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More Discomfort around Resolution B012

More Discomfort around Resolution B012

The Albany Times-Union reports that the Bishop of Albany is taking time to think about how to respond to Resolution B012, which essentially places the responsibility for solemnizing marriages in the hands of parish clergy.

“[Bishop William] Love opposes same-sex marriage, and earlier this month voted against the resolution authorizing it at the Episcopal Church’s national meeting in Austin, Tex. In a letter to Albany diocese parish members last week, he said that the passage of the resolution, labeled B012, by the Episcopal House of Bishops and House of Deputies is “the most problematic and potentially damaging within the Diocese of Albany as well as the wider Anglican Communion.”

“‘While I know that there are some in the Diocese of Albany who applaud the passage of B012,’ he wrote, ‘the vast majority of the clergy and people of the Diocese, to include myself, are greatly troubled by it.’

“He said he must consult with his Standing Committee and advisors on the subject and has asked clergy to gather on Sept. 6 at the church’s Christ the King Center in Greenwich.

The full text of Bishop Love’s letter may be found here.


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Brian Brown

I don’t get it. If my partner and I want to get married and my church says no, we’ll just go find another church. What is the problem? The Lutherans will gladly marry us and our two disposable incomes. My priest is very upset about this but won’t delineate which side of the boat he is on. We can marry elsewhere then decide whether to come back or not. To be honest, most of my congregation doesn’t care and harbors no prejudice nor hate. Why must the clergy?

Prof Christopher Seitz

Now that the eunuchs have been given their due…

There is a clear divergence in the conservative dioceses over what B012 effects and how it is to be brought into the day-to-day of parish life. Dallas appears to want to restrict same-sex marriages to those parishes/rectors who meet with him and request alternative oversight, and that said Bishop also will oversee other sacramental and pastoral matters, effectively creating a separate collective of parishes. How parishes divided over the matter fit in is unclear, and the rector of St Michaels, e.g., has said his vestry will have to decide the matter. TN seems to go a different route. Springfield also.

Into this mix one assumes +Love will also have to find his way for Albany.

Prof Christopher Seitz

It is also worth noting that B012 is being handled differently in Dallas, TN, Springfield.

Philip B. Spivey

The author of this letter is uncomfortable about extending the rite of marriage to non-heterosexuals. He bases his discomfort on Scripture and Tradition. Tradition is the weakest leg of the stool; it can blindly reinforce human folly.

But Jesus did have something to say about people who possessed same-sex attraction. Jesus refers to these people as “eunuchs”; the Hebrew Testament refers to these same folks as”saris”. (Because there was no term of self-identification for non-heterosexual—same-sex— attraction at that time, prevailing terms had to suffice.)

This is what Jesus DID say when he speaks of three classes of eunuchs: “For there are eunuchs who have been so by birth; and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others and there are eunuchs who have made themselves for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.” Matthew 19:12

You can parse this anyway you wish. The Master of metaphor has spoken: Matrimony in God’s time.

Prof Christopher Seitz

In the rabbinic literature we know of the distinction between those who were made eunuchs by men, as against those without the natural ability to marry and procreate. Jesus then refers to those who by choice conform themselves to the unmarried state, though indeed physically not eunuchs, and able to marry and procreate if they had so wished.

Matrimony in God’s time? Not on the basis of this passage, but indeed the opposite.

Philip B. Spivey

Jesus explains why certain men don’t marry (referred to earlier). When we insist on taking Jesus literally, as opposed to metaphorically, we lose much of the inherent meaning; Jesus’ parables are an excellent example.

Jesus is doing two things here: First, He is honoring individuals who DON’T marry. Either because they they don’t have the equipment to procreate or because they prefer the company of men, who cannot procreate. If you cull the many meanings of “eunuch” in the bible, same-sex attraction is among them and in that context, these men are usually vilified.

If we insist on reading Jesus’ words literally, then you must struggle with His assertion that “some men were born that way…”. Congenital inability to reproduce is rare today and most likely was rare then. Here Jesus is talking about men who prefer the company of men as written in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139).

I only maintain that Jesus would attend any wedding in this community and make wine, to boot.

Prof Christopher Seitz

“because they prefer the company of men, who cannot procreate” — where did this non sequitor come from? Talk about misplaced literalisms (aren’t these hard to ignore in the end).

The meaning of this text is clear and has never been in much doubt. Those who literally have the ability to marry and procreate can decide to forego that for the sake of the kingdom of heaven.

Jesus isn’t un-ending Leviticus here in some strange sleight of hand. He is honoring those who are celibate by choice. The text says nothing about modern homosexuals much less, even further less, about them marrying!

Of course you can maintain anything you like. Just do so without turning texts upside down that are not relevant.

Philip B. Spivey

You take me too literally, professor: What I mean is that two men, no matter how much in love, cannot produce a child.

The text we refer to may never been much in doubt to you, but for me, these quite startling assertions by Jesus make very different sense in a larger, anthropological context: There was no need for Jesus to delineate three communities if he was just talking about being celibate. Jesus was talking solely about marriage. These men may not have been married, but do you really believe that all of them were celibate?

As we know in ancient times, men who found love with one another had no options for marriage, but that fact never dimmed their capacity for love and commitment; it just made life harder for them.

The reason I prefer to believe that Jesus held a long view is what he didn’t say about “eunuch who was born that way” and especially what he did have to say about other social outcasts of society (and the Church).

Marriage equality in God’s time..

Prof Christopher Seitz

“These men may not have been married, but do you really believe that all of them were celibate?”

You misstate what is being said, otherwise clearly.

Jesus is speaking of those who can marry and have children, but who choose to live for the kingdom of heaven.

He is not speaking about gay marriage in the 21st century.

And this is not my private view. Read any commentary ancient or modern.

Philip B. Spivey

Ah, professor. As I stated earlier, Tradition is the weakest leg. Rather, our divine right to revisit earlier interpretations of Scripture with Reason is the way to go for each and every generation.

Prof Christopher Seitz

If they make sense, and follow the actual words as written, and are not longed-for projections of our already known views…

Reminds me of the old joke about the man travelling through the countryside, where on every barn there was a traget and the bull’s-eye was worn out from excellent shooting.

When asked about the brilliant marksmanship, the local said, ‘it’s not hard, we shoot first and draw the target afterwards.’

Nice shooting!

Prof Christopher Seitz

“For there are eunuchs who have been so by birth; and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by others and there are eunuchs who have made themselves for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”

This has what to do with marriage?

James Newman

I wrote a rather substantive paper on this topic if you or anyone would like it. (

Philip B. Spivey

Yes, I would very much like to.

James Newman

Please email me, Mr. Spivey.


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