The homosexuality issue surged out of the closet and onto the floor of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church last month.

The debate was for and against the ordination of avowed, practicing homosexuals. Perhaps not since the United Presbyterians debated, and then rejected, ordination of practicing homosexuals in the summer of 1978 has a major Protestant denomination studied the issue so seriously.

In the end, the church’s two-chamber legislature rejected homosexual ordination. Its House of Bishops and House of Deputies (clergy and lay delegates) approved a resolution stating, in part, “it is not appropriate for this Church to ordain a practicing homosexual.” The resolution was in the form of a recommendation, not mandatory legislation; but many were pleased that now, at least, the church is on record against such ordination.

The resolution opposed the ordination of persons engaged in extramarital heterosexual relations as well, which was in keeping with an introductory explanation: “We re-affirm the traditional teaching of the Church on marriage, marital fidelity, and sexual chastity as the standard of Christian morality.”

The church did, however, hold open the possibility of ordaining persons of homosexual orientation “whose behavior the Church considers wholesome.” While gay rights Episcopalians were happy about that, they did oppose the resolution in its totality. They argued unsuccessfully to delete the final sentence, which rejected ordination of practicing homosexuals.

Many Episcopalians came to the September 9–20 triennial convention in Denver already astir over the homosexual issue. The Standing Commission on Human Affairs and Health—created by the 1976 triennial convention primarily for the purpose of studying ...

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