Sunday, December 07, 2008

L.A. Times on Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles

Episcopal Diocese of L.A. officially condones the blessing of gay unions Though many churches in Southern California have been doing so for years, Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno endorses the rite as policy, but it's not mandatory -- clergy may choose not to perform the practice.


By Jessica Garrison
December 8, 2008

The bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has announced that church leaders can bless the unions of same-sex couples as a matter of policy. The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, whose diocese encompasses Los Angeles County and five other Southern California counties, made the announcement Friday during a diocesan convention in Riverside.

Bruno acted just days after hundreds of conservative Episcopal congregations in North America formed a breakaway church amid a rift that began with the ordination of a gay bishop in New Hampshire five years ago.

Bruno's declaration is not expected to have a major effect on Episcopal churches in Southern California. Many have been blessing gay unions for years. But he has now made it official.

"The practice has not changed. The policy has. . . . It's sort of like 'coming out,' " said the Rev. Susan Russell, a lesbian priest at All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena. Russell also is president of Integrity USA, a group representing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in the Episcopal Church.

The rite endorsed by Bruno also allows the blessing of other relationships, such as those between two senior citizens who do not wish to legally marry because they might lose health insurance or Social Security benefits.

Church officials also noted that, unlike communion, the rite is not mandatory. Clergy may choose not to perform it.

Diocese representatives also passed a resolution at their convention calling on the Episcopal Church to let gays and lesbians become bishops.

The L.A. diocese is expected to elect two suffragan, or assisting, bishops in 2010, and some say it is possible a gay or lesbian bishop could be nominated from among qualified candidates around the world.

Actually, what I said was that it was a cause for celebration that the Diocese of Los Angeles had finally "Come Out" as a place where all the baptized are fully included in the Body of Christ -- and it was a lot like any "coming out" scenario: some members of the family say "Duh!" -- others say "Who knew?" and still others "We don't want to talk about it." The good news is, the few who might say "If they're coming to Thanksgiving dinner then we're not showing up" already aren't coming anyway ... so we're good to go!

(And, just for the record, no clergy person is EVER "mandated" to marry, bless or otherwise declare happily-ever-after ANYBODY. I appreciate the clarity of that fact in this L.A. Times piece, but hope everybody "gets" that this is nothing new -- or orientation specific! :)


plsdeacon said...


According to the Book of Common Prayer, we bless marriages for four reasons:
1. God ordained marriage in creation and Jesus affirmed this.
2. Jesus adorned marriage by his presence and first miracle at Cana of Galilee.
3. Paul speaks of marriage as signifying the union between Christ and the Church
4. Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people
(BCP p.423)

Can you show me where, in Holy Scripture, any of the above four are true for homosexual unions?

Phil Snyder


Nope, Phil.


But I can point you to the blog I forward everytime somebody asks me this same question:

Ironically, I just came back to my desk from presiding at our daily Noon Eucharist where the parallel was drawn between those out in the desert giving John the Baptist "what for" because what he was proclaiming didn't fit with their prayerbook either.

Methinks we're in very good company here in the Diocese of Los Angeles this Blessed Advent season!

(And now back to the business of organizing acolytes, planning Christmas pagaent practice and making sure we have enough LEMs for Christmas Eve ... AKA "My Day Job.")

john said...

Ah, "Deacon Phil" again.

Tell me, Deacon, what's your stand on divorce?

And "adorned marriage by his presence"? Give me a great, big break. He went to a party and provided the booze, that's all.

Good thing he did, too; nothing worse than a "dry" wedding reception.

JCF said...

What sort of ordination exam did you take before you were ordained to the diaconate, Phil, that such BLATANT PROOF-TEXTING was permitted to pass?

Sad, sad, sad (and not the least bit Anglican)

MY Biblical texts in favor same-sex marriage: start at Genesis 1:1, and go to Revelation 22:21. Now, add Tradition and Reason...

uffda51 said...

Humans decided which ancient writings would become “Holy Scripture” - and which ones would not. Humans also wrote The Book of Common Prayer.

The codification of progress always comes after the progress has been made. Conservatives always fight progress and cite the fact that the codification of progress has not yet happened to support their claim that such progress is forbidden.

Conservatives traditionally have fought progress in many areas which the Bible could not have anticipated. Fundamentalist preachers once opposed childhood vaccinations, claiming that if God has pre-ordained the death of a child from a preventable disease, humanity should not intervene. Fundamentalist preachers opposed the building of large telescopes, claiming that humanity should not look into God’s heaven. Fundamentalism itself is a 20th century invention. Vaccinations and telescopes, as well as DNA and zygotes, among many other things, are not mentioned in the Bible. While kings figure prominently in the Bible, the concept of a constitutional democratic republic is not mentioned. Does the very idea of the United States of America go against what God has ordained?

The Bible does contain, however, contain the “Great Commandment.”

Time spent searching for the ultimate “gotcha” text could perhaps be better used to meet with the LGBT faithful in one’s own community and listen to their witness.

plsdeacon said...

John - It seems that you have not read or attended a wedding service in TEC in quite some time. What I wrote - all four points - come directly from BCP p. 423.
As for my stand on divorce, divorce is a sin. It is always a sin. At times it may be the least sinful of the alternatives (e.g. when one spouse is unfaithful and refuses to change or one spouse is abusive and refuses to seek to change.).

JCF - I took and passed (with 3s, 4s, and 5s) the General Ordination Examination. Can you show me where I took any quote from scripture out of context? Can you show me where I quoted scripture at all in my post? I did quote the BCP, but what I did came right from the Marriage service and I quoted extensively. I did not "proof text" it. If I quoted out of context, please provide the correcting context. If quoting the BCP is not allowed for Anglican debate, then I question whether your understand Anglicanism or not.

"Proof texting" is a charge that someone levels when he or she cannot refute the textual evidence given by an opponent.

Susan - we are not a sola scriptura church. But to quote our Presiding Bishop, Scripture is our primary source of authority. I've read (and re-read) To Set our Hope on Christ and the basic argument I find there is donatism - in its reverse form. The logic I find in TSOHOC runs thus:

1. We see evidence of God's grace in the lives of men and women involved in homosexual unions. (stated)

2. God's grace is not communicated where there is active sin (unstated, but assumed).

3. Thus, homosexual sex cannot be sinful and is blessed by God (stated).

For a bit longer treatment of the subject, I would recommend either of these two posts:


Phil Snyder


Thanks for sharing, Phil.

That's the beauty of historic Anglican comprehensiveness ... you can hear our arguments and dismiss them -- as I hear yours and go and do likewise. And then we all meet around the table to receive the bread and wine made holy and go out to do our best at being the Body of Christ in the world in spite of our theological differences.

That's what your lot would like to call "time" on ... that willingess to live with difference.

As for me and my house, we LOVED "To Set Our Hope on Christ" and are -- in fact -- doing another small group study of the piece coming up in Epiphany Season.

(PS - How does your primary revelation argument work to absolve Peter of eating all that disgusting stuff he was clearly prohibited from eating and ate anyway once he discovered that nothing the Lord God had made was unclean?)

plsdeacon said...


I do not dismiss your argument. I simply find it lacking. Can you show me where I am in error in characterizing your argument? Can you show me a strawman? One form of argumentation I do not like is attacking strawmen. So if I do not understand your argument, then I want to know.

As for Peter, remember that the Church also approved his "new understanding" in Acts 15. His witness convinced the whole church (or at least a consensus emerged). As a communion, we've been discussing the new understanding you propose and everytime it has been raised at a communion level, the communion has said "no." Does this not bother you? Are you so dismissive of the weight of Christian witness against this "new thing" that it has no impact on your or your actions? Are you so sure that you are right and everyone else is wrong?

Phil Snyder


Phil, bless your heart, can you truly not see, smell, taste and feel the entitlement leaking out of your words that you "do not dismiss" my argument, only "find it lacking?" (I could argue that calling it "reverse donatism" might be considered dismissive but let's not go there.)

Number one, it's not "my" argument ... it's the one crafted by biblical scholars and theologians well above my humble parish priest pay grade.

My job is not to convince you that I am right. Your job is to convince me that centuries of Anglican comprehensiveness was wrong and you and your cronies have the power to write the rest of us off as apostate heretics for daring to read the scriptures we share and come to different conclusions.

The straight white boys don't get to call the shots anymore, Phil. That train left the station a good long while ago.

As for worrying that I'm "wrong" actually that doesn't keep me up much. Not at all, as a matter of fact. Worrying that I haven't done enough to seek and serve the Christ in the least of these I meet on a daily basis is what concerns me. Worrying that I haven't done enough kowtowing to power hungry prelates and their bastions of bigotry trying to keep the women and the gays "in their place" isn't even on the list!

MarkBrunson said...

Well, Phil, may I ask why you think your arguments have any more merit or are any more convincing, any less selfish?

Here's my advice: you are a deacon, so you hold a public teaching office in the church. If you truly believe this is a matter of that much import, then you and the others involved in opposing homosexual relationships should put aside your spouses - after all, if marriage is only about sex unless it's a man and woman, you should be willing to make such a sacrifice to lead gays to God. It's very little in comparison to Jesus or Paul. Just dissolve those relationships as a witness. Great will be your reward in Heaven!

If you are unwilling, then question how important it is to you, how important we are to you. Unless you can take such steps, and advocate them for Iker and all these other "orthodox," please stop pretending to be a brother in Christ.

IT said...

Until Phil and his ilk apply the same Biblical standards to divorce that they do to same sex marriage, their views towards faithfully committed gay couples is merely bigotry.

On a happier note, my wife the cradle Catholic (we not yet divorced by the state though the Phils of the world are doing their brutal best) felt welcomed by an Episcopal church, even as she is rejected by the RC.


john said...

"John - It seems that you have not read or attended a wedding service in TEC in quite some time."

Susan's and her spouse's just a couple of years ago, wasn't it, Susan?