Same-gender marriage troubles Anglican priests

From Saanich News:

“At the general synod they will decide whether there is to be no progress or whether we’re to go ahead and have that discussion,” said Rev. Ken Gray of Church of the Advent in Colwood. “Some of us feel that failure to proceed with the blessing of same-sex unions at this time will perpetuate a historical injustice.”

The Anglican church’s crisis of conscience over same-sex marriage began in earnest in 2002, when the Diocese of New Westminster started performing same-sex marriage ceremonies. One of the clergy who pushed for that decision was the Very Rev. Peter Elliott, the openly gay Dean of Vancouver’s Christ Church Cathedral and senior member of the Anglican Church in Canada. More controversy followed in 2003 when gay priest Gene Robinson was ordained Bishop of New Hampshire.

The two actions, in defiance of church policy, sparked controversy among Anglicans world-wide, with North Americans and Europeans split on the issue and African and Southeast Asian nations deeply opposed to gay marriage as contrary to Biblical teaching.

Rev. Ron Corcoran of St. Matthias Church in Oak Bay said leaving the church may be his only option should the Anglican leaders order all priests to bless same-sex unions.

“Nobody can force me to marry anybody,” he said. “It comes down to being obedient to my bishops. When I can’t be obedient to my bishops, then it will be time to leave.”

However for Rev. David Opheim, assistant priest of Victoria’s Christ Church Cathedral, the church’s existing position lost relevance long ago.

“There’s no question what we’re doing is a violation of human rights,” Opheim said, expressing concern that the church will make it optional to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

“We’re still dealing with not going far enough. There is still the option of the diocese opting out.”

Read it all.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canadian General Synod 2007, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion)

16 comments on “Same-gender marriage troubles Anglican priests

  1. Henry Troup says:

    The statement is not factually correct; the Diocese of New Westminster offered same-sex blessings, not marriages, starting in 2002. It’s been very clear that same-sex marriage falls under the Marriage Canon and is presently not offered by any part of the Anglican Church of Canada.

  2. Ross Gill says:

    You are right, Henry, but should the local option resolution for the blessing of same sex relationships pass at General Synod we can expect that in three years time gay marriage will be on the table.

  3. Enda says:

    There is no turning back either by Canada or the United States. It’s been over since November 2003 for ECUSA. Now the disease will take the life out of this little faction of reform. The new day also began in November 2003. Every chance has been given.

  4. Henry Troup says:

    #2 – there’s no doubt of it. But the now “missing” ruling of the Chancellor of New Westminster on local option was quite explicit in making a distinction between blessing and marriage. Reading that ruling, when it was online, changed my opinion of what New West was doing, rather towards the reasserter side (or at least towards the middle.)

  5. Rolling Eyes says:

    What an odd headline. Same-Gender marriages don’t exist.

  6. rugbyplayingpriest says:

    I am always confused by the stupid claim that a blessing of a relationship is somehow different to a marriage. Surely the very definition of marriage is a relationship which receive’s ‘God’s blessing

    It is therefore ludicrous to say marriage is for one group, blessings for another.

    Either God does bless such unions or he does not?

  7. Ross Gill says:

    You are right, rugbyplayingpriest. Canada’s St Michael Report declared as much when it said same-sex blessings were closely analagous to marriage.

  8. john scholasticus says:


    No, you’re not right, rugbyplaying priest. The fact that ‘blessing’ is included in the marriage service does not mean that it in itself defines marriage. It is not illogical for relatively orthodox Christians to uphold ‘blessings’ of homosexual relationships while witholding recognition of such relationships as ‘marriage’.

    It happens to be the case that like many, many ‘liberals’, I have no objection to the notion of homosexual ‘marriage’. Nevertheless, the logical (and moral and theological) point spelled out above still holds. I daresay you will find this confusing.

  9. Paula Loughlin says:

    How do reappraisers in the Canadian Church plan to reconcile these two statements by two liberal clergy:
    “The first principle of moral theology is obedience to conscience, and I ask each one of you to embrace that principle, and with it the ethic of respect for the conscience of those who disagree with your own,” Hutchison said.
    “There’s no question what we’re doing is a violation of human rights,” Opheim said, expressing concern that the church will make it optional to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies.

    “We’re still dealing with not going far enough. There is still the option of the diocese opting out.” Openheim is assistand priest at Christ Church Cathedral.

    Care to wager which view will prevail?

  10. rugbyplayingpriest says:

    #8 So please explain to me John,

    Marriage is a sacrament. God’s blessing is given to the couple in recognition of the vows they make.

    If one ‘blesses’ a relationship, but stops short from calling it marriage… in what capacity is God’s blessing lessened? And if it is not lessened then why not call it marriage? (The lack of clear differentiation explains why civil unions were quickly dubbed ‘gay marriage’ by all and sundry in the uK- no one other than those grasping for straws can perceive any real difference whatsoever. If it moves liek a duck and sounds like a duck – it isn’t a dog)

    so is a blessing equally valid and powerful to marriage or not? And what difference would I find within a litrugy?

    I wonder if maybe it si not I who am easily confused (though some theology from the liberal camp is bewildering I admit) but you. Confused that is as to the nature of sacraments, marriage and the moral and theological confusion that arises when we seek to merge the language of the secular west with that of the holy church.

    I guess my final point is the most pertinent- by what authority is a blessing carried out- if it different to marriage?

  11. Deja Vu says:

    I wonder why john scholasticus was reading this thread and posted #8 given his stated exhaustion with the “unseemly and immoral obsession with homosexuality to the effective exclusion of things that might actually matter.” over on the John Sentanu thread.
    I mean, if he finds the discussion obsessional, unseemly and immoral, why is he hovering and posting on the threads?
    My theory is that he is a strong supporter of homosexuality and is trying to use shaming as a tactic to get reasserters to drop their opposition.

  12. deaconjohn25 says:

    It is sad (because of those rational, morally orthodox members ensnared in it by tradition, family, or habit) ) seeing a great church community self-destructing through its embrace of many of the pet immoralities of our secular culture.
    And as usual the quotes from promoters of the new (but very old) immoralities show their obsession with being “relevent,” not being left behind the times, or not being in step with progress or secular society.
    But there is nothing more irrelevant than a church which merely dances the dance of the cultural elite. There is no church more out of step with the Truths that transcend the ages than a church mired in the “truths” of today. And there is no progress in moral decay only a descent into eventual oblivion.

  13. john scholasticus says:

    I do strongly support monogamous homosexual relationships: I’m not remotely ashamed of it. To do so is not to ‘obsess’ about it.

    But in arguing (although this may surprise you) I try (as far as I can) to maximise ‘common ground’. There are plenty of people, some fairly conservative, who think it OK to bless homosexual relationships but do not think it OK to call them ‘marriages’. That is not my own position, but since I think it better than affording such relationships no church recognition I support it. This isn’t ‘confused’: it’s practical.

  14. john scholasticus says:

    I’m glad we’re friends (sort of …). I think you can ‘bless’ something as aspiring to something higher while not endorsing it as that higher thing. (This is an ‘ad hominem’ argument: it’s not my own preferred position which is 100% in favour of homosexual marriage.) I don’t regard my theology as incoherent. I constantly wrestle with it. Unlike you and most orthodox Christians, I think theology which doesn’t factor in evolution and all its amoralities isn’t worth a bean. Therein (for me) lies the challenge for Christianity or indeed any monotheistic religion. It inevitably follows that appeal to ‘the Word of God’ (which isn’t anyway univocal) is not (for me) a knock-down argument.

    I used to play rugby myself.

  15. rugbyplayingpriest says:

    Thanks for the reply John – and glad you have nejoyed the glorious game played by men with funny shaped balls!

    I think I see where we differ. You say, ‘I think you can bless something as aspiring to something higher whilst not…’

    I personally feel that not one of us can bless anything. We are but the vessels. It is God’s blessing we offer as priests. And because it is God’s blessing not mine I can only ofer it in places authenticated by scripture and in keeping with the faith as handed down since the time of the apostles.

    As it happens I could happily offer ‘my’ blessing on certain homosexual relationships as a person. (Though that sadly amounts to very little) But in defence of orthodoxy I can not in good consceince offer God’s blessing as a priest.

    I wonder if contained within this subtle disticntion lies a difference in theology of blessing that adds to the difficulties of the day.

  16. john scholasticus says:

    I agree there is a distinction and it may be an important one. But to keep it on the level of priests: when priests (bishops, whatever) ‘innovate’, are they being untrue to their received tradition (breaking their vows …), or do they to some extent have liberty of conscience/theology? You would say the former, I (generally) the latter. You would say the latter is disastrous, I would say that in many cases the received tradition is no longer tenable and that rather than wait for a new consensus (not that there ever really was an old one) individuals should implement action on their own (while respecting those who can’t follow them). I think really it all comes down to a judgement on why Christianity in the west is declining: you think it’s because it has compromised too much, I think it is because it hasn’t adapted enough. But in practice – to the degree to which the C of E – my main concern – is in trouble – I think it’s mostly because priests (of whatever hue) don’t show enough practical energy in trying to persuade people of the very considerable and very wide-ranging benefits of going to church.