To some extent these reflections are premature. Having narrowly defeated offering to the dioceses the option to decide whether to allow the blessing of same sex unions, it still has to be debated and decided whether the Diocese of New Westminster will be allowed to continue its practice of allowing seven parishes to do so.
But I have heard enough to want to comment. I did not hear much of the theological debate on whether the blessing of same sex unions was not in conflict with the core doctrine of the Anglican Church. The unseemly delaying tactics imposed on Synod on the Saturday evening debate by essentialists and their sympathizers meant that this debate took place on Sunday morning, at the time of the Eucharist in Montreal. In fact I believe I would not have heard it any way: technical problems have plagued the webcast. In time of easy global communication by internet and satellite it projects a very poor image of our church when we fail in a rather simple process.
But I was able to follow the debate on the practical issue on Sunday afternoon. In this discussion, aside from a few comments based on a naïve Biblicism which has never been part of the Anglican Tradition, I heard little theological argument. Instead, despite a few eloquent sermonettes, I heard a debate driven by fear. Two main fears were expressed. One was that a decision in favor of the blessing of same sex union would cause people to leave the church in droves, and destroy the already fragile remnant. The second was that to allow this to proceed would cause the demise of the world wide Anglican Communion. It seems it was the Bishops who most persuaded by this fear mongering.
And so once again the institution triumphs over the Gospel. The Gospel I receive from our scriptures is good news about the possibility of a life and a society based on love and justice, inclusion and acceptance, faith and compassion. In the name of keeping the church together and maintaining our institution, we have, I believe, denied the gospel. If I have a concern it is not so much that people would leave the church in droves because we pronounced God’s blessing on some marginalized couples who need so much our compassion. (I think there are some present members who will leave because we have failed to make that decision.). My concern is rather that thousands will continue estranged from and remain totally indifferent to a church which has no message, no courage and no vision of a new way of being human in a violent, unjust and self-destructive world.