Mississippi Bishop Okays Homosexual Marriage

Mississippi Bishop Okays Homosexual Marriage

By David W. Virtue DD
www.virtueonline.org

The Episcopal Bishop of Mississippi, the Rt. Rev. Brian R. Seage, has given official permission to the congregations and clergy of his diocese who are canonically resident or licensed to serve, to conduct homosexual marriages without his permission. He is the first Episcopal bishop to do so.

In a letter to the diocese, Seage says liturgies included are, I Will Bless You and You Will Be A Blessing, Revised and Expanded 2015, with The Book of Common Prayer (1979), for homosexual couples, legally entitled to marry.

Seage did say that any priest was free to decline to marry a same-sex couple and would not face disciplinary hearings. “My only request is that you refer, to me, any same sex couple seeking marriage, so arrangements can be made to offer these services of the church.”

The bishop justified his actions saying, “that since the sacrament of marriage occurs within a community of faith, and is an outward and visible sign of the care and support extended to a couple, I strongly encourage parishes and missions to engage in such discernment and study if that has not already been completed. The resource page is intended to assist parishes and missions that may want to have conversations on this very important matter.”

While General Convention 2015 made multiple changes to the Marriage Canon, one part of the Canon did not change: “It shall be within the discretion of any member of the clergy of this Church to decline to solemnize or bless any marriage (Canon I.18.7).” Clergy have always had the discretion to marry, or not marry, any specific couple for any reason — this continues to be the case.

“All clergy have my support, and will not face any disciplinary measures simply because of their personal theological position. My only request is that you refer, to me, any same sex couple seeking marriage, so arrangements can be made to offer these services of the church.

“While these changes are beyond what we spoke of at Council in Biloxi, I believe that the changes are warranted in order to provide pastoral and spiritual support for everyone in our Diocese. I am aware that any change brings anxiety, but I’m also aware of the grace-filled way our church has walked together and supported the differing viewpoints that exist. I’m calling on all of us to be pastors to each other.

“I believe in the “via media” we represent and further believe that it is possible for scripture, tradition, and reason to support differing theological viewpoints. I know that differing viewpoints can create great discomfort. I’m certain there are many who agree with me. I’m also certain there are many who disagree with me. Further, I’m certain there are faithful individuals on both sides of the issue who have already left the church.”

The Episcopal Church voted overwhelmingly to allow homosexual marriage last year, causing the fabric of the Anglican Communion to be torn. Earlier this year, primates of the Communion met in Canterbury and moved to censure the Episcopal Church for its actions, but these sanctions were ignored
when Anglican leaders met later in Lusaka.

More recently, Nigerian Archbishop, Nicholas Okoh, chairman of GAFCON said a “line has been crossed” and accused the Church of England of “normalizing” the “false teaching” of the US Episcopal Church over gay marriage because of its appointment of an American woman bishop who supports the blessing of homosexual unions, to a post in the Liverpool diocese.

The Diocese of Akure, Nigeria, which was twinned with the Liverpool diocese, has also formally severed its links following the appointment of Susan Goff, a suffragan in the Virginia diocese in the US Episcopal Church, as an honorary bishop in Liverpool.

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