The article “Clergy back same-sex marriage” (BDN, Nov. 14) includes a statement that is, at best, misleading. In claiming that the United Church of Christ allows the blessing of same-sex unions, the article invites the reader to assume as fact a degree of unanimity that does not exist in the UCC.
If, in the narrowest sense, the UCC can be said to “allow’ the blessing of same-sex unions, then it also must be true that it “allows” members to withhold their blessing, to take an entirely different position on the issue, or to take no position at all. That is because the UCC is an association of autonomous churches, none of which is beholden to the dictates of a central authority. The only thing that is “allowed” – something steeped in church tradition and custom – is that individual churches work out for themselves their own positions on theological questions, and plot their own spiritual courses.
An aphorism that sums up UCC polity is “the National Office speaks to the churches, but not for them.”