I will bless you, and you will be a blessing

The liturgy for blessing same-sex relationships that was approved for provisional use at the discretion of diocesan bishops by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church is now online.

From the introductory material:

A sacramental framework for covenantal relationships offers a way to reflect on the grace of Christ and the fruit of the Spirit in the lives of faithful, committed couples. Several theological themes can assist couples as they consider their covenantal vows as a form of spiritual practice:

• Vocation: God calls people into various kinds of relationship, whether as single

people, in monastic communities, or as intimate couples. These vocational callings can

empower our witness to the gospel. The decision to enter into a covenantal union is a

vocation marked by these characteristics: “fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and

respect, careful, honest communication, and the holy love which enables those in such

relationships to see in each other the image of God.”

• Households: Covenantal relationships are often lived in households in which we

practice daily the giving of ourselves for the good of another. While households take

many different forms, they create a space of mutual trust and accountability. The joy,

intimacy, and shared vulnerability of households can thus help us learn the spiritual

disciplines of compassion, forgiveness, and reconciliation in lives of committed

monogamy and fidelity.

• Fruitfulness: The divine grace that sustains a covenantal relationship bears fruit

in countless ways, not only for the couple but for the wider community as well.

Covenanted couples manifest this grace in their shared gifts for ministry and in lives

of service, generosity, and hospitality.

• Mutual Blessing: A blessed relationship is set apart for a divine purpose: to bear

witness to the creating, redeeming, and sanctifying love of God in the world. As

the Spirit empowers the couple for this witness, the Church is likewise blessed and

strengthened for its mission and ministry.

In all of these ways and more, the blessing of a same-sex relationship invites the couple and the whole Church to renew our commitment to the Baptismal Covenant. That commitment is expressed by faith in the good news of Jesus Christ, in the hope for union with God that Christ promised, and with the love that knits us together as the Body of Christ. As the apostle Paul says, we live our life together as God’s people with faith, hope, and love. And the greatest of these is love (1 Corinthians 13:13).

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  1. Fr Laurence

    This is terrific !

    (I must apologise to you for the Church of England – though you, TEC, more than make up for it).

    Fr Laurence — please sign your name next time you comment. Thanks ~ed.

  2. Dennis

    Nice (for the year 1996) but let’s not pretend that this is an acceptable replacement for marriage. In those states where marriage equality has been passed I would expect that the form for Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage (1979 BCP page 423) would be used. Anything less is unacceptable. Please sit in the back of the bus and such. But this is at least a helpful resource for parishes in states that haven’t gotten around to marriage equality.

    It is commonly supposed that our state is to recognize marriage equality very soon. I would be offended if a parish priest offered this in place of the real marriage ceremony.

    (Please save the comments on “give it time” or “we have to respect canons and process.” Not worthy of any responses. Thanks.)

    Dennis Roberts


  3. billydinpvd

    If a blessing is so insulting, so unacceptable – then why has one of the most visible arguments in favor of the Church’s recognizing same-sex relationships been, “So a priest can bless a medal or a car or a dog, but not a same sex relationship? Are we of less value than these things?” Now that LGBTQ Episcopalians have gotten what we’ve asked for for years, it hardly makes sense to act as if GC has insulted us by enacting it.

    And yes, Dennis, we do have to respect the canons. If we don’t, we can’t possibly argue that people like Bishop Lawrence should respect them. If it’s right for progressives to claim that our conscience trumps the canons, then it’s right for conservatives to do the same, and we ought not to object when they invoke conscience as a rationalization for grand theft church.

    Bill Dilworth

  4. Gary Paul Gilbert

    Still disappointing because same-sex couples are treated differently from sex-discordant couples. This may be progress in certain states, but it is too little and too late for Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington, DC; Washington State. The denomination is still about twenty years behind secular society.

    In those states which do not allow civil unions, domestic partnerships, or marriage equality, the denomination could eventually state that it considers all same-sex couples it blesses married for purposes of religion.

    Another option would be to drop religious marriage and give all couples the same blessing. Marriage could be given over to city hall.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

  5. While one might well desire to use most of the marriage rite, surely the opening address with references to creation, Cana in Galilee, and procreation needs to be modified.

    Byron Stuhlman

  6. Gary Paul Gilbert

    That Jesus is supposed to have attended a wedding in Cana is a poor justification for the church being involved in marriage. References to procreation need not be changed given that sex-discordant couples don’t necessarily procreate. And procreation can be metaphorical as in contributing to one’s community.

    The marriage rite has many problems, but all couples should have access to it.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

  7. David C. Wacaster+

    What Dennis said.

  8. Jeffrey L. Shy, M.D.

    I am thankful and grateful that we have taken this next, very-important step in the full inclusion of LGBT persons. I am grateful for the non-LGBT persons who supported us in making this achievement. I am profoundly thankful for my LGBT brothers and sisters who worked so hard for this day. I rejoice with the couples who will use this rite to celebrate a real and unequivocal blessing for themselves and their communities.

    For those of us who might find this “too little,” I would respectfully remind them that this church was literally willing to tear itself apart to begin to end millennia of persecution for LGBT persons. As one who clearly remembers much earlier days when even to suggest that being an LGBT person of faith was so great a shock as to be nearly unbelievable. As one who remembers meeting together in basements and back rooms to celebrate the eucharist together around folding tables with household china and wineglasses, the thought that we might one day come to this point amazes me.

    It is, of course, not the “whole thing.” It does not mean that we do not continue to struggle move forward. It does not mean that we do not still experience pain at limited inclusion. We have seen, at long last, the turning of the tide. The promised land is finally in view over the distant hills. I will support the next step in our struggle, but let’s not forget to be grateful that we have come this far in this long and weary battle. Think of the generations of LGBT persons who did not live to see this day and would have given, indeed did give, so much for the ground on which we stand today. There will be time for leading a new charge, but can we not take a moment to thank the church that risked and continues to risk so much for us, when others would not have even considered doing so? Can we not spare a “Thank You” for all the non-LGBT persons who did what they did not for any self-benefit, but simply because they thought it right and did so out of love and compassion?

    For the Episcopal Church in the United States, I sincerely thank you for standing with us in our struggle and for daring to call us friends.

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