Bishop tells gay priests they have to get married

Now that New York state has legalized gay marriage, the Right Reverend Lawrence C. Provenzano, Bishop of Long Island in the Episcopalian church, is requiring homosexual priests to either get married or stop living together out of wedlock.  From his official pronouncement:

For the gay and lesbian clergy of this Diocese who are living in domestic partnerships or civil unions, I hereby grant a grace period of nine months from the effective date of the New York State Law permitting same-gender marriages for those relationships to be regularized either by the exchange of vows in marriage or the living apart of said couples.  I deem it to be honest and fair, and I do so direct and require, now that it is legal, that only married couples may live together, either in rectories or elsewhere as a clergy couple living in the midst of our faith community.

via Episcopal Diocese of Long Island.

I know this sudden concern for sexual morality is being derided by many conservatives.  But it will be telling to see if homosexuals who now have the right to get married will now take marriage seriously by opposing extra-marital sex.

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • helen

    But it will be telling to see if homosexuals who now have the right to get married will now take marriage seriously by opposing extra-marital sex. –GEV

    Will churches which reserve the pulpit for hetero males be less accepting of divorce by their pastors?

    One seems as desirable (and as likely) as the other.

    2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
    5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
    –KJV

    [From other writing by Paul, "one wife" appears to mean "not more than one" because he speaks approvingly of those who remain unmarried to better serve God.] Despite the Confessions also approving of the single (celibate) state, we seem to assume that a pastor must be married in the Lutheran church.
    And now it would appear that the Episcopalians will “follow the crowd” with regard to who he marries.

  • helen

    But it will be telling to see if homosexuals who now have the right to get married will now take marriage seriously by opposing extra-marital sex. –GEV

    Will churches which reserve the pulpit for hetero males be less accepting of divorce by their pastors?

    One seems as desirable (and as likely) as the other.

    2A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; 3Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; 4One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
    5(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
    –KJV

    [From other writing by Paul, "one wife" appears to mean "not more than one" because he speaks approvingly of those who remain unmarried to better serve God.] Despite the Confessions also approving of the single (celibate) state, we seem to assume that a pastor must be married in the Lutheran church.
    And now it would appear that the Episcopalians will “follow the crowd” with regard to who he marries.

  • Jack K

    A bishop demanding that clergy living in sin legalize that sin by ‘marrying’.

    OK.

    Sounds like the blind leading the blind.

  • Jack K

    A bishop demanding that clergy living in sin legalize that sin by ‘marrying’.

    OK.

    Sounds like the blind leading the blind.

  • CRB

    Jack K,
    Sounds like some pastors who, pressured by family members of those who are living together, cave in to the familiar mantra,”Oh, let’s just get them married!” NO call to repentance, no confession and absolution; “let’s just get this out of the way so we can get on with life!” Sounds absurd, but that IS what is happening—even in Lutheran churches. Would that pastors would ask such folks, “What Does This Mean?”

  • CRB

    Jack K,
    Sounds like some pastors who, pressured by family members of those who are living together, cave in to the familiar mantra,”Oh, let’s just get them married!” NO call to repentance, no confession and absolution; “let’s just get this out of the way so we can get on with life!” Sounds absurd, but that IS what is happening—even in Lutheran churches. Would that pastors would ask such folks, “What Does This Mean?”

  • Joe

    Well I don’t think THIS Bishop could call these men to repentance. After all his church has already decided that they are not sinning.

  • Joe

    Well I don’t think THIS Bishop could call these men to repentance. After all his church has already decided that they are not sinning.

  • CRB

    Then, is not this church apostate?

  • CRB

    Then, is not this church apostate?

  • DonS

    New York state law is obviously more influential for this bishop than Holy Scripture.

  • DonS

    New York state law is obviously more influential for this bishop than Holy Scripture.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith said:

    But it will be telling to see if homosexuals who now have the right to get married will now take marriage seriously by opposing extra-marital sex.

    Perhaps it will. But then, to truly measure things fairly, you’d want to compare them to heterosexuals, wouldn’t you? After all, heterosexuals aren’t exactly “taking marriage seriously by opposing extra-marital sex” much these days, are they?

    I’d think we should wait at least a year before we start comparing statistics, since most (heterosexual) marriages I’m aware of take around that long from proposal to ceremony.

    All that said, I’m not sure supporting civil marriage benefits actually equals “opposing extra-marital sex” — it certainly doesn’t seem to among heterosexuals, all of whom I know are in favor of their own access to civil marriage benefits, but many of whom are also in favor of pre-marital sex.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    Dr. Veith said:

    But it will be telling to see if homosexuals who now have the right to get married will now take marriage seriously by opposing extra-marital sex.

    Perhaps it will. But then, to truly measure things fairly, you’d want to compare them to heterosexuals, wouldn’t you? After all, heterosexuals aren’t exactly “taking marriage seriously by opposing extra-marital sex” much these days, are they?

    I’d think we should wait at least a year before we start comparing statistics, since most (heterosexual) marriages I’m aware of take around that long from proposal to ceremony.

    All that said, I’m not sure supporting civil marriage benefits actually equals “opposing extra-marital sex” — it certainly doesn’t seem to among heterosexuals, all of whom I know are in favor of their own access to civil marriage benefits, but many of whom are also in favor of pre-marital sex.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m a little surprised no one has really tackled the actual issue here, preferring simply to distance themselves entirely from the Episcopalian stance on homosexuality and homosexual priests. That is to say, if we take it as a given that the Episcopalians believe what they do, then: is this bishop’s command a good thing or a bad thing?

    Conversely, if we take it as given that nearly everyone commenting so far thinks same-sex sexual activity is sinful, and that unrepentant sinners should not be church leaders, then there is still the question of whether it is better for gays to marry or not. Feel free to consider it only from a purely civic/secular stance.

    But I don’t see a lot of thinking along those lines. Myself, I think it is a good thing, whether you’re thinking of disease transmission or community and social stability. I would much rather have a committed gay couple for neighbors than a house that sees a vast array of extra/pre-marital activities go on, whether straight or gay.

  • http://www.toddstadler.com/ tODD

    I’m a little surprised no one has really tackled the actual issue here, preferring simply to distance themselves entirely from the Episcopalian stance on homosexuality and homosexual priests. That is to say, if we take it as a given that the Episcopalians believe what they do, then: is this bishop’s command a good thing or a bad thing?

    Conversely, if we take it as given that nearly everyone commenting so far thinks same-sex sexual activity is sinful, and that unrepentant sinners should not be church leaders, then there is still the question of whether it is better for gays to marry or not. Feel free to consider it only from a purely civic/secular stance.

    But I don’t see a lot of thinking along those lines. Myself, I think it is a good thing, whether you’re thinking of disease transmission or community and social stability. I would much rather have a committed gay couple for neighbors than a house that sees a vast array of extra/pre-marital activities go on, whether straight or gay.

  • steve

    tODD, #8: Neighbors, certainly. But you seemed to have changed the object between your second and third paragraphs.

  • steve

    tODD, #8: Neighbors, certainly. But you seemed to have changed the object between your second and third paragraphs.

  • steve

    Scratch that. I read too quickly and responded in haste. On the surface, it seems that a person could hold to both positions. As regards religious marriage, however, the problem most people would have to it is that if the church recognizes one type of marriage in one situation, why wouldn’t it recognize that type of marriage in every situation? In that case, it appears the bishop at least acted consistently.

  • steve

    Scratch that. I read too quickly and responded in haste. On the surface, it seems that a person could hold to both positions. As regards religious marriage, however, the problem most people would have to it is that if the church recognizes one type of marriage in one situation, why wouldn’t it recognize that type of marriage in every situation? In that case, it appears the bishop at least acted consistently.

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Sorry guys, I am howling with laughter.

    You can’t make this stuff up!!

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Sorry guys, I am howling with laughter.

    You can’t make this stuff up!!

  • Steve P.

    Would it be impolite of me to take it as a given that Episcopalians believe in scripture? How about mere decency?

  • Steve P.

    Would it be impolite of me to take it as a given that Episcopalians believe in scripture? How about mere decency?

  • Steve P.

    It’s very confusing when you talk about gay “marriage” without the scare quotes. I know homosexuals who are married but that’s not what you are talking about.

  • Steve P.

    It’s very confusing when you talk about gay “marriage” without the scare quotes. I know homosexuals who are married but that’s not what you are talking about.

  • http://philipdevine,wordpress.com Phil Devine

    I respect gay clergy who refuse to “marry.” Thy have what they have, and refusing to pretend that it something else shows a certain integrity.

  • http://philipdevine,wordpress.com Phil Devine

    I respect gay clergy who refuse to “marry.” Thy have what they have, and refusing to pretend that it something else shows a certain integrity.