Monday, May 30, 2016


I will use this post to set down some links to important articles re marriage:

Marriage is marriage.

This Episcopal Cafe report of our May 2016 ACANZP General Synod interests me because of the clear statement in a comment or two re marriage's essence being "the vows" and not the nature of the couple making them. That comment occurs within a series of comments by Tobias Haller (a very clear TEC thinker) which, I think, set out a progressive case for extending understanding of marriage to include same sex marriage by excluding gender as a relevant consideration for understanding what marriage is.

Thus we read:

"There is no settled, single “doctrine” of marriage — history shows that many aspects of marriage have changed in church teaching — there is at present wide divergence between RC, Eastern, Anglican, and Protestant marriage doctrine and practice. I would be willing to venture the guess that a good number of heterosexual marriages that take place in churches today would not have been permitted in the fourth, twelfth, or twentieth centuries — and some that take place in some churches today would still not be allowed in others."


"Cynthia, and John, that is an excellent example.
To expand a bit on the practical (and doctrinal) reality: the current marriage liturgy in the BCP states that marriage is life-long and faithful (to a single partner) in vow language that long precedes that of the current book itself. This understanding of marriage rests on dominical authority.
At the same time, the canons allow for the marriage of a person divorced under civil law, with a former spouse still living.
Rather than seeing this as a violation of the doctrine enshrined in the BCP, it is understood as an exception; and all clergy (again, under the canon) have the right to decline to officiate at any or all such marriages.
If and when the marriage liturgy of the BCP is finally amended to allow for same-sex marriages, the same circumstance will apply. (I will note that the proposed liturgy does not specify the sexes of the couple — and can be used for any couple, same- or mixed-sex — so to some extent the doctrinal question need not arise, as the liturgy focuses on the content of the vows themselves, which remain unchanged, and which constitute the actual “making” of the marriage. The canon was similarly revised in such a way as not to make any specific mention of “same-sex” issues — it is fully applicable to all marriages.)"

Followed by:

"John, I can’t speak to the ANZP liturgy as I haven’t seen it; but as I noted above, the liturgy proposed for the TEC BCP isn’t a “same-sex marriage” liturgy, and it contains no new doctrine to which anyone must assent. It presents no difficulties in that regard. Using the liturgy for a same-sex couple may cause some conscientious objection — and they are free not to make use of it."

And then:

"Not in the Western tradition. The ministers are the couple, and the bond and covenant is present even in the absence of clergy. (Clergy and witnesses are required for legality, not sacramentality, for those who hold marriage to be a sacrament.)"

ADDED 22 June 2016

Rod Dreher.

OCA Statement on Marriage, and use of Orthodox facilities in America.

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