A BISHOP in the Episcopal Church in the United States has said that he will not allow same-sex marriage rites to be used in his diocese’s churches, despite a resolution passed by the Church to ensure that all couples have access to them.
The Bishop of Albany, the Rt Revd William H. Love, said in a letter that allowing same-sex couples to marry did “a great disservice and injustice to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ, by leading them to believe that God gives his blessing to the sharing of sexual intimacy within a same-sex relationship, when in fact he has reserved the gift of sexual intimacy for men and women within the confines of marriage between a man and woman”.
In July, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church passed a resolution (B012) enabling all couples to request gender-neutral marriage rites, which were approved on a trial basis in 2015. The resolution stated that, in dioceses where the bishop did not “embrace same-sex marriage”, he or she “shall invite, as necessary, another bishop of this Church to provide pastoral support to the couple, the member of the clergy involved, and the congregation or worshipping community in order to fulfil the intention of this resolution.”
It is due to take effect on 2 December.
Bishop Love is one of eight bishops who have not authorised same-sex marriages in their dioceses. In his letter, dated 10 November and headed “Pastoral letter and pastoral directive”, he writes: “B012 turns upside down over 2000 years of church teaching regarding the sacrament of holy matrimony, and is in direct contradiction of the Episcopal Church’s ‘official teaching’ on marriage. . .
“There is no doubt the Episcopal Church and now the diocese of Albany are in the midst of a huge storm that can rip us apart if we are not careful. That is exactly what Satan wants. We don’t have to play his game. If we focus on what divides us, we will be destroyed. If we focus on what unites us — our Lord Jesus Christ — He will get us through to the other side.”
To carry out B012 would be “a direct violation of our own diocesan canons”, the letter says. The resolution “brings God’s judgement and condemnation against the Episcopal Church”, Bishop Love suggests, before speculating that the Church’s declining numbers might indicate that “God has removed his blessing from this Church. Unless something changes, the Episcopal Church is going to die. . .
“There are many in the diocese of Albany who have made it clear that they will not stand for such false teaching or actions and will leave — thus the bloodbath and opening of the floodgates that have ravaged other dioceses will come to Albany if B012 is enacted in this diocese.”
The Presiding Bishop, the Rt Revd Michael Curry, has issued a statement saying that he is “assessing the implications of the statement and will make determinations about appropriate actions soon”.
He wrote: “I have read the recent statement from Bishop Bill Love of the diocese of Albany and am aware of the deep hurt on all sides of the issues it addresses. I have been, and will continue to be, in conversation with Bishop Love about this matter. . .
“As members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 12), we also are committed to respecting the conscience of those who hold opinions that differ from the official policy of the Episcopal Church regarding the sacrament of marriage. It should be noted that the canons of the Episcopal Church give authority to all members of the clergy to decline to officiate a marriage for reasons of conscience, and Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention does not change this fact.
“In all matters, those of us who have taken vows to obey the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Episcopal Church must act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the Church.
“I ask the prayers of all in the Church at this time, as we move forward.”