Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Timeline of Episcopal Legislation on Homosexuality: Excerpts from L' Episcopal Livre, "Fifty Shades of Bleu"

Every three years the Episcopal church holds a convention, and delegates to that convention get a copy of something called the "Blue Book." Commitee reports, reolutions to the convention, the proposed budget and much more gets included in this publication. The book once had a blue cover, and that is where we get the name. But like the horse of a different color, and like doctrine in TEc, the book cover keeps changing color. This year the book cover appears to be an off-pink, which is appropriate given the legislation that is being proposed this year. The whole 300 plus pages are available online where you can download it as a .pdf file.


                         (Not this book but you gotta dig the picture)


If you want GC 2012's "Blue Book" you will have to go to http://generalconvention.org/gc/prepare .

My computer initially gave me a pop-up warning that this file may contain harmful material. I guess the same scrrening process that is keeping the recent book, "Fifty Shades of Grey" out of some libraries has spotted something morally offensive in the Episcopal Blue Book. What to do? To quote the linked article, "But sexually deviant or not, the book is still a book."  I have an old computer that I wouldn't mind replacing, so I downloaded the Episcopal version anyway. If, after reading this post, you believe that I have been harmed in anyway, blame TEc.

After studying the liturgies for same sex blessings (which happen to be in the same section with updates to the blessings of animals), I found the following summary of how we got from point A to point B in the course of my lifetime. This was presented to the people of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina as part of Bishop Waldo's "Preparation for General Convention 2012."

I feel it should be posted more widely as a warning to any Christian denomination that is dipping its toe into this water.  I hope others will see that once you deny the sin, someday you will find yourself called to give it a blessing.



A Review of General Convention Legislation (pp275-278)

Introduction
The legislative history here shows the development of General Convention deliberations about the place of gay men and lesbians in the life of the Church, particularly with regard to the blessing of their faithful, monogamous, lifelong relationships. Successive conventions have both acknowledged the work of their predecessors and reached new decisions. Resolution texts are from the website of the Archives of the Episcopal Church: http://www.episcopalarchives.org/e-archives/acts/.

Minneapolis, 1976
For the first time, General Convention adopted a resolution that acknowledged and affirmed the presence of persons of homosexual orientation in the Church.
Resolution 1976-A069
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That it is the sense of this General Convention that homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.

Anaheim, 1985
General Convention reaffirmed the 1976 resolution and encouraged dioceses to deepen understanding.
Resolution 1985-D082
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 68th General Convention urge each diocese of this Church to find an effective way to foster a better understanding of homosexual persons, to dispel myths and prejudices about homosexuality, to provide pastoral support, and to give life to the claim of homosexual persons “upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral care and concern of the Church” as recognized by the General Convention in 1976.

Phoenix, 1991
General Convention affirmed the traditional understanding of marriage as between a man and a woman, and acknowledged “discontinuity” between that teaching and the experience of many members of The Episcopal Church.
Resolution 1991-A104
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 70th General Convention of the Episcopal Church affirms that the teaching of the Episcopal Church is that physical sexual expression is appropriate only within the lifelong monogamous “union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind” “intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord” as set forth in the Book of Common Prayer; and be it further
Resolved, That this Church continues to work to reconcile the discontinuity between this teaching and the experience of many members of this body; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention confesses our failure to lead and to resolve this discontinuity through legislative efforts based upon resolutions directed at singular and various aspects of these issues; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention commissions the Bishops and members of each Diocesan Deputation to initiate a means for all congregations in their jurisdiction to enter into dialogue and deepen their understanding of these complex issues; and further this General Convention directs the President of each Province to appoint one Bishop, one lay deputy and one clerical deputy in that province to Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music 276
facilitate the process, to receive reports from the dioceses at each meeting of their provincial synod and report to the 71st General Convention; and be it further
Resolved, That this General Convention directs the House of Bishops to prepare a Pastoral Teaching prior to the 71st General Convention using the learnings from the diocesan and provincial processes and calling upon such insight as is necessary from theologians, theological ethicists, social scientists and gay and lesbian persons; and that three lay persons and three members of the clergy from the House of Deputies, appointed by the President of the House of Deputies be included in the preparation of this Pastoral Teaching.


Indianapolis, 1994
General Convention added sexual orientation, along with marital status, sex, disabilities, and age as categories to which non-discrimination in Church membership is assured.
Resolution 1994-C020
Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That Title I, Canon 17, Section 5 be amended as follows:
No person shall be denied rights, status [in], or [access to] an equal place in the life, worship, and governance of this Church because of race, color, [or] ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age, except as otherwise specified by [this] Canon.
General Convention also called for a study of “the theological foundations and pastoral considerations involved in the development of rites honoring love and commitment between persons of the same sex.”
Resolution 1994-C042
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 71st General Convention direct the Standing Liturgical Commission and the Theology Committee of the House of Bishops to prepare and present to the 72nd General Convention, as part of the Church’s ongoing dialogue on human sexuality, a report addressing the theological foundations and pastoral considerations involved in the development of rites honoring love and commitment between persons of the same sex; and be it further
Resolved, That no rites for the honoring of love and commitment between persons of the same sex be developed unless and until the preparation of such rites has been authorized by the General Convention; and be it further
Resolved, That the sum of $8,600 be appropriated to support this work, subject to funding considerations.


Philadelphia, 1997
General Convention reaffirmed the traditional understanding of marriage and called for continuing study.
Resolution 1997-C003
Resolved, That this 72nd General Convention affirm the sacredness of Christian marriage between one man and one woman with intent of life-long relationship; and be it further
Resolved, That this Convention direct the Standing Liturgical Commission to continue its study of theological aspects of committed relationships of same-sex couples, and to issue a full report including recommendations of future steps for the resolution of issues related to such committed relationships no later than November 1999 for consideration at the 73rd General Convention.Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music


Denver, 2000
General Convention acknowledged relationships other than marriage.
Resolution 2000-D039
Resolved, That the members of the 73rd General Convention intend for this Church to provide a safe and just structure in which all can utilize their gifts and creative energies for mission; and be it further
Resolved, That we acknowledge that while the issues of human sexuality are not yet resolved, there are currently couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in marriage and couples in the Body of Christ and in this Church who are living in other life-long committed relationships; and be it further
Resolved, That we expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God; and be it further
Resolved, That we denounce promiscuity, exploitation, and abusiveness in the relationships of any of our members; and be it further
Resolved, That this Church intends to hold all its members accountable to these values, and will provide for them the prayerful support, encouragement, and pastoral care necessary to live faithfully by them; and be it further
Resolved, That we acknowledge that some, acting in good conscience, who disagree with the traditional teaching of the Church on human sexuality, will act in contradiction to that position; and be it further
Resolved, That in continuity with previous actions of the General Convention of this Church, and in response to the call for dialogue by the Lambeth Conference, we affirm that those on various sides of controversial issues have a place in the Church, and we reaffirm the imperative to promote conversation between persons of differing experiences and perspectives, while acknowledging the Church’s teaching on the sanctity of marriage.


Minneapolis, 2003
Acknowledging continuing differences, General Convention recognized “that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.”
Resolution 2003-C051
Resolved, That the 74th General Convention affirm the following:
1. That our life together as a community of faith is grounded in the saving work of Jesus Christ and expressed in the principles of the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral: Holy Scripture, the historic Creeds of the Church, the two dominical Sacraments, and the Historic Episcopate.
2. That we reaffirm Resolution A069 of the 65th General Convention (1976) that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.”
3. That, in our understanding of homosexual persons, differences exist among us about how best to care pastorally for those who intend to live in monogamous, non-celibate unions; and what is, or should be, required, permitted, or prohibited by the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church concerning the blessing of the same.Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music 278
4. That we reaffirm Resolution D039 of the 73rd General Convention (2000), that “We expect such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such relationships to see in each other the image of God,” and that such relationships exist throughout the church.
5. That we recognize that local faith communities are operating within the bounds of our common life as they explore and experience liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex unions.
6. That we commit ourselves, and call our church, in the spirit of Resolution A104 of the 70th General Convention (1991), to continued prayer, study, and discernment on the pastoral care for gay and lesbian persons, to include the compilation and development by a special commission organized and appointed by the Presiding Bishop, of resources to facilitate as wide a conversation of discernment as possible throughout the church.
7. That our baptism into Jesus Christ is inseparable from our communion with one another, and we commit ourselves to that communion despite our diversity of opinion and, among dioceses, a diversity of pastoral practice with the gay men and lesbians among us.
8. That it is a matter of faith that our Lord longs for our unity as his disciples, and for us this entails living within the boundaries of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church. We believe this discipline expresses faithfulness to our polity and that it will facilitate the conversation we seek, not only in The Episcopal Church, but also in the wider Anglican Communion and beyond.


Anaheim, 2009
The General Convention directs the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to “collect and develop theological and liturgical resources” for blessing same-gender relationships.
Resolution 2009-C056
Resolved, the House of Deputies concurring, That the 76th General Convention acknowledge the changing circumstances in the United States and in other nations, as legislation authorizing or forbidding marriage, civil unions or domestic partnerships for gay and lesbian persons is passed in various civil jurisdictions that call forth a renewed pastoral response from this Church, and for an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships; and be it further
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, collect and develop theological and liturgical resources, and report to the 77th General Convention; and be it further
Resolved, That the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, in consultation with the House of Bishops, devise an open process for the conduct of its work inviting participation from provinces, dioceses, congregations, and individuals who are engaged in such theological work, and inviting theological reflection from throughout the Anglican Communion; and be it further
Resolved, That bishops, particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal, may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church; and be it further
Resolved, That this Convention honor the theological diversity of this Church in regard to matters of human sexuality; and be it further
Resolved, That the members of this Church be encouraged to engage in this effort.

It is expected that the work of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music will be accepted and promulgated after GC 2012 this July.

What has really led to this seemingly inevitable sequence of resolutions? Many theories abound, but clearly the bishops and priesthood of TEc have, as a majority, pledged allegiance to a non-traditional interpretation of Scripture, and this is what is being taught in the seminaries. We call this a revisionist approach to the Bible. Once revisionists take over, it is only a matter of time before all kinds of strange ideas gain credibility among the clergy and their followers in the pews.

Don't let the kids see the Blue Book, or what I call "L'Episcopal Livre Bleu."  It contains way too much sexually deviant material to be kept in your library.  

11 comments:

  1. At what point do you personally say, "Enough!" and seek a different denomination. I don't mean that as personal criticism, but I ask out of curiosity. I'm not sure I could've stayed as long as you. I pray you can continue to be a conscience to your congregation and TEC.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Randall,

    Given the 26 year history of the progressive resolutions cited above (recognizing that there was a considerable amount of time and groundwork laid before the 1976 resolution), and matching this with the decline in the Episcopal denomination leads me to conclude that everyone has a different breaking point (remember those old movies where the torturer says,"Every man has his breaking point.")?

    The fact is that people have been leaving the church in droves to the point where an overwhelming majority of clergy and laity see nothing wrong with this particular agenda.

    It should be a fertile mission field for the Word of God to be spread, but the enemy has laid an extensive minefield and there are fewer and fewer sappers coming forward.

    I'll keep digging perhaps because I do not fear the enemy or his explosives, or perhaps its because I can bear more torture than some.

    Or maybe it is the realization that other denominations are not a safe harbor from this particular enemy.

    ReplyDelete
  3. . . . [M]aybe it is the realization that other denominations are not a safe harbor from this particular enemy.

    True enough. That's one of the reasons I'm thankful for the extreme congregational polity of us Baptists. Even if the Southern Baptist Convention were to go off the rails tomorrow, our church would not. We, the congregation, control the pastor and the message. If our pastor were to begin sanctioning what we believe to be sin, he'd be gone.

    Of course, the downside is that there are those pastors who become dictators with the leadership of the congregation as accomplices. Think "Purpose Driven" stuff. It's not happened in my church, but I know places where it has. God has blessed us with a great pastor with desire to explicate the word and gather lost souls, both in our town and abroad. (We've got a missionary church in Senegal.) I thank God for such leadership, especially when I read about what goes on in other denominations.

    My continued prayers for you as you fight the good fight. Know you're always welcome to retreat to our congregation when/if you've had enough.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, prayers are priority number one.

      Delete
  4. That is really interesting.I have to review the blue book tonight

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. James H,

      Just don't let the missus know...

      Delete
  5. It just occurred to me, when you combine the topics of this post with your Baptism posts of a few days ago, one sees, of course, the total marginalization of Scripture in favor of whatever we're "feeling" denominated as "The Holy Spirit."

    Aside from the obvious problems with this, I wonder whether those denominations which are proceeding down this path realize that this changes the very nature of God Himself. Instead of being an unchanging, just deity, He now becomes an arbitrary despot, changing His mind at will, consigning the residents of Sodom to fiery death while blessing their descendants.

    Verily, they are not worshiping the "I AM." Rather they have resurrected Zeus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Randall,

      Exactly! When Scripture has been pushed to the margins, it opens up the middle of the page for a new text and a new God more to our liking.

      Delete
  6. Ralinda10:28 AM

    Contrast General Convention decisions to these statements by primates and Communion leaders:

    1997
     Kuala Lumpur Statement released by the Second Anglican Encounter in the South upheld traditional theology on human sexuality

    1998
     Lambeth Conference Resolution 1.10 upheld Scriptural and traditional teaching on marriage and human sexuality

    March 2000
     Primates’ Meeting in Oporto, Portugal issued pastoral letter upholding the authority of Scripture

    March 2001
     Primates’ Meeting in Kanuga, NC issued pastoral letter acknowledging estrangement in Church due to changes in theology and practice, especially with regard to the acceptance of homosexual activity and the ordination of practicing homosexuals in some provinces, and calling Communion to avoid actions that might damage “credibility of mission”

    April 2002
     Primates meeting at Canterbury issued pastoral letter recognizing responsibility of all bishops to articulate fundamentals of faith “so as to maintain the Church in truth”

    September 2002
     Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) meeting in Hong Kong approved motion urging dioceses and bishops to refrain from unilateral actions/policies that would strain communion

    May 2003
     Primates meeting in Brazil issued pastoral letter stating that liturgy reflects belief, and because there is no theological consensus about same sex unions, the Primates cannot support their authorization

    October 2003
     Special Primates’ meeting at Lambeth Palace issued pastoral statement condemning ECUSA’s decisions at General Convention and calling for “adequate provision for Episcopal oversight”

    As I ask my children, "What part of 'no' do you not understand?"

    ReplyDelete
  7. I appreciate your thoughts even though we fundamentally (sic) disagree on understanding of the role of Scripture in the Church...as a Latitudinarian I am thankful you have chosen to stay with the Episcopal Church and offer a traditionalist perspective. A happy and holy Pentecost to you and yours!

    ReplyDelete