The following guidelines are presented in order to offer a generous pastoral response to those within committed same-sex relationships who are seeking marriage in the Church. The document “This Holy Estate”, The Report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon of the Anglican Church of Canada, noted that a Christian theology of marriage: locates marriage within the Biblical narrative of a good creation fallen into sin but under redemptive grace in Jesus Christ which points toward the new creation. Marriage is thus an aspect of discipleship, which looks back at the covenanting Creator who gifted all things with life, and which looks ahead to the renewal of all things after the image of Jesus Christ.
The 2019 meeting of General Synod chose not to amend Canon 21 on Marriage in the Church which would have made the language of the canon gender neutral, providing for the possibility of same-sex marriage.
The 2019 General Synod adopted the following affirmations included in the document “A Word to the Church” submitted for consideration by the Council of General Synod.
Indigenous Spiritual Self-determination
Whatever the action of the church at this General Synod, we affirm the right of Indigenous persons and communities to spiritual self-determination in their discernment and decisions regarding same-sex marriage.
Diverse Understandings of the Existing Canon
We affirm that, while there are different understandings of the existing Marriage Canon, those bishops and synods who have authorized liturgies for the celebration and blessing of a marriage between two people of the same sex understand that the existing Canon does not prohibit same-sex marriage.
Diverse Understandings and Teachings
We acknowledge the ongoing reality that there is a diversity of understandings and teachings about marriage in the Anglican Church of Canada, and we affirm the prayerful integrity with which those understandings and teachings are held.
Our Commitment to Presume Good Faith
We affirm our commitment to presume good faith among those who hold diverse understandings and teachings, and hold dear their continued presence in this church.
Our Commitment to Stand Together
We affirm our commitment to walk together and to preserve communion, one with another, in Christ, within this church, within our Anglican Communion, and with our ecumenical partners.
These affirmations opened up the possibility for individual dioceses within the Canadian Church to move to exercise a local option in requesting their bishop to authorize and make provision for same-sex marriages. The Synod of the Diocese of Ontario meeting in Special Session approved the following resolution:
Be it resolved that the Special Synod of the Diocese of Ontario held on Saturday, October 26, 2019, request the Bishop of Ontario to authorize the solemnization of the marriage of same sex couples in the Diocese of Ontario by those clergy who choose to do so and with the support of the Church Wardens.
There is diversity within the diocese among parishes that are opposed to same-sex relationships similar to the diversity found in parishes that are in favour. Recognition of this diversity affirms that parishes who hold similar viewpoints on this subject are not to be painted with one brush, and represent the rich breadth of life in parishes, with parishioners who are theologically astute and deeply committed Christians. The diversity of our diocesan community demonstrates that we are called to witness to the faith in a variety of ways, and though such witness is rooted in differing interpretations and understanding of Holy Scripture and the tradition, they are recognizably Anglican.
These guidelines attempt to strike a balance between the call for “gracious restraint” and the “pastoral generosity” required to meet the needs of same-sex couples in our parishes. The call of the baptismal covenant on all Christians lies at the heart of these guidelines. We live within our covenant with God, embodied in the tenets of our faith outlined in the Creed and in the daily practice of our lives. We seek to grow in integrity and sanctity as we reflect the life of Christ in ourselves and in our relationships, through worship, reconciliation, proclamation, witness and action. The marriage of same-sex couples in the Church is framed in the light of their intention to grow into the fullness of Christ, individually and in their relationship, through faithful reflection of the gifts of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).