This July, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church will decide whether to approve “The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant,” a rite for the blessing of homosexual relationships.
After indicating their assent to the presider’s questions, each person will say, “In the name of God, I, N., give myself to you, N. I will support and care for you by the grace of God: enduring all things, bearing all things. I will hold and cherish you in the love of Christ: in times of plenty, in times of want. I will honor and keep you with the Spirit’s help: forsaking all others, as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow.”
Following an exchange of rings, the presider will say, “Inasmuch as N. and N. have exchanged vows of love and fidelity in the presence of God and the Church, I now pronounce that they are bound to one another in a holy covenant, as long as they both shall live.”
To help prepare the way for the rite, the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music of the Episcopal Church has prepared a report dismissing the traditional interpretation of biblical passages that describe homosexual acts as sinful.
In discussing Romans 1:26-27--in which St. Paul states that “women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error”--the commission’s report comments:
This chapter, especially verses 26-27, has been used to support the Church’s reluctance to embrace the loving faithfulness of same-gender couples and continues to influence conversation in Christian communities. In interpreting this Pauline passage, it is difficult to know precisely what Paul meant by “unnatural” in those verses and to whom he was addressing these concerns.