The church may want to look at same-sex marriages as partaking "in the same covenant" as heterosexual unions, but "on somewhat different terms," and possibly involving alternate liturgies, recommends the report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon, released September 22 (http://bit.ly/livbKrq).
Just as the New Testament describes the Gentiles in the early church as drawn into the people of Israel's covenant with God, but not required to observe Jewish tradition, so might the Anglican Church of Canada understand same-sex couples as drawn into the same covenant as heterosexual couples, but in a new way, commission member Stephen Martin told members of the Council of General Synod (CoGS), who gathered for a special session September 22-23 at St. Paul's Bloor Street, in Toronto, to receive the report.
"We're suggesting this might be the more accurate, faithful and biblical way of thinking about what might be happening in the church today," said commission member Canon Paul Jennings, who explained the report's section dealing with models for same-sex marriage. "That is, it's not a question of us redefining marriage in the abstract to be more inclusive and thereby imply, I don't know what--that the previous understanding of marriage was wrong. But, it may be simply that God is calling same-sex couples into marriage and thereby broadening and enriching the institution without denying its previous meanings."
Jennings added: "Maybe God is intending to graft gay Christians into the institution of Christian marriage, sharing its root meaning, yet on somewhat different terms."
This conception of same-sex marriage, the 65-page report said, would involve revising the canon using gender-neutral language, and probably also new liturgies for same-sex couples that would "share the same core vows" as liturgies for heterosexual couples.
The commission cautioned that the model the report was proposing was a recommendation only. "This argument is not an attempt to prove something, to prove that this is the way to go forward," said Jennings. "We are offering a rationale--that is, a way of conceiving of it theologically in a way that we're suggesting might have integrity. But the church will still have to discern whether this is God's will for the church."
It is, he added, one of three "logical possibilities" being put forward by the commission, and something of a middle way between the other two. The other two possibilities, according to the report, are, on the one hand,...