Bishop Curry (left, Diocese of NY) and Bishop Love (right) speaking in Ireland in 2018.
Remember good ol’ Bishop Curry? He of the royal wedding sermon? Love will transform the world and all the rest of it? (See post on 27/11/18).
One would be tempted to think, based on his ‘love is all’ sermon last year at St George’s Chapel in Windsor, that love would be a driving force in his dealings with his own clergy. Seems a reasonable assumption, doesn’t it?
“When love is the way, there’s plenty good room – plenty good room – for all of God’s children.”
Got that? Plenty of room for all God’s children. Uh-huh. Well apparently, there’s not room enough. In Bishop Curry’s US Episcopal Church there is only room for you if you agree with his ‘progressive’ sexual-revolution agenda.
The Bishop of Albany, Bishop William Love, was not happy with a resolution handed down from the Episcopal Church’s General Convention last year. He therefore sent out a directive in a letter to all of the churches in his diocese last November. Just to give the picture – the Diocese of Albany is centred in New York state and most of its 100+ congregations are based in the less populated areas of the state, right up to the Canadian border. It’s a conservative diocese but does have a number of more ‘progressive’ congregations, some of whom have been given episcopal oversight from neighbouring dioceses with more liberal views on sexuality issues.
Bishop Love wrote to his congregations in November 2018 outlining his own understanding of the Bible’s teaching on sexual behaviours and values. Using forthright language, but ‘saying it like it is’ according to the Bible, Bishop Love made it clear that he could not and would not compromise his beliefs by following the resolution of the General Convention to allow same-sex marriage in the Diocese of Albany. In the letter, he said:
‘[The resolution’s] stated intent of making liturgies for same-sex marriages available for use in every Diocese and parish of the Episcopal Church (where civil law authorizes same-sex marriage) is in direct conflict and contradiction to God’s intent for the sacrament of marriage as revealed through Holy Scripture. In so doing, [the resolution] ignores God’s Word regarding marriage and thus ignores the authority of Holy Scripture.’
‘Despite what some would have you believe, homosexuality, or same-sex attractions (even that found in monogamous loving relationships) is not unique to our generation. It existed long before Jesus walked the face of the earth, as evidenced in a study of the Ancient Greco-Roman World. Yet from the very beginning of creation (as referenced above), marriage has been between a man and woman. The fact that some in today’s sexually confused society (to include 5 of the 9 U.S. Supreme Court Justices in 2015) may have broadened their understanding of marriage to be more inclusive, allowing for same-sex marriages, doesn’t mean that God, “the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth” (BCP 96) has changed His mind or His purpose or intent for marriage as revealed in Holy Scripture which is the living Word of God.’
Predictably, the backlash began as soon as the ‘progressive’ congregations were confronted with the words of their Bishop as he quoted the Bible. A member of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, an Albany congregation known for advocating same-sex marriage said “We were not prepared for the level of condemnation and venom in his letter.”
Really? How did they think their Bishop was going to say his piece? It was known to all that Bishop Love is a conservative in this matter. Was he supposed to water it down? Apparently, after the letter was read out in this church, ‘there were people in tears’. Well, sad though this is for individuals, there would be, wouldn’t there? If the wider church spends years telling people that what they are doing is fine and that God approves of their actions, it will come as a bit of a shock when someone finally stands up and says it’s not fine.
The rector of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church said that her congregation “felt anger and frustration” at the Bishop’s letter. No kidding. What about the frustration and anger of those who are constantly hit over the head with accusations of bigotry and hate just because they don’t agree with the progressive liberal sexuality agenda?
She went on to say that “The contents of Bishop Love’s pastoral directive were not unexpected, although we had been hopeful he would find a way, as did the other conservative bishops, to implement [the resolution] in the Diocese of Albany.” In other words, they expected that in order to keep them happy, the Bishop should have compromised his own integrity and fudged the issue like all the others bishops.
What happened next? Well, Bishop Love is now being hauled over the coals by Bishop ‘love is the way’ Curry. In a press release this month, Bishop Curry says that he must ‘take steps to ensure that same-sex marriage in The Episcopal Church is available to all persons to the same extent and under the same conditions in all Dioceses of the Church where same-sex marriage is civilly legal.’
Think that’s as far as it goes? Nope. Bishop Curry goes on:
“I am aware that Bishop Love’s conduct in this regard may constitute a canonical offense under Canon IV.4(1)(c) (“abide by the promises and vows made when ordained”) and Canon IV.4(1)(h)(9) (“any Conduct Unbecoming a Member of the Clergy”), and that conduct has been referred to the ……Officer for disciplinary matters involving bishops. Accordingly, in order to protect the integrity of the Church’s polity and disciplinary process and, thereby, the good order and welfare of the Church, and pursuant to Canons IV.7(3), (4), and IV.17(2), I hereby place the following partial restriction on the exercise of Bishop Love’s ministry:
“During the period of this restriction, Bishop Love, acting individually, or as Bishop Diocesan, or in any other capacity, is forbidden from participating in any manner in the Church’s disciplinary process in the Diocese of Albany in any matter regarding any member of the clergy that involves the issue of same-sex marriage.
Nor shall he participate in any other matter that has or may have the effect of penalizing in any way any member of the clergy or laity or worshipping congregation of his Diocese for their participation in the arrangements for or participation in a same-sex marriage in his Diocese or elsewhere.
So Bishop Love is being prevented from disciplining any clergy who perform same-sex marriages in churches under his authority as Bishop. Not only that, but he is likely to be disciplined himself under rules concerning his obedience to his own bishop and of ‘conduct unbecoming a member of the clergy’. You couldn’t make it up.
What happened to “When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook”? Does justice only flow in a pro-LGBT direction? Apparently it does in the US Episcopal Church.
Bishop Love is now appealing this ruling against him.
Does the Bible have anything to say about situations like this? Yes, it does:
2 Timothy 4: 3-4 For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.
and the following verse could refer to Bishop Love:
5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
Think this is just a US phenomenon? Just wait until the Living In Love And Faith report comes out in the UK in 2020. It’s our turn next, Brits.