Comments: Canada: update on blessings

"It is our voice that is called to affirm that all unions of faithful love and lifelong commitment are worthy of God's blessing,"

Really? I thought marriage was about something quite different. Besides, why is this so pressing in Montreal? I mean, Canada has legalized same sex marriage, he can hardly make this into a human rights issue. He's in Quebec, for God's sake, it's hardly prophetic for the Anglican Church to come out in favour of something the surrounding culture, rooted in Roman Catholicism and for which the Anglican Church is the Church of the occupier, got over a long time ago. This isn't prophetic, this is merely running along behind society yelling "Wait for me!"

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 12 November 2008 at 11:41am GMT

Can Toronto be far behind? Our synod is in the spring. Fingers crossed, and all that.

Posted by Geoff McLarney at Wednesday, 12 November 2008 at 2:22pm GMT

Aw come on, Ford, you are way smarter than that. The prophetic witness is flowing into church life from civil society outside - where God is apparently doing many good things in committed queer couple life and parenting that are challenging the traditionalistic negative witness about just those daily lives, the negative witness inside church life.

When common sense and honest empirical observations take a look at those couple goods, surprise - the goods turn out to be remarkably similar to the goods we can see and appreciate in functioning straight couple marriages. Queer folks parenting - COLAGE counts ten million in USA and counting? - only greatly amplifies this dynamic goodsness.

And yes, we believers have been through similar change flows in the historic past. Quite a few of them in fact. Church life got corrected from outside culture and science in so many hot button traditional areas that one cannot really list the details in a blog post. That history is so vivid that I am surprised you are surprised to find God doing things outside church, which challenge and correct church?

And yes, so far as we can tell in common sense - raising gender/sex to be markers of sheer being, ontological (buttressing traditional claims that straight married folks are gold standard specials, compared to same sex committed couples?) - is a bad faith move even when it temporarily serves to protect and insulate church life from what God is doing outside of church life - in just those committed, parenting, same sex couples.

Or can some good outside church life, not ultimately stem from God?

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 13 November 2008 at 8:04pm GMT

Who are you, and what have you done w/ Ford Elms? :-/

"unions of faithful love and lifelong commitment"

Sounds like marriage to me.

I mean, no: it's not as "prophetic" in Montreal, as it would be in Lagos. But still...

Posted by JCF at Friday, 14 November 2008 at 6:13am GMT

"what have you done w/ Ford Elms? :-/"

I've always stated that marriage, whatever else it is for, is not about "affirmation" or validation of anything. Frankly, I find arguments about the validation of relationships to be blatant evidence of people missing the point entirely. I mean, by virtue of our baptisms, we are made new creations, citizens of the Kingdom of God, counted worthy to call the Creator of all that exists "Daddy", privileged to stand before Him, united in the Eucharist with all who have gone before and who are to come, we need fear nothing, not even death. If that isn't validation enough for people, what could ever possibly be? So no, marriage is not about affirmation, or validation, or anything like that. It is not about giving social approval, or even Divine approval, to the sexual act, that's a conservative argument. Or if I'm wrong here, could someone explain to me what it is that makes the validation of human relationships somehow a sacrament? And while you're at it, explain how matrimony is a sacrament at all, since it doesn't seem to fit with the other six.

And it's not "prophetic" in Montreal at all, gay marriage in this country is old news, it was legally recognized years ago, I can't remember when, so no, we Anglicans in this country are at best running along behind a bus that left long ago, and it is pretty self serving to call such an action "prophetic". One does not prophesy what has already happened.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 14 November 2008 at 11:41am GMT

"And while you're at it, explain how matrimony is a sacrament at all, since it doesn't seem to fit with the other six."

Ford, could you unpack this a bit?

Posted by BillyD at Friday, 14 November 2008 at 4:37pm GMT

Well, in Baptism the believer is made "member of Christ, child of God, and inheritor of the Kingdom of Heaven". We are made a new creation. The Eucharist is about many things, but, like baptism, is about the believer and God, speaking generally. Confession heals the breach between the believer, the community, and God caused by sin, confirmation is an accident of history, and properly is part of Baptism. In Unction, the believer is strengthend by God to deal with physical weakness, and is healed, though not usually physically. Holy Order is the assurance of Grace, that we are following in the footsteps of those who went before, our connection going back to the Apostles, and, on the local level, is about the bishop as focus within the diocese. It allows for the seemly and decent carrying out of the ritual functions of the faith, and the discernment of the will of God. But marriage? What does it do for the relationship between God and the believer? What is the inward and spiritual grace of which it is an outward and physical sign? All the others in some way relate to the relationship between the believer and God and the dispensation of Grace to the believer for the Christian Life. But Marriage? I don't understand it, honestly, but I do feel strongly that it is NOT about publically telling people their relationships are acceptable in the sight of God, nor that it is now OK for them to have sex with impunity. Beyond that, I can't really understand how to proceed. I also have a pretty high view of sacraments, as you can tell, and they are far more than just symbols to me. I can't look for an explanation to those who believe Baptism to be nothing more than the believer's public profession of faith, the Eucharist to be nothing more than an aid to pious memory, and the others merely the "traditions of men".

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 14 November 2008 at 6:56pm GMT

"...if I'm wrong here, could someone explain to me what it is that makes the validation of human relationships somehow a sacrament? And while you're at it, explain how matrimony is a sacrament at all, since it doesn't seem to fit with the other six." - Ford Elms -

Dear Ford,

Having discussed this question with more than one Roman Catholic priest of my acquaintance, it has been generally agreed that the charism of the *Sacrament* of Marriage is administered by the couple themselves, towards each other. The priest is there to offer God's Blessing through the Church.

This raises the question of whether or not a marriage outside of the Church falls into the category of a "sacrament". RIW may well not agree, but I leave you to ponder the question. This, of course, may have remifications on the matter of whether a same-sex couple making a life-long commitment to one another really 'needs' the Blessing of the Church for validation!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 15 November 2008 at 10:54am GMT

Father Ron
"Having discussed this question with more than one Roman Catholic priest of my acquaintance, it has been generally agreed that the charism of the *Sacrament* of Marriage is administered by the couple themselves, towards each other."

If I understand Ford correctly, he asks not who administers the sacrament, but whether marriage, which he sees to be intrinsically focused on the other person involved not on God, is a sacrament at all.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 15 November 2008 at 12:41pm GMT

What Erika said. It seems to me to be about something different than the others. It isn't about the relationship between the believer and God or the believer and the ecclesia. It isn't about God's intervention in His Creation through the simplest things of that Creation, like water, wine (far more basic 2000 years ago than now) oil, salt, etc. It seems to me to have more the nature of social contract. It has always struck me as emblematic of the Imperial Church's taking on of the right to approve and maintain a certain social status quo, to be more about maintaining social order than about the Christian life, an aspect of the Imperial Church's function as "crowd controller" if you will. or maybe I'm wrong here. Maybe it's about a Created thing: the relationship, making manifest in the world the Divine interrelationship, an Earthly manifestation of the "community" nature of God. Does that make any sense?

Posted by Ford Elms at Saturday, 15 November 2008 at 2:05pm GMT

"Maybe it's about a Created thing: the relationship, making manifest in the world the Divine interrelationship, an Earthly manifestation of the "community" nature of God. Does that make any sense?" - Ford Elms -

Indeed, Ford, I think it does makie sense. When I was a small boy in catechism class, we learnt that: 'A sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace'.

Perhaps, with marriage, the actual sacrament is manifest in the commitment between the two people concerned. In the case of Christian marriage, the Church has made it plain that it expects to be there - to recognise an 'inward and spiritual grace being present, and to offer a blessing. (Except that, in the case of same-sex relationships, it may seek to withold that blessing).

May the Church soon wake up to its responsibility to treat gay relationships with the same dignity it affords to heterosexual relationships, and offer a blessing to a life-long commitment of love and faithfulness.

The outside world could not give a fig about the sexuality of the partners to a civil commitment. When will the Church accept that, as St. Paul says: "It is better to marry than burn?"

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 15 November 2008 at 8:28pm GMT

"The prophetic witness is flowing into church life from civil society outside"

If this IS true, drdanfee, then the Church cannot claim a prophetic voice. Those who are being prophesied to cannot claim to be prophets themselves. Use of the word 'prophetic' then is just as self-serving as use of the word 'orthodox' is for those conservatives who use it, and just as patently false.

"Perhaps, with marriage, the actual sacrament is manifest in the commitment between the two people concerned."

Perhaps so, an earthly manifestation of the union "betwixt Christ and His Church". If so, there's stuff to be discussed. First, is that union only to be manifested in a heterosexual union? If so, why? If not, why not? Merely quoting seven verses of the Bible in isolation cannot answer that question. Is the nature of the sacrament to be found in the commitment of the couple alone, or in their committed heterosexuality? Is the union betwixt Christ and His Church a heterosexual one, and if so, what does that say about sex? Legalists, of course, cannot approach this.

Posted by Ford Elms at Sunday, 16 November 2008 at 5:27pm GMT

I suppose Ford, that here we need to try to understand the deeper meaning of what the Church calls being 'The bride of Christ'. It seems to me that this could describe the relationship of anyone one (or two or more) person(s) with Jesus through their baptism into Christ.

In any case, as we are assured in Scripture,
"In Christ, there is neither male nor female". Also, that there will be no such thing as *marriage* in heaven. What do you make of all that, Ford?

Perhaps we can only say, with Paul, that:
"Here we see through a glass darkly. Then we shall see (Him) face to face". Who knows what relationship with one another 'in Christ' will actually mean in its fullest dimension? Something amazingly wonderful, I hope.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 20 November 2008 at 11:59pm GMT
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