There is great irony in the last paragraph of the statement. "Despite the pain and distress we feel at our own differences, yet we strongly affirm that we are united in striving for the highest degree of communion possible in the spirit of St Paul’s teaching of the nature of the body of Christ and our need for one another in Christ, where no one can say, ‘I have no need of you’ (1 Corinthians 12.21)."
Yet the statement issued by the bishops sends the message to same gender couples and to LBGTQ people: We have no need of you.
Blaming the situation on a failure of enough people to continue to study the issue is ludicrous. There are and always will be some who steadfastly refuse to engage in discussion and who will try and prevent others from doing so as well. I've seen the same situation in The Episcopal Church for years. Failure on the part of someone to learn more about their sisters and brothers in Christ is not an excuse for treating those same sisters and brothers as "less than." Jesus provided no exceptions when he required us to love God and love each other as we love ourselves.
How much longer will this charade about changing the teaching on marriage go on anyway? It's not like we have not seen changes in the past....remarriage after divorce comes to mind. Jesus mentions marriage twice in the Gospels. Once is part of a discussion about adultery and the other in a discussion about divorce. I don't find that a ringing endorsement of what we call marriage. If He had greater concerns, I would have thought it would have been mentioned. Jesus greatest concern was right relationship with God and with each other. Marriage, regardless of the gender of the parties involved does not always represent a "right relationship."
If these bishops want to actually learn, why do they not just look at the lifelong, committed, monogamous and faithful relationships of hundreds of same gender couples over the years? What better model could they have? And remember, these couples have remained faithful despite continuing to be treated as second class citizens.
I laughed to myself recently when the daily office readings were from Genesis and included the stories of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Rebecca and Leah, Jacob and the children born to him from three different wives. We look to Scripture for models of marriage for today and we see nothing like even secular models.
Will we ever get over our fear and ignorance of what we don't know enough to learn from those who can teach us? I'm not convinced.
May God continue to bless those couples who are forced to remain on the sidelines as others determine their marital fates. May God give them the patience to endure.
President, Integrity USA