It is at this point that the third and final gnomic utterance from the Gwitchen, to leave is to die, rings in our ears. The male and the female bound together in fidelity is a gift to the Church which bespeaks our bond, one with another, in the Body of Jesus Christ, until we too are parted by death. The conservative who says, “I can bear this corruption no more” and leaves, is deaf to this word. The revisionist who says “we can wait no longer, justice demands this remedy now, whatever the rending,” is deaf to this word. To our fallen minds, in the presence of strife, another child of the fall, bonds are to be loosed. But marriage is a sign of the love of God by which he covenantally binds himself to his people and to his world, and is ready sacrificially to suffer for her.
It is a curious fact of North American Anglicanism that most of our brothers and sisters, of the most divergent points of view, nod their heads in vehement approval when it is suggested that the post-modern and post-Constantinian Church must now be countercultural. It sounds curmudgeonly to some, sixties-ish to others, but it sounds good and bold to us all. Counter-cultural is another way to say we are indeed bound to the culture, to the world around us, for we and they need one another for definition. But we are bound in ways that neither they nor we will find easy. Still we welcome the notion. But as with most vows of fidelity, they work themselves out over the long haul to be something harder, and yet more gracious, than we reckoned. “Peter, do you love me? Yes Lord you know I love you”¦” What if counter-cultural means hanging together in this three-pronged Qwitchen Christian wisdom? All would be counter-cultural, and so all shall have surprises. For the social conservatives, there is making room and welcome for gay Anglicans. For the revisionists, there would be the hard admission of the logic: blessings have promises, so blessings are marriages, and gay marriages are, from the foundations of creation, impossible. With that admission would come what Anglicans fear most, opprobrium in elite and progressive society. And, for the fed-up on both sides, there is the interminable putting up with one another in a very prolonged family argument. What if all that together is a part of what counter-cultural actually looks like? As with marriage itself, that would be the day when the glamour and romance had worn off, and reality sets in. Our fraying, individualist, gratification-oriented, impatient, balkanized society needs to see real marriages of man and woman, and it needs equally to see that real marriage which is the Church in its protracted unity-in-conflict. As is real marriage, of the no-no-fault kind Jesus describes in Mark 10, so is our counter-cultural witness, as a bound and avowed Body, to the costly, covenantal, enduring grace of God in Jesus Christ.
Read it all.