ACNA Archbishop asks his bishops and clergy to hold off on signing The Marriage Pledge
We need to take counsel together before taking further action, says Archbishop Beach
Anglican leader writes to Colorado CANA priest
By David W. Virtue DD
November 22, 2014
The Archbishop of the Anglican Church in North America has asked his fellow bishops, clergy and laity to hold off signing the Marriage Pledge so that he may take counsel over the legal, theological and sociological ramifications of signing such a statement.
"I am writing to you because there has been a lot of discussion in recent days about taking "The Marriage Pledge. Some of our bishops and clergy have been in favor of signing this pledge, some are not in favor of signing the pledge, while others need more time to consider the consequences of making such a commitment," wrote Beach.
"It would be best for us to take counsel together before taking further action. Therefore I ask that you do not sign this pledge until as bishops, clergy, and lay leaders we have had more opportunities to pray about and discuss the legal, theological, and sociological ramifications of signing such a statement.
"I ask us all to join together in prayer for the preservation of a biblical understanding of marriage in our society, in specific prayers for the courts in North America, and particularly the U.S. Supreme Court as these issues come before them. Even in the midst of different perspectives about the wisdom of signing the pledge, we can rejoice that all of this discussion is motivated by a strongly shared commitment to the sanctity of marriage as established by Our Lord in the Scriptures. It is often when the times seem darkest that God's glory can be most clearly displayed."
A CANA priest from the Diocese of Colorado wrote to Archbishop Beach to say that his clergy and staff had already signed this pledge prior to his directive asking that they not do so.
The Rev. Donald Armstrong, Archdeacon & Canon Theologian CANA West and rector of St. George's Anglican Church, Colorado Springs, Coz said, "As you know, the Anglican Communion Institute, which is sponsoring this pledge, was founded from our parish at a time when I served as ACI's Executive Director and Archbishop Carey served on our board of directors.
"My involvement in the work of ACI is the primary reason Rob O'Neill and the National Church attacked my vestry and me with such viciousness in 2007...costing me dearly on every level from my family's financial security to destroying my personal reputation. This issue of marriage redefinition is something over which I have fought the fight, and continue to believe called to do so.
"I also still believe my friends at ACI are the finest ecclesiastical strategists and theological thinkers in the church today. I took the fall for ACI because I fully believed their crusade for Christ was the right one.
"I find your directive problematic both because of my history with ACI and my difficulties with ACNA's House of Bishop's inability to self-discipline...exactly what led to the theological divisions within TEC."
Armstrong said he found "the ACI pledge an appropriate way to handle this current division between our Christian commitments and our government's establishment of secularism as the state religion. Even our common mentor Ed Salmon, agrees this to be a worthwhile pledge to make.
"I would encourage you to certainly sign or not sign yourself, but to leave ACNA clergy in this matter free to express their commitments over and against the prevailing cultural revolution. The ACI proposal is a clear expression of the church's subjection to the historic doctrine, discipline, and worship of the church...three areas in which ACNA has much repair work itself to do."
THE MARRIAGE PLEDGE
In many jurisdictions, including many of the United States, civil authorities have adopted a definition of marriage that explicitly rejects the age-old requirement of male-female pairing. In a few short years or even months, it is very likely that this new definition will become the law of the land, and in all jurisdictions the rights, privileges, and duties of marriage will be granted to men in partnership with men, and women with women.
As Christian ministers we must bear clear witness. This is a perilous time. Divorce and co-¬habitation have weakened marriage. We have been too complacent in our responses to these trends. Now marriage is being fundamentally redefined, and we are ¬being tested yet again. If we fail to take clear action, we risk falsifying God's Word.
The new definition of marriage no longer coincides with the Christian understanding of marriage between a man and woman. Our biblical faith is committed to upholding, celebrating, and furthering this understanding, which is stated many times within the Scriptures and has been repeatedly restated in our wedding ceremonies, church laws, and doctrinal standards for centuries. To continue with church practices that intertwine government marriage with Christian marriage will implicate the Church in a false definition of marriage.
Therefore, in our roles as Christian ministers, we, the undersigned, commit ourselves to disengaging civil and Christian marriage in the performance of our pastoral duties. We will no longer serve as agents of the state in marriage. We will no longer sign government-provided marriage certificates. We will ask couples to seek civil marriage separately from their church-related vows and blessings. We will preside only at those weddings that seek to establish a Christian marriage in accord with the principles -articulated and lived out from the beginning of the Church's life.
Please join us in this pledge to separate civil marriage from Christian marriage by adding your name.
The Reverend Ephraim Radner
The Reverend Christopher Seitz
Laymen are welcome to sign to express support for pastors making this pledge. --Ed.
The Pledge can be accessed here: http://www.firstthings.com/marriage-pledge
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