Most everyone who stays in touch with the news knows that the Episcopal Church USA is undergoing a seismic shift towards the full inclusion of gays and lesbians into the life and liturgy of the Church. As reported in the New York Times, at the Church’s tri-annual convention in Anaheim yesterday, the House of Bishops hammered out a broadly supported resolution which, among other things, “gives latitude to bishops who wish to go ahead and bless [same-sex] unions, particularly in states that have legalized such marriages.” Of course, as a gay man whose committed relationship has already received the blessing of the Church in 1993, I was delighted to see this move towards equal treatment. However, millions of people worldwide are as appalled and disgusted with this progressive move as I was thrilled and gratified. One line from the NYT article particularly caught my attention.
The Rev. Steve Wood, pastor of St. Andrews Church in Mount Pleasant, S.C., said: “The conservatives are treated more as zoological oddities. We’re patted on the head, nice-nice, and then we get steamrolled.”
I know just how you feel, Rev. Wood. I have felt that way for most of my life, arguing for recognition that my life as an openly gay person is not a wretched sinful choice or a corruption of natural process, but just one more human life, no better or worse than the next one. I can’t tell you how many times I have been patted on the head, nice-nice (and sometimes not so nice-nice), and then gotten steamrolled.
The conservatives who are making dire predictions about a schism in the Anglican Church haven’t gone far enough, though. Whether or not the predicted split (by none other than N. T. Wright, among others) occurs, this is the end of the world. Or more correctly, this is the end of one world, and the start of another. The Reign of Christ has come closer in ECUSA because of its courageous leadership.