The Bishop of Albany in the US-based Episcopal Church has said that he will not allow same-sex marriage ceremonies to be conducted in his diocese’s churches, despite a resolution passed by the Church’s General Convention this year to make them available in all dioceses. The Church introduced “trial use” same-sex marriage rites at its General Convention in 2015, and said that the liturgy could only be used with the consent of the diocesan bishop. Some 93 bishops gave consent, while eight – including the Bishop of Albany William Love – did not. This year, the General Convention passed resolution B012 which said that while no clergy should be required to conduct same-sex marriages, they should be entitled to do so with or without their diocesan bishop’s consent.
“B012 turns upside down over 2,000 years of church teaching regarding the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, and is in direct contradiction of the Episcopal Church’s ‘official teaching’ on marriage,” Bishop William said in a letter to his diocese. He said that his objection to same-sex marriage was rooted in a faith-based opposition to homosexuality, and to premarital sex of any kind.
Allowing gay couples to marry does “a great disservice and injustice to our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ, by leading them to believe that God gives his blessing to the sharing of sexual intimacy within a same-sex relationship, when in fact He has reserved the gift of sexual intimacy for men and women within the confines of marriage between a man and woman”, he said.
“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. That is exactly what Satan wants. We don’t have to play his game,” Love said. “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.”
In response to Bishop William’s letter, the Church’s Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, issued a statement saying that he was “assessing the implications of the statement will make determinations about appropriate actions soon.”
The Presiding Bishop said: “I have read the recent statement from Bishop Bill Love of the Diocese of Albany and am aware of the deep hurt on all sides of the issues it addresses,” Curry said. “I have been, and will continue to be, in conversation with Bishop Love about this matter.”
He said: “As members of the Body of Christ (1 Cor 12), we also are committed to respecting the conscience of those who hold opinions that differ from the official policy of The Episcopal Church regarding the sacrament of marriage. It should be noted that the canons of The Episcopal Church give authority to all members of the clergy to decline to officiate a marriage for reasons of conscience, and Resolution B012 of the 79th General Convention does not change this fact.
“In all matters, those of us who have taken vows to obey the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church must act in ways that reflect and uphold the discernment and decisions of the General Convention of the Church.
“I ask the prayers of all in the Church at this time, as we move forward.”