Gay marriage

Anglican Leaders Downplay Censure of Episcopal Church

Archbishop Justin Welby with protesters. Image via REUTERS/Toby Melville/RNS

The Anglican Communion’s worldwide leaders, finishing up four days of heated discussions, sought to project a sense of unity despite a move to exclude the Episcopal Church from key policy decisions over the American province’s acceptance of same-sex marriage. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, overall leader of the global body, stressed at a news conference on Jan. 15 that the church had chosen to remain together, albeit effectively as a house divided.

As Anglican Leaders Gather, Future of Denomination in Question

Image via Anglican Communion News Service / The Press Association / RNS

Various factions within the Anglican Communion are jockeying for position as bishops of the world’s third-largest Christian tradition gather in Canterbury for the start of a six-day meeting to discuss the future of their communion.

But averting a split may not be possible.

The Most Important Religion Stories of 2015

REUTERS / Brian Snyder / RNS
Photo via REUTERS / Brian Snyder / RNS

Religion inspired countless other acts of forgiveness, mercy, and hope this year. But religion — or perversions of it, some would say — also inspired horrific violence: the “faith-based” cleansing of ancient lands, and bombings and shootings motivated by scriptural justifications. It was a year also of religious-inspired activism, seen perhaps most prominently in a pope who advocated for the poor and for a solution to climate change. Here is an overview of some of the most consequential religion stories of the past year, with thoughts on what to look forward to 2016.

How a Married Gay Catholic Couple Lives Their Faith

Tom Molina-Duarte and Bryan Victor. Image via Eric Seals / Detroit Free Press / RNS

Because their Catholic faith is against same-sex marriage, Bryan Victor and Thomas Molina-Duarte made their wedding vows this summer before a Protestant minister in a Detroit Episcopal church.

Those in attendance included many family members, including Victor’s uncle, who is a Catholic priest and Macomb County pastor. The Rev. Ronald Victor did not officiate but was there because, he told his nephew, the Catholic Church “needs more examples of gay holiness.”

When Victor and Molina-Duarte attend Mass every Sunday, the couple go to a Detroit Catholic church, where Bryan Victor’s mom and dad join them in the pew. In their shared Catholic faith, Victor and Molina-Duarte find spiritual sustenance. And at their parish, they’ve also found acceptance.

Why We (Still) Love Pope Francis

Image via Cathleen Falsani / Sojourners

“We do not remember days,” the Italian poet Cesare Pavese said, “we remember moments.”

Pavese’s words have come to mind often as I’ve thought about Pope Francis’ historic visit to the United States, particularly when people have asked me what the “best part” of covering the papal visit was for me.

My answer is always the same: hands down the best part was watching people see (and sometimes meet) Pope Francis in person for the first time.

Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis Held in Contempt and Jailed for Refusing to Issue Marriage Licenses

Alex Staroseltsev / Shutterstock.com
Photo via Alex Staroseltsev / Shutterstock.com

A federal judge ordered Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis into the custody of federal marshals Sept. 3 until she is ready to resume issuing marriage licenses.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning said fines were not enough to force her to comply with a previous order to provide the paperwork to all couples. Bunning said allowing her to defy the order would create a “ripple effect.”

“Her good-faith belief is simply not a viable defense,” he said.

“Oaths mean things.”

Why Routine Divorce is Now Inevitable, Even Among Christians

Image via graham tomlin/Shutterstock

A LifeWay Research survey released last week on the morality of divorce found that for most Americans, the reason an individual initiates divorce doesn’t matter in terms of how they morally evaluate the rightness or wrongness of that divorce. Pastors, though, still tend to draw moral distinctions between reasons for divorce.

Based on years of research on Christian tradition as it pertains to marriage and divorce, I can tell you what this finding means. The answer is not especially pretty: Routine divorce is now inevitable in American culture, including among religious people — with one possible exception.

Let’s take this problem apart.

Casting Ourselves Before Stones

Image via /Shutterstock

As an undergraduate student at a Christian university, I realize that my degree of experience within American social trends is limited to the last two decades. However, my age does not disqualify my faith as a Christian, nor should my faith as a Christian disqualify my faculty of reasoning.

I cannot speak as one who knows the mind of God, but as a Christian I have been called to have the mind of Christ. And through careful inspection of the texts left for us, it is possible to discern what a Christ-like mind is — what a Christian mind is supposed to be. 

In Defense of Marriage

Image via  isak55/Shutterstock
Image via  /Shutterstock

A few weeks ago, the single person’s lament was eloquently stated in The New York Times opinion pages, with a piece called "The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts’ Club" by Michael Cobb. Cobb articulated some of the pause that many of us singles have felt as the conversation has gone on about marriage, in particular how Justice Kennedy captured the spirit of the age by extolling the matrimony as the highest institution in the land.

I don’t disagree about the importance of marriage, but I have a lot of concern about how it has been talked about and in many ways idolized in this country. Much of the church has led the way on this idolatry — on the policy end, claiming the need to defend marriage; on the spiritual side, treating marriage as a pseudo-salvation, as though being married means that in some way you’ve "arrived" spiritually.

A few weeks ago, the single person’s lament was eloquently stated in The New York Times opinion pages, with a piece called "The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts’ Club" by Michael Cobb. Cobb articulated some of the pause that many of us singles have felt as the conversation has gone on about marriage, in particular how Justice Kennedy captured the spirit of the age by extolling the matrimony as the highest institution in the land.

I don’t disagree about the importance of marriage, but I have a lot of concern about how it has been talked about and in many ways idolized in this country. Much of the church has led the way on this idolatry — on the policy end, claiming the need to defend marriage; on the spiritual side, treating marriage as a pseudo-salvation, as though being married means that in some way you’ve "arrived" spiritually.

A few weeks ago, the single person’s lament was eloquently stated in The New York Times opinion pages, with a piece called "The Supreme Court’s Lonely Hearts’ Club" by Michael Cobb. Cobb articulated some of the pause that many of us singles have felt as the conversation has gone on about marriage, in particular how Justice Kennedy captured the spirit of the age by extolling the matrimony as the highest institution in the land.

I don’t disagree about the importance of marriage, but I have a lot of concern about how it has been talked about and in many ways idolized in this country. Much of the church has led the way on this idolatry — on the policy end, claiming the need to defend marriage; on the spiritual side, treating marriage as a pseudo-salvation, as though being married means that in some way you’ve "arrived" spiritually.

I’m Ready to Say Yes

Image via nito/Shutterstock
Image via /Shutterstock

The year is 2005. We are sitting down to dinner with our friend, Michael, in his apartment. Michael is gay and he’s wrestling with what that means. He is also searching for a church and he is drawn to oursbecause his theology and his understanding of God appear to align well with it. At some point in the meal he stops the conversation and asks bluntly,

"Do you think I would be welcome at your church? Is there is a place for someone like me?"

Jason and I exchange a look and the table falls silent. Finally I look up at Michael and say quietly,

“No. No, I don’t think there is. I’m so sorry.”

Fast forward several years. We’re in a new city and a new church. Jason gets an email from someone interested in checking out said church the following Sunday. She explains that she is gay and believes God made her that way. She’s not interested in debating the point. She’s just interested in finding a church. She thinks ours might be a good fit and asks the exact same question that Michael asked:

"Do you think I would be welcome at your church? Is there is a place for someone like me?"

Jason agonized over that email for days and it pained him immensely to write her back and say no. No, I don’t think there is. I’m so sorry.

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