Comments: opinion

In an otherwise good piece, Helen Berry says "gay marriage" is no longer a divisive issue in the United Kingdom since the passage of civil partnerships in 2004. The issue is not gay marriage, which makes it sound as if same-sex couples were demanding special rights, but rather marriage equality. She quotes the title of Governor Cuomo's bill, which has "marriage equality" in it, but insists on saying "gay marriage." Same-sex couples should have the same rights as all other couples to marry. For several years New York State already recognized same-sex couples who married elsewhere, such as in Canada, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, Iowa, Washington DC. My husband Murdoch and I married in Montreal in 2005 and have had our marriage (not our "gay marriage") recognized in New York by both the city and the state. What changes with Governor's bill passing is that same-sex couples no longer have to leave New York State in order to marry. Now they are marrying in-state.

The American and UK systems are too different for direct comparisons. Currently, for example, Murdoch and I have more rights on the state and city level than we would have in the United Kingdom. At the federal level we would have more rights in England than in America but the UK government would insist on stripping us of the word "marriage" and imposing the separate and unequal term "civil partnership" on us.

The UK government by not allowing same-sex couples to marry puts them at risk of unequal treatment, such as if a couple decides to move to Canada, which does not recognize civil partnership. An English same-sex couple who have a civil partnership would have to marry in Canada to get their rights. A couple in a civil partnership would have to return to England to get a divorce. Oh, sorry, in England, they would say "dissolution" because "divorce" means the dissolution of a marriage. "Civil partnership" is not universally recognized. Even in jurisdictions which do not recognize the legal marriages of same-sex couples, one has a better case fighting for marriage rights than fighting for a second-class category which says that one's government still can't treat same-sex couples like all other couples. When the established church of one's country even refuses to allow civil partnerships in church that communicates continuing discrimination.

One of the reason England got civil partnerships instead of marriage equality is that the established church did not want to treat same-sex couples like sex-discordant couples.

Both America and England have a very long way to go toward equal treatment for same-sex couples.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by Gary Paul Gilbert at Saturday, 13 August 2011 at 8:10pm BST

John Dominic Crossan's article in 'Huffington Post' deserves careful reading. He recounts a visit to a cave near Ephesus which contains a wall painting of Saint Paul, seated between two women of the Early Church: St. Thecla on his right, and her mother, Theoclia, on his left. "Both St. Paul and Theoclia have their right hands raised in gestures of teaching", so that it would appear, from the fresco, that both Paul and Theoclia have identical teaching roles.

Crossan postulates the possibility of Paul's initial openness to women's ministry having been compromised by later writings attributed to him in the canon of the N.T. Scriptures.

This is most interesting in the light of modern theories about the role of women in the Early Church, and the prospect of Women Bishops in the Church of England. No doubt more scholarship needs to be undertaken on women's place in the Early Church - especially in the light of the understanding of Jesus' openness to their ministry - despite the opposition to this from the Jewish hierarchy.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 13 August 2011 at 9:28pm BST

Crossan's article is indeed interesting and also the fact that an attempt was made to cancel Theoclia's gesture. It struck me in today's Gospel that a pagan woman is the first person in Matthew to recognise Jesus publicly as the 'son of David' (although earlier on in chapter 9 the crowd asks whether he might not be). A pagan woman ... a little food for thought, and of course she uses an intelligent strategy which causes our Lord to change his mind. That must have been a radical affirmation in the early Christian world, given the status of women, and still radical, as Theclia is too, in some parts of our beloved C-of-E.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Sunday, 14 August 2011 at 6:00am BST

I noticed that some of +Pierre Whalon's atheist commenters made their Usual Objections...*oblivious* to the fact that Whalon specifically addressed these usual objections.

"Why bother to READ the essay by the Invisible Big Kahuna con-man, when I can just grandstand my denunciations same as always?" {sarcasm/Off}

Sad.

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 14 August 2011 at 10:40pm BST

Father Ron Smith:

`Crossan postulates the possibility of Paul's initial openness to women's ministry having been compromised by later writings attributed to him in the canon of the N.T. Scriptures.'

I'm guessing that you mean, in particular, 1 Timothy 1:20-2:15 and 1 Corinthians 14:26-35. There's something I've been wondering about those two passages for a while...

In both cases, in English, one can devise subtle tweaks of punctuation and page layout that would turn the meaning of the passages through 180 degrees, so that what Crossan calls the `reactionary Anti-Paul' disappears, and we're left with Paul making the case in favour of women in ministry.

However, I have nowhere near enough Greek to begin to investigate whether the tweaks are reasonable - i.e. whether they make the faithfulness to the original significantly better, significantly worse, or leave it about the same. I'd welcome the comments of anyone more linguistically skilled than I. In addition, I'm sure I can't be the first to think about these tweaks, so I'd especially welcome pointers to anywhere in the exegetical literature where they've already been discussed.

The tweaks in question are roughly as follows:

- The full stop at the end of 1 Timothy 1:20 replaced with a colon;

- The whole of 1 Timothy 2 indented, leaving it reading as an extended quotation from, or caricature of, Hymenaeus and Alexander;

- Similarly, everything from immediately after the question mark in 1 Corinthians 14:26 to the end of 1 Corinthians 14:35 indented, leaving the indented passage reading as a hypothetical proposed answer to the rhetorical question `What then shall we say, brothers and sisters?' - an answer which Paul goes on to reject in 1 Corinthians 14:36-40.

Thanks in advance for any advice on this.

Posted by Feria at Tuesday, 16 August 2011 at 7:48pm BST
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