Posts Tagged ‘Gay issues’

A Limit to Diversity?

Monday, January 14th, 2019

The Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Michael Curry has recently restricted part of the ministry of the Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. William Love.

Bishop Love is the sole bishop in the Episcopal Church who will neither allow his priests to perform same-sex marriages nor permit another bishop to ordain such priests and allow such marriages.

Following last year’s General Convention resolution to make such weddings available throughout the Episcopal Church, including in dioceses such as the Diocese of Albany that had forbidden them, the Presiding Bishop’s inhibiting of Bishop Love is perhaps not surprising.

But it is a severe stricture on a godly and humane man (I know this from personal experience) who has the sole failing of believing what the universal church taught for two thousand years: that homosexual relations are sinful.

I myself disagree with Bishop Love and have encouraged gay rights from the beginning of my ministry. But surely the Episcopal Church can allow a little remaining dissent–one bishop in a tiny diocese. (If any same-sex couples in the Diocese of Albany want to get on a train to New York, I will be happy to marry them.)

We should avoid becoming as dogmatic as other Christian groups that we accuse of being authoritarian. —J. Douglas Ousley


Time for a Little Diversity

Monday, November 19th, 2018

The Bishop of Albany, the Rt. Rev. William Love has issued a pastoral letter that is receiving much comment in the church and secular press. In the letter, Bishop Love forbids same-sex marriage in his diocese, even though these rites are legal in New York State. Bishop Love seems to be the only Episcopal bishop in the entire United States to make this ruling.

I myself don’t agree with his reasoning from very traditional grounds–including invoking Satan, which doesn’t do much to promote dialogue.

However, Bishop Love’s position in itself was the position of the entire Christian community a century ago, and it remains the majority view of Christians worldwide. So while I am sorry gays and lesbians will need to travel outside the Diocese of Albany for religious marriage, I hope Bishop Love will not be drummed out of the Church. I know him personally to be a kind and generous man–more generous than his written statement suggests. Surely there is enough room in our Episcopal Church to include him. —J. Douglas Ousley


For Once

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

For once, the church was on the right side. For once, we Episcopalians were ahead of the times.

We have for decades been taking heat for our support of gay relationships. We have long been in favor of gun control. After the Orlando massacre, we can be glad that none of our social and political positions would have encouraged the shooter.

But, of course, this is very small comfort as we pray for so many victims and their families and friends. And blameless as we may be as a church, this was a dark night for religion. —J. Douglas Ousley


We Got Off Easy

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

This is the first of what I imagine will be several posts about the recent decision of the Anglican Primates to prohibit members of the Episcopal Church from participating in international Christian and Anglican meetings for the next three years.

I will consider the many responses in another post. Now, I want to offer a few immediate reactions of my own.

  1. We knew some kind of censure was coming. While gay ordination and marriage have won remarkably wide acceptance in the United States, most of the rest of the world holds traditional views about marriage. We had been warned repeatedly by outspoken bishops from the booming Anglican churches in Africa, in particular.
  2. Our punishment is relatively mild. International meetings have few consequences. We are still part of the Anglican Communion, thank God.
  3. As a practical matter, parish links such as those between the Diocese of New York and the Diocese of London will continue as before. In fact, they are more important now than ever.

In sum, we got off easy–but the battle for marriage and ordination equality is by no means over. —J. Douglas Ousley

(Your responses and opinions are welcome.)


History in the Making

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

I just attended my first official and legal same-sex wedding. Three things of note:

First, the order was virtually the same as for previous Prayer Book weddings. With a few edits, the Book of Common Prayer liturgy did just fine. No need for “special services;” marriage equality is not all that hard to put into words.

Second, several observers remarked on how “traditional” the service was, compared to many write-your-own-vows weddings. Traditionalists should be pleased.

Third and finally, the congregation was 80-90% heterosexual or children, and yet there was a universal sense of freedom and liberation and a step forward for everyone. —J. Douglas Ousley


Legal, Civil, Religious

Friday, July 20th, 2012

The Bishop of New York and the Bishop Co-Adjutor have just decreed that same sex weddings may be celebrated in church and, provided that the couples have obtained the proper New York State marriage licenses, these marriages will be legal in the eyes of both church and state.

I have written about this issue many times for many years and will not go on further now. Bishop Mark Sisk held back where other bishops allowed such ceremonies because he was hoping for some global Anglican compromise–or at least, an agreement to disagree. Meanwhile, anti-gay bishops, especially in Africa, seem to moving toward separation from the Archbishop of Canterbury, and they give no indication of any reasonable compromise that would allow them to stay. In other words, there is nothing to gain by diluting our own convictions.

One final comment: both bishops note that not all Episcopalians agree with same-sex marriage in church, and they recognize that this reflects a novel development of doctrine. Those of us who favor the change would do well to remember that fellow church members may still be struggling with the issue. Triumphalism in this area of church life, as in others, is not to commended. —J. Douglas Ousley


In Favor

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Both bishops of New York have quickly endorsed President Obama’s support for gay marriage.

While this statement is hardly a surprise and will likely not change anyone’s mind, it is one more step toward making gay and lesbian rights the social default position.

In that case, however, does this summer’s General Convention really need to spend vast amounts of time discussing the issue? In particular, do we really need special liturgies for same-sex unions when we have already have a perfectly good marriage liturgy? If gay marriage is marriage of the same import as straight marriage, the sacramental blessing should be identical. —J. Douglas Ousley


Behind the Times, Yet Again

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

When I was in England, news reached our group of New York clergy that gay marriage had become legal in our state. As there was no public opposition to this legislation in the Diocese of New York, I assume that our distant cheers were joined by many more state-side.

The Bishop of New York has since endorsed blessing of such marriages in church. While this is a somewhat daring move, dependent on a very favorable interpretation of Anglican Communion agreements and Episcopal Church canon law, blessings will still disappoint many. Blessings of unions have, after all, been performed in this diocese at least since 1970. It seems too bad that having been so far ahead of our society in affirming homosexual relationships, we now find ourselves falling behind a truly progressive spirit of our age. —J. Douglas Ousley