Bishop William Love talked to Hillsdale students on April 8 about his experience fighting for Biblical truth in the face of intense pressure to perform gay marriages from the Episcopalian Church.
Love, a self-described “cradle Episcopalian,” served as an Episcopal priest, deacon, and bishop over the past 30 years in the Episcopal Diocese of Albany, New York. In April 2021, however, he chose to leave the Episcopalian Church and become Assistant Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word.
“It’s very difficult seeing the church decline as it has in recent years,” Love said. “Not only the Episcopal Church, but the mainline denominations … to see all the things going on, and to not be able to stop it.”
According to Love, he began to have problems with the Episcopal Church in 2015, the year the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage with the Obergefell v. Hodges case.
“The Episcopal Church as an institution comes together every three years — it’s called the General Convention in the House of Bishops and House of Deputies, which is made up of laity and clergy,” Love explained. “They all meet together at some place throughout the country and talk about the governance of the church in depth.”
Just a few days after Obergefell v. Hodges passed, the Episcopal Church held a General Conventions, and passed a resolution authorizing same-sex marriages to occur within any diocese where the bishop of that diocese gave his permission.
Out of the 150 bishops at the convention, only eight — including Love — stood against the new resolution.
The message of the eight, Love said, was this: “We understand that this permission is being given in parts of the church, but in our dioceses, based on our understanding of God’s intent for marriage as between a man and a woman, we are not going to allow for same-sex marriages to occur,” Love said quoting the message of the eight
Three years later at the next General Convention, the pressure to conform to the resolution increased and bishops were told they no longer had a choice. Every bishop would have to allow same-sex marriages to be performed in his diocese.
Love said that due to the increased pressure, the seven other bishops who stood with him in 2015 agreed to go along with the resolution.
“I was the lone voice that said, ‘I’m not going to do this. I can’t do this based on my understanding of what God has said through the scriptures regarding marriage,’” Love said.
In a letter he sent to the Diocese of Albany in 2018, Love wrote “I believe that this resolution is misguided, that it is inappropriate, and illegal. And as such, and because it’s in opposition to God’s word, I cannot and will not abide by it.”
According to Love, his stance was well-received by the people in his diocese, and he refused to perform same-sex marriages, or allow any churches in his diocese to perform same-sex marriages, for the next two years.
In 2020, Episcopal Church charged Love for violating the resolution.
“It was clear that they would have gone to any extreme to find me guilty,” Love said. “The only way that they could find me guilty was to say that there was a change to the prayer book.”
Love decided to submit his resignation shortly after.
He emphasized the stance he took on gay marriage was not out of dislike for the LGBTQ community.
“God calls us to love the sinner and hate the sin, but they’ve been effective in blurring that, and so rather than being able to speak on those issues, all of a sudden you become labeled as being homophobic,” he said. “The silent majority within the church remained silent for too long and allowed all these things to come into the church, and they ended up taking over.”
Junior Isaac Waffle, who attended the talk, said Love’s story gave him deeper insight into how to love one’s enemies and trust in God during hard times.
“Bishop Love does not allow for his hatred of sin and unorthodox doctrine to also cause a hatred of those who participate in them – and he makes that very clear,” Waffle said.
Miles Smith, visiting assistant professor of history, also said that he was inspired by Love’s unswerving devotion to truth.
“So many changes are happening in society that will present Christians with difficult decisions relationally and vocationally,” Smith said. “Scripture must have our final and ultimate allegiance. His choices ultimately hinged on that.”
Smith said students can learn a hard truth from Love’s story: “Fidelity to Christ has a cost.”
According to Love, he would never have been able to take the stand he did without God’s help.
“As we go through these difficult times, whatever the source of difficulty may be, we don’t go through it alone,” Love said. “The Lord has promised that he will be with us.”