Last night the Episcopal Church in America approved a 3-year trial run of a service it calls “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant.” The service is not considered a marriage ceremony, media affairs representative Nancy Davidge said.
“We have authorized a blessing, and a blessing is different than a marriage,” she said. “A blessing is a theological response to a committed, monogamous relationship.”
But I’m guessing some of the members of my brother-in-law’s church back in Waco, Texas, won’t see it that way. Chuck is the rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal in that city, a church that is progressive by Texas standards and conservative by almost anyone else’s. I’m guessing that someone will pull him aside when he gets home from the General Convention and ask, “Did you vote for the gay marriage thing?”
This is not a question anyone will ever ask me when I come home from a Baptist convention, because there is no such thing as “The Baptist Church.” There is no single body of Baptists that makes decisions for all Baptists everywhere. We have to make those decisions in our own local churches and when we do every member has a voice and every member has a vote. So, if your Baptist church decides to vote on whether or not it will bless same-sex unions you will have a chance to speak your mind and vote your conscience. No priest, no bishop, no general convention will do it for you; you will have to do it on your own.
It’s a tremendous burden for Baptist churches. A terrible freedom. But we’re Baptists, and we love our freedom, and even if we have to make difficult decisions from time to time…
We wouldn’t have it any other way.