Even though both England and the US have legalized gay marriage, and even though the archbishop of Canterbury approves gay marriage, the Anglican communion as a whole does not — and it has suspended the American Episcopalian Church over the issue.
In July, the Episcopal Church voted to allow its clergy to perform same-sex marriages, a move not taken by the majority of churches in the Anglican Communion.
“Given the seriousness of these matters we formally acknowledge this distance by requiring that for a period of three years The Episcopal Church no longer represent us on ecumenical and interfaith bodies … ,” a statement issued by the Anglican Communion reads. “They will not take part in decision making on any issues pertaining to doctrine or polity.”
“The traditional doctrine of the church in view of the teaching of Scripture, upholds marriage as between a man and a woman in faithful, lifelong union,” the statement also notes. “The majority of those gathered reaffirm this teaching.”
The Anglican Communion consists of 44 member churches from around the world, representing about 85 million Christians.
We [celibate gay Christians] offer witness that friendship, “chosen family,” intentional community life, and service to those in need are forms of real and sacrificial love which can shape a life as decisively as marriage and parenthood — if we let them. We offer hope that one day our churches and our communities will honor devoted friendship, extended family such as godparents, and lives of service. These are forms of love the Christian churches once honored publicly as part of the structure of society. Instead of maintaining this honor, we narrowed the public, “adult” forms of love down to the nuclear family and eventually the postnuclear family. I hope that by exploring our vocations, celibate gay Christians can suggest that there is more than one way to make a life filled with love. This witness will, of course, be relevant not only to our small subgroup, but to all Christians, regardless of sexual orientation or beliefs about sexuality.
Think about it. It’s surely very difficult for a gay member of the Churches of Christ to remain abstinent or celibate — in a communion that considers this good and necessary behavior. Imagine how much more difficult it would be in a communion that sees no point in avoiding gay sexual activity (in a monogamous relationship).
On the other hand, I wonder whether the Churches of Christ make living as celibate even more difficult than in many other denominations by treating gay sex as a forbidden subject and treating all gay people as presumed sexually active? By dealing with gay marriage as a political issue rather than personal struggle? I mean, how many gay men or women who choose to be celibate for Christ would feel free, in a Church of Christ Bible class, to discuss their sexuality?
Returning to the quoted paragraph above, how many of us are willing to make an effort to invite celibate gay Christians into our family activities (like a godparent, except, of course, we don’t do godparents in the Church of Christ — but we do sometimes adopt beloved non-family members as unofficial “uncles” or “aunts” to our children) and small groups and social circles? I mean, if they are to be denied a spouse, should we not look for ways to meet their need for companionship and friendship?