In the early part of July, the Bishops of the Episcopal Church of the USA (“ECUSA” or “TEC”) sanctioned same-sex unions and the ceremonial rites for them. Not surprisingly, this has caused a stir among Episcopalians and Anglo-Catholics alike – both for and against the proclamation. Some cheer that the church is doing a good thing by blessing same-sex unions and marriages; others somewhat condemn the decision the church has made. As you can guess, I have my own thoughts on the subject which I will now inflict on you.

As man’s thinking evolves, the Church’s teachings have also evolved over the centuries – though at a much slower rate. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. After all, mankind has a tendency to jump head-first into shallow water leaving the Church there to stop him in the nick of time, pull him back out, or tend to his wounds. Many times the Church has been a parent taking care of her children, teaching them and admonishing them as necessary, to lead them to a better life.

However, over time, certain ideas and beliefs in which mankind dabbles takes hold and remains; sometimes with certain proof, other times because the lack thereof. It’s at these times the Church has been forced to re-evaluate her stand on these teachings and has changed position.

For instance, until the 1600’s, the church believed and taught that the earth was the center of the universe, with the Sun and Moon and stars revolving around the earth. After Galileo challenged that idea with proof to the contrary (and many years of arguments, imprisonments, challenges, etc.) the church finally relented and changed her teaching. No longer was it considered heretical, punishable by excommunication, if one believed and taught that the earth revolved around the Sun.

Another instance: until just recently, the church believed and taught the existence of Limbo. This was a place that was not Heaven (for the saints), nor Hell (for unrepentant sinners), nor Purgatory (for those working off their sins before being admitted to Heaven), but specifically for babies who died before they could be baptized. Recently, the Holy Father Benedict XVI stated the church’s teaching had changed (http://www.traditioninaction.org/ProgressivistDoc/A_067_RatzLimbo.htm), Limbo was a theological hypothesis (http://www.catholicnews.com/data/stories/cns/0506867.htm), and unbaptized babies went to heaven.

Now we come to today where the fight for gay rights seems to be a daily issue we see in the media. The 60’s and 70’s are lost to history, and we’re no longer living through the sexual revolution that drove those decades. The sexual freedom of the 60’s and experimentation of the 70’s were the days mankind dove headlong into the shallow waters. Yet over time mankind has matured in his thinking. The “open” gay community is no longer thinking about sexual conquests and experimentation (well, not any more than the “straight” community); they are thinking more about settling down with a single person. The face of homosexuality has changed from the partying drag queens and 70’s porn mustaches, to the caring adults in loving, committed relationships, recognized and respected as such by the growing number of states they live in which have legalized their relationships. And a growing number of these legally accepted relationships have adopted children of their own who are growing up well mannered and well adjusted.

Perhaps it’s time the Church drop the “hate the sin, not the sinner” mentality toward homosexuality. The Church has always taught – to some degree – that same-sex genital contact (i.e., sex) is a sin; yet no where has anyone been able to prove this was doctrine taught by Christ. The Church also teaches against adultery, lasciviousness, sex outside of procreation, masturbation, etc. So why, then, is homosexuality (2 adults in a committed relationship with each other) the one, true, deviant sin deserving of the public’s’ and the Church’s (and republicans’) wrath? Furthermore, the medical community has been finding genetic patterns to homosexuality – not a particular “gay gene” per se, but still further proof that “lifestyle” or “life choice” is neither a style nor a choice, but a way of being born, and just another facet of being human. Perhaps its time the church began looking at homosexuality in a different light.

Asking the church to bless same-sex unions (or marriages) is not asking the church to legalize the union. The church is asked to be there as a witness to the union, and to bless the union; it is the couple that marries each other, and it is the state that says whether their union (or marriage) is legal or not; not the church. Additionally, the church is there to bless the union of the two people, not the sex they are (or are not) having. Who we are is not defined by coitus; just like who we are is not defined by our skin colour.