Feature

Episcopalians and gay bishops

Is the Episcopal Church’s move to allow gay bishops a step toward equality, or toward an Anglican schism?

“Episcopalians are no strangers to controversy over the gay issue,” said Yael T. Abouhalkah in The Kansas City Star. And the Episcopal Church waded in deeper Tuesday, “effectively” voting to allow gay clergy “full inclusion” in the church, including as bishops. The controversial vote, six years after “my church consecrated V. Gene Robinson as its first openly gay bishop,” was “the right call.” In “the real world, gays hold all kinds of jobs”—why not bishop?

For one thing, “lifelong man-plus-woman marriage” is not an optional tenet of Christianity, said Anglican Bishop Tom Wright in The Times of London. Thus, the Episcopal Church’s approval of bishops in same-sex relationships “marks a clear break with the rest of the Anglican Communion,” even if it’s merely “formalizing the schism they initiated six years ago.”

Episcopalians haven’t “broken faith” with our fellow Anglicans, said Diana Butler Bass in BeliefNet. With much prayer and discussion, we’ve embraced our struggle “to be faithful” as our society “widens its understanding of human relationships and marriage”—and “adapting to local cultures” is a very traditional, “important part of being Anglican.” Just ask the now-angry African bishops who asked for polygamy to be sanctioned in 1988.

Well, two-thirds of the Anglican Communion provinces found the gay-bishop issue a step too far, said Lance Dickie in The Seattle Times. But what’s so bad about schism? As “treasured” as the long affiliation has been, Episcopalians now have to choose between their beliefs and Anglican unity. We’re all watching to see if they survive their choice.

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