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Bishop faces internal heat from Epis­copal Church
Casey Gregg | Courtesy

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.”