Integrity President, The Rev. Dr, Caroline Hall, comments on Bishop Andy Doyle's plan to bless same gender couples in the Diocese of Texas.
One of the great charisms of the Anglican tradition has been our ability to embrace a wide range of theological perspectives while continuing to worship, serve (and argue) together. In the recent troubles that approach has been lacking as the puritan faction have tried to make us adhere to their ideas of the true faith. This has sadly led to their even refusing to receive communion together with those who theological views are different.
Now the Bishop of Texas has gone back to the ethic of Anglican inclusiveness. Even though he himself cannot at this time countenance blessing a same-gender union, he is making it possible for those in his diocese to follow their own consciences. I admit I haven’t read the whole document, Unity in Mission, but I have read the headlines and the FAQs. The Bishop says, “We feel that faithfulness to the Good News of Salvation and the unique Gospel proclamation of God in Jesus Christ demands unity and peace for the sake of mission. We believe that a proactive response to emerging issues that may divide us against one another safeguards the mission and life of the Church.”
Of course I’d like to if everyone saw things my way all the time. After all I am right!! But that’s not the reality and I’d much rather we all said, let’s find a way to work together and focus on serving God and furthering his/her reign. As Bishop Gene has said “Jesus is the gay agenda.”
No bishop, however liberal, is going to force his or her clergy to bless same-gender relationships. After all, clergy don’t have to bless different-gender ones. But it seems very likely that a lot of conservative bishops simply won’t allow same-gender blessings in their dioceses, thus perpetuating inequality within the church. So it will depend where you live whether you’re really welcome.
Bishop Doyle is clear that he is not going to vote for blessings, but if they are accepted by Convention, which he thinks they will be, two congregations in his diocese will be granted permission to bless same-gender covenants, provided the people and the rector are all in agreement. At a later point additional congregations will be given the same permission. No congregation will have to agree to blessings.
So within the Diocese of Texas it will be possible to have a same-gender union blessed in an Episcopal Church. It might not be the church you’d like, but it’s a whole load better than not being able to get a blessing at all.
“It’s not the whole enchilada,” as one of my predecessors famously said, “but it’s got enough guacamole on it for me.”
I hope other conservative bishops will have the same breadth of vision and generosity as Bishop Doyle.