On Friday, Christian evangelist Franklin Graham expressed his concern after learning that the U.S. Episcopal Church has removed the phrase “union of husband and wife” from its marital liturgy.
According to the Christian Broadcasting Network, the term “union of husband and wife” has been replaced with the term “union of two people,” leaving many, such as Graham, in a state of discontent.
“I’m saddened to learn the Episcopal Church wants to replace the phrase the ‘union of husband & wife’ w/ the ‘union of two people,'” Graham tweeted. “Changing the words of the ceremony won’t make it right. You can’t change God’s definition.”
A member of the worldwide Anglican Communion, the U.S. Episcopal Church is governed by the Church of England — namely the Archbishop of Canterbury — and has been under increasing pressure from LGBT groups, who have been vocal about language within the church they claim is exclusionary.
The portion of the liturgy that references God’s intention for marriage being “for the procreation of children,” has also been changed to “for the gift of children,” in order to include same-sex couples who desire to adopt.
The changes were made in order to make marriage ceremonies within the church “gay-friendly.”
Though couples still have the option to make traditional “husband and wife” vows, many have voiced their complaints against the changes to the marital liturgy, including Church of England’s Secretary General William Nye.
Nye himself has been critical of the drastic change and went so far as to threaten the Episcopal Church last fall if it decided to divert from the more traditional format.
In a letter he penned last year, Nye insisted that setting this new language as the “standard” would effectively lead to a mounting “pressure to dissociate” the Church of England from the Episcopal Church in the U.S.
Nye said that conservative members in the U.S. would view any change to the current liturgy, which maintains the “husband and wife” phrase as “completely unacceptable.”
The secretary also warned of such “inclusive” language further pushing its way into liturgical church proceedings.
Since his letter was made public, Alan Wilson, the Bishop of Buckingham is one of 30 other members of the Anglican Church’s ruling synod to have opposed the Church of England’s — and Nye’s — leadership and have expressed their support of the revised marriage liturgy.
Anglican LGBT group “One Body One Faith” also penned a letter to Nye, blasting the secretary for upholding the traditional verbiage of the church and his alleged disdain for the LGBT community.
“It should not need saying, but it bears repeating: no-one is attracted to a group of Christians who profess the love of Christ but seem incapable of recognising it in the loving, committed relationships of two people,” the letter read. “These matters are not disconnected.”
“We continue to look forward to a day when we are able to recognise love as just that,” it continued. “It is love which reveals the love of Christ, wherever we encounter it: in and between human beings, in all their diversity.”
This isn’t the only change the church has made in recent months that has caused controversy.
Back in January, the Episcopal Church chose to stop using “gendered” language when it came to the figure of God, opting to refrain from using “He,” “Him,” or “Father.”
“Fixed boundaries of gender identity are being challenged and churches need to respond,” a statement from the church said. “This resolution is a clear response to the systematic oppression and violence that transgender people experience on a daily basis.”
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