Well, today is Matt’s birthday, and as a present to him, I’m going to blog about the thing that he wanted me to, which I only do as a special treat, because, honestly, this stuff is super discouraging.
I received word late Friday night, October 2nd, that the Hearing Panel, convened by the Rt. Rev. W. Nicholas Knisely, has reached its verdict regarding my issuance of a Pastoral Letter and Directive to the clergy and people of the Diocese of Albany on Nov. 10, 2018, in response to the 79th General Convention Resolution B012. The Hearing Panel has found me guilty of failing to abide by the Discipline and Worship of The Episcopal Church, and thus violating my ordination vows. They issued a 42 page document outlining their decision, a copy of which will be posted to the Diocesan Website.
Here is the ruling:
“This Panel unanimously concludes that TEC has met its burden of showing, by clear and convincing evidence, that Bishop Love has violated Canon IV.4.1(c) in that his November 10,  Pastoral Directive violated the Discipline of the Church, as Resolution B012 was properly constituted and passed as an authorized revision to the BCP as expressly provided for in Constitution Article X, thus requiring that all Bishop Diocesans permit their clergy the option to utilize such rites. TEC has further met its burden of establishing that Bishop Love’s Direction also violated the Discipline of the Church in that it violated Canon I.18. The canonical legitimacy of Resolution B012 rendered Canon I.18 mandatory, requiring adherence by Bishops Diocesan in permitting their Clergy the option to perform same-sex marriage rites. TEC has also met its burden of establishing that the Direction violated the Worship of the Church in that Resolution B012 added canonically-authorized same-sex marriage rites to the Worship of the Church pursuant to the BCP.”
Just to break it down—rather badly because I have tried hard not to pay too much attention lest I fall, lumpishly, into the pit of despair—The Episcopal Church (hereafter TEC) passed a resolution at one of their General Conventions a while ago that you didn’t, as a Bishop, have to perform same-sex ceremonies yourself, or command your clergy to perform them, but you had to make arrangements for someone else to do so. You could not keep those rites from being performed in your jurisdiction. Indeed, you had to go out of your way to make the arrangements or see that they were being arranged. Thus was apostasy further enshrined into canonical law, without anyone being unhappy about it, except for a very few, like Bishop Love, who wasn’t prepared to aid in the spiritual and eternal destruction of those—as everyone on twitter likes to say nowadays—whom God has made in his own image.
TEC feels it has “met its burden of establishing that Bishop Love’s Direction also violated the Discipline of the Church,” that he, Bishop Love, in issuing such a Direction violated his ordination vows and failed to abide by the Discipline and Worship of TEC.
Let’s just pause, for a moment, and consider the substance of this—and why people like me recoil in abject horror from the cries of some that “a lot of water has gone under the bridge” and that it’s time for us to learn how to “get along” and find what “common ground” we can. Essentially, Bishop Love, in being unwilling to do anything to aid anyone in actively doing what scripture forbids—in this case, blessing the sexual relationships of men with men and women with women, which everywhere in Scripture is contrary to God’s design, which is, as Paul says, an action that will keep you out of the Kingdom of God—is “violating” the discipline of the church. He is doing something that is contrary to what the church teaches.
The church, in this case, has set itself against the revealed will of God, on purpose, after thinking about it for years and years and years, and is going to discipline those who would like to faithfully follow the scriptures and teach and admonish and help others to do so.
A long time ago, when Bishop Love first was elected and decided to stay in TEC, I confess to wondering about the wisdom of his determination. Getting out of the Episcopal Church was one of the best things that ever happened to me. A church I loved, a church where I cut my teeth on the beauty, grace, and majesty of God, a church where the Bible was read so much aloud on Sunday that many other kinds of “bible believing” Christians were often astonished, became a church that derided and mocked those who really believed what was printed there on the page. I didn’t want to leave TEC. I begged God to be able to stay. But when we finally did walk away, which to me felt more like a shove, a great weight was lifted off my shoulders.
Indeed, shortly after realizing that we were not going to be able to remain in the church that we loved, Matt and I took a short day trip to Albany, to their beautiful retreat center, for a special Eucharist. Standing in a room full of others who really believed as they said the creed, who accepted Jesus as he is as they sang, was so strange and moving that I fought back an overpowering urge to cry the whole afternoon. It had been years since I had been in a church service full of people who all believed what they were saying, without their fingers crossed or a lot of explanatory footnotes at the bottom of the page. The decision of Bishop Love to stay and fight on struck me as one that would certainly exhaust and maybe even spiritually destroy him.
But look at the great wisdom of what God has done. All ecclesiastical equivocation is undone. The clerical body of TEC has had to come out and say it—again—so baldly, so plainly, that no one can be mistaken. They reject and deny the word of God. They trample on God’s revealed will. They despise marriage. They abhor the gospel. They would rather you go to hell than know a merciful love that will save you forever. I praise God for the patient witness of Bishop Love, enduring this trial, submitting himself to his enemies, protecting his own flock. May God continue to glorify himself and provide a faithful witness for his Gospel.