Not all those present were celebrating: Twenty-six bishops (vs. 129 in favor and 5 abstentions) went on record in the roll call vote as opposing the adoption of same-sex marriage. Among those was Bp. William Love of Albany, who stated, "As we contemplate changing the understanding of marriage we must remember our Lord’s words in Matthew (19:5), 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’.” Love continued,
If our Lord is the son of God … God incarnate, he is quite aware of the nature of marriage and could have offered alternatives but did not,” Bishop Love said. The argument has been based on all sorts of things. But it is not an issue that men and women can love each other... that is not the issue. God has told us that is not appropriate to use the gift of sexual intimacy outside of the marriage of one man and one woman.Bishop Love stated the church should ask partnered gay and lesbian couples, “Do you love your partner enough not to engage in sexual intimacy? The issue before us is not about relationships but sexual intimacy.”
Writing from General Convention following the decision, Bishop Dan Martins of Springfield blogged that:
Nonetheless, the Episcopal Church has, today, effectively redefined marriage--a universal and timeless human social institution that Christians have believed is, in fact, not merely a human social institution, but a gift from God that is literally prehistoric, participating in the order of creation. We have done so, moreover, without even a pretense of consultation with the other provinces of the Anglican Communion, to say nothing of the rest of the Christian world. It is an act of breathtaking hubris, an abuse of common sense truly worthy of the descriptor Orwellian.But then, Bp. Martins makes two distinctions that I am inclined to question. His first questionable distinction has to do with the definition of heresy:
Is it heresy? This is the question I will continue to ponder. I don't use that term loosely. It has a high bar. Mere false teaching (which this manifestly is) is not necessarily, or even often, heresy. Heresy must ultimately be traceable to the denial of one of the articles of the creeds. The creeds don't talk about marriage. The creeds do, however, talk about creation. They name God as the creator of heaven and earth. If marriage was indeed established by God in creation, we are denying the character of that creation when we trivialize the sheer given-ness of "make and female created He them." These are some preliminary thoughts, at least.His second questionable distinction follows:
One of my ecclesiological taproots is that one is obligated to remain in communion with a church that engages in false teaching as long as it continues to be a church. When such a church progresses from mere false teaching into formal heresy--not just de facto heresy, but heresy enshrined in its liturgies and canons--and then persists in that heresy over more than one generation--and I would suggest forty years as a benchmark for "more than one generation"--then it ceases to be a church, and a faithful Christian is obligated to not be in communion with it. We've certainly been winding the forty-year clock. Is it now ticking?Here is why I say the distinctions are questionable: The New Testament makes no such distinction between false teaching and heresy. When the Apostle Paul tells his disciple Timothy and the various churches to which he wrote not to tolerate false teachers, he did not make a distinction as to whether their false teaching concerned a matter that would someday be included in the Nicene Creed. In fact, the admonition was often to separate from false teachers who promoted immorality (1 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 10:8, 2 Corinthians 6:17, Ephesians 5:3). The same is true for other apostles (2 Peter 2:1-10, Jude 3-7).
Heresy has also been defined as any departure from the faith of the Catholic Church, which Vincent of Lerins identified as that which has been believed by the whole church throughout the world, from the beginning, and by all (universality, antiquity, and the consensus of the faithful). Who can disagree that the Episcopal Church has seriously departed from the received faith of the universal and ancient church--and on a matter of ultimate importance: God's stated will for humankind in the matter of sexual relations and God's ordained sacrament of Holy Matrimony?
And as to remaining in communion, the New Testament makes no such stipulation. The Apostle Paul does not say, if the body with which you are associated continues in false teaching for a generation, then you (or, more likely, your children) are obliged to separate from it. No, the admonition is that those who are serious about following the way of Christ are either to expel or to separate from false teachers immediately.
Further, as Attorney Allan Haley writes, the Episcopal Church has not only committed heresy but blasphemy: "It was God Himself who defined marriage as between a male and a female in Genesis 2:24, and thus to invoke the name of that same God in blessing (or celebrating) a pairing that is not one that he made provision for in Holy Scripture is a blasphemy on His name."
Commenting on the proposals for same-sex marriage prior to General Convention, Mr. Haley had already written,
What hope is there for the Episcopal Church if any of these Resolutions passes its General Convention? At that point, the Church will be on record as promoting and encouraging its ordained clergy to speak blasphemously of the relationship between Christ and his church every time they perform a same-sex marriage. And so at that point, the Church will most definitely no longer be a church, let alone a part of the "one true, catholic and apostolic church" instituted by our Lord. Instead, it will be at war with our Lord's church.Can anyone seriously disagree that the Episcopal Church, which has chosen the way of the world, the flesh, and the devil (1 John 2:15-16), has put itself in the position of being "at war with our Lord's Church?"
Bishop Martins has now issued "A Word on Holy Matrimony" in which he states the following policies for his diocese:
In giving these directives, Bishop Martins has taken the path of a faithful, catholic Christian. God bless him! How long he and his fellow dissenting bishops can remain on that path in the Episcopal Church remains to be seen.
- The new marriage liturgies will not be authorized in the Diocese of Springfield.
- No member of the clergy who is either canonically resident in the diocese or resident elsewhere while licensed in the diocese may preside or officiate at any service in which the recently-adopted rites are used, either in whole or in part. This restriction applies both within the bounds of the diocese and beyond them.
- No resident or licensed cleric may sign the civil marriage certificate for a union between persons of the same sex.
- No resident or licensed cleric may preside or officiate at the Blessing of a Civil Marriage for persons of the same sex.
- Failure to abide by these expectations will be understood as a breach of an ordained person’s canonical vow of obedience to the Bishop, and dealt with accordingly.
- No church building of the diocese, nor any other venue owned by or associated with a church of the diocese, may be used for such a ceremony.
- No such ceremony may be recorded either in the Service Register or the Marriage Register of any church in this diocese.