June 28, 2015

Progress on Marriage

I served on the Task Force on the Study of Marriage that made two proposals to the General Convention; and I'm now serving on the Special Legislative Committee on Marriage to which these and all other resolutions concerning marriage were referred. The Legislative Committee has now reported out all of the resolutions but one (that we may eventually recommend be discharged if the others are adopted).

I'm happy to report that the resolution A037 to continue and expand the work of the Task Force (and its membership) has passed in the House of Bishops and will head to the Deputies shortly.

More importantly, in my opinion, we have amended and greatly improved resolutions A036 and A054. The first of these is the canonical amendment that will bring the canons into full conformity with the Book of Common Prayer while also allowing for marriage equality. This is no mean feat, but I am very happy with the work we did, which involved a good deal of listening and comprehension. Most importantly, the resolution provides language for a new Declaration of Intention that expresses the Church's teaching on marriage in a way that is both beautiful and inclusive. It is cast in the first person plural, and speaks of God's purposes for "our marriage" -- which I think brings it home.

The second resolution will, if adopted, authorize a number of liturgies for trial use under the terms of the Constitution Article X as alternatives to the BCP marriage liturgy. Among these is a version of the 1928 BCP liturgy suitable for same-sex couples. Again, a lot of work went into these liturgies, and the work is bearing fruit.

Both of these resolutions should arrive in the House of Bishops shortly. My prayer is that they pass as they are, without much tinkering in either house.

To those who might think we are moving too fast just to keep abreast of the times, I note that for the Church, the question isn't whether we are married to the spirit of the age, or widows to the spirit of some long-gone age. The question for us is, Are we faithful to our true spouse, Jesus Christ, who is the same for ever and ever? Being true to him may mean growing in unexpected ways to meet the new demands he places before us. God be praised for life and the opportunity to serve!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


June Butler said...

Amen to your prayer.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

"Our marriage". What a theologically sound and profoundly elegant solution. Third person plural. Who knew?

John said...

I doubt if the criticism is it is moving to fast. Why not just say, we are not doing anything significantly to change sacramental un-equality. We will see the second coming of Christ before there is sacramental equality for all members of the Episcopal Church. I wonder what you will say to Jesus then? Oh, wait a minute, there will have to be a new committee formed to pass a motion to respond to what Christ has to say.

John-Albert Dickert

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, June. Elizabeth, years back I saw a beautiful "covenant" between two Lesbian women, and I thought the most wonderful part of the liturgy was that it was they who turned to the congregation and asked, 'Will you support us in our life together.' Brilliant, adult, and mature!

John, I am not the one who thinks we are moving too fast. Because what these resolutions will do is offer full equality. It won't be in the BCP for a few years simply because that takes several years to accomplish due to the process by which the BCP is amended. But there will, if these are adopbed, be marriage equality starting Advent 2015... only a few months away! The new committee is being charged to study issues we were not able to find time to address, such as changing norms of people living together for years without marriage. That's a separate issue as far as I'm concerned.

Anonymous said...

Will the same people be on the committee dealing with new norms or does the membership of committees change after GC? And will "new norms" include polygamy now that the applications and lawyers are being lined up?

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Chris H., the membership of the Task Force will be expanded. There may be some continuation of members from the 2012-2015 membership, but I imagine it will be almost entirely a new body, as the issues being addressed are different.

You can read the resolution in full at the General Convention website, for the full charge of issues to be addressed. I do not think polygamy is among them, as that is not, so far as I know, a major trend or norm. The principle change in norms and trends appears to be the increase in cohabitation prior to or without marriage, an issue the former TF did not address except to flag it as in need of further study as to why it might be on the rise.