|the Rt. Rev'd Scott Anson Benhase, Diocese of GA|
He writes, in part:
The Rite approved by General Convention in July of this year failed, in my judgment, to plainly distinguish between Holy Matrimony and a Blessing. The enabling resolution for the Rite that was passed, however, provided Diocesan Bishops with the ability to "adapt" the Rite for use in their respective dioceses. I had hoped the language would have authorized something more expansive than "adaption," but that did not happen. So, we must work within the structures of what the Church has decided. None of this is perfect. We all look "through a glass darkly," as St Paul reminds us. I am unconcerned by what is politically, socially, or culturally expedient, or what will be the majority opinion. I am concerned with doing what is right in the eyes of God.I am always alarmed when people - especially bishops - talk about "what is politically, socially, or culturally expedient, or what will be the majority opinion " vs "doing what is right in the eyes of God," - as if the church isn't in the culture and the culture isn't "in bed" with the church in terms of "traditional marriage".
I was, at least, glad that at least "something" would be offered to LGBT people in the Diocese of GA.
Until I read the "rite".
You can find it here in Appendix 1. The criteria can be found in Appendix 2.
Wow ! Talk about "holier than thou"!
Bishop Gene Robinson left a comment over at Episcopal Cafe that sums up some of my feelings:
If I were a committed gay couple and looked at this, my reaction would be: "Is that it? Is that all? A 2-minute sidebar diversion, buried in a eucharist?! The blessing of a new altar frontal takes longer!". And can you imagine what committed straight couples would say if this were all THEY were offered in blessing their relationships??!!When will the institutional church and some of its purple princes learn that you can dress prejudice up in fancy vestments, use theological language and blow holy smoke from a turible all around it but that won't change a thing? It still looks and smells like prejudice.
I suppose the Bishop of Georgia has the right to do what he has done, in "adapting" the authorized rite -- although even in Parliamentary Procedure, when a resolution is so profoundly altered that the original is no longer remotely present, it is not an "amended" resolution, but a "substitute!"
IMHO, Bishop Benhase offers a "substitute," and a deplorable, weak and unacceptable one at that!
Then again, I'm thinking at least some of the folks in GA are quite familiar with "separate but equal".
Separate water fountains and sitting in the back of the bus (but at least ON the bus) were eventually ruled for what they are: "prejudice". As I recall, the church assisted in the process of helping the government to see through the charade and to look at the injustice.
Isn't it interesting that now that the shoe is on the other foot in another issue, the church is the one saying, "Segregation yesterday. Segregation today. Segregation forevah."
LGBT people may have a seat on the liturgical bus in the Diocese of GA, but it's not even the back of the bus. We've been thrown under the bus. Because, apparently, this is, as Bishop Benhase says, "doing what is right in the eyes of God".
Look, I appreciate the difficult situation the bishop is in. He writes:
For some my decision will go too far. For others my decision will not go far enough. I understand. Nevertheless, as your Bishop I must lead us through this in the best way I can given the constraints present and the diversity of positions we respectively hold in the Diocese of Georgia.For me, it's not about not having gone "far enough". It's sprinkling stale, dry crumbs when Jesus promises us the Bread of Life.
Bishop Benhaus has the right to "adapt" the Church's provisional rite in his diocese, but if the old proverb "two wrongs don't make a right," - a wrongful action is not a morally appropriate way to correct or cancel a previous wrongful action - is right, then I need to say that this one Rite makes a huge, hurtful, demeaning, insulting Wrong.
I don't expect any of what I've said in this blog post - or anywhere else in the blogosphere - will change the bishop's mind, but I do hope it brings some comfort and hope to LGBT Episcopalians in the Diocese of GA.
Allow me to offer some words of truth and assurance: You're not crazy - or selfish or 'immature' or not a good Christian - for thinking this is insulting.
I don't have anything more than that assurance to offer you at this time, except the fervent prayer that you will continue to be a witness to the love of God as you see it reflected in each other's eyes.
And, that your bishop's heart will grow in love so that he may lead the people of the Diocese of GA more nearly into the Light of Christ, that, eventually - one of these days, soon, please - you all may do "what is right in the eyes of God".