This July, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church willdecide whether to approve The Witnessing and Blessing of aLifelong Covenant, a rite for the blessing of homosexualrelationships. If the proposed rite is approved, the presider will ask eachperson, N., do you freely and unreservedly offer yourself toN.? and Will you live together in faithfulness and holiness oflife as long as you both shall live? After indicating their assent to the presider s questions, eachperson will say, In the name of God, I, N., give myself to you,N. I will support and care for you by the grace of God: enduringall things, bearing all things. I will hold and cherish you in thelove of Christ: in times of plenty, in times of want. |
I will honorand keep you with the Spirit s help: forsaking all others, as longas we both shall live. This is my solemn vow. Following an exchange of rings, the presider will say, Inasmuchas N. and N. have exchanged vows of love and fidelity in thepresence of God and the Church, I now pronounce that they are boundto one another in a holy covenant, as long as they both shalllive.
To help prepare the way for the rite, the Standing Commission onLiturgy and Music of the Episcopal Church has prepared a reportdismissing the traditional interpretation of biblical passages thatdescribe homosexual acts as sinful. In discussing Romans 1:26-27--in which St. Paul states that womenexchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewisegave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passionfor one another, men committing shameless acts with men andreceiving in their own persons the due penalty for theirerror --the commission s report comments: This chapter, especially verses 26-27, has been used to support theChurch s reluctance to embrace the loving faithfulness ofsame-gender couples and continues to influence conversation inChristian communities. In interpreting this Pauline passage, it isdifficult to know precisely what Paul meant by unnatural inthose verses and to whom he was addressing these concerns.
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