IN DIALOGUE WITH SACRED TRADITION

:
A Pastoral and Theological Refection
on Same-Sex Blessings
The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo
E
IN DIALOGUE WITH EACH OTHER:
A Curriculum
The Bishop’s Task Force
on Unity and Faithfulness
E
PROCESS, APPLICATION & POLICIES
Offce of the Bishop
Episcopal Diocese of
Upper South Carolina
PUBLISHED MAY 2014
THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF UPPER SOUTH CAROLINA
IN DIALOGUE WITH SACRED TRADITION
A Pastoral and Theological Refection on the Blessing of
Same-Sex Relationships
Introductory Letter
Background Note
The Decision
The Rationale
Introduction.
Where We Begin: The Traditional View
The Conversation
Sensus Fidelium: The Sense of the Faithful
The Trajectory of Salvation
Intrinsic Truth and Truth Made Manifest.
Truth Made Manifest
Intrinsic Truth
Complementarity and the Trajectory of Salvation
Procreation: How Children are Made
What Does the Church Bless?
Revisiting the Sensus Fidelium
Conclusion: Life in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina
Acknowledgments
End Notes
Episcopal Diocese of
Upper South Carolina
contents
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5
7
8
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10
12
13
14
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19
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23
25
27
29
(cont’d)
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in dialogue with each other:
A CURRICULUM
The Bishop’s Task Force on Unity and Faithfulness
Introduction
Tradition
Handout
Scripture
Handout
Ethics
Handout
Unity and Common Life
Handout
process, application and policies
Offce of the Bishop
Congregational Response:
Description of Study and Dialogue
For Congregations Choosing Not to
Bless Same-Sex Relationships
For Congregations Seeking Permission
to Bless Same-Sex Relationships
Clerical Application to Bless
Same-Sex Relationships
Policies
contents
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C-4
C-11
C-12
C-17
C-18
C-24
C-26
C-32
P-1
P-2
P-3
P-5
P-7
EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF
UPPER SOUTH CAROLINA
May 2014
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
We have been blessed in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina with a tentative unity. I say
“blessed” because we have struggled with the diffculty of loving and sacrifcing for the sake of
each other in the face of deep and fundamental disagreements. In doing so, we have, for the
most part, recognized that we want to be together, not apart. It has been “tentative” because
some of our convictions about sin and obedience and of faithfulness and blessing can be so dis-
sonant when placed beside each other. Faithful members still wait to see what it might look like
for us to stay together in the face of seemingly unresolvable differences.
The refection that follows seeks to embody dialogue that wrestles directly with substantive pas-
toral and theological questions coming out of these differences. It is hard work. It is not reducible
to bullet points. Yet through this kind of healthy and substantive dialogue, we might rediscover
how very much we share and reengage the disciplines we need to recover for our common life.
For Jesus’ calls us—his disciples—precisely into the heart of the dissonances that can divide us.
“This is my commandment,” he says to us, “that you love one another as I have loved you. No
one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you
do what I command you” (John 15:12-14). It is surely his most diffcult command to obey. It
affects every aspect of our lives together within the Body of Christ—in our inner preparation to
celebrate Eucharist and receive the sacraments, in communities, in families, in friendships, and
in our most intimate relationships.
His words are not offered as an option, but as a command. There are other commands, other
“categorical imperatives,” in Holy Scripture that also demand our attention. The Church has
always had to navigate differences on the authority and implications of obeying scriptural man-
dates. That challenge has nonetheless always been the crucible wherein we have discovered the
true challenge and power of Jesus’ prayer “that [we] may all be one.” Sadly, division has been
the tragic consequence of our failure to navigate those challenges faithfully.
The most challenging things in our relationship with God and each other contain the most fertile
soil in which to grow the richest fruit of the Spirit. Jesus affrms this in parable after parable. His
PAGE 1
stories tell us who he is as the Christ. They give us compelling glimpses of his present and coming
Reign. They instruct us in the ways God would have us interact with and act toward one another.
So Jesus’ commandment that we love one another sacrifcially—even to the point of giving our
life for our friends—is where I start as I address the place of same-sex blessings in our com-
mon life because loving one another is and always has been the greatest challenge for human
relationships.
In my pastoral letter for Advent 2012, I wrote that “to love one another as Christ loved us, to be
willing even to die for one another, is the deepest principle of Christian discipleship. It is above
all other principles. It is patient and kind. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or re-
sentful; it … rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures
all things (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). We don’t need patience with each other unless we disagree.
Why would Paul tell us not to insist on our own way unless he knows there is another way? Why
bear all things unless burdens exist that test our inner strength? Why endure all things unless
there are genuine hardships?” And yet, as disciples of Jesus Christ, love expects these things
of us. When Jesus prays that “[his disciples] may all be one,” (John 17:20 ff) he knows that we
will only become one if our life together is characterized by our patience, kindness, generosity,
goodwill, and, above all, our faith, hope and love.
In the course of this refection, I offer a way forward for us in the Diocese of Upper South Caro-
lina and for the larger Church catholic in whose leadership I have been called to share. In all that
I write, I am aware of tensions in the community of faith around interpretation and authority, the
implications of salvation by grace through faith, and whether questions being asked about this
in our time are genuinely new questions or not.
I have gained immeasurably in substantive dialogue with brothers and sisters with widely differ-
ent interpretations of the challenges before us. Still, I make this offering with special awareness
of and attentiveness to the spiritual dangers of “deceiving others and being deceived” (2 Timothy
3:13) about matters on any and all points in the current debates.
In particular, I am grateful to the members of my Task Force on Unity and Faithfulness, whose
grace toward one another in disagreement and persistence of belief that we can fnd a way for-
ward has been deeply inspiring. We have supported and challenged each other. We have asked
deep and probing questions that have forced us to rethink, rephrase, reevaluate, reconsider and
rewrite. As far as I know, not one member of the group has changed his or her basic sense of
what we should or shouldn’t do in this matter, and yet all of us have richer understandings of and
appreciation for our own and each other’s perspectives.
PAGE 2
Questions persist for all Christians of our time. Yet the task of confronting the particular questions
before us in this refection has been given to us in particular, because they have come to us in
new ways and in new contexts in our lifetime. Perhaps God has entrusted us to work it out be-
cause God knows we will be changed by the challenge, coming closer to each other and to him.
Obedience to this work calls us to humility in the presence of this task and of our call to love one
another as Christ has loved us. Paul spoke wisely when he wrote that we must “work out [our]
own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in [us], enabling [us] both to
will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:12b-13).
Under the glass on my desk is a small card someone gave me long ago. It says:
Never forget God’s judgment
Never presume His mercy
Always remember His love
—Anonymous
In that spirit, with gratitude and love for each and every one of you in this Diocese, and with
glory to God alone, I offer what follows.
In Christ,
The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo
Eighth Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina
E
PAGE 3
IN DIALOGUE WITH SACRED TRADITION:
A Pastoral and Theological Refection
on Same-Sex Blessings
The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo
E
Episcopal Diocese of
Upper South Carolina
BACKGROUND NOTE
The 2012 General Convention of the Episcopal Church approved Resolution A049, making a provisional
rite for the blessing of same-sex unions available to the Church. This resolution specifcally authorized di-
ocesan bishops to determine how responses to the resolution would be lived out within their jurisdictions.
The resolution included, among other supporting documents, a theological rationale for the rite.
Bishop Waldo voted “no” on A049 at the 2012 General Convention, even though he agreed that, as
the Church expects in heterosexual marriages, with spiritual readiness and preparation, same-sex
relationships can and should be blessed in Church. He voted “no” because he felt the theological
rationale had not adequately placed the substance of its reasoning in direct and explicit dialogue with
the substance of the Church’s historic skepticism about same-sex relationships. While he believes that
such a dialogue must be explicitly, substantively and humbly present in any future action and
supporting documents of General Convention, this pastoral reflection represents his more local and
provisional attempt to engage that dia-logue with intention and specificity—and with “fear and
trembling”—and is offered for engagement by the diocese and the wider Church so that the dialogue
may continue.
Neither same-sex marriages nor civil unions have been legalized in the state of South Carolina. Further-
more, both the Canons of the Episcopal Church and the rubrics of the Book of Common Prayer—binding
for Episcopal clergy—retain the defnition of sacramental marriage as being between one man and one
woman. The pressing and just question of the civil rights of same-sex couples is being properly addressed
across the nation in civil courts. Therefore, what is discussed in this refection is the equally pressing and
important theological question of the Church’s blessing same-sex relationships.
The important questions members across the Church are asking are these: Is marriage equivalent to a
same-sex blessing such that the two should share the same rite? Are they similar in form but fundamentally
different, requiring distinct rites? Are they mutually exclusive, with marriage between one man and one
woman the only faithful option? While the following refections do not intend to answer these questions
defnitively, nevertheless certain characteristics of lifelong monogamous same-sex relationships inevitably
overlap with what many understand as the traditional Christian understanding of sacramental marriage—
companionship, commitment, fdelity and love, for example. This reality creates anxiety for many who
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IN DIALOGUE WITH
SACRED TRADITION:
A PASTORAL AND THEOLOGICAL
REFLECTION ON SAME-SEX BLESSING
PAGE 6
hold a more traditional view and hope for new understanding among many who seek to give same-sex
relationships grounding in the full life and ministry of the Church. These refections are offered in hope
that they will enrich the continued prayerful discussion of these important questions, not to prematurely
close it down.
The growing legal acceptance of marriage equality in the United States (as of this writing there are 17
states plus the District of Columbia in which same-sex marriage is legal) therefore lends urgency to our
theological discussion and our refections on how we will live together even as we disagree on these
matters.
The stakes—our love for one another, our growth in the image of Christ, and thus our faithfulness as the
Body of Christ—could not be higher.
E
THE DECISION
In response to Resolution A049 from the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in
2012. I have decided that use of the provisional rite, “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong
Covenant” for the blessing of same-sex relationships approved in that resolution will be permitted
in some congregations according to conditions provided in detail in the document “Process, Ap-
plication and Policies” accompanying this refection. Since that General Convention, I’ve openly
discussed the outline of this decision in print and in congregational forums across the Diocese.
The resolution specifcally authorizes me as Bishop of this diocese to determine how we will re-
spond to it. I have no authority nor intent to change the church’s doctrine of Christian marriage—
“a solemn and public covenant between a man and a woman in the presence of God”
1
—as
contained in the Canons of Episcopal Church and in The Book of Common Prayer, either from this
resolution or within the provisions of “generous pastoral response” resolutions of prior General
Conventions.
Conforming to the “doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church,” as I have vowed
to do, therefore requires a modest response in light of these restrictions. Changes in the doctrine,
discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church—for good reason—take time and require more
weighty canonical processes than provisional resolutions.
In the same way that no clergy are required to offciate at marriages, no clergy will be required to
offciate this rite. Whether a congregation in good conscience participates or does not participate
in same-sex blessings, it will have my full respect and support. All congregations will be urged
to offer the Task Force on Unity and Faithfulness curriculum prior to General Convention 2015.
The rationale for this decision follows. In form and content, it has been my primary goal to
embody as fully as possible a substantive and constructive dialogue between new movements
within the Church and theological strands in tension or confict with those movements.
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IN DIALOGUE WITH
SACRED TRADITION:
A PASTORAL AND THEOLOGICAL
REFLECTION ON SAME-SEX BLESSINGS
PAGE 8
THE RATIONALE
Introduction
As I have prepared my response to A049 and the provisional rite for blessing same-sex relation-
ships, it has been my discipline to avoid working from concepts that have represented stumbling
blocks to dialogue. For those of more traditional perspectives, words such as “inclusivity,” “di-
versity,” “justice” and “equality” used by supporters of same-sex blessings and marriages have
become negative jargon. For those of more progressive perspectives, words and phrases often
used by traditionalists, such as “the infuence of secular culture,” “orthodox,” “redefnition of
marriage,” “traditional marriage” and “clear meaning of scripture,” have come to be seen as
dismissive when wielded in a combative or rigid spirit.
Within this diocese, I’ve often spoken of a recurring event from my childhood attendance at Epis-
copal summer camp in Alabama that has become a powerful metaphor for me. Game Day was
the culmination of each camp session, and the high point of every Game Day was the tug-of-
war tournament among cabins. A long trench was dug and flled with mud. The goal was to pull
campers from the opposing cabin through that mud. The image of determined, straining faces is
permanently imprinted on my mind. I have thought often of this image as our divisions on issues
of human sexuality have played out.
And I’ve wondered: What if those on each end of the metaphorical rope were to catch each
other’s eyes, not in the spirit of battle, but in a spirit of compassion? What if each were gently,
carefully and simultaneously to let the rope go slack? And then, with the rope and all the dis-
agreements it represents held lightly in our hands—where we can both still see it, name it and
even talk about it—we say to one another, “You matter more to me than this rope.”
Into that sacramental, sacrifcial moment, God can and will enter.
Where We Begin—the Traditional View
If our Church’s reassessment of human sexuality is to be more than a rationalization of a self-
willed purpose, it must be rooted in or grafted onto the received tradition. That “received tradi-
tion” refers to the established canon of Holy Scripture, the apostles’ teaching, and the general
consensus of the Church through history on key matters of faith and doctrine. Even though the
Church in its various manifestations has debated substantive doctrinal issues through the ages,
global Christianity has consistently said that Holy Scripture is the authoritative witness to the
living Word of God, Jesus Christ. For some traditions, scripture is the only authority. For Angli-
cans, the Lambeth Conference in 1888 articulated it this way: “the Holy Scriptures of the Old
and New Testaments, [contain] all things necessary to salvation,” and [are] the rule and ultimate
standard of faith.”
2
Further, Anglicans believe that though our primary authority, scripture can
only be fully understood in the light of tradition and reason.
The basic scriptural story is well known to us in each of our Eucharistic Prayers: When God cre-
ated the world, God did so with clear order and purpose, establishing a natural order or law for
the universe. In creating humankind, God gave us freedom to choose to be in relationship with
our Maker and yet set boundaries on human freedom so that we would not aspire to be like God.
From the beginning, we refused to stay within those boundaries and became separated from God
by our willful disobedience. Again and again, God called us into covenant and again and again
we entered into and then failed to live up to our end of the bargain.
But God so loved us that in spite of our disobedience God sent Jesus into the world—God in hu-
man form. Jesus taught us God’s purposes and coming reign and ultimately gave his life for our
sake, removing our guilt. Rising from the dead, he declared that death has no dominion over us.
And by sheer grace through faith, God promised forgiveness of sins, resurrection, and life eternal
to all who believe and entrust themselves to Christ Jesus and are baptized.
From this most basic outline of the Christian story of salvation, the received tradition has taught
that how we live must not be contrary to human nature. Because, the tradition argues, same-sex
relationships are contrary to human nature, and because same-sex behaviors are specifcally
rejected in scripture, the Church cannot bless covenanted same-sex relationships in any form.
As a result, many traditionalists argue that one cannot be orthodox in Christian belief and at the
same time support or participate in sexually active same-sex relationships.
Within the past half century, that conclusion has come under active examination. There is no
question that some movements relating to the acceptance of gay and lesbian persons are more
civil and secular than religious—even within the Church. Other movements claim deep roots in
orthodox Christian faith and practice. Recognizing that there is deep disagreement about this, I
will argue that there is a frm biblical basis from which to shape a common life in which lifelong,
monogamous same-sex relationships can receive the blessing of the Church.
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The Conversation
The question posed to the Church by lifelong, monogamous, Christ-centered same-sex relation-
ships is, Where on the trajectory of salvation do such relationships fit? For Christian same-sex
couples, the question lies at the heart of humanity’s deepest yearnings to be in relationship
with God and with each other. As we know, the question is filled with biblical, theological,
ecclesi-astical, cultural, moral and ethical tensions for the Church.
Because the traditional view intrinsically excludes active same-sex relationships, the conversa-
tion with those re-examining that view inevitably includes refecting on what is praiseworthy
and morally commendable in heterosexual marriage and how same-sex relationships share in
those goods. It includes refecting on abstinence, celibacy and standards of sexual behavior for
all persons, regardless of their orientation. Since the traditional view of male-female relation-
ships is rooted in the biological complementarity of the two sexes from the beginning of cre-
ation, I start the conversation there.
In the Bible, lifelong monogamous marriage between one man and one woman is presented not
only as a norm and reality but as a symbol. However, the concrete, day-in, day-out, lived model
of marriage as an exclusive relationship gets challenged by instances of polygamy, divorce and
adultery—sometimes without moral comment (King Solomon) and sometimes with profound
and direct moral comment (David and Bathsheba).
Marriage as a symbol is offered frst in Genesis, reaffrmed by Jesus in Mark and developed by
Paul. It blossoms into a description of what the Second Coming will be like in the Revelation to
John: a consummation of all time and of the relationship of God with those who believe. In that
consummation, Christ is the bridegroom and the Church is Christ’s bride. This biblical symbol
has retained its power in spite of the widely varying Christian commitment in the faithful practice
of marriage. The symbol’s enduring power rests in signifying God’s own creativity in the blessing
and heritage of children
3
and God’s steadfast love and commitment to his people. In the New
Testament, the symbol points to that fnal unifying consummation of God’s love for his people.
Indeed, we intend each Christian marriage to signify these things.
The Bible’s uniformly negative commentary on same-sex behavior has, in these past decades,
collided with shifts in culture and understanding about gay and lesbian persons. On the one
hand, traditionalists rightly point out the secularizing effects of the sexual revolution of the
1960’s, its infuence on these shifts, and other signifcant secular forces of change in society. On
the other hand, these shifts have made it possible for gay and lesbian persons to live openly, and
mostly without fear. This openness has increasingly made possible the kinds of personal rela-
tionships among people with divergent perspectives in which individuals have become known
by name rather than by labels, and false assumptions about them have become harder to sustain.
Personal relationships have enabled us to see and understand that homosexual and heterosexual
persons can and do share the deepest beliefs and commitments of Christian faith—in the saving
love of God in Christ Jesus, in the forgiveness of sins, in the hope of the resurrection to eternal
life, and in the ethics, morals and boundaries of faithful human living.
For example, in addressing the ethics and morals for all lifelong, monogamous, Christian relation-
ships, the 2000 General Convention passed Resolution D039:
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.
It is a resolution that is deeply consonant with Paul’s teachings on how to lead a life pleasing
to God. In 1 Thessalonians 4:3-8, Paul, affirming God’s will that we be sanctified, calls us
away from lustful passions, exploitation of others and impurity in controlling our own bodies
and leading a life of “holiness and honor” acceptable to God.
The global Anglican Communion, while sharing these fundamental notions of committed, cov-
enanted relationship in traditional marriages, has not been and is not of one mind in applying
them to same-sex relationships blessed by the Church. The 1998 Lambeth Conference of Bishops
from across the Communion reiterated the traditional understanding of marital goods in Resolu-
tion I.10 of that conference, including the following statement:
In view of the teaching of Scripture, [this Conference] upholds faithfulness in
marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes that
abstinence is right for those who are not called to marriage.
4
The Resolution called for sensitive listening by all, regardless of position, as the report from the
2008 Lambeth Conference notes.
5
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Sensus Fidelium—The Sense of the Faithful
The Latin phrase, sensus fdelium— “sense of the faithful”—has been used for centuries to point
toward what Vincent of Lérins articulated in AD 434. The Church was to take the greatest care “to
hold that which has been believed everywhere, always and by all.”
6
As multiple Lambeth Con-
ferences and countless ecumenical dialogues attest, understanding and interpreting this “deposit
of faith” is affected by different cultures, ethnicities, church polities and personal experiences.
For example, many in the Episcopal Church understand a vote by a General Convention to be
an articulation of the sensus fdelium. The Roman Catholic Church rejects the notion that the
sensus fdelium is subject to change by vote, such change resting solely within the authority of
the Magisterium—namely, the pope and the bishops in communion with him. Vincent proposed
his formula during a time of controversy and theological innovation as a means by which to de-
termine what standards the Church could use to determine orthodoxy—or, right faith, practice,
and praise.
7

Many believe that we are today in a time of “unwise and hasty improvisations,” as Vincent said
of his own day.
8
In the presence of the long sweep of Christian history, this could be fairly ar-
gued. And yet, the persistence of questions about homosexuality since the 1950’s and tensions
on the place of same-sex relationships in Christian faith and doctrine across denominations and
around the globe suggests that deeper issues are at stake than just the secularizing infuences of
modern culture. The global sensus fdelium remains unpersuaded that the Church can proclaim
God’s blessing on same-sex relationships. Yet many Christians believe same-sex relationships
grounded in a relationship with Christ are deeply worthy of God’s blessing. At any rate, an ever-
growing body of writings and publications on the subject from within the global Christian com-
munity testifes to the complexity of an issue that can neither be dismissed nor embraced with
“haste” theologically and doctrinally.
Thus the Body of Christ in its many iterations continues to be discontent regardless of votes, pro-
nouncements, and appeals to tradition or to experience on this issue. Facile, reactive, and rigid
voices abound on both extremes of the debate. They distract us from the profound questions of
Christian doctrine that confront us—and, more important, from our shared mission of proclaim-
ing the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our divisions are painfully visible. It is nonetheless a sign of hope
for Christian unity that many are persistent in staying in relationship even in disagreement and
continue to strive for deeper dialogue—not merely in process but in the substance of faith. We
are getting better at articulating the many things we share in faith even as we acknowledge what
we struggle to share.
The Trajectory of Salvation
I began this rationale by placing the biblical metaphor of marriage within a trajectory, a trajec-
tory that ultimately includes all facets of human life—not just marriage—within God’s saving
purpose. As noted, this trajectory of salvation begins in creation and ends with the consumma-
tion of the relationship between God and the people of God. That relationship begins in the frst
creation story at Genesis 1:27 with the creation of humankind—‘ha-adam, or “earth creature”—
in God’s image, male and female. In blessing them, God calls them to “Be fruitful and multiply.”
In the second creation story, at frst there is only Adam, whom God recognizes should not be
alone. Eve is created, and marriage is added to the order of the universe, if not by that name.
At the other end of time, the Body of Christ—consisting of all the faithful baptized, the New
Jerusalem, restored and reconciled to God—is the bride, the wife of the Lamb of God. Together,
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”
And let everyone who hears say, “Come.”
And let everyone who is thirsty come.
Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
—Revelation 22: 17
In creation, there is the bond of male and female. At the end of time, there is the consumma-
tion of the relationship between the Church as bride and Christ the groom. Together they pro-
vide a physical and metaphorical frame for the trajectory of human life with God. Jesus affrms
this metaphor and further grounds marriage between a man and a woman in the creation story
through his discussion about divorce in Mark 10 and related passages in Matthew 19. And, as
many traditionalists assert, that relationship describes the accordance of nature with God’s cre-
ative self and intention.
Because this trajectory is a fundamentally Christian trajectory, any discussion of Christian mar-
riage or of the Church blessing same-sex relationships must begin with faith in Jesus Christ. This
faith is signifed and sealed through the indissoluble sacrament of Baptism, by which we are
intrinsically changed, and with anointing, by which we are marked as Christ’s own forever. By
grace through faith, the baptized are adopted as “children of God, and if children, then heirs of
God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16-17). In baptism, our identity is fundamentally
altered and renewed. In baptism, we become heirs of the Kingdom of God. We become Christ in
and for the world and are called to be ambassadors of reconciliation. We look forward with hope
to the resurrection of the dead and the glorious consummation of time and eternal life with God.
Like marriage, the implications of baptism are not just metaphorical; they are concrete. For in
PAGE 12 PAGE 13
PAGE 14
baptism we receive the grace to transcend our rebellious nature: God so loved the world that he
sent his Son to be incarnate, to live among us and to give his life for our sake. He called us to give
ourselves to God by turning ourselves, our daily lives, toward God. John the Baptist calls those
who came to him for baptism to bear fruit “worthy of repentance” (Matt 3:8; Luke 3:8). Jesus
repeatedly describes lives turned toward God as lives that bear good fruit, declaring in Luke that
“No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit” (Luke 6:43), and in John
that “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do
nothing” (John 15:5). Paul points to the trajectory, the goal, of salvation when he describes life
in the Spirit as bearing “frst fruits”:
We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now;
and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the frst fruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.
—Romans 8:22-23
Intrinsic Truth and Truth Made Manifest
Truth made manifest
For two millennia, the Church has considered fruits of the Spirit to be manifestations of a true
relationship with God in Christ Jesus. All our discernments about faithfulness, about suitability
for leadership in the Church, confrmation, marriage, and ordination are grounded in the manifesta-
tion of such fruits in individuals and couples. Visitors to our churches look for evidence of fruits
of the Spirit to judge whether we practice what we preach. They use such evidence to determine
whether they can belong among us as ones who, with us, are striving to turn toward God and
away from behaviors that draw us away from the love of God.
Therefore, the idea of truth made “manifest” is important because we discern both fruits of the
Spirit and fruits of evil with our senses and understanding. Our perception can therefore be con-
crete or spiritual. In the Pentecostal tradition, “Manifestation is defned as an ‘outward evidence.’
The gifts of the Spirit bring the Holy Spirit into outward evidence in the body.”
9
The Compact
Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary says that to “manifest”something is “To make evident to
the eye or to the understanding; to show plainly, disclose, reveal.”
10
Most critically important,
the fruits of a life are primarily discerned from the outside, in community. They are not discerned
by what we say or believe about ourselves, even though our ability to communicate our inten-
tions can affect the meaning of our actions for others.
A critical additional point needs to be emphasized here. Much criticism—at times quite valid
criticism—has been directed toward some for whom experience seems to be its own, and often
prevailing, authority. That fruits of the Spirit are discerned by defnition involves human experi-
ence and perception. That the community of faith discerns whether these fruits are of the Spirit or
of a lesser “tree”—and not the individual autonomously declaring his or her actions good—gives
authority to the discernment. And yet the role of experience is essential.
Scripture tells us that lives bearing fruits of the Holy Spirit are manifestly true and good. Lives
that are manifestly evil bear the fruits of sin and death. Though only God can see and judge the
full story of any human life, we, God’s creatures, are still called to discern in others the fruits
of faith and/or evil made manifest to our perception and understanding. As Christians, we must
make daily judgments and decisions about what we ourselves should do to produce these fruits
of righteousness.
In my judgment, and in the eyes of many Episcopalians, the fruits of righteousness can be as
manifestly evident in the lives of partnered Christian gay and lesbian couples as they can in the
lives of married heterosexual couples. Paul is concrete in his description of the fruits of the Spirit
made manifest:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
—Galatians 5:22-23
That lifelong Christian gay and lesbian partners sometimes fail to fully manifest these fruits is no
different from Christian heterosexual marriages. But the very fact that fruits of the Holy Spirit are
commonly made manifest in lifelong, monogamous Christian same-sex relationships demands
our attention and examination in relation to traditional perspectives on these relationships.
Intrinsic Truth
From a traditional perspective, there are key problems with the idea that homosexuals in sexu-
ally active relationships can be said to bear witness to the fruit of Holy Spirit by virtue of their
relationship with each other. The received tradition of the Church in all its iterations has consid-
ered same-sex behavior to be intrinsically disordered and hence, by defnition, excluded from
the trajectory of salvation and from the benefts of the God’s blessing on such a relationship.
Several passages of scripture have been at the center of this conclusion:
PAGE 14 PAGE 15
PAGE 16
Leviticus 18 and 20
Although many who support same-sex relationships often (sometimes glibly) dismiss passages in
Leviticus 18 and 20 from the Holiness Code as relics comparable to laws governing food eaten
and clothing worn—and thus irrelevant for Christians—these passages require attention for the
following reasons:
∞ They assert categorical imperatives “You shall not…It is…”
∞ They are in the same paragraph with other behaviors that we still consider taboo:
adultery, incest, child sacrifce and bestiality, for example.
Except potentially in the case of child sacrifce, we don’t put people to death—in this coun-
try—for these latter behaviors, as Leviticus 20 proposes,
11
but we do make laws either to justify
divorce (adultery) or to punish offenders (incest, bestiality) who practice them.
Personal holiness is a core value in these passages and we can’t simply dismiss them as relics
based on our non-observance of other Levitical laws. At a minimum, these passages address an
idolatrous desire for “sex any way a person can get it.” They remain a viable commentary on the
sins and temptations of modern life and point to the offense as being rooted in idolatry of the
fesh. Though the passages are silent on the matter of sexual orientation
12
vs. lifestyle as many
understand the difference today, they do point to sexual willfulness.
1 Corinthians 6:9-10
In the context of a powerful statement against Christians bringing lawsuits against each other,
Paul in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 has an expansive list of the behaviors that characterized the lives of
individuals in the community of faith before they became believers in Christ: “Do you not know
that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! Fornicators, idolaters,
adulterers, male prostitutes, sodomites, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, robbers—none
of these will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Much ink has been spilled over the words “malakoi” and “arsenokoitai,” which are in the list,
being translated respectively as “male prostitutes” and “sodomites” (NRSV, above), “effeminate”
and “abusers of themselves with men” (ASV), and together as “men who have sex with men”
(NIV) or “men who practice homosexuality” (ESV). Paul’s use especially of “arsenokoitai” seems
rooted in the Leviticus passages just discussed. There can be little question that this passage at
least includes a condemnation of idolatrous promiscuity and licentiousness, behaviors that were
widespread in Corinth in Paul’s time. And there is little question that the passage has supported
a traditional understanding of homosexual behaviors as intrinsically wrong. The same can be
said of 1 Timothy 1:8-11, which covers a larger list of behaviors laid down for the “lawless and
disobedient,” including “fornicators and sodomites.”
And yet Paul’s intent in offering his list of what the community’s behaviors “used to be” in 1
Corinthians 6 is emphatically not primarily about sexual sins:
13
it is more like, “Look, here are
the things you did before you believed, and of all these divisive behaviors—suing each other is
among the most destructive and least worthy of your new identity in Christ.”
14

Romans 1:18-32
The frst chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans contains the only sustained development of an
argument in which what Paul calls unnatural sexual relations fgure prominently. In it, he identi-
fes those:
∞ who knew God, ignored God and worshipped graven images;
∞ who were given up by God to the [idolatrous] lusts of their hearts and
to “degrading passions” because they exchanged the truth of God for
lie in worshiping images;
∞ whose passions included same-sex sexual behavior as chief among them;
∞ who bore the terrible fruits of this idolatry: “they were filled with every
kind of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice…envy, murder, strife,
deceit, craftiness… they are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent,
haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, rebellious toward parents, foolish,
faithless, heartless, ruthless.”
Robert Gagnon
15
describes Romans 1:24-27 as “the central text for the issue of homosexual con-
duct on which Christians must base their moral doctrine.” Likewise, John E. Goldingay, Grant R.
LeMarquand, George R. Sumner, and Daniel A. Westberg, in presenting one of two views on this
issue to the March, 2010 House of Bishops meeting, emphasized the importance of this passage
for Christian doctrine on human sexuality.s
16

Strangely, neither discusses the list of the fruits of idolatry in Romans 1:28-32. Each seems to as-
sume, as does Paul, that these evil fruits are and will be the inevitable result of all homosexual
behavior because all homosexual behavior is idolatrous. The assumption is a critical basis for
the received tradition’s conclusion that homosexual behavior is intrinsically disordered.
This severe conclusion is however deeply dissonant in the manifest evidence and presence of
the fruits of the Holy Spirit in the relationship of a monogamous, lifelong, Christian same-sex
couple. It is true that such fruits may not be abundant in all covenanted same-sex
relationships. It can equally be said that such fruits may not be abundant in all heterosexual
marriages. Jesus said, “The tree is known by its fruit” (Matthew 12:33).
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PAGE 18
There is little question that we are in a time of permissiveness. There is no doubt that desires of
the fesh motivate people into unhealthy and idolatrous homosexual and heterosexual relation-
ships. It is clear that secular media encourage this. And scripture speaks with clarity against these
developments.
Would our interpretation therefore be different if we considered two persons whose lifelong,
covenanted same-sex intimacy took place in the context of knowing God, not ignoring God, and
not making or worshiping graven images?
What if the fruits of faithful, monogamous, Christian same-sex couples were nowhere to be seen
on Paul’s list in Romans 1, but rather in Paul’s list in Galatians 5: “love, joy, peace, patience,
kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”?
It is hard, even under the most ordinary of encounters with other people, to “seek and serve
Christ in others” by seeing beyond our assumptions and the personal “rules” we each inherit
and form as we grow up and according to which we live our adult lives. Our discernment of the
fruits of the Spirit in others—especially when we begin with negative assumptions about them—
can only occur if we let go of the metaphorical tug-of-war rope. Paul reminds us in Philippians
2:5-11 that Jesus himself did this, refusing to grasp or exploit his divinity and emptying himself
instead, taking the form of a servant.
Article XX of the Articles of Religion (“Of the Authority of the Church”)
17
declares that “it is not
lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God’s Word written, neither may
it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another.” Therefore, if a same-sex
relationship manifestly bears the fruits of the Spirit, it is incumbent upon the Church to consider
if that relationship is intrinsically different from the relationships so negatively presented in scrip-
ture. How can a relationship that manifests God’s Holy Spirit be repugnant to any part of scrip-
ture? As is true with both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, some will bear few fruits
of the Spirit and bear instead the manifestly evident fruits of sin and death. Our task is to listen
to the relationships that do bear the fruits of the Spirit.
The Church has often refused to discern that fruits of the Spirit can come from a same-sex rela-
tionship. And yet, however chaotic and divisive our entry into this subject has been these last
decades, the faith and witness of our Lord in the lives of partnered gay and lesbian brothers and
sisters in Christ have manifestly included fruits of righteousness. Jesus is clear that evil intentions
and desires of the fesh defle (Mark 7:21-23). The tradition has held that all same-sex sexual
behaviors are intrinsically the result of such intentions and desires. However, same-sex relation-
ships that bear the fruits of the Spirit cannot be placed in the same category. What the tradition
has declared to be “intrinsically disordered”—especially via Leviticus 18 and 20, 1
Corinthians 6:9-11, and Romans 1—must be carefully reevaluated in light of relationships that
are discerned by the community as “manifestly good,” bearing the fruits of the Spirit.
Complementarity and the Trajectory of Salvation
In light of Jesus’ defnitive proclamations about trees and the nature of the fruit they bear, we
are bound to address the longings of faithful gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ. They
deeply yearn to be heard and seen as being completely unlike the image that has been so long
integrated into the received tradition, and of a category not addressed in scriptures that stress
idolatry, promiscuity and licentiousness.
We arrive now at two issues that directly overlap with our theology of Christian marriage—
complementarity and procreation. Both must be discussed regardless of the fact that same-sex
marriage and civil unions have not been legalized in South Carolina, and regardless of the un-
changed status of Christian marriage in the canons of the Church and in the Book of Common
Prayer. Proponents of traditional understandings of marriage often claim that since same-sex
relationships do not naturally include these two goods, such relationships represent an intrinsic
disordering of God’s creative ordering of human sexuality, and so ought not to be blessed. So
too, others assert that although same-sex relationships should be blessed as a distinct good that
the Church has now discerned, nevertheless traditional marriage as many now understand it
should retain a privileged status in large part due to these two goods.
In this traditional view, “complementarity” proclaims the power and natural order of marriage
between one man and one woman. This is seen in the resulting biological procreativity of that
relationship, in the spiritual unity of man and woman as a sign of God’s own identity, and in
signifying human yearning to become spiritually one with God. Scriptural references to sexual
activity outside of marriage notwithstanding, marriage between a man and a woman is
powerful because, at its best, it enables a rich and observable indicator of God’s creativity,
will and purpose. So marriage as metaphor bears critical theological implications for our
understanding of God’s purpose in creating us, of God’s expectations of our obedience to
God, and of the ulti-mate end toward which we strive and look with hope.
Not all married heterosexual couples have biological children, of course—sometimes because
they can’t, whether because of age or medical factors, sometimes because they decide not to.
Some persons choose to live without ever marrying and others never marry for other reasons and
choose to be abstinent in that choice. Some are called to a life of celibacy. Paul even considers
PAGE 18 PAGE 19
PAGE 20
marriage an inconvenient necessity, to be undertaken by those who need it as a remedy for lust.
And yet, we speak of God’s will and purpose for all believers regardless of marital status. We
speak of God’s transformation of individuals, couples, families—indeed of all human life. It is
possible, therefore, to speak of marriage as one way, if an especially powerful and expressive
way, of pointing toward the essence of God’s identity and creative nature. But the trajectory of
salvation in Christian theology is ultimately most sharply focused on salvation by grace through
faith in baptism—the sacrament upon which the blessing of Christian marriage stands.
Furthermore, many theologians, philosophers, and psychologists speak about marriage as a pow-
erful metaphor for the journey of uniting the masculine and feminine aspects within ourselves,
having been made in the image of God, who has both masculine and feminine characteristics.
Biologically, we each have both male and female hormones within us, in proportions that are
not the same from person to person. Emotionally, we act in ways both masculine and feminine,
and our life journeys are deeply impacted by how well we come to terms with each dimension
within us—in an important sense, how well these two aspects of our personhood are “married”
within us. In this understanding, complementarity is not exclusively limited to the biological
order of creation, but includes the emotional and psychological order of creation. It can fairly
be argued that it is our inner self that most especially makes us human—made in God’s image,
worthy of God’s love, and refected in God’s incarnation in Jesus. That being said, our bodies
matter. Indeed, our humanness is expressed through our bodies, minds, and spirits. The chal-
lenge in understanding true complementarity must involve refection on all three, mind, body,
and spirit—who we are and how we act, male and female.
18

Procreation: How Children are Made
Christ’s incarnation made God’s love for this world manifest—in all its biological, emotional,
and relational concreteness. The procreation of children is not only intrinsically refective of
God’s promise, ongoing creativity and love, but also points toward God’s infnite yearning and
nature—to be in relationship.
Birth, growth, living in community, and death are part of the natural expression of human life in
God’s creation. And yet the kind of life we live, and the particular commitments and decisions
we make and the actions we take embody our response to the life God has given us—grateful,
ungrateful, obedient, rebellious, generous, greedy, peaceful, violent, and so forth. We make
choices—over and over again—about living with God or apart from God.
Without our biological bodies, we simply are not. Without a decision for and relationship with
God in Christ, scripture tells us, we “have no life in [us]” (John 6:53).
In scripture, faithfulness in human life is articulated in terms of spiritual life and death. Jesus
told Nicodemus that he “must be born from above” (John 3:3, NRSV), he must be “born again”
(John 3:3, NIV). Paul tells us, that by faith, we are made “children of God, and if children, then
heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16b-17a). Baptism is the Church’s
sign of salvation by grace through faith and of membership in the family of God. In the Christian
tradition, children of God are made through baptism—with a new identity independent of, if not
physically apart from, the biological families into which we are born.
19

Therefore, even as scripture recognizes the profound and categorical signifcance and value of
human biological life, the New Testament is clear that, in the end (literally), the life given us by
grace through faith in baptism has spiritual priority. Baptism moves us from being merely human
beings created by God to being humans in intentional and eternal relationships with God in
Christ Jesus and the community of all the saints—past, present and yet to come. The fnal con-
summation of our relationship with God as described in scripture is with all the baptized—with
all children/heirs through faith. That relationship is a dominical priority, that is, established by
Jesus himself (Matthew 28:19).
The implications of this priority for the current question—the blessing of same-sex relation-
ships—are enormous. For the making of children is no longer uniquely procreative. It is also fun-
damentally evangelical. It is a gift and possibility available to young and old, married, partnered,
single, celibate, abstinent, divorced, widowed, and even the dying. Giving birth to children of
God is nothing less than the ultimate earthly fulfllment of God’s promise and command to “Be
fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28).
What Does the Church Bless?
The Book of Common Prayer (1979) rite for “The Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage”
20
be-
gins with a Bidding Prayer in which the rationale and purpose of the rite is articulated. The ra-
tionale grounds Christian marriage in the “bond and covenant…established by God in creation”
and indicates that it “signifes to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church.” The
purpose of marriage, or “the union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind,” is for their
“mutual joy,” “help and comfort” in good times and in bad, and, “when it is God’s will, for the
procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord.”
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Later, in the Blessing of the Marriage in this rite,
21
in the frst option for a blessing prayer, the
Church invokes the Holy Spirit to support these two persons in every aspect of their life to-
gether, a companionship that points them to journey’s end at the heavenly banquet with all the
saints. The second option for a blessing prayer invokes God’s blessing to fll their marriage with
Christian virtue, empowering them to “love, honor, and cherish each other in faithfulness and
patience, in wisdom and true godliness” so that their home may refect God’s own character as
a “haven of blessing and peace.”
The Church’s act of blessing is a recognition of the lifelong commitment the man and woman
have made to each other and a declaration of God’s favor on that commitment. The ideal of
Christian marriage is that both man and woman are baptized and committed believers (rubrics
require that only one of the two is baptized) who, by virtue of their shared faith, embody in their
relationship the oneness of Christ with all believers. However, in I Corinthians 7, Paul recognizes
the power of lust and human lack of self-control, recommending marriage as a remedy for re-
sulting sin, considering a single state preferable. Marriage is here an inconvenient necessity. The
suggestion implies that “being fruitful and multiplying” is no longer necessary, since the Lord
will return so soon.
Nonetheless, in spite of Paul’s controversial suggestion in Ephesians 5 that “wives be subject to
your husbands,” signifcantly, he also recognizes mutuality in the marriage relationship— that
husbands should love their wives, “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her;”
that the wife and husband have authority over each other’s bodies (I Corinthians 7:4); and hus-
bands and wives should love each other (Ephesians 5:25-30). The ages have further emphasized
and strengthened the premise of mutuality and the Book of Common Prayer’s marriage rite pro-
claims “mutual joy” as a frst purpose in marriage.
St. Augustine wrote that marriage is a union of friendship, a natural companionship. While it is
clear that he refers to marriage being between a man and a woman and that he rejects sexual re-
lationships outside of marriage, he, like Paul, understands sex as being necessary for procreation
and a remedy for lust. One is ultimately “better” without it, and indeed, the City of God will fll
up sooner without sex. (He even suggests that married couples should get sex out of the way early
in their marriage to get procreation over with so that they can focus on their companionship and
life in Christ.) For Augustine, fdelity is a fundamental characteristic of a Christian marriage, and is
required even in the event of a divorce, in which neither party should remarry, even for the sake
of having children.
22
On many counts, Augustine’s views of marriage and divorce have been reassessed in our time,
but at a minimum he has identifed three profound goods that are shared by believers regardless
of their position on same-sex relationships: companionship, fdelity and lifelong commitment.
These goods are at the heart of what the Church has proposed blessing with regard to same-sex
relationships.
As discussed earlier, there is a tension between what tradition has generally deemed to be in-
trinsically disordered and what many in the Church discern as manifestly good in certain
same-sex couples. We discern similar sins and goods in certain heterosexual relationships.
There is also a biblical mandate for “evangelical procreation”—giving birth to children of the
Spirit. In passing Resolution A049 at the 77th General Convention of the Episcopal Church,
the Church has pro-posed a blessing on two people of the same-sex who:
∞ are committed to companionship, fdelity, and lifelong commitment
∞ hope to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit.
We might add the possible evangelical intention that the relationships will result in the birth (and
adoption) of children in faith.
Revisiting the Sensus Fidelium
These insights do not purport to “change the sensus fdelium,” of Vincent of Lérins, “that which
has been believed everywhere, always and by all.” We might, however, fnd in them questions
rooted in scripture and the received tradition that are worth asking and refecting upon. When
Peter and the apostles were threatened for preaching the good news of God in Christ Jesus, a
Pharisee in the Council named Gamaliel offered the following advice: “if this plan or this un-
dertaking is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow
them—in that case you may even be found fghting against God!” (Acts 5:38-39)
The historic sensus fdelium matters. How the Church uses its authority matters in relation to the
sensus fdelium matters. That the Church seeks in all things to fnd its way faithfully and in ac-
cordance with God’s will matters. The historic tradition of the Church is and should be a caution-
ary reminder of dangers along the way. Secular infuences that are decidedly not Christian are
always striving to pull us off the path, whether we are “conservative” or “liberal.” Voices raised
in faith and out of the pain of experience, however, remind us that God may be speaking a word
to us that we have not yet heard, for whatever reason.
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These voices may not be the voices of activists or lobbyists on either side of this debate but rather
the voices of ordinary persons of faith who, in some cases, are saying, “Wait. We need to listen
to people in pain.” In other cases, there are quiet voices saying, “Wait. We should not cut our-
selves off from the wisdom of the witnesses who have gone before.” I fnd hope in Gamaliel’s
admonition—hope and trust that God will in time be revealed and that we will know whether
this is of God or not. If it is not, it will fail. If it is, I do not wish to be found fghting against God.
CONCLUSION: LIFE IN THE DIOCESE OF UPPER SOUTH CAROLINA
This past December, The Living Church published what I received as a lyrical refection on stay-
ing together in the presence of our differences written by Ephraim Radner, who has written often
in opposition to trends in the Episcopal Church in matters of human sexuality.
23
Near the begin-
ning of his refection, he expresses the insight around which his refection is crafted:
I have come to realize that continued life in the Episcopal Church is not merely
about ecclesial integrity, or mission, or cultural apologetics. It is all these, of
course. But most of all, and from its depth, it is about charity; it is about putting
oneself in, or allowing oneself to be taken up by, the current of Jesus’ love that
sweeps us towards and with the stranger, the unreconciled, the halting, the erring,
the malevolent: with them, into the “secret joy” of Christ’s renewal of our
common life of often opposed difference into his image.
Though Radner has not changed his position on these trends in the Church, as I read his words, I
thought immediately of the tug-of-war tournaments at Camp McDowell in Alabama so long ago.
And in Radner’s words, I saw the rope slipping from tired hands, opponents’ eyes looking fnally
with charity and hope at one another saying, “What shall we do now?”
Can we in this Diocese gently, carefully and simultaneously let the rope go slack and hold it
only lightly in our hands? Time will tell. But we can trust that with charity and love toward one
another and with common prayer, God will give us grace and courage along the way.
Thomas Merton, Trappist monk in the Roman Catholic Church and deeply orthodox in faith and
practice, closed the First Spiritual Summit Conference in Calcutta in 1968, a conference of per-
sons in monastic orders from different world faiths, with this prayer.
Oh God, we are one with You.
You have made us one with You.
You have taught us that if we are open to one another,
You dwell in us.
Help us to preserve this openness
and to fght for it with all our hearts.
Help us to realize that there can be no understanding
where there is mutual rejection.
Oh God, in accepting one another wholeheartedly, fully, completely,
we accept You, and we thank You, and we adore You,
and we love You with our whole being,
PAGE 24 PAGE 25
PAGE 26
because our being is in Your being,
our spirit is rooted in Your spirit.
Fill us then with love,
and let us be bound together with love as we go our diverse ways,
united in this one spirit which makes You present in the world,
and which makes You witness to the ultimate reality that is love.
Love has overcome. Love is victorious. Amen.
24



The Rt. Rev. W. Andrew Waldo
Eighth Bishop
The Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina
E
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
This refection is the fruit of conversations stretching over several years, but especially of conver-
sations that have taken place since my election as the Eighth Bishop of Upper South Carolina.
I have been challenged over and over again by a wide variety of persons—both within my Task
Force on Unity and Faithfulness and beyond it, lay and ordained—with deeply divergent per-
spectives to articulate points more clearly and to consider things I hadn’t before. Many of these
conversations were with individuals who sharply disagree with my own conclusions. Others
were with individuals who feel I have not gone far enough.
Every congregation of this diocese (61) has engaged this issue with me at least once, and most
of them several times, in parish forums over the past four years. Those conversations have
been practical, theological, and biblical, and almost every time I have realized how critically
important it was for me to hear the actual questions people in the pews have around this issue
rather than focusing only on the questions I wanted to address. My respect for the maturity of
discipleship across this diocese is deep.
I am most deeply grateful to the members of my Task Force on Unity and Faithfulness—Ms.
Caroline Avinger, Mr. Frank Ballard, Ms. Jennifer Bull, The Rev. Jordan Hylden, The Very
Rev. Timothy Jones, The Rev. Alan Leonard, Ms. Sally McKay, The Rev. James Neuburger,
The Rev. Ellen Francis Poisson, OSH, and The Rev. David Wagner—who, even in
disagreement on particular issues, celebrated the overwhelmingly-shared matters of faith and
devoted themselves to our finding a way forward for this diocese, and hopefully for others. In
the end, however, responsibility for any errors in thought or expression in this reflection
belongs to me.
My conversation partners have also included bishops both within and beyond the Episcopal
Church, and from distant corners of the Anglican Communion. My time at the Seminar for Bish-
ops in the Early Years of Episcopal Ministry in Canterbury 2010 especially instilled within me a
sense of the effect of local decisions in these matters upon the larger Communion. Thirty-one
bishops from across the global Anglican Communion attended that seminar, each of whom I
came to know at more personal levels through that week, and to whom I have felt any decisions
on my part must provide an account of the faith behind them. I remain deeply grateful for their
presence in my life and I pray continually for them all.
Nothing I do as bishop is possible without the support, discernment and sheer work of my
staff—Bonnie Blackberg, Jan Fuller, Canon d’Rue Hazel, Cynthia Hendrix, Roslyn Hook, Alisha
Hudson, Canon Geoffrey Taylor, Mary Weston, and Canon Kellie Wilson—each of whom has
PAGE 27
PAGE 28
played specifc roles both large and small in this work. Their support of the needs of this diocese
in times when I worked on this refection, and at all times, has been beyond exemplary.
Above all, I am thankful to God, in whom I live and move and have my being.
Omnia dat Dominus, non habet ergo minus.
25

E
END NOTES
1 The Book of Common Prayer 1979, p. 422.
2 Lambeth Conference of 1888, Resolution II, BCP, p. 877.
3 However, God’s promise to Abraham that he would have offspring uncountable as the “dust of the earth” (Genesis 13:16)
or the stars in the heavens (Genesis 15:5) is actually realized through two women, Hagar, slave-girl and the mother of
Ishmael, and Sarah, the mother of Isaac. Though Isaac is the inheritor of the blessing, Ishmael and his descendants by
defnition have a share in the fulflment of the original blessing from God.
4 See http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/1998/ for full text of this and other Lambeth 1998 documents.
5 See http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/2008/ for the full report of the conversations among Anglican
Communion bishops at this conference. Comments on human sexuality are found in Section H: Human Sexuality, on the
website or on page 31 of the downloadable .pdf fle.
6 This saying constitutes what is known as the Vincentian Canon.
7 Alistair McGrath, The Christian Theology Reader, 4th Edition, (West Sussex: Wiley & Blackwell, 2011), pp. 78-79
8 Ibid., p. 79, referring in this passage to Vincent’s view of Augustine’s innovations on predestination.
9 Duffeld, G. P., & Van Cleave, N. M. (1983). Foundations of Pentecostal Theology (329). (Los Angeles, CA: L.I.F.E. Bible
College.)
10 The Compact Edition of the Oxford English Dictionary (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 1715.
11 However, persecution, bullying and violence toward gay and lesbian persons persist in this country. According to the
Centers for Disease Control (CDC), gay, lesbian and bisexual teens are twice as likely to have attempted suicide as their
heterosexual peers. Bullying and violence are considered contributing factors in this rate, (www.cdc.gov – “Lesbian, Gay,
Bisexual and Transgender Health: Youth”).
12 Robert A. J. Gagnon, in The Bible and Homosexual Practice: Texts and Hermeneutics (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2001),
persuasively argues that the ancient world did in fact know about sexual orientation and that this is not a recent
understanding.
13 Richard B. Hays, I Corinthians, in The New Interpretation Commentary Series, (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1997), p. 98.
14 That lawsuits against each other—fled by adherents of both “sides”—have contributed to rancor tearing our Church apart
would suggest that this passage in 1 Corinthians has a far deeper judgment on our faithfulness than any one thing in Paul’s
list of life before we came to know Christ. There are and will be no winners in this, least of all a Body of Christ seeking to
bring others to know and love the Lord. To sue each other is, as Paul says in Romans 1 (discussed from a different angle,
following), “to exchange the truth of God for a lie.”
15 Ibid., pp. 229-275.
16 John E. Goldingay, Grant R. LeMarquand, George R. Sumner, and Daniel A. Westberg, “Same-Sex Marriage and Anglican
Theology: A View from the Traditionalists,” The Anglican Theological Review 93:1 (2011).
17 The Book of Common Prayer (1979), p. 871.
18 An article by Charles J. Reid, Jr. in The Huffngton Post entitled “The Catholic Church and Same-Sex Marriage: How
Might Doctrine Develop?” (http://www.huffngtonpost.com/charles-j-reid-jr/catholic-church-same-sex
marriage_b_4775831.html?utm_hp_ref=religion) contains a thoughtful refection on Pope John Paul II’s writings (in
which he coins the term “complementarity”), Thomas Aquinas’s thought on the role of human reason and Augustine of
Hippo’s Treatise “On the Good of Marriage.” Reid is a Professor of Law at St. Thomas University.
19 To this point, I made a practice in my priestly ministry of reminding couples bringing a child for baptism that they were,
in effect, “putting their child up for adoption” by having him or her baptized—placing their raising of the child fully within
the context of Christian community.
20 The Book of Common Prayer (1979), p. 423.
21 BCP, p. 430.
22 A summary outline of Augustine’s treatise, “On the Good of Marriage,” may be found at http://www.pathsofove.com/
texts/augustine-marriage-outline/.
23 Ephraim Radner, “Praying with Those Who Pray,” in The Living Church, December 8, 2013.
24 Naomi Burton, Brother Patrick Hart & James Laughlin, ed., The Asian Journal of Thomas Merton, (New York: New Directions
Publishing Corp., 1975), Appendix V, pp. 318-319.
25 “The Lord gives everything, but even so, has no less.” Dictum lettered on the lid of a 17th-century Flemish harpsichord.
PAGE 28 PAGE 29
IN DIALOGUE WITH EACH OTHER:
A Curriculum
The Bishop’s Task Force
on Unity and Faithfulness
E
The Bishop’s Task Force on Unity and Faithfulness
Ms. Caroline Avinger
Mr. Frank Ballard
Ms. Jennifer Bull
The Rev. Jordan Hylden
The Very Rev. Timothy Jones
The Rev. Alan Leonard
Ms. Sally McKay
The Rev. James Neuburger
The Rev. Ellen Francis Poisson, OSH
The Rev. David Wagner
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo
Episcopal Diocese of
Upper South Carolina
INTRODUCTION
This guide for reflection and discussion is intended to further fruitful and faithful
conversation. “We have been blessed in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina,” writes
Bishop Waldo in his Theological and Pastoral Reflection, “with a tentative unity.” A
commitment to conversation does not minimize, as the Bishop says, “the difficulty of loving
and sacrificing for the sake of each other in the face of deep and fundamental disagreements.”
Our unity has been “tentative,” he observes, “because some of our convictions about sin
and obedience and of faithfulness and blessing can be so dissonant when placed beside
each other.”
Sometimes staying together requires a commitment even in the face of what he notes are
“seemingly unresolvable differences.” The curriculum that follows affirms that Scripture is
our ultimate authority and asks how we are to understand and apply it in dialogue with
tradition and with one another.
The lessons, excerpts and questions were created by a task force of clergy and lay members
called together by the Bishop. They are designed to help conversation in the face of such
differences and strongly held convictions. The sessions delve into Scripture and Christian
tradition. They explore ethical perspectives along with issues related to cultural currents,
Christian unity, and the wider Anglican Communion. The sessions try fairly to present
important but different understandings. The content and suggested discussion questions
follow the lead of the Bishop in several matters, such as attention to language. For example,
he writes:
It has been my discipline to avoid working from concepts that have
represented stumbling blocks to dialogue. For those of more traditional
perspectives, words such as “inclusivity,” “diversity,” “justice” and “equality”
used by supporters of same-sex blessings and marriages have become
negative jargon. For those of more progressive perspectives, words and
phrases often used by traditionalists, such as “the influence of secular culture,”
“orthodox,” “redefinition of marriage,” “traditional marriage” and “clear
PAGE C-1
meaning of scripture” have come to be seen as dismissive when wielded in a
combative or rigid spirit.
The conversations we will have will not always be easy. But we want to engage them
prayerfully, sensitively, and with concern for faithfulness. “We can trust,” writes Bishop
Waldo, “that with charity and love toward one another and with common prayer, God will
give us grace and courage along the way.”
PURPOSE OF THIS CURRICULUM
The purpose of this curriculum is to promote informed, thoughtful discussion in our
congregations regardless of whether your congregation is considering or plans to offer the
rite of same-sex blessings, and regardless any particular person’s point of view.
We hope that all congregations will engage this study, not only to strengthen our unity on
substantive matters on which we can agree, but also to develop a common language for
those things about which we cannot agree. This will deepen relationships within the diocese
and give us a more nuanced and robust language for conversations with persons from other
traditions as well.
The curriculum could be used in a number of different settings, for example, small groups,
parish leadership retreats, or a series of adult forum sessions. It is our desire and prayer that
individuals will commit to attending and participating fully and respectfully in all sessions
that are offered.
A process for describing each congregation’s reflection and discernment is in the Appendix.
Engaging this process is important regardless of whether or not a congregation intends to
seek permission to bless same-sex relationships.
Suggestions for use of this curriculum
This curriculum is intended for use in congregations in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina
to promote thoughtful and respectful study, conversation and dialogue on the subject of
same-sex blessings.
The discussion leader may use the background materials and reading to prepare in advance
of the sessions. The one-page handouts may be modified as the facilitator wishes and may
PAGE C-2
be distributed at the beginning of the session. The background materials and readings in the
appendices could also be distributed prior to or during the sessions. It is intended that this
material be used to spark discussion and dialogue, not for lectures by the facilitator.
Depending on the time available, number of attendees and sessions, readings, discussion
questions and sessions may be selected from those presented in the curriculum. Don’t
expect that you can cover all of this material. For example, of the questions presented in
each section, the facilitator might choose three for each session. We recommend that at
least one session be held on each of the following three topics: tradition, scripture, and
ethics.
Suggested norms for discussion
At the beginning of the first session, it may be helpful to establish discussion norms. The
norms listed below may be posted at the beginning of each session as a reminder and for
reference during the discussion.
Prayer
Begin each session with prayer and perhaps a moment of silence.
Confidentiality
To establish a safe environment, participants will be asked to agree to keep
confidential the specifics of the conversation and identities of speakers.
Respect dignity
Affirm the baptismal covenant, to respect the dignity of every human being; listen
with respect to points of view and experiences that are not your own.
Balanced participation
Give everyone a chance to speak and to finish what they have to say. Do not let one
or a few people dominate the conversation. This may be avoided by going around
to give everyone an opportunity to speak and by limiting the time allotted to each
person. Encourage all to participate, but if someone wishes to pass their turn, their
preference should be respected.
Use active listening statements
Use “I” statements, instead of “you” or “we” or “they” statements; avoid any
statements that accuse or condemn another; avoid labels, such as “conservative,”
PAGE C-3
“liberal,” etc. It can be helpful to ask participants to express and explain a position
that is different from their own, clarifying what strengths there are in the other’s point
of view.
Listen deeply
Refrain from applause and other affirming or condemning reactions to what speakers
say. Remember that we are listening deeply to tradition and scripture, even as we
listen respectfully and prayerfully to one another.
If the conversation should become heated, the facilitator may choose to direct the
conversation back to the main points. Highlight where the group has been expressing
common threads and affirm the feelings of individuals. A time-out for quiet reflection may
also be helpful.
TRADITION IN THE CHURCH
Background:
One of the arguments against performing same-sex blessings is that such a service is a
departure from the tradition of the Episcopal Church (TEC) and of the universal catholic
Church. Some argue that precedent for performing a same-sex blessing cannot be found in
Christian tradition, and therefore the rite should not be performed. Others argue that, within
the Church’s long tradition, there are instances of significant change in a tradition or
teaching, and that this is an instance in which a change is warranted.
The Church has made changes in Tradition: One example of a change in tradition would
be the decision made by TEC General Convention in 1976 in favor of the ordination of
women. Although there is textual and archaeological evidence for sacramental function by
women in the very early church, women were excluded from ordained ministry when
ordination became formalized. The first woman to be ordained in the Anglican communion
was the Rev. Li Tim-Oi, who was ordained to the priesthood in China in 1944.
In other situations, the Church has upheld Tradition: Tradition was reaffirmed, and change
was not embraced, in the founding of the Anglican tradition and later in the founding of the
Episcopal Church. The English Puritans felt that Luther and Calvin and Thomas Cranmer
had not gone far enough in making reforms and changes in Roman Catholic traditions.
However, an early Anglican theologian, Richard Hooker, spoke instead in favor of “received
PAGE C-4
practices”, such as the threefold orders of ministry: deacon, priest, and bishop. He also
upheld the received tradition in the prominence given to the sacraments. He defended such
patterns as they grew out of tradition so long as they were not directly repugnant to Scripture.
He argued that some traditions need to be affirmed and affirmed again.
When is a departure from tradition warranted? This is not a new concern in our time. In
the 3
rd
Century CE, Stephen, Bishop of Rome, and Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage, disputed
with each other concerning re-baptism of those who had been baptized by heretics.
Stephen declared, “Let nothing be innovated, unless it has been handed down.” Cyprian
retorted, “Custom without truth is but the longevity of error.”
Readings and summaries:
1) Reading: Dan. O. Via and Robert A. J. Gagnon. Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views
(Kindle Locations 507-517), Kindle Edition.
From Dan O. Via:
“There are two basic views of biblical authority. (1) The a priori view says that
the Bible is authoritative in all of its parts and is so prior to interpretation.
Since this affirmation of total authority is made before one interprets the Bible
– it is assumed before one interprets particular texts – the person who makes
such an avowal must do so on the basis of someone else's opinion – a parent,
pastor, or teacher's. The affirmation is not made on the ground of one's own
experience. (2) The experiential or existential view says that the Bible is
authoritative only in those parts that are existentially engaging and compelling
– that give grounding and meaning to existence. This avowal can be made
only after and in the light of one's own interpretation. At the same time it
should be recognized that the Christian tradition and community are a part
of the individual's location (Barr 1973, 27). I take the latter view. … There is
… no a priori reason why a univocal position [in Scripture] cannot be
overridden if the countervailing biblical, theological, and cultural
considerations have sufficient strength, as I believe they do.”
From Robert A. J. Gagnon:
“When I come to Scripture, I use historical-critical methodology [i.e.
contemporary scholarship], see development and significant tensions in the
canon, take account of metaphors and tradition history, and recognize the
necessity of interpreting texts anew. However, in keeping with the historic
PAGE C-5
stance of the church, I also believe that Scripture is the primary authority for
faith and practice. If that primacy counts for anything, it must count for core
values. Core values are values that are held 1. pervasively throughout
Scripture (at least implicitly), 2. absolutely (without exceptions), and ... 3.
strongly (as a matter of significance). This applies all the more to instances in
which: 4. such values emerged in opposition to contrary cultural trends, 5.
have prevailed in the church for two millennia. Such a value is the biblical
limitation of sex to intercourse between male and female, with its attendant
opposition to all same-sex intercourse. If the authority of Scripture means
anything, those who seek to overturn its core values must meet an
extraordinary burden of proof. The evidence must be so strong and
unambiguous that it not only makes the witness of Scripture pale by
comparison but also directly refutes the reasons for the Bible's position. For
example, it would not be enough to prove that (1) the only models for
homosexual behavior in antiquity were exploitative, or (2) modern science
has demonstrated that homosexuality is congenital and fixed. One would also
have to prove that the Bible condemned homosexual practice (3) primarily on
the grounds that it was exploitative (e.g., because it abused boys), or (4) on
the grounds that all participants in homosexual behavior experienced desires
for the opposite sex. As we shall see, none of these points can be
substantiated.”
Summary:
In this book, Dan O. Via and Robert A. J. Gagnon present two views on how to
understand homosexual practice and by extension same-sex blessings. While much of
their conversation (and these excerpts) focus specifically on Scripture, their exploration
has much to do with tradition. Gagnon, a traditionalist, argues that Scripture, and the
tradition that follows, uniformly argue against same-sex blessing. Via admits that
Scripture has a strong tradition of opposition, carried forward through much of church
history, but that findings of science and newer understandings of theology and ethics
can override that.
PAGE C-6
2) Reading: Griffiss, James E. (1997-01-25). Anglican Vision (Kindle Locations 372-384).
Rowman & Littlefield. Kindle Edition.
“It was not until the seventeenth century that theologians of the Church of
England began to develop a theological rationale for the changes [sought by
King Henry the VIII and the Continental and English Reformers]; as is so often
the case, theological reflection followed upon historical events. In the wake
of so much upheaval and change, the Church of England felt it had much to
justify. On the one hand it had to satisfy itself that it had not abandoned the
Catholic faith and tradition, as Roman Catholics charged; on the other hand,
that it also had gone as far as it could in terms of theological and ecclesiastical
reform in order to satisfy its more extreme Calvinist wing. As the Puritans
began to emerge as a powerful group in the Church of England … Anglicans
also had to justify holding onto their older traditions of belief and practice.
The theologian who responded most successfully to all the opponents of the
Church of England was Richard Hooker, writing his Laws of Ecclesiastical
Polity at the end of the sixteenth century. His method of dealing with
theological questions has remained characteristic of much Anglican theology
ever since – maintaining continuity with the tradition the church has received
from the past while seeking to accommodate the changes new situations
require.”
Summary:
Griffis argues that Anglicanism historically has listened to Scripture with special
reference to tradition. Indeed, when English Anglicans debated with the more radically
Protestant Puritans, they made the point that God could speak through the church’s long
history and practice, and that reason (the use of our intelligence and wisdom) also helped
us understand how best to apply what we read in Scripture.
3) Reading: The Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer (New York: The
Episcopal Church Hymnal Corporation, 1979), page 871.
XIX. Of the Church.
The visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in which the
pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered
according to Christ's ordinance, in all those things that of necessity are
requisite to the same.
PAGE C-7
As the Church of Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, have erred; so also the
Church of Rome hath erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies,
but also in matters of Faith.
XX. Of the Authority of the Church.
The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in
Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain
anything that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound
one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although
the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to
decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought not to enforce
any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.
Summary:
In the Articles of Religion (1801), sometimes referred to as the Thirty-nine Articles, we
see a concern about both the primacy of Scripture and the need for decisions to be made
about specific issues, whether they concern liturgy (“Ceremonies”) or “matters of faith”
and practice (BCP, page 871).
4) Reading and summary: Fredrica Harris Thompsett, Living with History (The New
Church’s Teaching Series, vol. 5; Cowley Publications, 1999), especially pp. 1-24; also
chapter on “Living with Controversy.”
The first chapter of this book addresses the challenges of tradition and change, giving
the example of changes in the Episcopal Church liturgy and in The Book of Common
Prayer. Thompsett emphasizes that tradition is a “handing over” from one generation to
the next, and therefore a dynamic and active process. She notes that tradition may
change, because of “our limited, partial comprehension of divine intentions. As receivers
and bearers of the tradition, Christians carry responsibility both for preserving historic
hallmarks of the faith and also for responding to God’s actions in our midst” (p. 19).
Thompsett gives the following examples of changes in tradition: slavery; language in
worship; devotional practices during worship. She also discusses three examples of
times of controversy in the Anglican/Episcopal tradition: the Elizabethan settlement in
the 16
th
century; the official position of the Episcopal Church during the Civil War; the
Anglican response in the second half of the 19
th
century to evolution and the Bible.
PAGE C-8
5) Reading and summary: Alister E. McGrath, Christian Theology, an Introduction, 3
rd
ed.
(Malden MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2001), pp. 183-189.
The question of fidelity to the apostolic faith and innovation began as early as
the second century C.E. By the early 5
th
century, Vincent of Lérins proposed
that “that which has been believed everywhere, always, and by all people”
would determine the true tradition of the Church. Later theologians
challenged the concept of an immutable tradition that could not reflect the
movement of the Spirit in a living faith, and yet an interpretation of scripture
and tradition that would be safe from error. In the 19
th
century, one theologian
proposed that tradition has both an objective aspect, which is the set and
unchangeable tradition, and also a subjective aspect which is “living and
dynamic.” McGrath comments that tradition is “not merely something that is
handed down, but an active process of reflection by which theological or
spiritual insights are valued, assessed, and transmitted from one generation to
another” (p. 186).
In the early Church, “tradition” usually concerned the traditional
interpretation of scripture. In the 14
th
and 15
th
centuries, “tradition” came to
signify not only scripture, but also the teachings handed down within the
Church. Some radical theologians of the Reformation and the Enlightenment
rejected the Church’s teaching on tradition altogether, and proposed that each
individual could interpret scripture as the Holy Spirit led them.
Discussion Questions: Tradition in the Church
1. When has the Episcopal Church made changes in tradition in your lifetime?
2. In what ways were these changes in tradition supported theologically, biblically,
pastorally?
3. What do you think does justify making a change in Church tradition?
4. In what ways might the sacramental rite of marriage form a precedent for same-sex
blessing? In what ways does marriage not provide an analogy or precedent? Why or
why not?
PAGE C-9
5. How might heterosexual marriage be affected by the legitimizing of same-sex blessings?
6. How might same-sex blessings or same-sex marriage affect traditional, heterosexual
marriage?
7. How is offering same-sex blessing an issue of human or equal rights? Is this primarily a
pastoral issue? Do you think that is a legitimate reason for a change in the tradition?
8. Do other rights issues apply or not?
9. What questions have gone unanswered for you?
PAGE C-10
Handout – Tradition in the Church: “We’ve always done it this way”
One of the arguments against performing same-sex blessings is that it is a departure from
the tradition of the Episcopal Church (TEC) and of the universal catholic Church. Others
assert that this is one of the situations in which a change in tradition is warranted.
In the history of the Anglican and Episcopal Church, there are instances of significant change
in a tradition or teaching. For example, TEC General Convention in 1976 approved the
ordination of women to the priesthood. Other examples of changes in Church tradition
include: slavery, divorce, role of women, new editions of The Book of Common Prayer.
In other situations, decisions against change have been made. In the founding of the
Episcopal Church, decisions were made to uphold “received practices” such as the
ordination of deacons, priests, and bishops and the prominence given to the sacraments.
In our discussion of same-sex blessings, a core question is whether this change in the
tradition of the Episcopal Church is indeed warranted.
Discussion Questions: Tradition in the Church
1. When has the Episcopal Church made changes in tradition in your lifetime?
2. In what ways were these changes in tradition supported theologically, biblically,
pastorally?
3. What do you think does justify making a change in Church tradition?
4. In what ways might the sacramental rite of marriage form a precedent for same-sex
blessing? In what ways does marriage not provide an analogy or precedent? Why or
why not?
5. How might heterosexual marriage be affected by the legitimizing of same-sex blessings?
6. How might same-sex blessings or same-sex marriage affect traditional, heterosexual
marriage?
7. How is offering same-sex blessing an issue of human or equal rights? Is this primarily a
pastoral issue? Do you think that this pastoral issue is a legitimate reason for a change
in the tradition?
8. Do other rights issues apply or not?
9. What questions have gone unanswered for you?
PAGE C-11
SCRIPTURE: WHAT DOES THE BIBLE SAY, AND
WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR US TODAY?
(This material may be used for one or for two sessions)
Background:
What Scripture says about same-sex relationships is central to our conversation. We will
consider both the passages of Scripture that address sexual morality directly as well as the
overall message of divine revelation.
The catechism in The Book of Common Prayer, pp. 853-854, gives the following summary
of our understanding of Scripture:
Q. Why do we call the Holy Scriptures the Word of God?
A. We call them the Word of God because God inspired their human authors and
because God still speaks to us through the Bible.
Q. How do we understand the meaning of the Bible?
A. We understand the meaning of the Bible by the help of the Holy Spirit, who
guides the Church in the true interpretation of the Scriptures.
Bishop Waldo’s Pastoral and Theological Reflection (p. 8) emphasizes that Scripture, for
Anglicans and Episcopalians, is the primary authority:
“Even though the Church in its various manifestations has debated substantive
doctrinal issues through the ages, global Christianity has consistently said that
Holy Scripture is the authoritative witness to the living Word of God, Jesus
Christ. For some traditions, scripture is the only authority. For Anglicans, the
Lambeth Conference in 1888 articulated it this way: “the Holy Scriptures of
the Old and New Testaments, [contain] all things necessary to salvation, and
[are] the rule and ultimate standard of faith.” Further, Anglicans believe that,
though our primary authority, scripture can only be fully understood in the
light of tradition and reason.”
Given that Scripture is central to our faith, we need to consider how we read and interpret
divine revelation in the Bible. In his book Those Episkopols, Episcopal priest Dennis
Maynard offers several ways in which Episcopalians read the Bible:
PAGE C-12
Episcopalians don’t surface-read the scriptures. We don’t begin with an
opinion or with a particular point of view and then try to find a scripture text
to substantiate it…. [W]e believe in divine inspiration. We do not believe in
divine dictation. … Before we can understand what the Bible means we have
to first understand who wrote it, to whom it was written, the culture of the
people, and the situation to which the writer was addressing himself (pp. 52,
54).
We do not read Scripture in a vacuum, in isolation or without regard to our current
surroundings and experiences, but we read it in conversation with what we know, and in
the light of tradition and reason.
In the document “Let the Reader Understand” (Diocese of New York, 2002), these
additional points are raised:
• Individual texts must not… be isolated and made to mean something at odds with
the tenor or trajectory of the divine plan underlying the whole of Scripture.
• The Church’s interpretation of Scripture is itself part of the human response to the
economy of salvation.
• …Because the Church’s members are human, their reading of Scripture is contingent
and fallible, even in matters of faith and morals.
• Interpretative security rests… in the tested deposit of the baptismal faith and… in the
covenant of God who is faithful.
Questions:
1. In what ways do you agree or disagree with Maynard’s observations on how
Episcopalians read the Bible?
2. In what ways do you agree or disagree with the points raised in “Let the Reader
Understand”?
PAGE C-13
Readings and summaries:
1) Reading: Roger Ferlo, Opening the Bible (The New Church’s Teaching Series, vol. 2;
Cowley Publications, 1997), p. 114.
To read Scripture faithfully, one must accept the full discipline of reading –
with heart and mind and soul and mouth and ear, listening both for the voice
of the Spirit who speaks through Scripture, and also for the voices of one’s
companions in faith, voices past and present, probing and respectful, agreeing
and disagreeing…”
Questions:
1. In your parish, what do you hear from your “companions in faith” that enlarges and/or
challenges your reading of Scripture?
2. In your parish, how do you engage in the “full discipline of reading” of Scripture as
individual disciples and as a community?
2) Reading:
Bishop Waldo’s Pastoral and Theological Reflection, p.10:
“The Bible’s uniformly negative commentary on same-sex behavior has, in
these past decades, collided with shifts in culture and understanding about
gay and lesbian persons. On the one hand, traditionalists rightly point out the
secularizing effects of the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and its influence on
these shifts, and other significant secular forces of change in society. On the
other hand, these shifts have made it possible for gay and lesbian persons to
live openly, and mostly without fear. This openness has increasingly made
possible the kinds of personal relationships among people with divergent
perspectives in which individuals have become known by name rather than
by labels and false assumptions about them harder to sustain.”
3) Reading: Dan O. Via, Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views (Augsburg Fortress,
2003), p. 2.
“The interpretation of a text is always strongly governed by its context, and
this context is two-fold or bi-focal: (1) the literary and historical/cultural
context of the text; (2) the religious, intellectual, and cultural context
constituted by the interpreter’s pre-understanding, presuppositions, or social
location.”
PAGE C-14

4) Reading: Robert A.J. Gagnon, Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views (Augsburg
Fortress, 2003), pp. 41-42.
“When I come to Scripture, I use historical-critical methodology, see
development and significant tensions in the canon, take account of metaphors
and tradition history, and recognize the necessity of interpreting texts
anew. However, in keeping with the historic stance of the church, I also
believe that Scripture is the primary authority for faith and practice.”

Questions:
1. How do Via and Gagnon differ in their approach to reading Scripture?

2. How important for you is the historical/cultural context of the text?

3. How important is the balance scripture/tradition/reason for you?

Selected Bible passages for discussion:
Genesis 19:1-14: Sodom and Gomorrah

Leviticus 18:22: “You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination”.

Matthew 22:34-40: When Jesus is asked what law is the most important, he responds, “You
shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your
mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love
your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

Mark 10:2-9: in this passage, Jesus quotes Genesis about the union of male and female as
a sexual partnership as part of a discussion of divorce.

Luke 6:43-44: “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor again does a bad tree bear good fruit; for
each tree is known be its own fruit. Figs are not gathered from thorns, nor are grapes picked
from a bramble bush (NRSV).” Just as good fruit is known to come from a good tree, good
relational fruits would therefore come from a good relationship.

John 15:5: “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear
much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing (NRSV).” If the “fruit” we bear is
indicative of our foundation in Christ, then that shows that we abide in Christ.

Acts 8:26-40: The Ethiopian eunuch is in violation of Jewish law by being castrated (see
Leviticus 21:20, which excludes eunuchs from entering the Temple, and Deuteronomy 23:1,
PAGE C-15

which excludes eunuchs from being admitted to the assembly of the Lord). Nevertheless,
the eunuch is acceptable to God and, at the direction of the Holy Spirit, may be baptized.
Romans 1:26-27: Paul lists “degrading passions” in which women exchanged natural
intercourse for unnatural, and men were consumed with passion for one another.
1 Corinthians 6:7-11: Paul encourages unity among the Corinthians (while discouraging
lawsuits among the community) and lists individuals who will not inherit the kingdom of
God.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13: The nature of Christian love.
Galatians 3:28: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is
no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (NRSV).”
Galatians 5:22-26: Paul lists the fruits of the spirit.
Questions:
1. Of what significance are the historical context and cultural circumstances that surround
the above Scripture passages?
2. How can we apply these passages to our ongoing discussion regarding same-sex
blessings?
3. How do we remain faithful to Scripture and also be responsive to cultural shifts and
pastoral needs? How does Scripture shape and inform these decisions?
4. Bishop Waldo’s pastoral letter states that Scripture is our primary authority, but he also
notes that Scripture can only be fully understood in the light of tradition and reason.
What role do tradition and reason play in interpreting or applying these passages of
Scripture to our conversation?
PAGE C-16
Handout – Scripture: What does the Bible say, and what does that mean for us today?
(This material may be used for one or for two sessions)
Background:
Holy Scripture is the inspired “Word of God and [contains] all things necessary for
salvation” (BCP, p. 538). (See also the catechism in the BCP, pp. 853-854.)
We all read the same texts, but how faithful Christians read and interpret them may differ.
In his book Those Episkopols, Episcopal priest Dennis Maynard offers several ways that
Episcopalians read the Bible. He says:
Episcopalians don’t surface-read the scriptures. We don’t begin with an
opinion or with a particular point of view and then try to find a scripture text
to substantiate it…. [W]e believe in divine inspiration. We do not believe in
divine dictation. … Before we can understand what the Bible means we have
to first understand who wrote it, to whom it was written, the culture of the
people, and the situation to which the writer was addressing himself (p. 52,
54).
Selected Scripture passages for discussion:
Genesis 19:1-14
Leviticus 18:22
Matt 22:34-40
Mark 10:2-9
Luke 6:43-45
John 15:5
Acts 8:26-40
Romans 1:26-27
1 Corinthians 13:1-13
Galatians 3:28
Galatians 5:22-26
Questions:
1. Of what significance are the historical context and cultural circumstances that surround
the above Scripture passages?
2. How can we apply these passages to our ongoing discussion regarding same-sex
blessings?
3. How do we remain faithful to Scripture and also be responsive to cultural shifts and
pastoral needs? How does Scripture shape and inform these decisions?
4. Bishop Waldo’s pastoral letter states that Scripture is our primary authority, but he also
notes that Scripture can only be fully understood in the light of tradition and reason.
What role do tradition and reason play in interpreting or applying these passages of
Scripture to our conversation?
PAGE C-17
Ethics: Are same-sex blessings the right or wrong thing to do?
Does God bless same-sex relationships?
(This material may be used for one or for two sessions.)
Background:
As Bishop Waldo notes: “That the Church seeks in all things to find its way faithfully and in
accordance with God’s will matters. The historic tradition of the Church is and should be a
cautionary reminder of dangers along the way. Secular influences that are decidedly not
Christian are always striving to pull us off the path, whether we are “conservative” or
“liberal.” Voices raised in faith and out of the pain of experience, however, remind us that
God may be speaking a word to us that we have not yet heard, for whatever reason” (In
Dialogue with Sacred Tradition: A Pastoral and Theological Reflection on Same-Sex
Blessings, p. 24).
As Bishop Waldo noted in his Pastoral and Theological Reflection, the 1998 Lambeth
Conference of bishops reiterated the traditional doctrine of Christian marriage in its
Resolution 1.10: “In view of the teaching of Scripture, [this Conference] upholds faithfulness
in marriage between a man and a woman in lifelong union, and believes abstinence is right
for those who are not called to marriage.” While the resolution went on to advise against
the “blessing of same sex unions,” nevertheless it committed to “listen to the experience of
homosexual persons” and assured such persons that they were “loved by God” and “full
members of the Body of Christ.”
There are, Bishop Waldo suggests, a number of ethical questions that have been raised: “Are
same-sex blessings equivalent to marriage, such that the two should share the same rite?
Are they similar in form but fundamentally different, requiring distinct kinds of rites? Are
they mutually exclusive, with marriage between one man and one woman the only faithful
option?” (Background Note, In Dialogue with Sacred Tradition: A Pastoral and Theological
Reflection on Same-Sex Blessings, p. 5).
Narrowed down, the central question seems to be: Does God bless lifelong, committed
sexual relationships – characterized by fidelity, monogamy, affection, and holy love –
between two Christians of the same sex?
The following readings are designed to give us tools drawn from Holy Scripture, and from
theological reflection upon Scripture, to help us as the Church respond faithfully to these
pressing and difficult questions. (Note: While this document contains only summaries of the
PAGE C-18
readings, fuller excerpts from these texts can be found on the diocesan website in an
appendix.)
Reading and Summary:
“The Radical Hope in the Annunciation: Why Both Single and Married Christians Welcome
Children,” The Hauerwas Reader, ed. John Berkman and Michael Cartwright, (Duke
University Press, 2001).
Summary:
In this essay, Stanley Hauerwas, a prominent theological ethicist at Duke who serves as
Canon Theologian at Christ Church Cathedral (Episcopal) in Nashville, reminds us that
Christians don’t “get to make up what sex is for.” Instead, we start with the church’s
historic practice of marriage, as it has been shaped by Holy Scripture. We do this, rather
than start from a “general account of human sexuality,” because we as the church are
called to live together as Christ’s disciples. The church is called to be a witness to the
world of what it looks like to live together as disciples of Jesus, full of fruits of the Spirit
such as love, hope, peace, patience, gentleness, forgiveness and faithfulness. That means
that when we think about sex, we have to think about where sex “fits” into the church’s
overall character and mission.
As the church, we live as a people of faith and hope. Even when it seems like suffering
and sin may have the upper hand, we have faith in the victory that Jesus won over sin
and death, and so we can live patiently in hope until the day when Jesus returns to
establish his Kingdom of love, peace and justice forever.
Marriage fits inside that larger vision. God will be faithful to his promises to save and
renew his church, even when we are unfaithful to him. As we learn to respond with our
own faithfulness to God’s deep and abiding faithfulness, we discover what it means to
love this God who so loves us. As we learn how to respond in love and faith to this
faithful and loving God, we also learn how to live with our spouses in love and
faithfulness. The church’s practice of marriage requires us to be faithful to our spouses
“till death do us part,” even though we can’t possibly know what we’re getting ourselves
into! But the promise of faithfulness gives us the time to discover what this love really
means. And by God’s grace, knowing that God in Christ is forever faithful to us, we are
able to live up to this promise. In this way, the love of our marriages reflect the love and
faithfulness of Jesus.
PAGE C-19
Children fit within this vision, too. We have been given a very great hope in Jesus, so
great that we believe the church is called to bear witness to it over many generations.
Even our own individual deaths cannot swallow up this hope; Jesus destroyed death on
Easter morning. We bear, raise and baptize children as a sign that even though we shall
die and someday our children shall die, too, the hope we are given in Jesus is stronger
than death itself. We raise children to pass on this hope and faith to those who will
come after us.
The practice of marriage, then, as “unitive and procreative,” is one facet of the church’s
larger witness in the power of the Spirit to the love and faithfulness of God in Christ.
When we think about sexual ethics, we have to start here.
Reading and Summary:
John Milbank, “Gay marriage and the future of human sexuality,” Australian Broadcasting
Corporation Religion and Ethics, 13 March 2012):
(http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/03/13/3452229.htm)
Summary:
The prominent Anglican theologian John Milbank argues that male–female
differentiation and procreation are an essential part of what Christian marriage means.
He appeals to our created nature. As the popular book from several years back had it,
Milbank thinks that men are from Mars and women are from Venus—they have
significantly different ways of viewing and acting in the world. He rejects the common,
older view that women thus should stay in their place, or are somehow lesser than
men—men and women are of equal value and worth, partners that need each other
precisely in their difference. And marriage, he thinks, is the ancient social institution
that grew up in large part to bring men and women in all of their differences together,
in a common project on equal footing.
A key element of that common project, for Milbank, is bringing up the next generation.
As an ethicist, Milbank is concerned that severing the natural link between sex and
childbirth will lead to deep and unwelcome cultural changes. Most of us have a sense
of, and deeply value, the family ties that go back generations—some part of me, for
instance, is carried forward from the old homeplaces and traditions of my ancestors. And
most of us can know that we were created in love by two persons and received as a gift,
PAGE C-20
rather than made in a lab to precise specifications for a price. Milbank thinks that these
basic, natural realities are at risk.
In the complete essay, he argues (unlike Radner) that the church ought to accept same-
sex blessings! But he holds it is important to view them for what they are, as something
valuable but distinct from marriage, so as not to efface the distinct value of traditional
marriage itself.
Reading and Summary:
Ephraim Radner, “Same-Sex Marriage is Still Wrong,” The Anglican Communion Institute,
17 July 2013): http://www.anglicancommunioninstitute.com/2013/07/same-sex-marriage-
is-still-wrong-and-its-getting-wronger-every-day/.
Summary:
This excerpt places marriage in the context of where Christ calls us to follow him as
disciples. The prominent Episcopal theologian Ephraim Radner sees “suffering
procreative love” as deeply joined to what it means for humankind to follow our Lord
in the way of the Cross. We are born to die, but marriage is a little red flag of love and
hope we wave in the face of death: through the pain of childbirth and the great sacrifice
of childrearing, we will pass along the deep goodness of life itself to the next generation.
We will do this out of a love so strong that it’s willing to suffer great pains and losses;
out of a sacrificial, agape love that’s faithful for the long haul, come what may. Out of
this love comes the next generation; only out of this love will the next generation flourish.
This Radner sees as deeply connected to walking in Christ’s footsteps as his disciples, as
it images the suffering love of God in Christ that created and redeemed the whole world.
Marriage, then, Radner understands as essentially bound up with this “suffering
procreative love,” with the project of men and women to bring forth and raise up the
next generation. That is the deep logic to why Christian tradition has historically viewed
procreation as essential to marriage; it “fits” with the whole story of how God in Christ
has created and redeemed the world. To make procreation an extra add-on rather than
a fundament of marriage would, then, change marriage’s meaning altogether. As a
Christian ethicist, Radner reflects upon Scripture: what does it mean to say that marriage
is a sacramental reality that somehow images “Christ and the church” (Eph. 5:32)? This
is his explanation of the Christian tradition’s answer to the question, and he does not
think revisionist views are capable of “fitting” nearly so well with the story of Scripture.
PAGE C-21
Reading and Summary:
Deirdre Good, Willis Jenkins, Cynthia Kittredge, and Eugene Rogers: “Marriage begins in
eros, and ends in caritas,” from “A Theology of Marriage Including Same-Sex Couples: A
View from the Liberals,” Anglican Theological Review, Winter 2011.
Summary:
For these four Episcopal theologians, the love that is essential to marriage has nothing to
do with male–female differentiation, nor does it necessarily involve the procreation of
children. Rather, marriage most basically is a “school for virtue” that teaches its pupils
to grow in love: from eros, the erotic, romantic sexual desire of one for another that’s
often the spark that first lights the marital flame; to caritas or agape, the love that loves
the other as one’s own self. In other words: the path to marriage might begin with seeing
a very attractive young woman across a crowded room, and end with tightly holding
that same woman’s hand 60 years later as she’s dying. From eros, to caritas—not leaving
eros behind, but eros growing into something deeper.
That, these theologians propose, is what marriage is all about at bottom. It shapes our
loves well, in the pathway of Christ. We might begin as amorous teenagers who “love”
every cute movie star and pop idol we set our eyes on. We are led by marriage to love
our spouse for his or her own sake, rather than for the sake of our own sexual pleasure
alone. Marriage is thus a school for our sanctification, for growing in holiness as our
loves grow more Christ-like. Gender differentiation just doesn’t come into play, and
procreation isn’t essential to the process. Same-sex couples do this just as well. They
need marriage to sanctify their loves, just as opposite-sex couples do, and the church
needs their own particular witness to Christ-like love.
Questions for discussion:
1. Why does Milbank think that same-sex marriage will change the basic meaning of
marriage? What does he think is risked in doing so?
2. How might it be argued that same-sex blessings won’t change the basic meaning of
marriage? Are there ways in which one might argue that marriage and community would
actually be strengthened?
3. Are there elements of “lifelong, committed sexual relationships characterized by fidelity
[and] monogamy… between two committed Christians of the same sex” that are aspects
PAGE C-22
of God’s creative purposes? If so, what should be the response of the Church to preserve
and encourage the growth of these elements?
4. Within your parish, what is at stake in your response to question 3?
5. What further questions have been raised for you by this discussion?
PAGE C-23
Handout – Ethics: Are same-sex blessings the right or wrong thing to do?
Does God bless same-sex relationships?
Does God bless lifelong, committed sexual relationships – characterized by fidelity,
monogamy, and love – between two committed Christians of the same sex? What is the
appropriate ethical response for us as Christians and as the Church?
In his Pastoral and Theological Reflection, Bishop Waldo observes that: “A recent General
Convention of TEC has proposed a blessing of two people of the same sex who:
- are committed to companionship, fidelity, and lifelong commitment
- hope to bear the fruits of the Holy Spirit…” (p. 24)
He continues: “That the Church seeks in all things to find its way faithfully and in
accordance with God’s will matters. The historic tradition of the Church is and should be a
cautionary reminder of dangers along the way. Secular influences that are decidedly not
Christian are always striving to pull us off the path, whether we are ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal.’
Voices raised in faith and out of the pain of experience, however, remind us that God may
be speaking a word to us that we have not yet heard, for whatever reason” (p. 24).
Ethical considerations include:
• the Church’s historic practice of marriage, as shaped by Scripture: unitive and
procreative
• the love of our marriages ideally reflect the love and faithfulness of Jesus; marriage
is a sacramental reality imaging Christ and the Church as his bride
• traditionally, marriage brings together the male-female differentiation
• traditionally, and historically, a primary purpose of marriage was procreation
• marriage may be seen as “suffering procreative love”
• marriage may also be seen as a “school for virtue…[and for] sanctification”,
regardless of the gender
Questions:
1. How might same-sex marriage change the meaning of traditional marriage? What is the
risk?
2. How might it be argued that same-sex blessings won’t change the meaning of marriage?
Are there ways in which one might argue that marriage and community would actually
be strengthened?
PAGE C-24
3. Are there elements of “lifelong, committed sexual relationships characterized by fidelity
[and] monogamy… between two committed Christians of the same sex” that are aspects
of God’s creative purposes? If so, what should be the response of the Church to preserve
and encourage the growth of these elements?
4. Within your parish, what is at stake in your response to question 3?
5. What further questions have been raised for you by this discussion?
PAGE C-25
Unity and Common Life in the Worldwide Anglican Communion:
How are we together and how are we apart?
Background:
The Anglican tradition has long held that while there are essentials in our shared Christian
faith, unity will not always mean uniformity. But what are the bounds of unity and common
life in the wider Anglican Communion and other traditions in the worldwide Christian faith?
How do we relate to them? What responsibility do we have?
Discussions about church unity within the Anglican Communion and in our relations with
other denominations accelerated more than ten years ago. The decisions of the 2003
General Convention of the Episcopal Church sparked intense debate. A majority of deputies
to this convention consented to the consecration of Eugene Robinson as bishop, who
was openly gay and partnered. The Convention also suggested that, where local
Episcopal leadership permits, such relationships might, given certain circumstances,
be liturgically blessed. This was even more controversial in the international context.
Effects could be seen on the level of the Anglican Communion worldwide and in our
national church structures. There was much polarizing. Such fracturing has also occurred
more locally, of course: within individual parishes and within our diocese, and even within
families. The sometimes heated conversations ensuing from those actions have strained the
common life of a number of parishes.
In the aftermath of General Convention 2003, and at the urging of Anglican primates
worldwide, the then-Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, the prime bishop through
whom Anglicans are united, appointed a panel of international theologians and church
leaders in October 2003 to help address such questions. The Lambeth Commission, as it
was called, was charged to comment on the “legal and theological implications flowing
from the decisions of the Episcopal ... and specifically on the canonical understandings of
communion, impaired and broken communion.” The Commission’s work was published in
2004 as the Windsor Report.
Further work on the topic came to fruit with the idea for an Anglican Communion Covenant,
a document designed to further commitment and common cause while addressing
polarizing actions. The Covenant was first broached in the Windsor Report (paragraphs 113-
120). Two international Anglican groups began work on it. The Joint Standing Committee
of the Primates (that is, senior bishops, sometimes called archbishops) and the Anglican
PAGE C-26
Consultative Council (a committee of lay, clerical and episcopal representatives from
around the world), commissioned a study paper.
The then-Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams called together a Covenant Design
Group to further the study and the drafting of a Covenant. Several revisions led to the form
finalized in late 2009. While the Episcopal Church in this country opted in 2012 to “decline
to take a position” on the Covenant, the work found in the document is helpful for
understanding issues of unity. (See excerpts below.)
Also at the 2012 General Convention, Resolution A049, which authorized provisional use
of the rite The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant, created further controversy.
The liturgy “is a service of blessing for same-sex couples who are in lifelong, faithful
monogamous, committed relationships,” as one church leader described it. Some
welcomed its passage as a way forward. Others saw it as a violation of the intent of Scripture
and tradition with potential for damage in our relations with other Anglican bodies
worldwide.
1) Reading: Excerpt from The Windsor Report, Section A: The Practical Consequences of a
Healthy Communion.
(http://www.anglicancommunion.org/windsor2004/section_a/p2.cfm)
“Life in the Anglican Communion, as a communion of churches, is indeed
nourished by the presence and work of the Holy Spirit, building up the body
in love. Throughout its history, the Anglican Communion has been sustained
by a common pattern of liturgical life rooted in the tradition of the Books of
Common Prayer; shaped by the continual reading, both corporate and private,
of the Holy Scriptures; rooted in its history through the See of Canterbury; and
connected through a web of relationships – of bishops, consultative bodies,
companion dioceses, projects of common mission, engagement with
ecumenical partners – that are the means and the signs of common life. This
continues to flourish in a myriad of ways at the local as well as national and
international level.”
PAGE C-27
Question for discussion:
How might conversation on the issues presented by the Windsor Report, particularly the
issue of the American Episcopal Church and its relationship to the wider Anglican
Communion, be discussed with both conviction and respect?
2) Reading: Excerpt from The Windsor Report, Section B, Autonomy.
(www.anglicancommunion.org/windsor2004/section_b/p9.cfm#sthash.QHhzxikO.dpuf)
“A [denominational] body is … 'autonomous' only in relation to others:
autonomy exists in a relation with a wider community or system of which the
autonomous entity forms part. The word 'autonomous' in this sense actually
implies not an isolated individualism, but the idea of being free to determine
one's own life within a wider obligation to others. The key idea is autonomy-
in-communion, that is, freedom held within interdependence. The autonomy
of each Anglican province therefore implies that the church lives in relation
to, and exercises its autonomy most fully in the context of, the global
Communion. This idea of autonomy-in-relation is clearly implicit in the laws
of some churches: for instance, South East Asia describes itself as ‘a fully
autonomous part of the Anglican Communion.’”
Question for discussion:
How should the Episcopal Church in the United States consider the views and experiences
of a wider faith community? How are we both independent and interdependent?
3) Reading: Excerpt from The Anglican Communion Covenant, Section 4 of the
Introduction to the Covenant has this to say about our role as Anglicans in the wider
church, and our common communion:
In the providence of God, which holds sway even over our divisions caused
by sin, various families of churches have grown up within the universal
Church in the course of history. Among these families is the Anglican
Communion, which provides a particular charism and identity among the
many followers and servants of Jesus. We recognise the wonder, beauty and
challenge of maintaining communion in this family of churches, and the need
for mutual commitment and discipline as a witness to God’s promise in a
world and time of instability, conflict, and fragmentation. Therefore, we
PAGE C-28
covenant together as churches of this Anglican Communion to be faithful to
God’s promises through the historic faith we confess, our common worship,
our participation in God’s mission, and the way we live together.
(http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/final/text.cfm#sthash.CsAUCUnc.dpuf)
Question for discussion:
This document is addressed to the church on the broad scale of the worldwide communion
of Anglican churches, but what responsibility does it suggest in our local churches when it
comes to living and serving together?
4) Reading: Excerpt from The Windsor Report: Section B: Adiaphora
(www.anglicancommunion.org/windsor2004/section_b/p10.cfm#sthash.43sMtyXT.dpuf)
“As the Church has explored the question of limits to diversity, it has
frequently made use of the notion of adiaphora: things which do not make a
difference, matters regarded as non-essential, issues about which one can
disagree without dividing the Church. This notion lies at the heart of many
current disputes. The classic biblical statements of the principle are in Romans
14.1-15.13 and 1 Corinthians 8-10. There, in different though related contexts,
Paul insists that such matters as food and drink (eating meat and drinking wine,
or abstaining from doing so; eating meat that had been offered to idols, or
refusing to do so), are matters of private conviction over which Christians who
take different positions ought not to judge one another. They must strive for
that united worship and witness which celebrate and display the fact that they
are worshipping the same God and are servants of the same Lord.”
Questions for discussion:
1) How might the category of Adiaphora help us determine the proper relations between a
national church body and other Anglican or ecumenical partners?
2) Two responses to this difficult (and to similarly controversial topics) might be:
Constantly agitating and talking about the issues, or just wishing to sweep it all under
the rug and move on. What might the perils be of either extreme? When we consider
what is essential to our faith, how does that impinge on our awareness of how others see
our actions?
PAGE C-29
3) How is your congregation doing in steering a middle course between the two tendencies
or temptations?
4) Consider the familiar church dictum: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in
all things, charity.” How might that apply to the issues we face in our parish, in the
diocese, in the denomination, and in the Anglican Communion? In what ways are the
issues brought to the fore now “essentials”? Nonessentials?
5) Reading: Excerpt from The Anglican Communion Covenant, Sections 2 and 3
(http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/final/text.cfm#sthash.CsAUCUnc.dpuf%29)
(2.1.4) the imperative of God’s mission into which the Communion is called,
a vocation and blessing in which each Church is joined with others in Christ
in the work of establishing God’s reign. As the Communion continues to
develop into a worldwide family of interdependent churches, we embrace
challenges and opportunities for mission at local, regional and international
levels. In this, we cherish our mission heritage as offering Anglicans distinctive
opportunities for mission collaboration.
(3.1.4) [Each church is to affirm:] the importance of instruments in the
Anglican Communion to assist in the discernment, articulation and exercise
of our shared faith and common life and mission. The life of communion
includes an ongoing engagement with the diverse expressions of apostolic
authority, from synods and episcopal councils to local witness, in a way
which continually interprets and articulates the common faith of the Church’s
members. … In addition to the many and varied links which sustain our life
together, we acknowledge four particular Instruments at the level of the
Anglican Communion which express this co-operative service in the life of
communion.
I. We accord the Archbishop of Canterbury, as the bishop of the See of
Canterbury with which Anglicans have historically been in
communion, a primacy of honour and respect among the college of
bishops in the Anglican Communion as first among equals. … As a
focus and means of unity, the Archbishop gathers and works with the
Lambeth Conference and Primates’ Meeting, and presides in the
Anglican Consultative Council.
PAGE C-30
II. The Lambeth Conference expresses episcopal collegiality worldwide,
and brings together the bishops for common worship, counsel,
consultation and encouragement in their ministry of guarding the faith
and unity of the Communion and equipping the saints for the work of
ministry (Eph 4.12) and mission.
III. The Anglican Consultative Council is comprised of lay, clerical and
episcopal representatives from our Churches[17]. It facilitates the co-
operative work of the Churches of the Anglican Communion, co-
ordinates aspects of international Anglican ecumenical and mission
work, calls the Churches into mutual responsibility and
interdependence, and advises on developing provincial structures[18].
IV. The Primates’ Meeting is convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury
for mutual support, prayer and counsel. The authority that primates
bring to the meeting arises from their own positions as the senior
bishops of their Provinces, and the fact that they are in conversation
with their own Houses of Bishops and located within their own
synodical structures[19]. In the Primates’ Meeting, the Primates and
Moderators are called to work as representatives of their Provinces in
collaboration with one another in mission and in doctrinal, moral and
pastoral matters that have Communion-wide implications.
This section of the Covenant concludes: “It is the responsibility of each Instrument
to consult with, respond to, and support each other Instrument and the Churches of
the Communion[20]. Each Instrument may initiate and commend a process of
discernment and a direction for the Communion and its Churches.”
Questions for discussion:
1) How has the Episcopal Church in the United States taken seriously these “instruments
of unity?” To what extent should we as an autonomous denomination not be hindered
by such structures? To what extent should we submit to the potentially helpful input of
a larger group of church bodies?
2) How might these larger bodies guide the Episcopal Church? What obligation do we have
to them? Could that awareness keep the church from prophetic action? Or perhaps help
it avoid the eccentricities of contemporary faith?
(http://www.anglicancommunion.org/commission/covenant/final/text.cfm#sthash.CsAUCUnc.dpuf)
PAGE C-31
Handout – Unity and Common Life in the Worldwide Anglican Communion:
How we are together and how are we apart?
The Anglican tradition has long held that while there are essentials in our shared Christian
faith, unity will not always mean uniformity. At the Episcopal Church General Convention
of 2003, a majority of deputies consented to the consecration of Eugene Robinson as bishop,
who was openly gay and partnered. The Convention also suggested that, where local
Episcopal leadership permits, such relationships might, given certain circumstances, be
liturgically blessed. This was even more controversial in the international context.
The then-Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, appointed a panel of international
theologians and church leaders to help address the subsequent divisions across the Anglican
Communion. The Lambeth Commission, as it was called, was charged to comment on the
“legal and theological implications flowing from the decisions of the Episcopal ... and
specifically on the canonical understandings of communion, impaired and broken
communion.” The Commission’s work was published in 2004 as The Windsor Report.
Subsequently, Rowan Williams called together a Covenant Design Group to further the
study and a draft another document which was finalized in late 2009 and entitled the
Anglican Communion Covenant. While the Episcopal Church in this country opted in 2012
to “decline to take a position” on the Covenant, the work found in the document is helpful
for understanding issues of unity.
Questions for discussion:
1) What do you recall about the controversial actions of the denomination’s General
Conventions of 2003 and 2012? What do you understand to be the most important
issues brought to the fore by those actions?
2) How might the Episcopal Church in the United States respond to the views and
experiences of a wider faith community in the Anglican Communion? How are we both
interrelated and independent?
3) Consider the familiar church dictum: “In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all
things, charity.” How might that apply to the issues we face in our parish, in the diocese,
in the denomination, and in the Anglican Communion? In what ways are the issues
brought to the fore now essentials or nonessentials?
PAGE C-32
4) What are the bonds of unity and common life in the wider Anglican Communion and
other traditions in the worldwide Christian faith? What responsibility do we have?
5) What responsibility do our local churches have when it comes to living and serving
together?
PAGE C-33
PAGE C-34
Additional Reading
Episcopal Church/Anglican Communion documents
Claiming the Blessing (http://www.claimingtheblessing.org, 2003).
The Windsor Report (Lambeth Commission on Communion, 2004).
To Set Our Hope on Christ: a response to the invitation of Windsor Report para. 135
(New York: Office of Communication, the Episcopal Church Center, 2005).
Anglican Communion Covenant (Covenant Design Group, 2009).
I Will Bless You and You Will Be a Blessing: resources for the witnessing and blessing
of a lifelong covenant in same-sex relationship (Commission on Liturgy and Music,
The Episcopal Church, 2012). NB: this document includes the rite approved for trial
use in the Episcopal Church.
Unity in Mission: a paper on common mission and the challenge posed by division,
The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas (April 16,
2012).
Other writings and commentaries
Barclay, William, The Gospel of Matthew, 3
rd
ed. (Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press,
2001), “Marriage and Divorce,” pp. 227-254.
Gagnon, Robert, The Bible and Homosexual Practice: texts and hermeneutics (2002).
Gagnon, Robert and Dan O. Via, Homosexuality and the Bible: Two Views
(Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Fortress, 2003).
Haller, Tobias, Reasonable and Holy: Engaging Same-Sexuality (New York: Seabury
Books, 2009).
Wright, N.T., “Where People Get Scripture Wrong,” (Relevant Magazine, April 10,
2012).
PAGE C-35
Tracy, David and Robert McQueen Grant, Short History of the Interpretation of the
Bible (Fortress Press, 2005).
Johnson, Luke Timothy, Scripture and Discernment: Decision Making in the Church
(Abingdon, 1983), pp. 63, 64, 144-148.
“Let the Reader Understand,” (Diocese of New York, 2002),
http://www.dioceseny.org/pages/372-let-the-reader-understand.
PAGE C-36
PROCESS, APPLICATION & POLICIES
Offce of the Bishop
E
Episcopal Diocese of
Upper South Carolina
CONGREGATIONAL RESPONSE:
Description of Study and Dialogue
Following completion of congregational study, please offer your responses to Bishop Waldo
using the following form.
1. Frequency, length, and duration of the study sessions (Ex: Curriculum was studied weekly, two
hour sessions, 8 weeks)
2. List those who participated in the study, including their primary role in the congregation
(Ex: Joan Smith, Senior Warden)
3. Provide a brief summary of signifcant insights, points of confict, and moments of grace for
each area studied. (No more than 3/4ths of a page for each section.)
Scripture:
Tradition:
Ethics:
Unity and Common Life in the Worldwide Anglican Communion:
4. As a result of the study, what insights helped your congregation engage most constructively in
dialogue on this issue?
5. Identify 3-5 benefts the congregation received as a result of the study.
6. Identify 3-5 challenges that your congregation will continue to encounter related to the
blessing of same sex relationships.
7. What are the hopes and dreams of the congregation as they continue the dialogue?
We affrm this report is an accurate account of our experience of our engagement of the
Congregational Study of Same Sex Blessings. (Signature of Clergy and Vestry required.)
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DATE
PAGE P-1
PROCESS, APPLICATION
AND POLICIES
FOR CONGREGATIONS CHOOSING NOT TO BLESS SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS
1. Engagement with the curriculum, though not required, is encouraged so that both the
priest and members of the congregation are prepared to have dialogue with others about
the blessing.
2. If congregation does engage the curriculum and dialogue, decide how and when that will
take place (Evening meetings, Sunday morning forum, etc.).
a. Choose and train facilitator(s).
b. Appoint a clerk to take notes and listen for and record answers for the Congregational
Response: Description of Study and Dialogue, assuring that it is a comprehensive refection
of the dialogue that has occurred.
c. Appoint individuals to complete the Congregational Response: Description of Study and
Dialogue.
d. Submit response to the Bishop’s offce.
3. If the curriculum is not engaged, the Priest and vestry will need to decide how they will
respond pastorally to those in the congregation who want to engage the curriculum.
4. Determine how the Priest/Congregation will respond to the challenges and blessings that
present themselves due to not offering the rite.
a. How will the Priest respond pastorally to those seeking the blessing?
b. How will the Priest and Congregation respond pastorally to those in their congregation
who seek the blessing from a neighboring congregation who offers the blessing?
c. How will the Priest/Congregation respond to their neighbors and media if asked about the
rite? (Communication tips will be provided.)
PAGE P-2
FOR CONGREGATIONS SEEKING PERMISSION TO BLESS SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS
NOTE: The only rite authorized by the Bishop for use in this Diocese is the provisional rite
approved by Ieneral eonvention 2012 in yesolution n049.
1. If a Priest and Congregation want to bless same sex relationships:
a. Engage curriculum (mandatory)
i. Decide how you will engage the curriculum (Evening meetings, Sunday morning
forum, etc.)
ii. Choose and train facilitator(s)
iii. Appoint a clerk to take notes and listen for and record answers for the Congregational

Response: Description of Study and Dialogue, assuring that it is a comprehensive
refection of the dialogue that has occurred.
iv. Appoint individuals to complete the Congregational Response: Description of Study and
Dialogue.
v. Submit response to the Bishop’s offce.
b. Determine how the Priest will prepare those seeking the blessing. (See I Will Bless You
and You Will Be a Blessing for counseling resources.)
c. Determine how the Priest/Congregation will respond pastorally to the challenges and
opportunities that present themselves due to offering the rite.
i. How will the Priest/Congregation respond to those who disagree with the decision to
ii. How will the Priest/Congregation respond to their neighbors and media if asked about
d. Priest completes and submits the Clerical Application to Bless Same-Sex Relationships.
e. The Offce of the Bishop will contact the Priest with feedback after the application and
response are reviewed.
2. If a Congregation without a permanent priest wants to offer the blessing of same sex
relationships:
a. Contact the Bishop’s Offce for consultation.
PAGE P-2 PAGE P-3
the rite? (Communication tips will be provided.)
offer the rite?
i.
ii. Choose and train facilitator(s).
iii. Appoint a clerk to take notes and listen for and record answers for the Congregational

Response: Description of Study and Dialogue, assuring that it is a comprehensive
refection of the dialogue that has occurred.
iv. Appoint individuals to complete the Congregational Response: Description of Study and
Dialogue.
v. Submit response to the Bishop’s offce.
c.
Determine how the Congregation will respond pastorally to the challenges and
opportunities that present themselves due to offering the rite.
i. How will the Congregation respond to those who disagree with the decision to offer the
rite?
ii. How will the Congregation respond to their neighbors and media if asked about the rite?
(Communication tips will be provided.)
d. Senior Warden contacts the Canon of Discernment and Transition Ministries to
express the congregation’s desire to offer the blessing.
e.
The Office of the Bishop will contact the Senior Warden with feedback after the
response is reviewed.
PAGE P-4
Decide how you will engage the curriculum (evening meetings, Sunday morning
forum, etc.).
Engage curriculum b.
CLERICAL APPLICATION TO BLESS SAME-SEX RELATIONSHIPS
Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina
Name:
——————————————————————————————————————————
Congregation:
——————————————————————————————————————
Address:
——————————————————————————————————————————
City:
———————————————————————————————
Zip
——————————
Work phone:
————————————————
Cell phone:
————————————————
Fax:
————————————————
Email:
————————————————————————
Has your congregation engaged In Dialogue with Each Other: A Curriculum and submitted a
signed response on that study?_____________________________
Date of vestry meeting when you discussed your desire to apply for permission to bless same-sex
relationships:
—————/—————/—————
How do you plan to care pastorally for those in your congregation who disagree with your deci-
sion to bless same-sex relationships?
—————————————————————————————————————————————
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—————————————————————————————————————————————
—————————————————————————————————————————————
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PAGE P-4 PAGE P-5
PAGE P-6
I hereby understand that if I am given permission by the Right Reverend Andrew Waldo to bless
same-sex relationships that it is not intended to be blanket permission but rather permission to
engage in sacred discernment with each couple. I also agree that as I engage in this sacred dis-
cernment with a couple, I will do so with the same intentionality that I approach the sacred com-
mitments of heterosexual couples. I also agree to engage in conversation with any clergy person
who does not apply for this permission before blessing a same-sex relationship that involves a
couple from his/her congregation.
——————————————————————————
NAME OF CLERGY PERSON (PLEASE PRINT)
—————————————————————————— ————/—————/————
SIGNATURE OF CLERGY PERSON DATE
Upon receipt of this application, the Bishop will review your application along with your con-
gregation’s response. After careful review of these materials, the Bishop will contact you and the
leadership of the congregation.
Please submit this application to: Offce of the Bishop, EDUSC, 1115 Marion St., Columbia, SC
29201.
PAGE P-7
POLICIES
In order for General Convention to evaluate the use of the provisional rite for the blessing
of Same Sex Unions as approved in 2012, that rite, found in I Will Bless You, and You Will Be
a Blessing Resources for the Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant in a Same-Sex
Relationship, is the only liturgy approved for use in this Diocese.
Absent specifc canonical changes related to the provisional liturgy, the following are the poli-
cies that will govern the Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships after permission is granted to a
priest to perform them.
Before performing a Same-Sex Blessing, the Member of the Clergy shall have ascertained:
•That at least one of the parties has received Holy Baptism.
•The intention of the parties to enter into this covenant relationship shall have been
signifed to the Member of the Clergy at least thirty days before the service of
solemnization; Provided, that for weighty cause, this requirement may be dispensed
with if one of the parties is a member of the Congregation of the Member of the Clergy,
or can furnish satisfactory evidence of responsibility. In case the thirty days’ notice is
waived, the Member of the Clergy shall report such action in writing to the Bishop
immediately.
•That both parties have been instructed as to the nature, meaning, and purpose of
covenantal same-sex relationship by the Member of the Clergy, or that they have both
received such instruction from persons known by the Member of the Clergy to be
competent and responsible. Resources for counselling such couples can be found in
I Will Bless You, and You Will Be A Blessing.
•The Member of the Clergy shall have required that the parties sign the Declaration of
Intent as amended in I Will Bless You, and You Will Be a Blessing.
No Member of the Clergy of this Church shall perform the liturgy for the Blessing of Same-
Sex Relationships of any person who has been the husband or wife of any other person then
living, nor shall any member of this Church enter into a solemnized same-sex relationship
when either of the contracting parties has been the husband or the wife of any other person
then living, except as hereinafter provided:
(a) The Member of the Clergy shall be satisfed by appropriate evidence that the prior
marriage has been annulled or dissolved by a fnal judgment or decree of a civil court of
competent jurisdiction.
(b) The Member of the Clergy shall have instructed the parties that continuing concern must
be shown for the well-being of the former spouse, and of any children of the prior
marriage.
(c The Member of the Clergy shall consult with and obtain the consent of the Bishop of the
Diocese to offciate prior to, and shall report to that Bishop, the Blessing of a Same-Sex
Relationship has taken place.
When one or both people seeking the liturgy for the Blessing of Same-Sex Relationships be-
long to a congregation within this Diocese that has chosen not to perform this rite, the couple
may approach the priest at a congregation within this Diocese that has received permission
to perform this rite provided that they have:
(a) Informed the Rector/Vicar/Priest in Charge of the congregation to which they belong.
(b) Granted permission to the Rector/Vicar/Priest in Charge of the congregation to which
they belong to have conversations about them with the Rector/Vicar/Priest in Charge of
the congregation to which they intend to apply for the rite.
(c) Agreed to abide by the instructions, decisions and counsel of the priest who has
received permission to offciate.
E
PAGE P-8
THE EPISCOPAL DIOCESE OF UPPER SOUTH CAROLINA
1115 Marion Street | Columbia, SC 29206
803-771-7800 | www.edusc.org

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