“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.” -Thomas Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander
In order to free up the legislative committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy, and Music to address the volume of their work, a special legislative committee was formed to address the work of the Taskforce on Marriage and consequent resolutions. Before the committee is a stack of resolutions reflecting a variety of opinions as to what the Taskforce managed to accomplish, failed to accomplish, and still needs to accomplish. At a recent hearing, a number of perspectives were offered. Among the varied voices were opinions that reflect the tenor of several resolutions, such as C009, calling for any and all steps necessary be taken to make the Rite of Holy Matrimony available to same-sex couples immediately. There were also views shared that called for more careful deliberation and intentional reflection. For example, in reflecting upon the materials compiled by the Taskforce on Marriage, Bishop McConnell of Pittsburgh stated, “we owe the church better” than what has been produced.
In the end, the committee voted to send A037 on, with their recommendation. This resolution calls for yet further study. The original Taskforce, formed by the last General Convention, studied the biblical, historical, and cultural roots of the Christian tradition of marriage. Much of the early conversation in the special committees meetings have centered on the failure of the appointed Taskforce to represent the theological and cultural diversity of the breadth of the Episcopal Church. Theoretically, the original committee was appointed with that particular diversity in mind. Does the call to continue the study of this topic represent an eternal effort to stall the issue at hand? It seems unlikely that forming a new Taskforce and starting over would produce results more pleasing to those who are dissatisfied. What new information are we hoping to find?
Whether we decide to draw a firm line in the sand and clarify our requisite theology, or we decide to include all, we are rapidly losing credibility with the call for eternal study and conversation. The time has come to make a decision. We ought to be intentional, but also fearless.
If not now, when?