A thief pauses for a moment, before entering the inviting red doors1 of the local Episcopal Church. The air is cool, the nave dark and quiet, the setting solemn and contemplative. Looking around, he sees the parish priest, who is carefully dusting the altar rail, walks up to him very respectfully and says, “Father, I have my heart set on this really big score, an amazing heist, one which will allow my family and me to live comfortably for the rest of our lives on the proceeds. Father, may I have your blessing for this endeavor?”
Now, just what do you believe the priest would respond? Would he tell the thief, “Certainly, my son. Please, be seated, for I need to don my alb and chasuble and stole, and then we will begin the blessing.”
Or, does the priest say, “My son, that is impossible. The LORD has commanded us, ‘Thou shalt not steal.’”2
Perhaps it might be something different. Perhaps a young lady enters those red doors, and says to he priest, “Father, I am supposed to be a witness in a criminal trial tomorrow. I saw my neighbor’s son shoot that little boy across the street. My neighbor wants me to testify that no, her son didn’t shoot that little boy, and that I saw her son out back, minding his own business when the gunshot went off. Father, I’m so nervous about this; can you give me a blessing to help me get through saving my neighbor’s son?”
Does the priest say to her, “Of course, my daughter, I know how much this frightens you, and I have just the blessing for you to help you through this?” Or does he say, “I’m sorry, but the LORD has commanded us, ‘Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor?’”3
A third scenario. Two young men step through those solemn red doors, and now the parish priest is at the altar itself, gently wiping away any dust which has settled there. The men slowly, quietly, but with determination, approach the priest, and say, “Father, please forgive our intrusion, but, you see, we are very much in love with each other, and we would like your blessing as we move in together to share our lives.”
Does the priest say to the two young men, “Well, of course, my children, God loves you and most certainly has a blessing upon your union?” Or does he tell them, “I’m sorry, my young friends, but there can be no blessing for this, for the LORD has declared such unions to be sinful.”4
The obvious answer, in each of the three scenarios, is that the good, educated and faithful priest would give the supplicants the second answer, for there is and can be no blessing by the church for anything which is sinful in the eye of the LORD. However, if you read THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL last week, you will remember that I addressed this issue, and it seems that, at least in the Episcopal Church, the obvious answer is not the correct one.
By Rachel Zoll, Associated Press
Episcopalians approved a churchwide ceremony Tuesday to bless same-sex couples, the latest decisive step toward accepting homosexuality by a denomination that nine years ago elected the first openly gay bishop.
At the Episcopal General Convention, which is divided into two voting bodies, about 80 percent of the House of Deputies voted to authorize a provisional rite for same-sex unions for the next three years. A day earlier, the House of Bishops approved the rites 111-41 with three abstentions during the church meeting in Indianapolis.
Supporters of the same-sex blessings insisted it was not a marriage ceremony despite any similarities. Called “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” the ceremony includes prayers and an exchange of vows and rings. Same-sex couples must complete counseling before having their unions or civil marriages blessed by the church.
Much more at the link.
This article is filed under the heading of Freedom of Religion on THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL,5 and in the United States everyone is perfectly at liberty to believe anything he wishes. But freedom of religion and freedom of conscience do not somehow cover for dishonesty, and there is really no other way to describe this new position of the Episcopal Church. The Church states, quite formally:
“Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 236).
It is our foundation, understood through tradition and reason, containing all things necessary for salvation. Our worship is filled with Scripture from beginning to end. Approximately 70% of the Book of Common Prayer comes directly from the Bible, and Episcopalians read more Holy Scripture in Sunday worship than almost any other denomination in Christianity.
What the Episcopal Church says about its “Core Beliefs and Doctrines” is obviously not true; this new policy has put the lie to it. It is certainly understandable that the church, its bishops, its priests, and its people, would have a great deal of sympathy for those who are inclined to homosexuality. The church is supposed to have sympathy for sinners, for all sinners — and it is a standard Christian belief, across all denominations, that we are all sinners6 — and all of the Christian denominations hold that our sins can and will be forgiven, if we both ask for forgiveness and turn away from sin. In the well-known parable of the woman about to be stoned for adultery, Jesus shamed the crowd that was about to stone her, and they all left, and Jesus said that he did not condemn her, yet he did not come up with some blessing for adultery, but told her to go and sin no more.7 The good-hearted bishops of the Episcopal Church have just stood all of the teachings of Jesus Christ on their heads, and said to those for whom they have such great sympathy, we needn’t forgive your sins, because they aren’t sins anymore.
The Episcopal bishops are free, of course, to teach anything that they wish, but they have just lost the ability to call themselves Christians. You cannot teach something directly contrary to the Bible, and call yourself a Christian. They will persist in calling themselves Christians, but they are lying to you and, worse, they are lying to themselves.
1 – Traditionally, Episcopal Churches have red doors, though it is not actually a church requirement. As it happens, though I am not an Episcopalian, I do like the friendly and inviting look of red doors, and the doors shown in the illustration for this article are fairly similar to those on my house.
2 – Exodus 20:15
3 – Exodus 20:16
4 – Leviticus 18:22; Romans 1:27; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10
5 – Our host does not maintain that category on TRUTH BEFORE DISHONOR, and it is filed under Christianity on this site.
6 – For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
7 – John 8:1-11
Cross posted on THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL.