As I noted in the blog I wrote yesterday, I actually think there's been some new ground broken by the portion written by Deirdre Good, Cynthia Kittredge, Eugene Rogers & Willis Jenkins that will serve us well as we move forward.
I can't say the same for the section written by the "other team" -- John Goldingay, Grant LeMarquand, George Sumner & Daniel Westberg. I described it yesterday in a note to a colleague group as "the same casserole they've brought the potluck for the last 20 years."
I have heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. That is, however, exactly what I will be doing for the next minutes – not providing any new insights or fresh thinking but, as straightforwardly as possible, saying the same old thing one more time.
And then, after giving an overview of the report they'd written, LeMarquand concluded his remarks with this curious summation:
My task is made difficult not only because it may seem to you to be naïve or tedious but because it is by its nature a negative argument. As an Anglophone Canadian from the predominantly French-speaking part of my country, I well aware that to vote Oui! feels much more exciting and more open to future possibilities than to vote Non! The no vote is a vote for the past, a vote against change. “No we can’t” is never as much fun as “yes we can.” So be it.
Only it's not "No we can't" is it? It's "No YOU can't" to same-sex couples -- as the position outlined by the self-described traditionalists continues to draw a line that keeps them outside-looking-in at the outward and visible sign the church withholds from the inward and spiritual grace of their marriages. Meanwhile, the theology team from the other side blows that line in the sand away. ALL the way away.
And that's the breaking news here, boys and girls.
Buried in all the been-there-done-thatness of this report and the bad taste we still have in our mouths over how the committee was convened and then secreted and then released to the bishops the week-before-Holy Week ... buried in all that is this (from the top of page 78)
"Because of our sense of the church’s mission, we argue for blessing same-sex marriages, not for blessing civil unions or same-sex partnerships. While some civic and legal strategies reserve the word "marriage" for relationships between male and female, and use another term such as "union" for relationships between two women or two men, the distinction does not make sense within the life of the church. There, marriage is a discipline, a means of grace, and a type of the relationship of Christ with the Church.
Our argument therefore eliminates the option of "half way houses" and compromises. We agree with the traditionalist paper and Archbishop Williams that public blessing of same-sex unions would function as Christian marrying, and we acknowledge with them that sentiment in the Communion stands against that.
We do not then argue for same-sex marriage lightly or in disregard of the Communion. We do so for the sake of the mission of our church within the Communion, as a way of giving our testimony to the work of the Spirit among us."
Because it seems to me that this is too important a significant shift in theological argument to get lost in the shuffle -- and that we need to step up and not just embrace it but expand it ... and not just for our work in the Episcopal Church but here in the marriage equality movement here in California and elsewhere.