by Thea Mangels of St. George's in Carmichael
Resolution A049 at General Convention - Authorize Liturgical Resources for Blessing Same-Gender Relationships - is one that the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has been working on for the entire triennium between General Conventions.
(From Dean Baker's Blog entry on June 3rd) At the last General Convention, the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music was asked to gather resources for considering blessing same-sex relationships. They have done a remarkable job which includes drafting rites. We will consider approving these rites for use in the church. I expect there may be resolutions that encourage the church to study same-sex marriage (as opposed to "blessings").
Like Dean Baker, I think that it is very likely that the resolution on new rites will pass without too much controversy on the floor of General Convention. In part, I think that is because the resolution does not say that any congregation or diocese must use these rites, only that they may use them with the permission of the bishop.
Bishop Mary Douglas Glasspool of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles says in her article "Marriage Equality Through A Sacramental Lens" in the Huffington Post, "In the Episcopal Church, marriage has traditionally been treated as a sacrament. The outward and visible signs of the sacrament are the rings and vows that two people make to each other. The inward and spiritual grace is the reality of the relationship the two people already have given by God. The Church doesn't make marriages or give God's grace to the marriage. God's grace is God's to give! What the Church does is recognize the love and relationship two people already have and desire to grow in, and pledge the community's support to the couple, helping to uphold their vows of to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until we are parted by death.
Now for the big question. Are there lesbian and gay couples who love and cherish each other, and stick together through thick and thin, in sickness and in health, who appear to manifest the grace of God, already given in their lives together? Do we have currently existing in our communities gifts from God that have not yet been recognized by the community as a whole? What would be the benefits (if any) of recognizing, blessing, or solemnizing those relationships?"
I believe in the sacrament of marriage. I also agree with Bishop Glasspool that the sacrament of marriage should be available to committed gay and lesbian couples. For me, marriage equality is a social justice issue. How can you or I decide for someone else who they can or cannot marry? What gives us the right?
I wonder how we can be a church that welcomes all our members. How can we truly include our LGBT brothers and sisters, offering them the same right to participate in the sacrament of marriage that I have as a straight woman without alienating our more conservative members?
Yes, I want to move forward, I want full inclusion and I want it now. But full inclusion does not only apply to those of us who believe in marriage equality, full inclusion also means that we welcome those at the opposite end of the spectrum. How do we reconcile the pain felt at both extreme ends of this conflict?
I don't know the answer to this. I don't even know if it is possible, what I do know is that if we can do it, it will require a lot of prayer. I will need to be listening for God's voice in the words of other deputies on the floor, in the prayers and Bible passages we share, and in the resolutions and presentations that we hear.
Click here to read more from the General Convention Deputies' Blog.
Sat, June 23, 2012
by Thea Mangels filed under