Resolution A036 is another matter. It alters the canon governing marriage to make the language gender-neutral. My handful of allies and I felt this is where we needed to make our stand. We immediately moved a minority report that emerged from the Special Committee on Marriage as a substitute for the resolution. This report was simply a document affirming the traditional understanding of marriage, and was not an alternate canonical change. We had cleared it in advance with the parliamentarian, who deemed it in order. But one of the bishops fairly quickly challenged the Presiding Bishop’s ruling that the substitute was in order, and called for a vote on the matter, which is allowed in Roberts Rules. A majority of the bishops voted to overturn the Presiding Bishop’s ruling, so our substitute was taken out of play. The parliamentarian was, of course, correct, so this was simply the names exercise of raw power. The mood of this convention is “spike the ball.”
Debate proceeded, and there were a couple of amendments and amendments to amendments moved, but none carried. My allies and I did successfully request a roll-call vote, however, which tends to annoy people. Nonetheless, we felt it important for us to be on the record for the benefit of worldwide consumption, particularly among our Global South friends, who are always under pressure to cast us aside in favor of an exclusive relationship with the ACNA. There was some 150 or so bishops still around (down quite a bit from Saturday’s PB election). There were 26 No votes and five abstentions. We got our heads handed to us.
One could argue that there are some details still in play before it’s possible to conclusively say, “Done deal.” And the House of Deputies still has to act, though the conclusion there is more foregone than with the Bishops. Nonetheless, the Episcopal Church has, today, effectively redefined marriage–a universal and timeless human social institution that Christians have believed is, in fact, not merely a human social institution, but a gift from God that is literally prehistoric, participating in the order of creation. We have done so, moreover, without even a pretense of consultation with the other provinces of the Anglican Communion, to say nothing of the rest of the Christian world. It is an act of breathtaking hubris, an abuse of common sense truly worthy of the descriptor Orwellian.
Is it heresy?