Comments: Birnam Wood comes to Westminster

Not, I fear, a very perceptive piece from Geoffrey K Pullum. "I do" has never been part of the Church of England's Marriage liturgy because it is not action that is being asked for at this stage, but consent. The Latin in 1559 has it exactly as "Volo" - "I am willing". t is only with the joining of hands and the vows that the action begins, and the verb here is an active, transitive one, "I take". "I do" simply reflects American civil practice, and is just another bit of cultural imperialism from the Land of the Free.

I thought the Bishop of London had it right too: he was speaking to a couple whom he knew, who had almost certainly sat side by side on a settee in his study, and with whom he made eye contact repeatedly. He alluded, I am certain, to things they had spoken of. It was a pastoral address to the couple, and the rest of us merely overheard, and made of it what we could.

Posted by cryptogram at Sunday, 1 May 2011 at 6:11pm BST

All right, I believe in God, maker of heaven and Earth and of all things both visible and invisible. My partner and I attend a synagogue or an Episcopal church occasionally. So, maybe my lens of reference is wrong, but I think Jonathan Chaplin protests too much, or is thin-skinned.
Did anyone who watched William and Kate/Catherine get married not know they were having a religious ceremony? Did not the building itself, the presence of a couple of men dressed in rather fancy garb and adorned with rather fancy titles (Bishop, Archbishop), the music, the dropping of "God" and "Jesus" a few dozen times, not clue them in?
Now, if Mr. Chaplin's point was that the media was discomfited, I don't know. I watched a local channel's broadcast of BBC America's coverage of the ceremony itself. And I saw no antagonism towards religion.
Here in the USA, we also have discussions about the media and religion. But I think the average media correspondent is simply woefully ignorant of religion, rather than hostile.
Regarding the monarchy, I seriously doubt its future will be long with the model of royalty-as-celebrities. Fame is fickle and fleeting. And carries huge risks.
May these two people have a long and happy marriage. And may the paparazzi figure out all people need private space and boundaries. If the paparazzi don't, may they end up in a dark sulfurous place where there is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. A few karate chops and broken lenses might also help.
RIP, Princess Diana, your kids are alright. May you know eternal comfort and joy. Some of us will not forget you.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Sunday, 1 May 2011 at 6:51pm BST

So little attack on the couple as regards their living together for eight years. Will it take an openly gay royal to do the same?

Posted by robert ian williams at Sunday, 1 May 2011 at 8:22pm BST

I listened to some of the service while driving. The hour or so before it started was characterised by some of the most mindless and uninformative interviewing I have ever heard on BBC Radio4. And as soon as the music of 'I was glad' began, the commentator immediately started to talk over it and no silence could be left unfilled by his words. As far as I could tell there was absolutely nothing, and there hasn't been anything, about the religious significance of the media event of the year. No wonder that some of us have found the whole thing little more than bread and circuses for the masses. My apologies for my continuing grumpiness!

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 1 May 2011 at 8:53pm BST

I can think of no faster path to The Republic of Britain than requiring the Royals (especially the younger generations) to abide by standards of pre-marital chastity that mean nothing anymore to their subjects, especially from the same generation as themselves.

Posted by Counterlight at Sunday, 1 May 2011 at 9:25pm BST

"So little attack on the couple as regards their living together for eight years. Will it take an openly gay royal to do the same?"

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday,

So, Robert, your immediate response to the Royal Wedding was to attack the couple for their modern decision to actually experience what most couples in today's world experience - the value of finding out - before their ultimate commitment to marry one another - whether they are compatible?

Shame on you. I'm sure many of your fellow Roman Catholics do exactly the same. It is only the need for hypocrisy that pretends otherwise. Virginity is not what it once presumed to be. Why do Church people want to continue the prevailing myth; that the youth of today might want to plunge into the commitment required of them, without experiencing the test of 'living together'. This is probably why the cult of Virginity in the Church has been proved to be such a disaster.

Celibacy is a very special vocation - for dedicated monks and nuns, and definitely not for ordinary human beings. Ask any normal human being

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 1:03am BST

The Montreal Gazette is reporting that there was no pre-nup:

Posted by Randal Oulton at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 1:03am BST

The dreaded Mad Priest of Newcastle made the excellent point that this was OUR fantasy wedding, not theirs. Nice kids that they are, they did what was expected of them, but I seriously doubt such a media circus and state spectacle was what they both really wanted.

Posted by Counterlight at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 2:48am BST

I couldn't care less about the tin pot United Kingdom, but what about the Kingdom of God.

Posted by robert ian williams at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 5:24am BST

Republicans, right but repulsive; Royalists, wrong but romantic -- some things never change!

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 5:49am BST

By the way, what happened to Pete Broadbent?

Is he back in harness?

I missed most of the Royal Wedding coverage, did he get a mention?

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 5:59am BST

Counterlight - I think that there may be some signs of reality dawning in some parts of the CofE. At the fairly recent marriage of a nephew who had been living with his bride for some years, the parish priest commended the couple for coming to church, not condemning them for living together, because it was a public manifestation of their already existing commitment to each other.

Isn't it also true that the elevation of virginal marriage, at least for the woman, is a relatively late, and probably Victorian, invention? In previous times engagement for ordinary people was a signal for the commencement of sexual relations and no doubt that only rationalised what was already happening. For the upper classes, of course, virginal marriage was essential to ensure ordered inheritance and property rights.

My concern is more that the spectacle further reinforces the 'fairy tale' desires of the participants in marriage (and sometimes in civil partnerships too). The enormous expense incurred somehow seems to be an insurance policy ensuring that everyone will be 'happy ever after'. Surely this just adds to the burden of expectation which the couple already carry and makes failure so much more traumatic.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 9:39am BST

I note RIW is out of step with the leader article in The Tablet....

Posted by david rowett at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 11:28am BST


Jonathan Chaplin was specifically referencing the BBC Newsnight programme transmitted in the evening after the wedding (linked in article but only good for a few days) and the visible reaction of the programme's presenter while Martin Bashir was speaking. I think his comments are accurate in that context.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 12:06pm BST

'Virginity is not what it once presumed to be. Why do Church people want to continue the prevailing myth'; 'This is probably why the cult of Virginity in the Church has been proved to be such a disaster.'

How does this position square with the exemplary status of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Anglo-Catholic tradition? I refer to your blog:

Maybe we can add a twist to the angel's reply after Luke 1:34: '“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”, thereby endorsing the modern view of pre-marital devotion.

Something cynical like: 'Now, come on, Mary. This is 'me' you're talking to!'

Posted by David Shepherd at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 12:49pm BST

Let's remember folks that marriage for centuries was primarily about property and inheritance (especially for royals). People didn't marry for love as a matter of course until the dreaded 18th century Enlightenment (blame Rousseau for that one). In much of the rest of the world, marriage is still a contract between 2 families with mutual interests, not a pledge between people who love each other. Thank the Philosophes, not the clergy, for finally making it possible for Romeo and Juliet to marry publicly.
It is no accident that all of the love stories before the 18th century (including Dante's divine love for Beatrice Portinari) were adulterous. Despite all the rhetoric about the Institution of Marriage Once Received By All The Saints, the evidence shows a continuously changing and evolving institution. No one in America has children by the dozen for help around the family farm anymore. It's been a long time here since women and children were legally considered a husband's property. We forget that that the norm for marriage in Biblical times was polygamy. The Mormons were right about that one.

Posted by Counterlight at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 2:07pm BST

I have to disagree with your statement that "The most usual form now used in the Church of England is neither of these, but rather the Common Worship Marriage Service." In the 11 rural parishes of this Benefice in north-east Suffolk the choice between 1928 and CW is fairly evenly balanced. The traditional words appeal to many, whilst others want more everyday language. I am happy to offer both forms of service to those couples who come to us for their ceremony.

Posted by Richard Thornburgh at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 4:20pm BST

Simon, thank you for the clarification.

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 4:56pm BST

Both 1662 BCP and 1928 say that 'marriage is an honourable estate instituted by God'. Is that so and to what does it refer? CW has a different formulary it being 'God's gift in creation'.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 6:15pm BST

There were a number of features of the service which seemed to me to merit comment. Two which have passed almost unnoticed and uncommented are:

(i) the use of a modern translation of the Bible (perfectly proper) with an older version of the service (400th anniversary anyone?)

(ii) the singing of Jerusalem as a hymn in the presence of the Bishop of London.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 8:44pm BST

First of all you know the difference between chastity and celibacy?

God never approved polygamy in the OT... he simply tolerated it as he did divorce. The Christian dispenation swept this away, and returned to the pattern established in Genesis.... one man and one woman.

I do wish the royal couple well, but I feel they have been failed by their spiritual guardians, particularly the Bishop of London.

Yes the wedding dress was stunning..but why choose white?

As for the comments of Archbishop Sentamu.. I expected better of him.

All within living memory of an Archbishop of Canterbury who demanded a King Emperor abdicate rather than be married to a divorced person.

Posted by robert Ian Williams at Monday, 2 May 2011 at 9:23pm BST

"How does this position square with the exemplary status of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Anglo-Catholic tradition? I refer to your blog"
- David Shepherd -

David. Perhaps you haven't quite got the point. The fact that the Conception of Jesus - via the Blessed Virgin Mary - was different. That is how Jesus was both divine and human! Jesus was, indeed, different from the rest of us. Agreed?

Recall the hymn: 'Virgin-born, we bow before Thee; Blessed was the womb that bore Thee' Says it all!

None-other amongst us can claim that provenance.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 3 May 2011 at 1:21am BST

Bravo, Fr. Ron! I am officiating at the wedding, on Saturday, of a couple who have been living together for two years. In a discussion last week, they said how helpful this had been in preparing to make their ultimate commitment before God and the Church. And I think that it is not the least insulting to the Blessed Virgin Mary to say that the Middle Ages produced a bizarre and unhealthy cult of virginity itself.

Posted by Old Father William at Tuesday, 3 May 2011 at 1:38am BST

I didn't watch it. The whole thing is degrading. There are arguments for maintaining the Established status of the C of E (the main one being that if it didn't have it it might well fall to bits), but heavy negatives. There may have been good things here, but only incidentally: essentially this was a display of power (astute comments on this in Will Hutton's column in the Observer): note, e.g., the tawdry snub to Blair and Brown. Would Jesus have done it ('it' being the whole razzmatazz)? Certainly not.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 3 May 2011 at 5:49am BST

Well, we really can't consider Mary to be an exemplar. After all, she and Joseph weren't married in a Christian Church by the laws of Christendom as validated by Christ and Christians everywhere, Christco Inc.

No. They just *lived* together. That's all. Maybe by the rituals and customs of the tinpot nation of Israel, but not really. And, of course, Mary and Jesus' *real* father never married in church, so . . .

I am so over all the little spiritual vultures circling to find which of their personal jots or tittles were omitted, the pharisaic hyenas yelping over each perceived easy meal. I'm sure they'll receive the judgment they mete out.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 3 May 2011 at 7:53am BST


Contrary to RIW, on one hand, and the usual uncharitable accusations on the other, I don't see any value in dredging up the royal couple's past (or anyone elses).

I was challenging your notion that suggested that pre-marital chastity was a relatively modern invention. Despite your clarification, Mary did maintain her virginity unaware of her role as Theo-tokos until the annunciation itself. In which case, her own declaration of virginity in betrothal until she married Joseph was a simple and very human virtue for the betrothed to emulate. I'm not a Catholic and don't subscribe to 'ever a virgin' notion.

Yes, times are so different, but that doesn't stop the modern church from referring to Christ's affirmation of marital initiation through His first miracle during the wedding feast at Cana.

Such celebrations were not uncommon for honourable couples and marked the beginning of marriage after a period of betrothal in ancient times. It bears some resemblance (and is therefore is relevant) to our modern public expressions of fidelity and the celebration of holy matrimony.

Posted by David Shepherd at Tuesday, 3 May 2011 at 11:07am BST

"It is no accident that all of the love stories before the 18th century (including Dante's divine love for Beatrice Portinari) were adulterous."

That's putting it rather too strongly. Of course there were lots of medieval tales of adultery, just as there are plenty of modern ones (Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina come to mind). They are great entertainment.

But, without going into some sort of exhaustive listing of medieval and early modern works, consider the comedies of Shakespeare, which most educated English-speaking adults know something of: Love, obstacle, resolution, with a festive marriage at the end. Love and marriage certainly didn't make their first acquaintance in the eighteenth century.

Posted by rick allen at Tuesday, 3 May 2011 at 7:17pm BST

RIW, the pattern established in Genesis? You mean one man, one woman, and one handmaid? One man, one daughter, and then circumcise all the adult males of the groom's village, rendering them physically weak for a few days (since this is a “G”-rated or “U”-rated site, I’ll leave out the thrilling conclusion of that particular episode)? These two stories, if I recall my bible correctly, were all recorded of Abraham, admired or revered by Muslims, Jews, and Christians alike. I believe polygamy occurs throughout the Jewish Scriptures/Old Testament, including Genesis. So, God sure showed a lot of tolerance.
But, God forbid a divorced woman should get married! Horrors! But weren’t both William and Kate single and not previously married?
I believe the King Emperor you mention was seeing a woman he intended to marry while she was still married to someone else. That's just not done, not proper, don't you know? One man, one woman, and all that.
John @ 5:49, I also noted the absence of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. Royal snub indeed. The Sultan of Brunei is acceptable, but not these two distinguished public servants? I don’t know what PM Brown’s failings were, but some popular commentators think PM Blair helped save the monarchy by talking some sense into William’s paternal grandparents. Hmmm, come to think of it, maybe the Queen didn't like being shown up by a commoner, the son of a tax collector, of all things!

Posted by peterpi - Peter Gross at Tuesday, 3 May 2011 at 8:28pm BST

In my account of Genesis God created Adam amd then Eve, not Adam, Eve, Leonie and Rebecca.

Polygamy was tolerated, but when God raised up righteous seed it was always through the legitimate first wife.

I was not commentiong on the personal morals of Edward the eighth...but the fact that the Church of England once upheld the sanctity of marriage.

As for the snub to Blair and Brown ..the royal family still can't get over the hunting ban and the decimation of the inherited peerage in the Lords!

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Wednesday, 4 May 2011 at 4:55am BST

Adam and Eve were never married! No certificate! No church wedding! Why they just *shacked up*!

IF you actually literally believe a fable. Otherwise, the most consistent representations of marriage, the ones most believably presented, are of polygamy as a matter of economic transaction. Love is absent, however lust is usually apparent. Even where there is love - as in the story of Sarah and Abraham - failure to come through on the deal by Sarah means Abraham can bring in a third-party surrogate . . . a slave, in fact.

If you do - amusingly enough - believe literally in one or both of the Adam and Eve stories, you're left with the problem that the "righteous seed" were not terribly righteous if they were talked out of obeying God by a reptile, and that their devotion to each other stopped as soon as there was trouble! "It was this woman you gave to me who made me do it! Get her!"

Anyone who holds that as the standard for marriage is better off unwed for both parties' sakes, indeed!

Look, if you want to believe this nonsense for yourself, great. But don't keep yammering away that it's the WAY IT'S SUPPOSED TO BE, because you're just wrong and the debate ends there.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 4 May 2011 at 10:28am BST

"because you're just wrong and the debate ends there." ......thats liberal Infallibility for you.

Posted by Robert Ian williams at Wednesday, 4 May 2011 at 4:58pm BST

"In my account of Genesis God created Adam amd then Eve, not Adam, Eve, Leonie and Rebecca."

Shades of henotheism from our resident RC! Who, then, created them?

It's interesting how ready the selectively "conservative" (selective because a truly conservative approach to family values would encourage the stability and Christian nurture of families rather than breaking them up as the antigay lobby advocate) are to read a normative moral imperative into the simple empirical observation that human beings are (for the most part!) created gendered. In the context of the same-gender debate, the professed desire of antagonists merely to uphold the Bible, without any personal animosity, is rather belied by their eagerness to jump on Biblical interpretations that are by no means necessary (and sometimes just barely credible) while rejecting even the most damning counter-evidence as unconvincing.

As for polygamy, I have just as much dis-ease with it as the next Catholic Christian (and not only as a Christian but as a feminist) but trying to read that modern dis-ease back onto the Old Testament is a real stretch to say the least. Was not Solomon accounted among the most righteous of kings? Even if it was divinely-tolerated rather than divinely-sanctioned, most churches deny even that much to Christian families led by same-gender heads of household on the grounds that it is a deviation from the Christian ideal (Of course, so is divorce, but even the Orthodox recognize that certain provision must be made for man's fallen tendency to get into such less-than-ideal situations!) Indeed, the NT attitude to marriage in general seems to be more one of making a virtue of necessity than outright praise. So trying to identify the notions of marriage that obtained in Western Europe during a particularly narrow segment of modern history (after the advent of personal choice of partner but prior to the introduction of same-gender marriages) with (the actually far more polyphonic and polychromatic) "Biblical marriage" is a doomed exercise.

Posted by Geoff at Wednesday, 4 May 2011 at 5:03pm BST

The Law of Moses maintained a provisional declaration of God's will through Israel as mankind progressed towards the advent of Christ. As a provisional dispensation, it contained concessions and commandments that partially reflected the culture and experience of the time. Paul uses the word, 'paidogogos' to describe the Law: a slave who escorted his master's children to school.

Instead of endorsing the old provisions, arrangements and concessions, Paul declared to his gentile audience, 'In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent.'

So, in Mark 10:5 - 9, Christ explains the Mosaic concession of divorce and the apostolic tradition on the Genesis 'fable':

'But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.”

In fact, Christ establishes loving exclusive permanent monogamy as the God's ultimate goal for sexual union, moving into a new era beyond the tacit forbearance of polygamy, human failure and concessions granted in the Old Testament.

We can add His 'but I say unto you' command on divorce (Matt. 5:32) and His endorsement of monogamy to others that marked the end of provisional OT arrangements: (Matt. 5:22; 5:28; 5:34; 5:39; 5:44).

Of course, there's still a non-apostolic gospel doing the rounds.

Posted by David Shepherd at Wednesday, 4 May 2011 at 6:25pm BST

"Polygamy was tolerated, but when God raised up righteous seed it was always through the legitimate first wife."

Ummm, no. Joseph ("the All-Comely," as the EO call him) was the son of Rachel, Jacob's second wife.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Wednesday, 4 May 2011 at 8:59pm BST

I think we are in danger of wandering off the topic of the article...

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 5 May 2011 at 6:59am BST

Well, David, all that is lovely.

You're still left with problems, though.

1) You still can't claim that the current conservative understanding is "what marriage always was."

2) Christ's words still describe nothing about love, simply legal requirements.

3) Christ's words speak of *a* man and woman partnering, not explicitly forbidding *a* man to join and "become one" with *a* woman, and *another* woman, and *another* woman . . .it simply isn't there. The closest you even get in the NT is saying that a bishop should be the husband of one woman - curious they'd need to spell that out to Christians if it was so obvious that's what Christ intended for *all* Christians. After all, if you say that you can't argue in favor of homosexuality because Christ never specifically forbade it, you can't argue against polygamy because Christ didn't specifically forbid it.

4) There's nothing in the NT to indicate that marriage is a desirable state for anyone at all. Christ speaks in terms of warning, even discouragement, praising only those who give up all those things. If marriage is the cornerstone of society, then you would have to say Christ is something of an anarchist. Even the wedding at Cana - if it was supposed to show Christ's great approval of marriage, why highlight making wine? Why not bless the couple? Why not even mention the couple? Paul, whom you quote, said marriage was a second best for people who couldn't control themselves.

5) Adam and Even weren't "married" by any definition that applies to the modern conservative view of marriage - they had nobody else and were in a desperation clinch!; unless of course you go with the old Jewish legend of Lilith. Not only that, but the whole story indicates that sexual union and procreation are a *punishment*!

for that matter:

6) The NT never gives any indication that procreation and producing children is either desirable nor laudable; children are mentioned only by Jesus to warn us not to mislead them, but not the begetting of children, again, giving lie to claimsby conservatives, this time that making babies is such a vital concern of God's that it must define marriage forever and ever, amen, unless you're straight and barren; if forming stable families for child-rearing is so important and Godly, why did Jesus *explicitly* praise people for *leaving* home and family?

7) All of this leaves you with a decidedly unpleasant picture of marriage, and relegates the partners to using one another for sex - basically, breeding stock.

Now, again, that's fine for *you*, but it doesn't mean that a society - religious or secular - cannot redefine marriage's legal terms based on rational, real-world criteria rather than emotional arguments about faith issues regarding who puts which tab in which slot and what magic words make it okay. Some people feel that marriage is a deeper and far more meaningful relationship.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 5 May 2011 at 7:12am BST

RIW, I've read that many medieval couples lived together prior to the actual wedding ceremony. And I know that isolated couples on the various American frontiers did not wait until a clergyman happened by to live together as man and wife. I think our ancestors were a lot less squeamish about the practical aspects of family life than many give them credit.

But even if you believed that pre-modern people viewed marriage just exactly the same way that you do, I can't see that scolding "transgressors" on the day of their wedding would encourage abstinence in others (besides being appallingly uncharitable, of course). Flies, honey, vinegar...

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 5 May 2011 at 2:43pm BST

On Dante and Beatrice: if memory serve me well (in my dotage) Dante never even spoke to Beatrice, much less did anything else. To call their 'relationship' adultery seems a bit far-fetched.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Thursday, 5 May 2011 at 4:33pm BST

"Well, we really can't consider Mary to be an exemplar. After all, she and Joseph weren't married in a Christian Church by the laws of Christendom as validated by Christ and Christians everywhere, Christco Inc"

No, certainly not a valid marriage, at least not in the Western Church. Never consummated...

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 6 May 2011 at 8:42pm BST

1. Those who call themselves liberal have highlighted objections to polygamy. Is there a liberal consensus regarding the morality of polygamy? If liberals can vary on polygamy, I can distance my reasoning from 'current conservative understanding' regarding 'what marriage always was'. The conservative consensus is not my cause to defend.

2. The NT exhortations on love are enjoined upon the whole Church by Christ and the apostles. His commands on love inform NT teachings to the married: ‘Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church'

3. If the early church tolerated polygamy, Paul would not have mandated the 'husband of one wife' requirement for Christian leaders in 3 instances (Titus 1:6; 1 Tim. 3:2; 1 Tim. 3:12).
Peter exhorts these elders to be 'examples to the flock' (1 Pet. 5:3). How could mandatory permanent monogamy for elders, bishops and deacons not be an 'example to the flock'? It would mean that the congregation exempted themselves from following the pattern of leadership in this particular regard.

4. Marriage is not the optimal state for everyone. However, it's a worthy commitment and contrasted with the condemnation of sexual licence: 'Marriage should be honoured by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.' (Heb. 13:4) Therefore, unmarried Christians can either conclude pre-marital chastity with permanent monogamy or remain celibate.

5. Adam and Eve weren't 'married'. It's Christ who elevated the 'one flesh' Genesis verse to a divinely instituted union, saying 'What God has joined together’.
If their union by God bore no resemblance or relevance to marriage, why did Christ cite it regarding the first-century marital issue?
That Genesis quote makes no reference to divorce; it simply describes the divine creation of sexual differentiation and heterosexual union as 'one flesh'.
Also, Christ is first to infer it means we should not divide what God joins (‘let not man put asunder'), not me.

6. Procreation is a normative, rather than indispensable benefit encouraged by marriage. I have stated my position on previous comment threads. I'm not sure whether your conditional reasoning means that 'forming stable families for child-rearing' is not 'so important and godly'. Is there a liberal consensus on that?

7. Given my objections to your six previous arguments, I can't arrive at the cynically reductive view of marriage that you claim.

Posted by David Shepherd at Saturday, 7 May 2011 at 2:19am BST

@Bill Dilworth: never consummated? Our Lord had 4 brothers and 'all his sisters' which not being dual in Greek probably means at least three.....

Posted by Sara MacVane at Saturday, 7 May 2011 at 7:55am BST
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