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Q. I've heard concern raised over the proposals for marriage equality because it would be a *canonical* change and not a *constitutional* change. The canons and the constitution would then be out of compliance. I understand that a change to the constitution (aka the prayer book) would require a resolution be adopted at this convention, and then the exact same language would have to pass at GC 79 in 2018. Is that accurate?
A. This comes from a misunderstading of the place of the BCP. It is not "constitutional." Only the Constitution is constitutional. The BCP is sometimes mistakenly called constitutional because its amendment process takes two conventions -- but unlike the Constitution itself, amendments to the BCP can be "tried out" -- real amendments to the Constitution are null until approved by two conventions, then they are the law.
The problem arises when people treat the BCP as a lawbook instead of a liturgical book. Beyond that, the BCP itself provides (on page 13) for other liturgies to be authorized. These liturgies would not be needed if they were not in some way different to the BCP, so to argue that such liturgies have to be congruent to the BCP doesn't stand.
Besides that, the SSM liturgies do not "contradict" the BCP; they simply offer a liturgy for something the BCP did not conceive of. The BCP is descriptive, not proscriptive, when it comes to marriage -- otherwise all those second marriages would be ruled out because the BCP says marriages are "life-long."
Rest assured, Tony is going to get a boatload of blow-back for this ... so if you're inclined to send him an "attaboy" via twitter he's @TonyCampolo. Meanwhile let those with ears to hear listen -- not only to the theology we've "done" over the last thirty years but to the example of Tony Campolo.
It has taken countless hours of prayer, study, conversation and emotional turmoil to bring me to the place where I am finally ready to call for the full acceptance of Christian gay couples into the Church.
Rest assured that I have already heard – and in some cases made – every kind of biblical argument against gay marriage, including those of Dr. Ronald Sider, my esteemed friend and colleague at Eastern University. Obviously, people of good will can and do read the scriptures very differently when it comes to controversial issues, and I am painfully aware that there are ways I could be wrong about this one.
However, I am old enough to remember when we in the Church made strong biblical cases for keeping women out of teaching roles in the Church, and when divorced and remarried people often were excluded from fellowship altogether on the basis of scripture. Not long before that, some Christians even made biblical cases supporting slavery. Many of those people were sincere believers, but most of us now agree that they were wrong. I am afraid we are making the same kind of mistake again, which is why I am speaking out.
I hope what I have written here will help my fellow Christians to lovingly welcome all of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters into the Church.