Monday, March 16, 2015

2nd ed. update

2nd ed. update, Mar. 18: DSC has published the resolutions online at

Original post:     DSC has not yet published the resolutions from last Saturday's convention on its website. Therefore, I will provide the most controversial one here. In all, five resolutions were proposed and passed, but only one produced any significant discussion: Resolution R-4, "A Resolution to Adopt a Standing Resolution on Marriage."

God wonderfully creates each person as male or female. These two distinct, complementary genders together reflect the image and nature of God. (Gen. 1:26-27). Rejection of one's biological sex runs the grave risk of rejecting the image of God within that person [revised as: Rejection of one's biological sex opposes God's purpose in creation.]

The term "marriage" has only one meaning, the uniting of one man and one woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. (Gen. 2:18-25) God's good intention for us is that sexual intimacy is to occur only between a man and a woman who are married to each other. (1 Cor 6:18; 7:2-5; Heb 13:4.) For the blessing and protection of our families, particularly our children, God has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman.

Because God has ordained marriage and defined it as the covenant relationship between a man, a woman, and Himself [revised: between a man and a woman.] The Diocese will only recognize and solemnize marriages between a biological man and a biological woman, that is between two persons whose birth gender identities were respectively male and female. Further, the clergy and staff of The Diocese shall only participate in weddings and solemnize marriages between one man and one woman. The facilities and property of The Diocese shall only host weddings between one man and one woman.

The point of the resolution was very clear: to defend "traditional" marriage and reject marriage equality. However, the resolution raised more questions than it answered due to its poor preparation and wording. At least eight people came to the microphone to raise thoughtful questions about the resolution. Perhaps the cleverest was one sharp woman who said under this, if a man and a woman each has a sex change operation they could still have a marriage in the diocese. This gave the presenters the deer-in-the-headlights look and no answer (I did not know that Alan Runyan could be rendered speechless). Another pointed out the obvious, this is a diocesan policy but weddings always take place on the parish level; each parish will have to make its own policy.

But, it was the third sentence of the first paragraph that raised the most difficulty. It is disconnected from the rest of the resolution and has no scriptural reference, both of which Marshall Huey pointed out as he made his motion for the removal of the sentence from the text of the resolution. As I said before, his motion for a vote produced the moment of high drama in the meeting as it was obviously a direct challenge to Bishop Lawrence who is well-known as a vociferous critic of transgendered rights. That was when the purple-robed bishop strode to the floor microphone and made an emotional appeal to the assembly all around him. He said, "This entire resolution is awkward" [an understatement]. He went on that he had walked out of the House of Bishops in 2012 for this very reason, [protest against rights for transgendered persons and blessing of same-sex unions]. Then, he read from the Bible and gave a scriptural reference to insert into the text. Lawrence said God made each person male or female "to protect us from confusion." The vote to remove the sentence then failed 155-31 [43 votes abstained; note that a total of 229 later voted on whether to adopt the resolution. If 31 voted against the sentence and 43 abstained, then 74 delegates failed to support Bishop Lawrence. That would be nearly a third of the convention not affirming the Bishop's request]. Someone immediately called for an end of the discussion and a vote. With the revised text, a vote was taken on the resolution that was adopted 216-13. 

As I said, I think the handling of this resolution was important for two reasons. First, the assembly actually started an open and honest discussion of a large and difficult issue. At least a half-dozen people raised problems with it and objections to it. This kind of free, open, fair deliberation is what DSC has needed for years. If this had occurred all along, there may well have been no schism. Problems could have been solved in a reasonable, rational way for compromise on contentious issues. The fact was, however, a limited group of fanatical ideologues in the old diocese cut off every one else's opinion leaving them nowhere to go. The ideologues monopolized all the apparati of the old diocese at least after the Robinson episode in 2003. The Episcopal Forum tried to make an open dialogue free to everyone, but the ruling clique only declared them the enemy and blocked them for any avenue of influence in the diocese. Critics had nowhere to go except to the national Church for help. That is what led to the two investigations of the Disciplinary Board for Bishops, the second one finding Lawrence should be charged with abandonment of communion. If the dissidents had had some way to make themselves heard and respected within the old diocese, that investigation might not have happened.

The second important point of that resolution was the sudden and unexpected challenge to Lawrence. Everyone in the room knew that Lawrence wanted that sentence to remain. He appeared to be thrown a bit off base forcing him to reassert his control over the house which he did. He carried the day but only after he had proven the point and only after 31 people had defied his expressed wish (and 43 others had abstained).

DSC is still hung up on the issue of homosexuality as it has been for many years now. It just cannot seem to get away from it however much the leaders may deny the obvious.

Meanwhile, and somewhat ironically, the Forum is sponsoring a seminar this Saturday at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, on Anson Street, in Charleston on the very issues that DSC has denounced and dismissed in dramatic fashion in every way possible. Bishop Lawrence used to be sneer at "indiscriminate inclusivity" [equal rights for gays]. Alright, the Episcopal diocese is now proud to stand for that very principle, indiscriminate inclusivity. The seminar next Saturday on homosexuality and the Church should be a rewarding and enlightening event. The approaches of the independent diocese and the Episcopal Church diocese on the issue of human sexuality speak volumes about their attitudes of Christianity, exclusivity versus inclusivity.

(Be sure to read Steve Skarson's remarks on the convention at