The question of consensus

As the Episcopal Church considers its response to the recommendations of the Anglican Primates a question has arisen that I can’t answer, and I would love the benefit of your thoughts.

Episcopalians who believe we should accede to the Primates’ recommendations, but who support the full inclusion of gay and lesbian Christians in the Church, are arguing that in acceding to the recommendations, we would only be pausing in our pursuit of full inclusion. They suggest that room is being cleared in which serious discussion about human sexuality can eventually begin, and that from that discussion a new consensus might emerge. Therefore, the are arguing, placing a moratorium on the consecration of a bishop in a same-sex relationship, and banning the blessing of same-sex relationships (I don’t think this is what is the Primates are asking us to do, but some folks are willing to take that step, so I use their interpretation here) may merely be a temporary measure.

This thinking informs the Presiding Bishop’s recent “Word to the Church,” and is articulated here by the Rev. Tony Clavier, who says: “Surely if it is in God’s will that gays and lesbians may marry, or bishops in same sex relationships are the thing of the future, we can all wait to see if this revelation becomes apparent more widely across the world before we break ranks with our family and tradition?”

My question is this, if a change in Church teaching is to occur on these issues, how will it occur? Can changes of this sort occur through orderly consensus in a process led by Primates and scholars? Are their examples in history that support such a view?

I’d appreciate any insight you have to offer on this

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