During the opening session of a four-part educational series entitled Toward a Hallowing of Permanent Sexual Commitments, Bishop Terence Finlay of Toronto asked members of his diocese to help him respond pastorally to people in committed same-sex relationships.
Attempts to get agreement in General Synod on same-sex unions at this time would create further divisions, he said, and Anglicans need, initially, to deal with the issue in a pastoral way.
Based on a study guide prepared at the bishop's request, by members of the Church of the Redeemer, the series was organized by St. Clement's, Eglinton. The first session, Those Whom God has Joined-and Rejoined, focused on the church's evolving understanding of marriage.
Speaker Pauline Thompson, associate professor at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto, and a member of Church of the Redeemer, said some people find the analogy between same-sex "marriage-like" partnerships and marriage objectionable, but both are about intimate, committed sexual relationships.
The church has changed its mind about many things over the centuries, she said, from struggles over food laws and circumcision to issues of slavery and the role of women. Revision of its understanding of marriage and re-marriage has resulted from new insights into Scripture and tradition, and as a pastoral response to the pain of the divorced.
Paul Moore of St. Bride's, Clarkson, was disturbed that the call for discussion has been sent to one faction in the church and warned any fundamental change that is unbiblical will likely result in schism and an exodus from the Anglican Communion.
The second of the four public forums concentrated on evolving language and the mind of the church. Suffragan bishop Victoria Matthews of Toronto introduced the topic.
She had observed a dissolving of labels and an emergence of persons on this issue and urged the church to be cautious and not to assume that moving forward means moving in one direction.
Speaker Andrew Lincoln, senior professor of New Testament Theology at Wycliffe College, cited various New Testament passages regarding the role of women and showed how perceptions in this area have changed remarkably from literal translation. He also referred to texts concerning St. Paul's attitude towards homosexuality, but noted that modern attitudes and sexual practices could not be understood by Paul in the cultural context of his time. …