Christ Transforming Culture
At the invitation of the Rt. Rev. Marc Handley Andrus, bishop of the Diocese of California, 29 bishops across the Episcopal Church signed on to the amicus briefs filed with the Supreme Court last week to strike down DOMA (in Windsor) and Proposition 8 (in Perry). Collectively the bishops represent 23 out of the 24 dioceses in jurisdictions with marriage equality laws. Several groups within the Presbyterian Church (USA), including More Light Presbyterians, signed the same briefs.
All the bishops who joined these briefs have authorized the priests of their dioceses to officiate at same gender marriages in response to the call from the 2009 General Convention to offer a “generous pastoral response” to the needs of LGBTQ members of the Church. Washington National Cathedral recently started marrying same gender couples and a provisional liturgy for blessing same gender couples became available to the Episcopal Church at the beginning of Advent.
After the briefs were filed with the Supreme Court, Bishop Andrus wrote an op-ed on the “gay rights pilgrimage” of The Episcopal Church.
On marriage equality, our church has traveled on pilgrimage with our culture. Sometimes we have led in advocacy for marriage equality, and sometimes we have learned from the culture and from leaders outside the church. We have developed rites for blessing and marriage for all, and we have extended the support of the church to LGBT people in the form of premarital counseling and the integration of same-sex couples into loving communities of faith. The historic social prominence of The Episcopal Church lays some extra responsibility on us to use our influence for good. Thus we have advocated with courts and lawmakers at every level of government to promote marriage equality…
The second thing about Episcopalians and marriage equality, then, that is important to say at this moment is that we are a church that believes Christ continues to be with the world, moving with us, helping us find meaning in moments of joy and also loss and pain. The Christ whom we recognize is the one who speaks in John’s Gospel, saying, “There are many things I would teach you but you cannot bear them now … the Spirit will lead you into all truth.” For Episcopalians, tradition is a moving force that is not only dynamic but that changes quality over time, and we might liken the change to be one of more light being cast into the world.
The Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, the first openly gay bishop in the Episcopalian Church, delivered the keynote address at MLP’s National Celebration Dinner at the 220th General Assembly in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Jesus says this really astounding thing: “There is much that I would teach you. But you cannot bear it right now. So I will send the Holy Spirit who will lead you into all truth” (John 16:12-13). Don’t for a minute think that God is done with you, and those who come after you. Does anyone doubt that we were led by the Holy Spirit to turn our backs on defending slavery using Scripture? Is it not the Holy Spirit that is leading us to a fuller understanding of the gifts, integrities and experiences of women? And I would say that the Holy Spirit is leading us to recognize gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. We should see this as a sign of a living God. We don’t worship a God who stopped revealing God’s self at the end of the first century when the canon of scripture was closed.
Watch the full address here: