Bishop forbids same-sex marriage
Posted November 12, 2018 7:20 a.m. EST
Albany Episcopal Diocese Bishop Rev. William H. Love issued an edict Saturday banning the marriage of same-sex couples in the diocese's churches, writing in a statement that the church has been "hijacked by the 'Gay Rights Agenda,'" and that "Satan is having a heyday bringing division into the Church."
Love's eight-page statement that accompanied his new pastoral directive comes three weeks before a resolution goes into effect that will allow same-sex marriages to be performed in Episcopal churches nationwide. That day, Dec. 2, is also the first day of Advent, a time observed in many Christian churches in the weeks before Christmas.
Love in his statement recognized that relationships between those of the same sex have existed since before the time of Jesus Christ. But he cited portions of the Old and New Testaments to argue that God specifically designed marriage to be between a man and a woman, and said scripture directs that sexual relationships between same-sex couples are "sinful and forbidden."
He went on to write that while he believes those who support gay and lesbian members of the church are well-intentioned, "they have been deceived into believing a lie that has been planted in the Church by the 'great deceiver' _ Satan."
The bishop wrote that the Episcopal Church's resolution "brings God's judgement and condemnation against The Episcopal Church."
"Recent statistics show that The Episcopal Church is spiraling downward," Love wrote. "I can't help but believe that God has removed His blessing from this Church. Unless something changes, The Episcopal Church is going to die."
Some local Episcopalians strongly disagreed with the Bishop's letter.
While the letter was being read at St. Andrew's in Albany Sunday, some parishioners gathered on the church steps to ceremonially burn the letter, according to pictures and information provided about the event from a St. Andrew's parishioner.
Richard Fay, an artist who lives in Brunswick and was raised Catholic, said he was initially drawn to the Episcopal Church because it kept the tradition of Mass but had more modern social views. He said the Bishop's views don't fit his own.
"It's the 21st century. We have different views and different values than in Biblical times. Yes, scripture is important, but you have to interpret it based on what's going on," Fay said. "I think it's also a social issue. I think it's an issue of equality. I also think that the main core of Christianity should be love: love thy neighbor as thyself."
Fay, who doesn't regularly attend a parish now, said he's seen this issue splitting the church in recent years _ and it's making him rethink his involvement.
"It's not making me completely reject the Episcopal Church but making me second-guess going to an Episcopal Church in the Albany Diocese," he said.
The Rev. J. Nixon McMillan at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Albany declined to comment. Other local clergy could not be reached Sunday.
In July, the General Convention of The Episcopal Church issued Resolution B012, a directive that does not make same-sex marriage part of the official theology of the church, but allows clergy to conduct same-sex marriage even if a local bishop disapproves by inviting another bishop to oversee the service so congregants can marry in their parish home.
Love's pastoral directive Saturday says the trial rites authorized by Resolution B012 "shall not be used anywhere in the Diocese of Albany by diocesan clergy (canonically resident or licensed)."
"The fact that some in today's sexually confused society (to include 5 of the 9 U.S. Supreme Court Justices in 2015) may have broadened their understanding of marriage to be more inclusive, allowing for same-sex marriages, doesn't mean that God, 'the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth' (BCP 96) has changed His mind," Love wrote.
At the national meeting this past summer, Love voted against Resolution B012.
Episcopalian leadership had already passed the resolution on a trial basis in 2015. But out of 101 dioceses, only eight did not comply _ the dioceses of Albany, Dallas, Florida, central Florida, North Dakota, Tennessee, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Springfield, Ill. Since then, five bishops from the original eight dioceses ultimately accepted the compromise of the B012 resolution.
In September, more than 130 clergy members from the Albany Episcopal Diocese met in Greenwich to discuss their feelings about the resolution and what would happen next in the diocese.
"It is not out of mean-spiritedness, hatred, bigotry, judgmentalism, or homophobia that I say this _ but rather out of love _ love for God and His Word; love for The Episcopal Church and wider Anglican Communion; love for each of you my Brothers and Sisters in Christ, especially love for those who are struggling with same-sex attractions," Love wrote.
He also recognized that his stance has the potential to sow division. "There is no doubt The Episcopal Church and now the Diocese of Albany are in the midst of a huge storm that can rip us apart if we are not careful," Love wrote. "That is exactly what Satan wants. We don't have to play his game. If we focus on what divides us, we will be destroyed. If we focus on what unites us - our Lord Jesus Christ _ He will get us through to the other side. I pray the Lord will help us to see one another as He sees us; to love one another as He loves us; to forgive one another as He forgives us."