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.
“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.