Reverend Ed Bacon

Read more of Kim Lawton’s interview with the Rev. Ed Bacon, rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in Pasadena, California:

Q: Tell us why your church decided to go ahead and officiate at same sex weddings in California.

A: I think that the central reason is that we believe that God’s love is not discriminatory. It’s not bigoted. There are no second-class citizens, and so the graces of the church should extend to everyone, regardless of who they are.

Q: This has been controversial within the Episcopal Church, and the dioceses in California aren’t all agreeing. Why is there still so much controversy about this?

Ed Bacon

Rev. Ed Bacon

A: Even within the Episcopal Church there is a lack of exposure to healthy relationships with gay and lesbian Christians, because people have not felt welcome in a church that discriminated against them and a church that they felt was abusive. One of our important lay leaders here who happens to be heterosexual says that where you stand on this issue depends on where you sit on Sunday morning, and by that he means whether or not you are worshipping with brothers and sisters in Christ who are gay and lesbian, who have been on your board with you, or the vestry, who have been in Bible study groups, who have been in prayer groups, and we’ve had the great benefit of that here at All Saints Church. And our children here have grown up understanding that that is the norm, so when our vestry had a called meeting after the California Supreme Court decision, one of our leaders said this is a slam dunk decision, this is a no brainer. Of course we’re not going to be bigoted. Of course we’re not going to be discriminatory. Let’s move forward now.

Q: I’ve talked to some clergy who are really wrestling with whether or not to perform same-sex marriages in their churches. What would you say to those who are struggling over whether this is the right thing to do?

A: I would tell them that Jesus said seek first the kingdom of God and its justice, or its righteousness — both of those words come from the same Greek word — and all these things shall be added to you. The first thing we seek is the kingdom of God and its justice. If we always take a stand for justice everything else works out, so I would encourage them to step outside their comfort zone and experience the joy that we have experienced here at All Saints.

Q: One thing you hear over and over again from different segments of the Christian community is God instituted marriage between a man and a woman, and the Bible says this is between a man and a woman. How do you respond to that?

A: I think it’s very clear that the Bible has an arc that moves towards inclusiveness. Peter himself had a conversion experience about his fixed certainties and the things he felt repugnant toward, and the entire New Testament is about inclusion, about bringing more and more people in and understanding that there’s nothing God created which is inherently evil, and so the Bible itself moves towards inclusion.

Q: Let’s put this issue and what’s happening here in the bigger context of the struggles going on within the US Episcopal Church, and even more broadly within the worldwide Anglican Communion. Have you thought about the impact what you are doing here may have on those wider decisions? Is there a worry or a thought at all that this might in some way exacerbate the tensions?

A: Rather than being worried about the impact of what we’re doing, I’m very excited about the impact of what we’re doing, because I’ve been in the church and have been a priest long enough to have seen the inclusion of women in ordination to the priesthood, and it took some pioneering leaders of the church to step out and say God is for all, and the church had to grapple with the reality of women who were ordained priests. The church will have to grapple with gay and lesbian members who are married, and it will cause some bit of chaos and some bit of rocking the boat, disequilibrium for a while, but the church is led by the Holy Spirit, and I have great excitement and great joy and great confidence that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth, which will be about embracing all people.

Q: Bishops from around the world will be gathering for the Lambeth Conference. Is there a sense that while the leaders are gathering and there are going to be conversations, Lambeth is all about conversation? Do you feel like, at the church level, you all are saying, “We’re moving forward while you all are talking”?

A: Absolutely. The church is moving forward. The church in its pastoral responsibilities to the people of the pew must be engaging, consoling, comforting, empowering rather than abusing its members. So we have a responsibility here on the ground, at the grassroots level, to move forward with justice, inclusion, love, and compassion, and the bishops can talk about it, but we think the bishops will come around and see that we are exercising great pastoral responsibility.

Q: For those who say this is a violation of Scripture and what they think Anglican tradition and historic Christianity teach, where does this leave them?

A: My experience, again, is quite lengthy, and I’ve seen people leave the church over the ordination of women and the change in the prayer book, and then I’ve seen those people come back after they grapple with issues of inclusion and justice. So I have every confidence that those who might leave would be leaving temporarily and then come back. I had a marvelous experience in my former post where I was called by a congregation in the city who had left the cathedral prior to my being the dean there, asking to come back, saying that they knew that the trajectory they were on was a dead end street, and it ended in anger and splinteredness, and they wanted to come back in. I have every confidence that’s going to happen with us.

Q: What is your message, then, for the bishops meeting at Lambeth?

A: My message for the bishops who are meeting in Lambeth is to open the depths of their being, their conscience, their hearts, their minds, and in their community to the movement of the Holy Spirit that leads them into all truth, that blows where it wills, it’s always leading toward inclusion, and then to have the courage of the convictions that come from listening to the Holy Spirit.

  • Laird White

    Dear Reverend Bacon:
    I am the daughter of a very liberal Episcopalian minister, Cornelius R. Trowbridge, who.. if alive, would have cheered your message about gays on the
    Oprah Show.
    However, I would have amended your phrase “being gay is a gift from God” by adding, “a gift from God such as your height, your humor, your coloring, your ear for music, etc. These are all “human traits”, like being gay or not.” – Maybe putting “gayness” in such a light, would have made it easier for some non-liberal Christians to have understood better what you were saying.
    But thank you for saying it! I am 72 years old, married for many years and couldn’t care less if someone is gay!

  • Phyllis A Chittum

    If same sex marriage had been part of God’s plan..
    The Garden of Eden – would have had
    Eve & Eve……or Adam & Adam….
    Why do you think one major cities in bibical history was destroyed….because of great sin -
    including sexual……and it WASN’T all animal’s.

    Good Grief!!!
    I can just imagine God looking down – and
    shaking his head in disbelief.
    If you are putting this out for the public to
    hear – I would be afraid to put my head on a pillow at night, as the wrath of God is great.

  • Moe Buck

    Rev. Ed Bacon; STAND UP AND SPEAK to the nations just as your President Elect for your country has begun to do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The WORLD needs more people in a position of RESPECT; like you, to say it like it is. I sat, in the comforts of my fog, surrounded home on Pender Island, B.C. Canada—a hop, skip and a jump up the map from you, in Seattle, Washington, with the glorious Mt. Baker/Mt. Rainer??? behind you; listening to a REAL idea on the Oprah show today. I am a 60 year old “RECOVERED Catholic” woman, who found spirituality in my middle forties. A “hetrosexual” with two children; who for many reasons, left my marriage—and lost my children; had a 5 year female relationship; returning to the “accepted” version of sexuality because; through much pain, extreme hard work and self discovery, became a WHOLE person and was finally ready for my soulmate, who happens to be MALE; who had waited for me for 42 years to find my way home—I am applauding YOU! Yes, yes, yes, yes—damaging interpretation of the bible, is exactly where the problem lies. EXTREME—ISM! No one ever said, “Here comes Mrs. D–the hetrosexual P.E. teacher that we all love so much”; but they had lots to say when I “switched” teams. You hit the nail right on the head. I am a human being, I AM A GIFT; I am not categorized by a definition of a sexual preference. I live my life from love. I am now retired. In my working career, I encountered ALL walks of life. My friends are just that–from ALL walks of this life. I am not one to respond to anything on the internet from a T.V. Show, but YOU hit a raw nerve. This was the SERMON ON THE MOUNT—BRAVO!! My hope is that you are mentoring, as I am, a new group of human beings in your profession who can STAND UP AND SPEAK TRUTH!!!CONGRATULATIONS!!
    My wish for you is that you receive the energy, strength and continued courage that is required for you to carry on your vital work.Thank you!

  • ED VARBEL

    you GUYS ARE SO FAR OFF BASE,its not only
    sick its an abomination to A HOLY GOD,IT’S
    ALL IN THE BIBLE,SO DEAL WITH IT.

  • alice lane

    I was raised with Ed and his parents taught me in school. I feel like this is his convictions. who am I to say what is right and wrong? let God lead

  • Sheila Jones

    In making a statement that being gay is a gift from God, it makes one wonder what Bible Rev. Bacon is reading. That is like saying adultery is a gift from God or drug addiction is a gift from God. They are choices. Jesus loves the sinner, but not the sin, so how can we declare something to not be sin that the Bible clearly states is sin. 2 Corinthians 6:9-11 states that there were those in the church that used to be fornicators, effeminate, abusers of themselves with mankind, etc., but no longer were because they were changed by the Spirit of God. They were no longer what they used to be, and that is the message that Jesus brought, He said go and sin no more, but today we seem to be hearing a different message, to come as you are and stay as you are. We no longer have to live in bondage to sin, and that should be the message.

  • Sandra McGreevy

    Right on, Sheila! There are many places in the New Testament that refer to homosexual practices as being sinful. Rev. Ed is certainly NOT being led by the Holy Spirit as the Holy Spirit would lead to purity. We are to love the sinner, and hate the sin. We must pray for our brothers and sisters whose cross is the cross of homosexuality and lesbianism — that they see the error of their ways and that God will give them the grace of purity and chastity, if they only ask for it. We are all called to chastity, no matter what our state in life is. Because we have pushed the Bible aside, look at where the world is headed — confusion, impurity, lack of respect for human life, the culture of death, plans to teach the very very young impure things and practices; parents are losing more and more rights over their own children; pedophelia, perversion of all sorts and murders. We have taken God out of our society, so what are we left with? The devil, Satan, who prowls the world like a roaring lion waiting to see who he can devour. This world, without God, is hell and will be a living hell. We must stick to the Truth which sets people free and that Truth is Jesus Christ! He is the Way, the Truth and the Life! True joy and happiness is found only in Him. Let’s pray for our brothers and sisters that are in bondage so they may see that the “gift from God” is the cross which they must learn to carry through prayer, chastity and purity. It certainly can be done. Priests and consecrated lay people do it all the time. With God and with prayer, all things are possible. Please read your bibles and be enlightened!

  • Lawrence Brooks

    I am compelled according to Scripture to refute the lie that homosexuality is acceptable to God. It is, in fact, not only a sin, but a detestable one. I urge you as a minister of Yoshua (Jesus), to please read the following verses with an open heart, because your eternal destiny is in jeopardy, and God does not in any way wish you to perish since His love for you is unfathomable. The Scriptures concerning homosexuality are: Lev 18:22; Rom 1:24-27; ICor 6:9,10. If one travels away from using the Word of God as the only standard for a Christian into grey, uninspired, nebulous contemplations of men about God and morality, then it is only a downward spiral from there. God has provided undeniable evidence for the veracity of His Word, and I would strongly suggest that anyone who is seeking to know the truth and Him, yet doubting that the Bible is inspired, should obtain a copy of in my opinion the most comprehensive apologetic book on the market for providing proof that the Bible is indeed the very Word of God, the Holy Scriptures. It’s called “The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict,” by Josh McDowell. Thank you, and I pray that God will utilize my words to help reach you.

  • Jean Weber

    My feelings and beliefs are so like yours but I feel that there is no one that has he same interpetation of the Bible. My son ( who died of AIDS) a truly beautiful loving person, did not pick this live style. God gave it to him just as he gave him his smile and loving personality. God Bless You for your belief, your works and your love for everyone!

  • Julie Steffler

    It took a lot of guts to come out and saying that “being gay is a gift of God” I proud of you, look up to you and I am glad that something has been said because I totally agree. I always hear the terms of rude remarks from people at work and out on the streets of what they don’t know and understand and it breaks my heart that people act like this. It was so good to hear someone saying how I feel as well and how it touched me and made me cry to know that their are other great people that care the same way I do. I have people that are really close to me that are gay and I would not change them in anyway. I always believe in them as they always believe in me making it one of the greatest gifts of all from god. I also believe that though all life experiences we all choose to grow and can make everything in life positive now matter what the outcome of what is happening around us. If you are more positive with everything in life then good things happen to you but if you worry about bad/negative things around you then it drowns you. A singer wrote in his song “let God deal with the things they do because hate in you heart will consume you to” which I believe in to. I believe it is right to stand up for what we believe in or nothing will ever change in all life experiences. If we can reach 1 person then we made a difference and will hopefully educated others to understand, step up and change. People who have made a difference – black people standing up for their rights, for women to vote, Obama be the first black president,women running for president, to be gay, to try to solve war,crime, violence, corruption, world hunger, ,etc. I feel that they are beautiful people who deserve to be heard and given a chance in life just like anyone else in life for they are not hurting anyone and want to be loved like anyone else. I have always felt that love is not cruel, ashamed or unkind. I feel that “life is what you bring to it and projected back to the world that makes you rich as a person” Its not the money or possessions but the love that we all share as one even through forgiveness and I feel like one of the luckiest and richest people that I know.

  • bp

    If being gay is a gift from God then why did He destroy Sodom and Gomotrah? Ask Bacon to explain that one?
    Genesis Chptrs 18 – 19

  • Truth Repeater

    What Bible are you reading?

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (New American Standard Bible)

    9Or (A)do you not know that the unrighteous will not (B)inherit the kingdom of God? (C)Do not be deceived; (D)neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor [a]effeminate, nor homosexuals,

    10nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will (E)inherit the kingdom of God.

    2 Tim 4:2 [NIV] Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction.
    2 Tim 4:3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
    2 Tim 4:4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.

  • John

    Sexuality is God-given, but it isn’t something to be taken lightly. Temperance is a Virtue, just as is Chastity. The Bible never condemned Love, but we aren’t discussing Love; we’re discussing behaviour. Homosexuality very well may feel/be natural to some people, but these acts are pointless, even idealy. No governance has the responsibility to esteem a behaviour that is undoubtedly unproductive at its highest level. In that regard, we should be right in saying that in terms of ideals, homosexuality will never stand in the same regard as heterosexuality. Marriage is an upholding of ideals, and although society has done a rightly poor job of living up to them, we have no justification in redefining such ideals. People will be doing as they please in private regardless of what their surveyors say, but even when we fall short, the ideals prove static. What we shouldn’t allow is the rewrite of an ideal like marriage. The ideal should never fade. Frankly, marriage as esteeming ideals is the union of one man, and one woman, producing live offspring. Not all will come to reach this ideal, but that ideal is something Christianity cannot afford to lose. When we are judged on that fateful day, and we are made aware of our unproductivity, will we be glad to say that we were indeed unproductive? When these acts are called sin in Heaven, will we be okay with having commited them fully aware of our indecency? When we take it upon ourselves to determine right and wrong, will we come to the pearly Gates pleased in confessing dissent from the will of our Lord?. If so, God help us.

  • Peter

    Mr. Bacon, your beliefs mirror mine exactly. I was wondering if you have worked the Course in Miracles as I have. I have been sober in Alcoholics Anonymous for 40 years and have decided the reason the program works is because the spiritual principles at work are exactly the same. It states love for one another and John Barleycorn are our only disciplinarians, we need no other.

  • Jason Sandborn

    I think that’s WRONg peter :) The Anglican Church was founded on the teachings of God and more importantly of Jesus Christ (well his SON. So he’s God too! But that’s another discussion.

    ANYway I just wanted to post this information: ” From the PBS article: http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/episodes/july-18-2008/the-new-anglicanism/31/

    ” The U.S. branch of the Anglican Communion, the Episcopal Church, counts some 2 million members, a decline of more than one-third since the 1960s, ( doesn’t sound like this ” NEW TEACHING” is attracting many: on the other hand it is shrinking .. so does that validify these ” new Teachings” 9 For those with itching ears) who account for approximately 3 percent of the worldwide body. In fact, just between themselves, five of the archbishops not present in Canterbury ( they Weren’t PRESENT Because they were protesting the acceptance of HOMOSEXUALs / HOMOSEXUALITY in the ” Anglican” Church… ) –the primates of the Anglican churches of Nigeria, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and the Southern Cone of the Americas–represent nearly one-half the Anglicans in the world. ( so: 1/2 weren’t showing up even as early as 2008………….. )