The Rt. Rev. Edward J. Konieczny, Bishop of Oklahoma, speaks with The Oklahoman about his voting on blessing rites and on revising the church’s canons on marriage:

Regarding the first piece of legislation, I voted in favor of continuing the use of the same-gender blessing liturgy approved at the 2012 General Convention, which I supported in 2012.

Regarding the second piece of legislation, I voted against changing the language in the Canon on Marriage to gender-neutral language.

Altering the language of the canon in this way places the canon, the Book of Common Prayer and the Constitution of The Episcopal Church in conflict, as they are all now inconsistent in language.

Additionally, it is my belief that changing our canon in this way affects the polity of the church and causes strain on our relationships in the larger Anglican Communion. This added strain will unquestioningly impact our relationships with the other members of the Anglican Communion, the full results of which we do not yet know.

Further, I believe that simply changing the language of the current marriage liturgy to gender-neutral language is a disservice to the entire sacrament of marriage. We have not yet fully undergone the theological work necessary to examine The Episcopal Church’s understanding of marriage. Simple modification to the language of the current liturgy does not honor the sacrament of marriage.

The Rt. Rev. William H. Love, Bishop of Albany, writes to his diocese regarding General Convention’s decisions:

Those gay and lesbian couples who, in spite of all that has been said above, still want to and believe they should be married, can take advantage of the provisions allowed for in General Convention Resolution A054. I will work with the bishops of the surrounding dioceses to assist them in doing so. I have, in fact, already begun conversations with the bishops of Vermont and Central New York. Whatever provision is ultimately decided upon will not violate Diocese of Albany Canons 16.1 and 16.2.

While I am aware that not everyone will agree with the above decisions, I have tried as best I can in the course of this letter to explain in detail why I have made the decisions that I have. My inability to approve and give my blessing to same gender marriages is not due to a lack of love and respect for our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters in Christ, but just the opposite. Because I do love and care about them, I cannot authorize that which I believe ultimately does more harm than good. It is my hope and prayer that everyone who seeks to worship God and grow in their faith and relationship with Jesus Christ, regardless of their age, race, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity will be respected and made to feel welcome in every parish family within the Diocese of Albany.

The Rt. Rev. Gregory O. Brewer, Bishop of Central Florida, writes to his diocese about marriage:

Both the Holy Scripture and the Book of Common Prayer teach that Holy Matrimony was “established by God in creation,” meaning that our created bodies matter. We are never disengaged from the fact that God made us male and female. Although there are friendships and companionships that we all enjoy, all of those friendships and companionships are distinct from the marital union of husband and wife, which is foundational for continuing the created order of humanity. In other words, Holy Matrimony is God’s idea. God created and established it; and it is a way that God chooses to care for and provide for the continuation of the human family.

But while the union of husband and wife is foundational to the temporal and created order, it does not continue into the realm of eternity. Jesus is clear that in Heaven, there is “no marriage or giving in marriage” (Matthew 22:30). Human marriage is not foundational to the Kingdom of Heaven. Instead, through baptism we as Christians, regardless of our marital status, are all eternally united as the Bride of Christ to the one Bridegroom, Jesus Christ. All human relationships, both now and in heaven, are subservient to that one and eternal marriage between Christians and Christ. This means that all human relationships are to be seen in the light of, and in response to, our primary relationship, which is with Jesus Christ whom we call “Lord.”

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