· "Each individual’s journey through life is unique. Some will make this journey alone, others in loving relationships – maybe in marriage or other forms of commitment. We need to ponder our own choices and try to understand the choices of others. Love has many shapes and colors and is not finite. It can not be measured or defined in terms of sexual orientation." From the Statement of Affirmation and Reconciliation by the Quaker meeting in Aotearoa.
· "Marriage is a union between one man and one woman, designed of God to last so long as they both shall live." From the Westminster Confession of Faith – approved by the General Assembly 1647
While I support my government’s decision to allow same-sex marriages through the civil process, I am not comfortable with fully equating it with an Anglican Church marriage. Civil marriages were initiated by man through the state while church marriages were instituted by God and therefore are sacred, holy and central to the community of the Church.
Marriage was adopted by Christians from Jewish practice. Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding in Cana where he turned water into wine. He was blessing an existing practice, not initiating something new. This Cana marriage was truly sealed by God and was a sign of the love uniting Christ and his Church.
I have some misgivings about the motion which has been placed on the agenda for this year’s Diocese of Huron synod;
MOTION CONCERNING THE BLESSING
OF SAME GENDER MARRIAGES
The General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada has affirmed the integrity and sanctity of same-gender unions, and has resolved that the blessing of same-gender unions is not in conflict with the core doctrine of the Anglican Church of Canada. With that in mind, we the people of the Diocese of Huron believe that we are being called to move forward in a caring and loving way to include the faithful gay and lesbian couples of our Church by blessing their loving and committed marriages.
Respecting the positions of those within our Church who cannot agree with the blessing of same-gender unions, for theological reasons and as a matter of conscience,
Moved: The Rev’d Greg Little Seconded by: Maureen Campbell
Be it resolved:
That this Synod request the Bishop grant permission to clergy, whose conscience permits, to bless the duly solemnized and registered civil marriages between same-gender couples, where at least one party is baptized; and that the Bishop authorize an appropriate rite and make regulations for its use in supportive parishes.
Not all of "we the people of the Diocese of Huron" believe we are being called to bless same-sex unions. If we were truly being called by God then the issue would not be tearing our church apart. A call is uniting, never divisive. It’s more likely we are being called to come up with a statement of affirmation and reconciliation with the world-wide Anglican Communion.
In the early undivided church, there was no appropriate rite initiated either by God or by man for blessing same-sex unions. The Anglican sacramental rite of Holy Matrimony is not appropriate. Holy Matrimony confers on the heterosexual couple the grace they need for attaining holiness in their married life. It consecrates them for the mission of building the Church family, which includes the responsible acceptance and upbringing of their children. The rite provides grace for accomplishing that mission. Same-sex civil unions, lacking the ability to conceive children, do not have the same mission as a heterosexual marriage. The Canadian civil marriage gives the same-sex marriage all the civil rights and privileges of a heterosexual marriage, but it does not give a mission.
I am not opposed to blessing such civil contracts as a same-sex marriage; but keep them in context and bless all personal contracts and friendships. I am opposed to establishing an "appropriate rite" for blessing same-sex marriages in isolation from the full Canadian Anglican Community. No Synod or Bishop on its own should initiate a new rite, especially if not based either in scripture or in the early church, in isolation from the whole Church.
I feel the motion needs to be amended by removing "authorize an appropriate rite and make regulations for its use in supportive parishes." You don’t need such a rite or regulations to bless a contract or friendship if that is all you are doing – blessing a loving relationship. The blessing should be a simple blessing, part of a regular service welcoming the new couple into the parish, that bestows nothing new and simply blesses a loving couple and their civil union. Don’t make it a back door to full Holy Matrimony status. Replace "
that the Bishop authorize an appropriate rite and make regulations for its use in supportive parishes" with "that the Bishop authorize an appropriate prayer or blessing and allow for its use in supportive parishes."