July 10th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Episcopal Church approves same-sex blessing service

By Michael Pearson, CNN

(CNN) - Episcopal priests will be allowed to conduct services blessing same-sex relationships under a policy approved Tuesday at the church's national convention in Indianapolis.

The convention's House of Bishops approved the provisional policy 111-41 with three abstentions Monday, clearing it for consideration by the House of Deputies, which approved it Tuesday evening.

The policy was approved in the House of Deputies, following more than an hour of debate, by 78% of the voting lay members and by 76% of clergy.

With the vote, the Episcopal Church will become the largest U.S. denomination to officially sanction same-sex relationships. The Episcopal Church has about 1.95 million members in the United States, down 16% over the last decade, according to the church.

The service is not considered a marriage ceremony, media affairs representative Nancy Davidge said.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Episcopal • Gay marriage

soundoff (1,112 Responses)
  1. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    I am gay

    July 26, 2012 at 6:36 am |
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    July 19, 2012 at 7:44 am |
  3. John

    "I no longer recognize this denomination as a church of God. You appall me"

    Some argue that since homosexual behavior is "unnatural" it is contrary to the order of creation. Behind this pronouncement are stereotypical definitions of masculinity and femininity that reflect rigid gender categories of patriarchal society. There is nothing unnatural about any shared love, even between two of the same gender, if that experience calls both partners to a fuller state of being. Contemporary research is uncovering new facts that are producing a rising conviction that homosexuality, far from being a sickness, sin, perversion or unnatural act, is a healthy, natural and affirming form of human sexuality for some people. Findings indicate that homosexuality is a given fact in the nature of a significant portion of people, and that it is unchangeable.

    Our prejudice rejects people or things outside our understanding. But the God of creation speaks and declares, "I have looked out on everything I have made and `behold it (is) very good'." . The word (Genesis 1:31) of God in Christ says that we are loved, valued, redeemed, and counted as precious no matter how we might be valued by a prejudiced world.

    There are few biblical references to homosexuality. The first, the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, is often quoted to prove that the Bible condemns homosexuality. But the real sin of Sodom was the unwillingness of the city's men to observe the laws of hospitality. The intention was to insult the stranger by forcing him to take the female role in the sex act. The biblical narrative approves Lot's offer of his virgin daughters to satisfy the sexual demands of the mob. How many would say, "This is the word of the Lord"? When the Bible is quoted literally, it might be well for the one quoting to read the text in its entirety.

    Leviticus, in the Hebrew Scriptures, condemns homosexual behaviour, at least for males. Yet, "abomination", the word Leviticus uses to describe homosexuality, is the same word used to describe a menstruating woman. Paul is the most quoted source in the battle to condemn homosexuality ( 1 Corinthians 6: 9-11 and Romans 1: 26-27). But homosexual activity was regarded by Paul as a punishment visited upon idolaters by God because of their unfaithfulness. Homosexuality was not the sin but the punishment.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-11, Paul gave a list of those who would not inherit the Kingdom of God. That list included the immoral, idolaters, adulterers, sexual perverts, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, revilers, and robbers. Sexual perverts is a translation of two words; it is possible that the juxtaposition of malakos, the soft, effeminate word, with arsenokoitus, or male prostitute, was meant to refer to the passive and active males in a homosexual liaison.

    Thus, it appears that Paul would not approve of homosexual behavior. But was Paul's opinion about homosexuality accurate, or was it limited by the lack of scientific knowledge in his day and infected by prejudice born of ignorance? An examination of some of Paul's other assumptions and conclusions will help answer this question. Who today would share Paul's anti-Semitic attitude, his belief that the authority of the state was not to be challenged, or that all women ought to be veiled? In these attitudes Paul's thinking has been challenged and transcended even by the church! Is Paul's commentary on homosexuality more absolute than some of his other antiquated, culturally conditioned ideas?

    Three other references in the New Testament (in Timothy, Jude and 2 Peter) appear to be limited to condemnation of male sex slaves in the first instance, and to showing examples (Sodom and Gomorrah) of God's destruction of unbelievers and heretics (in Jude and 2 Peter respectively).

    That is all that Scripture has to say about homosexuality. Even if one is a biblical literalist, these references do not build an ironclad case for condemnation. If one is not a biblical literalist there is no case at all, nothing but prejudice born of ignorance, that attacks people whose only crime is to be born with an unchangeable sexual predisposition toward those of their own sex.

    July 18, 2012 at 10:32 am |
  4. Kevin

    I no longer recognize this denomination as a church of God. You appall me

    July 17, 2012 at 7:19 pm |
    • hawaiiguest

      I don't think anyone cares what church you consider a church of god.

      July 17, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
    • sam stone

      Gee, Kev, I am sure they are devasted.

      July 17, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
    • PRISM 1234

      @ Kevin
      God doesn't' either! He has written across them the word "Ichabod", and removed His Holy Spirit from them. They are dead without God's life in them! Any of His people left among them will not be able to stand to remain there!

      July 19, 2012 at 12:36 am |
  5. SoldierOfConscience

    Thanks, LinCA. Im going to use my time in better manner. and yeah, I will keep an open mind. Maybe all that dogma was not to be followed to the "T"

    July 17, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
  6. Melvin

    The Scriptures at no point deal with homosexuality as an authentic sexual orientation, a given condition of being. The remarkably few Scriptural references to "homosexuality" deal rather with homosexual acts, not with homosexual orientation. Those acts are labeled as wrong out of the context of the times in which the writers wrote and perceived those acts to be either nonmasculine, idolatrous, exploitative, or pagan. The kind of relationships between two consenting adults of the same sex demonstrably abounding among us – relationships that are responsible and mutual, affirming and fulfilling – are not dealt with in the Scriptures.

    July 17, 2012 at 11:17 am |
    • PRISM 1234

      @ Melvin
      Yeah, just keep on telling yourself! ..... There is a surprise coming to those who drag God down to their own level and in imaginations of their own minds make Him to be accoridng to their likings!
      God it the Lord! He is the One who sets the Standard, and tells US what they are, not the other way around!
      What you said its totally contrary to the witness of Spirit of God, the only one who interprets the meaning of the Scriptures. You have missed it by a long shot!

      July 19, 2012 at 12:30 am |
    • YeahRight

      "What you said its totally contrary to the witness of Spirit of God, the only one who interprets the meaning of the Scriptures. You have missed it by a long shot!"

      Yo moron sexual orientation wasn't even studied till the 19th century and only recently did the experts prove that what was written in the past about gays was done by bias and prejudice people, that includes the writers of the bible. Heterosexual behavior and homosexual behavior are normal aspects of human sexuality. Despite the persistence of stereotypes that portray lesbian, gay, and bisexual people as disturbed, several decades of research and clinical experience have led all mainstream medical and mental health organizations in this country to conclude that these orientations represent normal forms of human experience. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association, the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists, and the National Association of SocialWorkers, together representing more than 480,000 mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus is not something that needs to or can be “cured."

      July 24, 2012 at 10:36 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.