Matters of Opinion: Dumbing Down Marriage

Episcopalians' tepid stand on homosexual unions raises more questions than it answers.

As fictional southern belle and underrated theologian Scarlett O'Hara once said, "I'll think about that tomorrow." And tomorrow—or, in the case of the Episcopal Church, the summer of 2003—ought to be interesting.

Meeting in Denver in early July, the bishops and dep uties of the 2.4 million-member Episcopal Church took their turn tossing about the mainline Protestant hot potato of the summer, homosexuality. Earlier this summer, the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) had taken clear votes in favor of the status quo, refusing to extend church blessings to homosexual unions.

The Episcopalian response was murkier. With a curious resolution that never mentions homosexuality, the bishops joined clergy and lay delegates July 13 in tepid acknowledgement that many church members are not married, but "living in other lifelong committed relationships."

Is that good or bad? Well, the resolution acknowledges "the church's teaching on the sanctity of marriage," but it also acknowledges that "some, acting in good conscience. … will act in contradiction to that position."

It offers "prayer ful support, encouragement and pastoral care" to both sides.

If the Episcopal Church decided to take a middle path on homosexuality in the 1990s, it now appears to be tiptoeing down the painted stripe in the middle of that middle path.

Not all the language was so delicately noncommittal. Along the way, the resolution "expects that such relationships will be characterized by fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful, honest communication"; it goes on to "denounce promiscuity, exploitation and abusiveness."

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Matters of Opinion: Dumbing Down Marriage
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September 4, 2000

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