I am surprised it hasn't happened before now that a non-Anglican friend would ask me how my husband and I can remain in a church denomination that is all ready permitting same sex blessings and also promoting same sex marriage. However, now the question has been asked and I know this friend is not the only person wondering, even if the rest of our friends have been either too polite, too frightened or too indifferent to ask.
The answers are not black and white and I am not sure the question is completely valid. If I am to answer a question phrased under the assumption that same sex relationships are obviously wrong in the sight of God, then I also have to answer how I could stay in any Christian denomination where slander, cheating, unforgiveness, lack of reconciliation and other ungodly behaviour is rarely dealt with and sometimes actually modelled by those in positions of leadership. In essence, if I were to leave a denomination strictly because of its position on same sex romantic relationships I wouldn't be able to attend any other church denomination because all are found wanting in one way or another depending on your world view.
I don't know what is going to happen in the future with the issue of same sex relationships in our particular denomination. As I listen to the discussions of the past ten years it seems to me that those on both sides of the issue are somewhat misinformed. The more liberal types don't seem to understand that people on the more conservative side of this issue are actually coming from a completely different world view and that these two differing world views are likely incompatible within the boundaries of one denomination. The conservatives are sometimes wrapped up in literal translations of scriptures that are more metaphor and story than historical fact.
The importance of how a person views the bible itself, the authority of its teachings, whether or not it is the only trustworthy record of God's interaction with his creation, if it is even a valid piece of literature for today's post modern Christians to use, whether or not a person holds a creationist world view, all come into play as we struggle with the deep issues of human relationships and what part their creator has in setting them up.
At this point only two things are truly clear to me: when I deal with people desiring or all ready in same sex relationships, my responsibility is to be pastoral in my approach, the same way I would be with anyone in any kind of relationship. I cannot make assumptions about other peoples' relationships or view them through some form of stereotype. The other thing is that a sexual relationship outside God's given boundary of marriage is wrong, no matter who it is with. In that sense we are all called to be celibate until such time as we are in such a marriage relationship. The biblical model is one man and one woman, together for enjoyment, procreation and to model the love of God for his creation. Since I have a creationist world view, that is how I personally interpret scripture. When we start going beyond that interpretation of what is considered to be an expression of godly love, where do we stop?
To leave my denomination as soon as it appears there are other points of view that do not mesh with my own is rather irresponsible. To go on a witch hunt in my church for those who do not agree with me is not godly behaviour. To refuse to accept those in same sex relationships as friends and as fellow followers of Jesus is also not right. It is up to God to make the changes in all of us as he sees fit and in his way. Obviously I myself have a great need to be transformed into the image of Christ far more than I have been thus far. All of us need that transformation in our lives, but Jesus is the one who has to accomplish it.
The jury is still out for me as to whether or not I could ever perform a blessing on a same sex romantic relationship at any point in future, but I want to be very careful about how I approach this issue. Too much damage has been done all ready in the past to people who have not been able to be honest about their desires and lifestyles, particularly in the church, where people should be able to be completely honest and expect a fair hearing and some support. Since I have not personally struggled with this issue, I have to admit I am very ignorant about it and don't feel in a position to be judging others who have. My husband and I agree that anyone who wants a prayer of blessing in their attempts to follow Jesus will receive it from us.
I have much to learn about what God requires and about the issue of same sex relationships. Whether or not I can agree with it at this point in time, I have the responsibility to continue to learn all I can about it. I need to deal with same sex couples in my church the same way I would deal with any couple asking for assistance: seeking God as to how I can best model his love and concern for them as individuals.
The future is going to be very interesting indeed; not only in the Anglican church but in the church worldwide.