Thursday, April 27, 2006

"Common Ground in Areas of Human Sexuality" - Draft #2

"Common Ground in Areas of Human Sexuality" - Draft #2

Resolved, That this 75th General Convention of the Episcopal Church, in response to the Windsor Report, affirms the traditional teaching of the Church that sexual activity is only appropriate within the marriage of a husband and wife; however, we acknowledge that for pastoral reasons, some local faith communities may be using liturgies celebrating and blessing same-sex relationships that are an exception to this teaching and not endorsed by the broader Episcopal Church, and be it further

Resolved, That we regret having failed to make it clear that we do not view these blessings as being supported in scripture, but see them as a pastoral response at a time when it is vital to encourage stability and fidelity in sexual relationships and we also regret having failed to define the following requirements for receiving these blessings, and be it further

Resolved, That these local departures from our traditional teaching can only be offered as pastoral support to members who believe they are gay or lesbian with no choice in their sexual orientation, who wish to join in life-long committed relationships and are willing to make commitments in order to protect one another from exploitation, and be it further

Resolved, While no rites for blessing same-sex relationships will be included in “official” liturgies of the Church, the rites used locally for these blessings must include the same commitments of fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, forsaking all others through sickness and in health as found in the marriage of a husband and wife, and be it further

Resolved, That same-sex couples seeking a blessing from any local faith community, must be required to join in civil unions if they are available and, in the event they are not, join in legal and financial commitments similar to those applied under civil law in marriage and obtain blood tests for communicable diseases with results shared between partners, and be it further

Resolved, That to take responsibility for the pastoral role of the local faith community and protect partners in the event of a separation or their heirs after death, copies of the legal and financial commitments between these partners must be retained in the local faith community where the relationship is blessed and records of all local blessings should be retained at the Church Center, and be it further

Resolved, That any person who is a partner in a same-sex relationship, and seeks to serve the Church through ordination or higher office, must satisfy the requirements listed above and, because that person serves at the choice of their local faith community, they shall not demand the recognition of other Church bodies where their participation is not welcomed by the majority, and be it further

Resolved, That other local faith communities, and individual members of this Church who cannot in good conscience support the blessing of same-sex relationships, are welcome to disassociate themselves from these pastoral decisions and continue having the option to offer non-coercive efforts to heal gay and lesbian persons who seek their pastoral care, and be it further

Resolved, That we agree any homosexual or heterosexual behavior that is not based on lifelong commitment between two people such as; promiscuity, prostitution, pornography, polygamy, experimentation with one’s sexual identity and sexual exploitation or abusiveness of any kind are condemned in scripture and are wrong, and be it further

Resolved, That the Church should teach that any sexual activity outside of marriage, civil unions or committed relationships blessed by the Church can harm a person's emotional, physical or spiritual well being and have serious life-changing consequences that include; being a victim of sexual exploitation, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted disease or confusion of one's sexual identity.

Explanation: The Episcopal Church includes both members who oppose and those who support blessing same-sex relationships. The General Convention has given consent to the local election of a Bishop who is in a committed same-sex relationship and has identified a local pastoral response to members in same-sex relationships as being within the common life of the Church. In the Windsor Report, the Anglican Communion has requested a theological explanation of these actions.

While in these specific situations homosexual behavior has received the blessing of General Convention, there has been no agreed upon theological explanation for these actions and pastoral guidelines for sexual behavior and commitment within these relationships has yet to be defined. In addition, the 2003 General Convention also gave consent to non-coercive healing programs for gay and lesbian persons who seek pastoral care in Resolution C004.

To preserve the unity of the Church, this resolution seeks to end the debate on homosexual behavior with responses to the beliefs of all members. It describes a theological position that upholds the authority of scripture and tradition, while including the previous actions of General Convention. It also provides the pastoral guidelines needed to advise and protect the vulnerable from exploitation or abuse in any relationship that includes sexual activity.


At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds alot like segregation to me...Separate is NOT equal. Revisit the US civil rights movement for examples. At GC 2003, ECUSA delegates chose to partipant knowing they may not agree with the outcome. Seems like there are sore losers in the minority. If you agree to the process - you gotta surrender to the results!

At 6:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Treating all this as a "justice" issue strikes many of us as just silly. Where's the justice in declaring one person's favorite mortal sin perfectly OK and leaving another's (mine is either pride or gluttony, I can't decide) untouched?

Best of luck with this, Ralph, even though I personally think it's a brilliant and well-intentioned attempt to hold together something that can't be held together.

OTOH, the Lord works in mysterious ways his wonders to perform, so anything can happen...

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Lindy said...

Why not just treat gay people the same as straight people? Even a dog can figure that out.


(Canine companion of Linda McMillan in Austin, Texas)

At 2:56 PM, Blogger Jon said...

I think the timing for a lot of the stuff in these resolutions may be a bit off. I could be misreading the situation, but I think both TEC and the Communion are still in the middle of the debate on what to think about gay and lesbian people and their relationships. Certainly Archbishop Williams was clear that the preliminary results for the listening process are likely to be part of Lambeth '08.

I suspect if TEC decides to end the debate now, in anyone's favor, we will find ourselves with a lot less unity in the future than we would have if we stick it out through all the confusion. An added benefit to sticking it out is the high probability of having a fairly deep theology of the sacrament of marriage, which would be a fairly new thing for the church.



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