In the name of…?

June 27th, 2007
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It was with some undoubtedly-accidental irony that, at the end of Pride Week, Canadian Anglicans voted on same-sex blessings. To many outsiders it must seem unusual to observe the involved process of voting on church doctrine – apparently a majority vote was required by the laity, clergy and the bishops. The latter was the only group to vote against the proposal.


The process might strike the antediluvian believer as odd, not least because one is deciding doctrine by majority vote, but also because the Anglicans in their wisdom clearly decided that – the matter being important – a number of checks and balances had to be built into the system. A cynic might ask why some other percent threshold was not required for doctrinal change, or why not two groups were voting rather than three.

In any case it is a rather interesting approach to what might have been deemed immutable truth. Participants in the debate, even those who opposed the initiative to “bless”, clearly have a different perspective on what is immutable and what is transitory. Trying to convince the assembly to defeat the motion, one delegate was quoted as saying “We should see this as a choice between ‘yes’ and ‘wait’. Can’t you find it in your hearts to say ‘wait’?”

As is the case with many socio-political issues, Quebec separation comes to mind, some people seem to sense a trend line that others don’t. History is simply moving in a certain direction making some things “inevitable”. And in the case of some referenda, and apparently the Anglican Church, you just keep voting until the inevitable happens. So no doesn’t mean “no”, it means “wait”.

Some things clearly have changed though. On the website of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada there are internal links on “sexuality” and “inclusive language”. There was recently also a link specifically on same-sex blessings. All, had we had the Internet before Al Gore invented it, would have been unusual in that church – from what I recall growing up in it.

It is interesting to speculate, along the aforementioned social trendlines, what in future some churches will consider to be burning topics of theological import. They might perhaps follow the lines of the diverse social dimensions described by Robert Fulford in a recent article. No way around it, these things are just inevitable.

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