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New York resolves

New York resolves

The Diocese of New York, meeting in convention, passed resolutions on marriage equality and on Occupy Wall Street.


On marriage equality clergy ask to be allowed to act as agents of the state in all marriages:

[ 7 ] RESOLVED, That, the 235th Convention of the Diocese of New York

urges the 77th General Convention to revise the current Canons of The

Episcopal Church with regard to marriage, to provide for the marriage of

same-gender couples in those jurisdictions that have or will have civil

marriage for same-gender couples; and be it further

[ 8 ] RESOLVED, That the Diocese of New York urge General Convention

diligently to continue the work called for in its Resolution C056, to

“collect and develop theological and liturgical resources” for the

blessing for same-gender couples;, and be it further

[ 9 ] RESOLVED, That the Diocese of New York, in light of its continued

support of faithful and committed same-gender couples, including the

support for civil marriage equality by the 232nd Convention of the

Diocese and our Diocesan Bishop and other leaders, encourages the Bishop

to interpret Resolution C056 of the 76th General Convention (“bishops,

particularly those in dioceses within civil jurisdictions where

same-gender marriage, civil unions, or domestic partnerships are legal,

may provide generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of

this Church”) to mean that clergy throughout the Diocese are permitted

(but not required) to sign marriage licenses and officiate at marriages

for couples legally eligible for marriage in the State of New York.

The Rev. Canon Susan Russell comments at An Inch at a Time:

The fact that the Episcopal Diocese of New York stepped up today on marriage equality is good news not just for gay and lesbian Episcopalians but for everyone tired of having bigotry masquerade as Christianity on issues of LGBT equality.

On Occupy Wall Street:

An Occupy Resolution adopted by the Episcopal Diocese of New York on January 14, 2011

RESOLVED: In response to the Bishop’s Address, the 235th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of New York joins in affirming:

[1] that the Occupy movement has shed light on the challenges we face as both citizens and followers of Jesus Christ;

[2] that unfettered capitalism has resulted in unacceptable inequities within the fabric of our society;

[3] that non-violent protests and direct actions of the Occupy movement, including actions of conscientious civil disobedience, have a time honored place in the formation and growth of a more civil society;

[4] that, in contrast, protests and direct actions that are mindfully designed to provoke confrontation and violence are to be discouraged in any social or political movement;

[5] that in all cases, we call upon law enforcement to respond to any protest and any direct action with restraint and respect for the safety and human dignity of protestors, and in respect of the rights of a free press to witness and record such events;

[6] that we affirm those members of each order of ministry in the Episcopal Church – laity, deacons, priests, and bishops – as well as some parishes – who have made decisions, based on their local circumstances, abilities, and resources, to open their hearts and doors in support of local Occupations;

[7] and that we encourage all members and institutions of the Diocese to prayerfully consider their own level of interest, engagement, or support of the Occupy movement; acknowledging that some will choose to engage, and some will not.

submitted by The Rev. Wm. Blake Rider, Rector

Christ Episcopal Church

Poughkeepsie, New York

Explanation

For over a year, since the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi in Tunisia in December of 2010, the world has watched the rise, in country after country, of social and political movements calling attention to inequities within the basic economic, civic, and in some cases political systems of each country. In the United States, this phenomenon has become known as the Occupy Movement – once centered upon Occupy Wall Street – but now widely spread across the country. Each county within the bounds of the Diocese of New York has experienced some manifestation of the Occupy Movement.

The Movement has been characterized by conversation and debate in its General Assemblies, in rallies, the Occupy camps, protests, and direct actions. Many individuals within the Diocese of New York – lay and ordained – and many parishes – have engaged the conversation regarding the economic inequities that have been highlighted by the Occupy Movement, and considered their response, if any.

The intent of this resolution is:

• to acknowledge the (presumed) broad consensus that inequities in our social, economic, and political life do exist

• to acknowledge that the rights of protest, peaceful assembly, and a free press are worthy of our unqualified support

• to acknowledge that civil disobedience likewise holds an honored place within our society – when accompanied by the conscientious decision to accept the civil consequences of one’s actions

• to call upon law enforcement to always plan, strategize, and perform their duties with an aim to bring no harm to participants in any protest or direction action, much less to those who are merely standing as witnesses or as members of the press

• to affirm those members of the Diocese and parishes who after prayerful reflection and due consideration have decided to stand with the Occupy Movement

• and to acknowledge that after the same prayerful reflection and due consideration, some members of the Diocese and parishes will hold the contrary position, and not be in support of the Occupy Movement.

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Murdoch Matthew

2 + 2 = 4.

What does “dog” equal? Depends on your language, and your experience of four-footed animals. Not to mention fireplace equipment and action verbs.

Words are sounds in the ear or marks on a page. All access to them is through interpretation. Language is inherently ambiguous. I’m sorry to have helped divert a discussion of marriage equality and Occupy implications into lengthy exchanges of opinion about texts and tradition. I should think twice another time.

Today’s Lead posting, Losing their church: How the young navigate, has a useful sidelight on the situation:

Many churches that dealt well with complexity didn’t require a sufficient amount of conviction or commitment of the young people that they work with. And then, conversely, those that had a strong degree of commitment and sort of emotional connection with the church didn’t deal well with the complexity. [slightly edited]

Story is story. What matters is living.

James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

Mr Murdoch,

I absolutely mean “respectively” since I know that my conservation with anyone here would be calm in person. I simply don’t get involved in heated arguments over theology; there’s no point. I try to treat people respectfully, even if they don’t necessarily deserve it. I’m in the military, so I have much practice!

As far as polygamy in the Bible goes, God never permitted it. In Deuteronomy 17:17, God says, “And he must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away; also silver and gold he must not acquire in great quantity for himself (NRSV).” The only Jews that had multiple wives were the monarchs, who did so in order to match their pagan counterparts. Hence, why God says, “[H]is heart will turn away.”

To me, sexuality of any kind is not an argument of preference but of life and death. My disagreement with homosexuality has nothing to do with politics or social conduct, but with something more important and coincidental. We need to lay aside our this-worldly arguments and focus on what happens next. Even as a married heterosexual, I suffer, too. I must refrain from looking at any other woman than my wife – definitely from cinematic sex scenes and pornography. I have to deny myself. I am not an advocate of something that I don’t do myself; I lead by example. Yet, I do so joyfully knowing that I am right with God.

God’s Word is absolute, i.e., not up to interpretation. Think of it like mathematics: no matter where you are in the world, 2 plus 2 cannot ever add up to anything other than 4. If God calls a man lying with another man an abomination, than that is what is. Note, Leviticus does not employ the word “homosexual”, it describes the act. So etymology is not the best argument here.

Mr Gilbert,

How can my interpretation of Scripture be subjective when over 90% of the world’s Christians understand that homosexual acts are incompatible with God’s Word? Also, the Episcopal tradition incorporates those of us who believe homosexuality is a sin as much as it does those of you who affirm it. As much as you would love to turn TEC into a haven for liberals, it is neither the stronghold for liberals or conservatives. There are still whole dioceses that reject the affirmation of non-celibate gay faith. About dignity: is it better to tell someone the truth to preserve their life or to pad them on the head (i.e., lie) and say it’s okay? Would you not put someone out if they were on fire? Or would you let them burn? My friend, I condemn no one; I simply must uphold what God says about the matter. Finally, Jesus does call his Word a sword that divides even family members. The truth does cause division, the separation of light and darkness. So, in some sense, it is a weapon. However, I don’t use it against people, but to show them the truth.

Respectfully,

James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

Gary Gilbert

Mr. Pirrung-Mikolajczyk,

Your prooftexting is subjective and disrespectful of scripture, the Episcopal tradition, and the dignity of the human person. Condemning people for falling in love with someone of the same sex is totally unacceptable. The Bible is not a weapon to be used against people.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Murdoch Matthew

Mr. Pirrung-Mikolajczyk:

I don’t think you’re being hypocritical in signing your comments “Respectfully,” but you make discussion impossible when you rule Biblical authority off the table. The Bible is a collection of writings by authors mostly unknown in situations lost to us. Their grappling with values can be valuable to us today, but their concepts of the physical world, and even of human nature, are no longer tenable. We know now about physics and biology. The “black-and-white words of the Bible” that you appeal to are in translation; your interpretation of them reflects schools of hermaneutics, not direct communication of the text.

You cite Leviticus — what other prohibitions and commandments in that text do you live by? And the original text seems garbled (as are many of the scriptural references to sexuality — sexual terms and slang change rapidly). You cite Corinthians on “homosexuality,” but that word, even that concept, was unknown at the time. And the reference of the word (previously translated as “effeminate”) are cloudy — it calls up a clear picture in modern use, but scholars cannot say what it meant to Paul. Your certainty is based on a modern reading of modern translations.

If you are right-handed, it might seem obvious to you that people favoring their left hands are odd-balls, just making trouble — as that poor kid in my second-grade class was continually told, “trying to be different,” “showing off.” However, Lefties are now known to be wired that way. Sexuality also appears to be part of how the brain is set, and there’s not just male and female but a continuum of development. Traditional teaching is silent on sexual orientation, and the traditional approach has been silence on the existence of people who don’t conform to the majority (which isn’t as homogeneous as supposed). The challenge to tradition has come from those whose own experience, like that of left-handers, informs them that the majority has it wrong.

You want to save the original teaching by recommending celibacy to those attracted to members of their own gender. Live quietly as individuals and don’t bother the 80 percent with the news that their tradition is incomplete, or off base. Sorry, I tried that, and even married a good woman, and I found that shame, guilt, and repression were lousy ways to live. Continually circumscribing your feelings means you live in tension and cannot love freely. Bad for you and for your family. If you’re called to celibacy, fine, but you can’t impose it on others, particularly on those outside your supportive circle.

I tell people who are invested in restrictive worldviews that the world is as it is, whatever we think of it. If your ideas are wrong or somehow out of sync with reality, the world doesn’t change if you change your mind — things go on as before, only understood differently. As you can see from entries on the Episcopal Café, many people are rethinking the tradition; not abandoning it, but seeking to preserve and apply its values in the present world of evidence and experience.

You close with a Gotcha question: “Should polygamy be legalized?” Well, it was legal in Bible times; it was in fact “traditional marriage.” I’m dubious about it now, because it seems to reduce women to servitude. Marriage equality means equal rights and opportunities for all. But what is practiced and what is legal are not always the same. No need to inquire about the relationships of people you don’t know. I’ve read of several triads, as distinguished from couples, and they don’t seem to last; it’s hard enough to balance the needs and autonomy of two people, much less three. But triads were a traditional way for gay people to live in the recent past — married couples, with relationships on the side. Pairing off as we do nowadays seems more satisfying and stable.

James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

Mr Gilbert,

My reading of Scripture cannot be subjective if the black-and-white words of the Bible say, “A man shall not lie with another man as if with a woman is an abomination” and that “homosexuals do not enter God’s kingdom.” Additionally, the full weight of Christian history and tradition stand behind this. If by the Anglican “Three-Legged Stool” that homosexuality is sinful, then it is not my reading that’s subjective but your own. Your reading does not come from the apostolic tradition.

God speaks for himself, in his Scriptures. Additionally, both Jesus and Paul discussed celibacy in positive terms. I don’t think it’s wise to question their judgment. Jesus even said, “There are those who make themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven.” Celibacy does NOT cause psychological harm at all; no psychologist would make such an argument about heterosexuals. Why do so for gays?

For everyone who wants to call me a bigot, what do you think about polygamy? Should it be legalized?

Respectfully,

James Pirrung-Mikolajczyk

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