Saturday, 25 June 2005

weekend reading

The Guardian has a godslot column today by Richard Harries Jaw jaw on just war. It also has a column by Mark Lawson titled One miracle too many and subtitled The US is a theocracy suffering from galloping spiritual inflation.

The New York Times recently carried a major article What’s Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage?

Margaret Atkins writes the Credo column in The Times under the heading Beware the sword of rash judgment cuts both ways

In the Telegraph Christopher Howse’s column is Pegging out love’s laundry

The CEN has an interview of John Sentamu by Jonathan Wynne-Jones in two parts, here and here

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 June 2005 at 11:43pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Opinion
Comments

"What’s Their Real Problem With Gay Marriage?"

Well,

EITHER you can't have Gay Marriage, since marriage is the primarily the joining together of one person from each half of the human race to make a family who can produce and nurture their own children, and secondly a rejoining of two parts of the society (two families) in a social as well as personal commitment...

OR you have to de-define "marriage" and make it just a personal commitment between any two people.

This is not just about who you can have sex with; it's as much a clash of two visions of what life, relationships and society is about..

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 26 June 2005 at 7:53pm BST

I think thats a very partial view of what contemporary relationships are actually about.

1. A growing of heterosexual couples now opt to remain childless after marriage, and marry with no intention of having a family

2. With geographical mobility, the idea of bringing together two wider extended 'clans' is again, far from a reflection of many contemporary marriages, where links between extended families are minimal

3. Marriage today is far more about a personal arrangement between two individuals, but stable relationships are certainly shown to be beneficial to the individuals concerned, and thus also the wider society. Thats why civil partnerships are such a good idea, and why the template for civil partnerships is civil marriage - indeed, as some conservatives have noticed, there is essentially no difference.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 27 June 2005 at 12:58am BST

So society should forbid marriage, then, to couples in which the woman is past menopause?

Better yet: why not simply make marriage a temporary contract, and once the couple's at the "empty nest" stage, dissolve it. Couples who aren't planning to have children don't deserve any benefits! I know I don't want to pay for those slackers....

(BTW, there's a little thing called "adoption," too. I assume that couples that can't produce their own children wouldn't be able to get married, either?)

Posted by: bls on Monday, 27 June 2005 at 2:30am BST

Or such it is in "Dave's Definition of Marriage."

But for those of us who take another view . . .

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Monday, 27 June 2005 at 5:54am BST

Actually, Dave's option #2 has been the trend for at least a hundred years in the industrialized nations of the communion.

Perusing the text of the marriage rites for Ireland, Scotland and England show profound changes from the 1662 occuring as early as 1928. While the 1662 rite explicitly mentions procreation as the #1 point underlying marriage, later rites severly downgrade this, push it into optional bits of the rite, or eliminate it completely.

Perhaps ironically, the American prayerbook has gone in the opposite direction. There is no reference to children at all in the marriage rite of any American prayer book from 1786 until 1928. In 1928, an optional collect was added at the end of the rite calling for blessing the couple with children if that is God's will. Still, there was no reference to children or procreation in the bidding on the purposes of marriage.

Finally, from the preface of the 1979 rite:

"The union of husband and wife in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God's will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord. Therefore marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently, deliberately, and in accordance with the purposes for which it was instituted by God."

So the union of the body, among other things, is for mutual joy and help and comfort for all couples, and for procreation of children in those whom it is God's will. It is reasonable to expect same sex marriages to contain mutual joy and help and comfort, and the lack of procreation to be no more hindrance to marriage than it is in heterosexual couples without children.

This text more or less agrees with the intent in the rites of Ireland, Scotland and the C of E [Common Worship]. I don't have a modern Canadian book, but a rite on the Anglican Church of Canada's web page for the blessing of a marriage between an Anglican and someone of another faith does not mention procreation.

Recognition that procreation is only for a subset of marriages and that the primary benefits of sex within marriage are other than procreation is the culmination of a trend in the rites of these industrialized nations that has been going on for at least a hundred years, and probably longer. The lack of procreation as a supporting point to objection to same-sex marriage is not tenable in these churches.

Posted by: Rob Leduc on Monday, 27 June 2005 at 4:56pm BST

Hi JCF! Of course you take a different view! That was exactly what I was saying; you have to de-define most aspects of marriage, except the two people, to create "Gay Marriage".

And to everyone else; I'd like to point out that having children is only one of the much richer aspects of being married to someone from the other half of the human race. And that most families are committed generationally, even when separated by the demands (and opportunities) of life nowadays.

If you read your contributions again I think you will agree with me that what we have is the "clash of two visions of what life, relationships and society is about".

I would call them (trying to) fulfill "God's order in creation" versus "Do what You want".

Posted by: Dave on Monday, 27 June 2005 at 8:14pm BST

"And to everyone else; I'd like to point out that having children is only one of the much richer aspects of being married to someone from the other half of the human race."

Actually, Dave, it was your statement in your original post that claimed that the currently recognized purpose of marriage was defined primarily as two people coming together for the purpose of procreation. My comments were to show that this simply has not been the case in the industrialized nations of the communion for at least 100 years.

Furthermore, once the references to procreation were eliminated (or in most cases made optional) in the marriage rites, there is no reason the individuals need to be from "opposite halves of the human race".

This is no product of modern liberalism, but simply a process that began with the industrial revolution and reached clear liturgical and theological milestones by 1928.

Everone, I assume, will agree there is far more content to marriage than procreation, even for couples where procreation is possible. It is these other things that proponents of same-sex marriage recognize as valid cause for blessing same-sex relationships - or as I prefer to call it, same-sex marriage.

Posted by: Rob Leduc on Monday, 27 June 2005 at 10:24pm BST

I can't imagine I - or moreover, the woman concerned - would find being married to one another a very 'rich' experience.

And its nice to know that I'm not part of @God's order in creation'.

Enough to make one think that such a vision of @God's creation'is largely fantasy, and we should get on with doing not 'what we want',but 'what is right'.

Which, in my case, is a loving, committed and monogamous relationship with my same sex partner. We're getting married next year! (sorry, 'civil partnered'...nah, its married, in reality!)

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 27 June 2005 at 11:00pm BST

Rob Leduc wrote "....once the references to procreation were eliminated (or in most cases made optional) in the marriage rites, there is no reason the individuals need to be from "opposite halves of the human race".... This is no product of modern liberalism, but simply a process that began with the industrial revolution and reached clear liturgical and theological milestones by 1928."

Rob, I don't think that the assertion that two people of the same sex can be in a relationship equal to marriage would have been considered credible by most people in 1928.

It would have been more current in Greece sometime B.C., though I suspect that, then, the inevitability of children in true marriage would have put the hypothesis in stark contrast to reality.

I agree that the separation of sex from the likelihood of children has had a major effect on people's thinking about all sorts of relationships. Especially given western society's "situation ethics" approach. It weakens the case for abstention outside marriage, the case for life-long commitment, the benefits of generational family commitments, and the reduces the functional differences between marriage and the many different "options" in today's Relationships Marketplace.

The biblical ideal for marriage is that one member of each half of the human race joins together emotionally, physically and in a societal commitment, and the two halves become "one flesh" for life. That produces a human family; something that is greater than the sum of its parts, which is permanent, societal and generational as well as inter-personal. Gay partnerships are inherently weaker in these aspects (as are other relationships currently practiced in society).


Posted by: Dave on Wednesday, 29 June 2005 at 11:16pm BST

I simply refuse to countenance that there is something "lesser" about a family which adopts, rather than procreates, children.

(Even as I glory that I am---through Christ---God's child *by adoption* Gal.4:5)

Once again, Dave, it is not that we have different views: it is whether one will use worldly POWER to *impose* that view on others. As I have argued, there is no way that other provinces in the AC can rationally believe that ECUSA or the AngChCanada are, by virtue of their own *internal* polities, imposing their views on the rest of the Communion (And if, say, Muslims in Nigeria should misconstrue it otherwise, then let that be a teachable moment re national church autonomy, and "local adaptation" as the Lambeth Quad puts it!)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Thursday, 30 June 2005 at 5:52am BST

JCF wrote: "Once again, Dave, it is not that we have different views: it is whether one will use worldly POWER to *impose* that view on others."

Hi JCF, By *imposing* do you mean imposing the liberal view of homosexuality on churches and clergy in ECUSA & ACoC who reject it ? And will you now finally support them being allowed to live in peace and keep their buildings, assets and pensions, without having to submit to bishops and a GC that they believe to be in serious error ?

Or will "liberal" bishops CONTINUE to use their *worldly power* to throw faithful clergy out of their jobs, and churches out of buildings that they themselves had built and paid for only four years previously ?

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 1 July 2005 at 6:43pm BST

So, if you think that two opinions should be accepted, Dave, would you extend that same liberty to those of us who wish affirming views of gay and lesbian people within the church at all levels to be enacted?

I think there is a case for pluralism and acceptance of difference but it has to work both ways.

Posted by: Merseymike on Saturday, 2 July 2005 at 10:17pm BST

No, I was questioning JCF's fear that that the conservative primates would use "worldly power". And pointing out that liberal ECUSA bishops are ACTUALLY persecuting their dissenting conservatives.

I think that the only pluralism most "liberals" believe in is "liberal pluralism"... Everyone else is seen as "extreme" and "excludes themselves", as you have said before.

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 3 July 2005 at 6:46pm BST

Dave wrote: "Rob, I don't think that the assertion that two people of the same sex can be in a relationship equal to marriage would have been considered credible by most people in 1928."

I never said it would. In fact, I would agree with you on that point. What I am saying is that the trend of "redefining marriage" has been underway in industrialized nations for a long time - at least a century. My point is that once procreation is eliminated from the purpose of marriage (or seriously downgraded by being made optional), as was reflected in the liturgy from at least that early date, the liturgical impediment to same-sex marriage is removed.

All of the remaining purposes and benefits of marriage described in the rite are completely available and desirable for same-sex marriage.

Same-sex marriage is not a redefinition of a static instution, but rather the logical outcome of a trend of redefinition that has been going on for a couple of centuries.

Posted by: Rob Leduc on Thursday, 7 July 2005 at 7:10pm BST
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