Support the Café

Search our Site

More about marriage

More about marriage


Responding to recent writings within and without the Episcopal Church, the Rev Susan Russell, Senior Associate at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Pasadena, and member of the Task Force for the Study of Marriage in the Episcopal Church, writes that it is “time for TEC to catch up.”

Yesterday, Tony Campolo, founder and president of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, came out as a supporter of marriage equality.

 When we sing the old invitation hymn, “Just As I Am”, I want us to mean it, and I want my gay and lesbian brothers and sisters to know it is true for them too.

Rest assured that I have already heard – and in some cases made – every kind of biblical argument against gay marriage, including those of Dr. Ronald Sider, my esteemed friend and colleague at Eastern University. Obviously, people of good will can and do read the scriptures very differently when it comes to controversial issues, and I am painfully aware that there are ways I could be wrong about this one.

However, I am old enough to remember when we in the Church made strong biblical cases for keeping women out of teaching roles in the Church, and when divorced and remarried people often were excluded from fellowship altogether on the basis of scripture. Not long before that, some Christians even made biblical cases supporting slavery. Many of those people were sincere believers, but most of us now agree that they were wrong. I am afraid we are making the same kind of mistake again, which is why I am speaking out.

On her blog, ironcially (in this case) titled An Inch at a Time: Reflections on the Journey, Russell issues a call to the Episcopal Church to stop dawdling around the issue and catch up.

As we continue the journey toward the 78th General Convention — where marriage equality will arguably be one of the major items on the agenda — the “let’s slow down and wait a little longer” chorus is singing their song and turning up their volume. Here’s the version being offered by Craig Uffman from the Diocese of Rochester:

I begin with the premise that the task before us is to imagine a robust theology that makes our actions comprehensible to this broader audience, which also includes future generations of Episcopalians … My conclusion is that such a theology is possible, but we still need to flesh it out … My hope is that our next step will be to pause, let everyone catch up, answer those questions, and take the next step together.

So here’s my premise: We HAVE “done the theology” — what we haven’t done is overcome the objections of those who insist we haven’t done the theology because there isn’t enough theology in Christendom to convince those with sole possession of the Absolute Truth that it’s possible to come to different conclusions on these issues and still be part of the same Body of Christ.

She ends her message,

So — contrary to Craig Uffman — my conclusion is that it is time to “let our yes be yes” and to finally make full inclusion a reality and not just a resolution. And my hope is that in taking that step forward, others will indeed follow as we catch up with Tony Campolo and journey together into God’s future.

Read Campolo’s blog here, and Russell’s response here.

Picture credit: Posted by Rosalind Hughes



Café Comments?

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). Comments that use non-PG rated language, include personal attacks, that are not provable as fact or that we deem in any way to be counter to our mission of fostering respectful dialogue will not be posted.

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Matthew J. Wright

I guess I want to know from Uffman and others who feel similarly why the House of Bishops Theology Committee report on same sex marriage which is 95 pages is not sufficiently fleshed out or robust enough on which to move forward. Why isn’t it good enough (along with other documents). And with respect to Christopher Johnson above did the bishops and committee members not do the theology but start with prearranged conclusions as well?
Why doesn’t this effort qualify as having sufficiently fleshed out and having robustly done the theology.
For those who feel that the theology has not been done or is not fleshed out enough or not robust enough I sure wish they had the guts to point out the inadequacies of every one of the documents out there including the one linked above. Critique it! explain why it’s not robust enough or fleshed out enough. Otherwise it’s just assertions. Which makes me think the goal is not to persuade.

christopher seitz

You might find the answer to your questions in the fine essay noted above by Bishops Benhase and McConnell. Or the ATR essays by Bishop Bauerschmidt el al.

Matthew J Wright

Actually Christopher Seitz, I find that they are not responsive. Mostly the simply disagree with the theology of same sex marriage and lay that out clearly. But that is not the same as those who validate and support same sex sexual relationships but feel the theology is not robust enough or fleshed out enough to provide support for same sex marriage. My comment was primarily directed to those who do not believe homosexual relationships are sinful but think the theology is not adequately fleshed out. I don’t think I have found those like Uffman take issue with the other theological documents. Most of what I read simply disagrees with that theology which is not the same thing.

Melissa Holloway

‘Vilified as conservatives’ is a phrase that indicates an attempt at spin rather than an honest comment.


Bishops Benhase and McConnell have now published an essay which doubles down on points already made re good order, by ACI and others.

It is likely too late to make much difference, but they are usually not vilified as conservatives and their voice is important if all sides are to be heard still.

Susan Russell

Good people of deep faith can, do and will read the same Bible, pray the same prayers, sing the same hymns and come to different conclusions on a variety of issues. This is one of them. As a lifelong Episcopalian I trust that a church that was forged form the crucible of the Reformation with the ability to hold in tension being both protestant and catholic in the 16th can manage the tensions of the 21st. Let’s not confuse unity with unison. And let’s trust our historic Anglican comprehensiveness to serve us in our generation as it served our forbears in theirs.

Marshall Scott

Brother Christopher, Brother Mark: there is an important difference between “not having done the work” and “not having convinced” – in this case, the two of you. People in the Episcopal Church have been reading, writing, and discussing this since the mid-1970’s. There have been many not willing to participate at all, and many who, like you, haven’t found it compelling; but that isn’t the same thing.

Support the Café
Past Posts

The Episcopal Café seeks to be an independent voice, reporting and reflecting on the Episcopal Church and the Anglican tradition.  The Café is not a platform of advocacy, but it does aim to tell the story of the church from the perspective of Progressive Christianity.  Our collective sympathy, as the Café, lies with the project of widening the circle of inclusion within the church and empowering all the baptized for the role to which they have been called as followers of Christ.

The opinions expressed at the Café are those of individual contributors, and, unless otherwise noted, should not be interpreted as official statements of a parish, diocese or other organization. The art and articles that appear here remain the property of their creators.

All Content  © 2017 Episcopal Café