The Episcopal church is now wrestling with a resolution to allow a trial period for the blessing of same sex unions. As I think and pray about my role as a deputy to this year’s General Convention, where that resolution will come to a vote, and as I work to help the poeple of the Diocese of Milwaukee develop a sense of history and context for the trial rite that has been prepared by the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music, I have been greatly moved by, and highly commend this teaching by The Rev. Cynthia K. R. Banks, Rector of St Luke’s Episcopal Church in Boone, North Carolina.
She spends 45 minutes teaching about the scriptural and theological elements of this debate. She talks about our tradition, about our Anglican/Episcopal ethos and heritage, she even engaged Richard Hooker as she offers a description of her own personal journey around the blessing of same sex unions.
The context of her teaching is the debate surrounding an amendment to the Constitution of the State of North Carolina that would define marriage to be exclusively between one man and one woman.
Her scholarship is excellent, her arguments powerful, an her conclusions, I believe, reflect a growing and deepening understanding of the kingdom of God and the role of the church in helping to bring that kingdom to fruition. I cannot recommend this video highly enough!
Here is her concluding paragraph:
“So the Scripture that haunts me at night is from Matthew 23, verses 4 and 13, when Jesus addresses the crowds about the scribes and the Pharisees: ‘They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear and lay them on the shoulders of others but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them. But woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. For you do not go in yourselves and when others are going in you stop them. Woe to you Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, for you tithe mint and dill and cumin and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice, and mercy, and faith.’
Because I am a religious leader, the current day Pharisee, Jesus’ words hit particularly close to the heart. I fear for too long we have neglected the weightier matters of justice, and mercy, and faith. I fear for too long the church has laid heavy burdens on our gay and lesbian brothers and sister and not been willing to move them. I fear for too long we have locked people out of the kingdom of heaven and the foretaste of that kingdom that comes in covenanted relationship. And I don’t want to add to that burden any more.”