishop Logan McMenamie, of the diocese of British Columbia, announced at a diocesan synod in autumn 2016 that he will “move forward with the marriage of same-sex couples in the diocese” on a case-by-case basis. When the Anglican Journal contacted McMenamie’s offce in March 2017, no same-sex couples had yet approached the diocese about the possibility of marriage.

Niagara’s Bishop Michael Bird currently has the competitive edge in the same-sex marriage scavenger hunt: he has four couples under his belt.

Niagara, however, may have an unfair advantage since it has widened the net by including bisexuals, who, presumably, would only be satisfied with a ménage à trois, counting as 1.5 couples. Of course, if both candidates are bisexual, we would need a ménage à quatre, a bonus that would qualify as two couples. Transgender couples are also part of the Niagara strategy. I’m not sure exactly how that would work, but I estimate that, depending on the mood of the moment and assuming part-time transgenderism – gender, we are assured, is fluid – it would make a total of four possible copulative combinations, one for each week of the month: man-man, man-woman, woman-man and woman-woman. That would count as at least two couples, possibly four.

Bird said his thoughts on the matter have not changed and that he was committed to continuing “to walk along the path of full inclusion and to immediately proceed with marriage equality” with LGBTQ2 (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Two-Spirited) Anglicans in his diocese.

Canadian dioceses marrying same-sex couples

There are presently three Canadian dioceses that have performed same-sex marriages and at least another three which plan to – assuming, after scouring the land, they can find some willing couples. Others will undoubtedly follow.

This is all happening before the vote in 2019 to finalise approval of same-sex marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada. If it seems chaotic, it is because it is: Fred Hiltz says he has no authority to prevent it, Michael Bird and other bishops have cheerfully declared they can proceed because no one can find anything in the canons that says they can’t and, even though synod has pronounced same-sex marriage a matter of theology, Bird et al. have effectively said, no it isn’t it’s pastoral.

Considering the energy, time and passion invested in this, and the ensuing mayhem, it would be reasonable for an outsider to assume that there are thousands or, at the very least, hundreds of same-sex couples clamouring to be joined in unholy matrimony in an Anglican church. But no: there have been eight so far.

Eight! That’s 0.000044% of the population; on the positive side, it a beautiful illustration of how effective the ACoC’s efforts to be relevant are to average Canadians.

Read it all here:

Since the first reading at General Synod 2016 of a resolution to allow for the solemnization of same-sex marriages, eight couples have been married in three Anglican Church of Canada dioceses—with more planning on walking down the aisle in the coming year.

Four weddings of same-sex couples have taken place in the diocese of Niagara, three in the diocese of Toronto and one in the diocese of Ottawa, according to the offices of the respective diocesan bishops. Toronto and Ottawa also noted that several other same-sex couples in their dioceses are in the process of preparation for marriage.

Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson, of the diocese of Montreal, said she is currently going through a discernment process with four same-sex couples considering marriage.

Bishop Logan McMenamie, of the diocese of British Columbia, announced at a diocesan synod in autumn 2016 that he will “move forward with the marriage of same-sex couples in the diocese” on a case-by-case basis. When the Anglican Journal contacted his office in March 2017, no same-sex couples had yet approached the diocese about the possibility of marriage.

Following the first reading of the motion to change the marriage canon (church law) of the Anglican Church of Canada to allow for the marriage of same-sex couples—which was initially, but incorrectly, declared as being defeated in a vote—several bishops publicly announced they would nonetheless marry same-sex couples.

Niagara Bishop Michael Bird, Ottawa Bishop John Chapman, Toronto Archbishop Colin Johnson, then Huron Bishop Bob Bennett and then Coadjutor (now diocesan) Bishop Linda Nicholls all stated that they would marry same-sex couples as a pastoral measure, citing an opinion by General Synod Chancellor David Jones, that the marriage canon as it stands does not actually bar same-sex marriage.

Following discovery of a voting error, which showed that the motion had actually passed its first reading, Bird, Chapman and Johnson said they would still go ahead with same-sex marriage. However, Bennett and Nicholls issued another statement, clarifying that their diocese was “committed to ongoing consultations” as required by the same-sex motion. At press time, no changes to diocesan policy regarding the marriage of same-sex couples had been made.

Decaffeinated Indaba

Apparently, indabas have been replaced by sankofas – and you can tell what that reminds me of by the title.

But I jest. Sankofa actually means: “It is not a taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind”. It is a catchphrase taught to English bus drivers to be used as they watch old ladies in their rear view mirrors running after the bus. If that isn’t clear enough, the definition goes on to say: “the narrative of the past is a dynamic reality that cannot be separated from consideration of the present and future”. In other words, the past is dynamic, or changeable by the present, a concept made popular in the ‘70s by those consuming an excessive quantity of magic mushrooms. Since Canadian bishops seem to fall into that category, many of them – Hiltz, Bird, Ingham and Alexander – were present at the latest salacious sankofa  exercise to ponder together homoerotic sexuality under the pretext of conjuring a prior dynamic reality that conforms ancient perversions to 21st century delusions of normalcy.

A pusillanimous church – and that’s what Western Anglicanism has become – grovels and trembles before the culture in which it finds itself. Hence, as Ingham notes below, the church is content to let the culture determine its theology. A church can sink no lower than that.

From here:

Introduced by the Most Rev. Prof. Emmanuel Asante as an ecumenical contribution from the Methodist Church of Ghana, the Akan concept of sankofa served as a guiding framework for the Seventh Consultation of Anglican Bishops in Dialogue, which took place from May 25-29 in Accra, Ghana. The gathering brought together bishops from Canada, Ghana, Swaziland, Tanzania, Kenya, South Africa, Burundi, Zambia, England, and the United States.

Sankofa—literally, ‘It is not a taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind’—refers broadly to the unity of past and present, where the narrative of the past is a dynamic reality that cannot be separated from consideration of the present and future.

[….]

Bishop Ingham noted that despite the bishops present holding many different theologies on marriage, sexuality and biblical interpretation, “we’re not divided by these differences. Rather, we’re spurred to be curious with each other and to hear how these matters play out in our different parts of the world.”

“We’re all very aware that mission is contextual,” he added. “And I think most of the African bishops who attend understand that social and legislative challenges have taken place around homosexuality in Western countries.

Diocese of the Arctic rejects changing the marriage canon

A small oasis of sanity in the vast desert of ACoC sexual neuroses.

Read it all in the Journal:

As the Anglican Church of Canada prepares for a controversial vote on whether or not to change its laws to allow for the marriage of same-sex couples, the diocese of the Arctic has sent a memorial to General Synod stating its commitment to maintaining the status quo.

The memorial, passed at the Arctic’s 2016 diocesan synod in May, also notes that the diocese seeks to “preserve the unity of the church,” and expresses a “sincere hope that [the diocese] can remain in fellowship and ministry with the Anglican Church of Canada, while standing with the larger Anglican Communion.”

Holy Matrimony “is a creation ordinance which is restricted to, and defined as, a covenant between a man and a woman,” the memorial says. “We seek to protect and promote this sacrament for the strengthening of the family, the stability of society, the unity of God’s church, and the common good.”

[….]

The diocese has been outspoken on matters of human sexuality in the past. In 2005, the Arctic’s diocesan synod amended its canon on the order and eligibility for licensing and banned employment of anyone involved in a sexual relationship outside of heterosexual marriage, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and those who willingly engage in sexual activities with a minor.

At the time, then Arctic Bishop Andrew Atagotaaluk and Bishop Larry Robertson (then suffragan of Mackenzie and Kitikmeot) explained that the law was passed to ensure diocesan employees maintained a lifestyle congruent with the diocese’s understanding of biblical sexual ethics.

While the memorial states that the diocese is “committed to human flourishing, equal opportunities, dignity and justice for all,” it is not clear whether this commitment to “equal opportunities” indicates a change in official diocesan hiring practices.

Diocese of Rupert’s Land plans to proceed with same-sex marriages

The bishop of Rupert’s Land has issued the following statement that clearly says – amidst the usual faux-pious gobbledegook – that he intends to go ahead with marrying same-sex couples in spite of the fact that the motion to approve same-sex marriages won’t be voted upon until the next general synod, that it is unlikely to pass anyway and that it could not receive final approval until 2019.

Fred Hiltz has already received an oracle  that this was bound to happen; I suppose Phillips, having seen that, thought to himself: “Why wait?”

An Update from the Bishop on Same-sex Marriages in our Church May 23, 2016.

It is my hope that this brief pastoral update will be helpful to members of our Diocese. Since the communication from the House of Bishops and the response from the Council of General Synod regarding the proposed change to the marriage canon back in March, 2016, I have noted both the interest and concern around how I view same-sex marriage in our Diocese, as well as the confusion and anxiety about what my approach to same-sex marriage might be.

Through continued prayer, listening to many voices, studying the Commission’s report, This Holy Estate, and much conversation, I am able to offer the following, hopefully straightforward, statement: I am convinced that the time has come for the provision for same-sex marriages in our Diocese to become reality. I am committed to working toward making that happen both as soon as responsibly possible, and in a grace-filled manner that minimizes the impact for those who struggle with this issue – both within and beyond our Diocese.

How this needs to take place is yet to be determined and it is important that I, our other delegates to General Synod, and all of the members of our Diocese, remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in discerning that path.

Yours [not in any way, shape or form – editor] in Christ,
Donald Phillips, PhD
Bishop of Rupert’s Land

There is a Facebook group for those who want to see the Marriage Canon changed

Like-minded same-sex marriage enthusiasts have set up a Facebook group to encourage one another in their desire to see a Marriage Canon change to accommodate same-sex couples. As of this writing, there are 1269 members. In the spirit of full inclusion, it is a closed group, so you can only see what is going on if you join. I did and here is the stated purpose of the group:

As administrators of this group, we want to reiterate our purpose because we have more than doubled membership over the past couple of days. It’s important that we are all on the same page and that we continue to promote a safe space where people can be free to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions.

We want to clarify for everyone who is part of this group our intent in coming together here as stated in our description …

“This is to be a forum for support and to encourage each other as we head into this important conversation. Many continue to feel hurt and excluded; others are wanting to continue working for justice, respect and dignity for all as equal members of the body of Christ … the living out of our baptismal covenant. Pray for wisdom and the grace of God through the Holy Spirit as we continue this prophetic mission and ministry for equality for all, and especially our LGBTQ community!”

We trust that everyone who is here as a member of this group shares this purpose and desires this outcome.

The last sentence confirms that dissenters are unwelcome, a fact whose accuracy was reinforced after I posted this:

I’m opposed to changing the marriage canon but thought I would join the group to see if anyone has said anything that might change my mind. They haven’t.

The reply:

I was under the impression that people who have joined this group understood that Jesus loves everyone, all inclusive. I’m all for healthy debate but I’m unsure if that is possible in this situation.

So, as you can see, with full inclusion, no debate is possible.

Very shortly after posting my comment I was booted out of the group by the moderators.

I feel so excluded.

Marriage Equality

For marriages to be equal, everyone would have to have to be hitched to a person who is no less or more attractive, capable, wealthy, fertile, sanguine, attentive, understanding, sympathetic or desirable than anyone else.

As with socialism, the only way this works is to compel all to sink to the lowest common denominator. We all have to marry unattractive, bungling, impoverished, impotent, miserable, disinterested, dense, uncaring, ugly and repugnant individuals – the sex of the person wouldn’t matter because there wouldn’t be any.

Of course, what those who tirelessly agitate for marriage equality really want is imbalance not equality: a contrived conjoining of two similarities, a consummation of anti-symmetry, a coitus of hollow infertility.