Kendall Harmon and [now Washington Bishop-elect] Mariann Budde go toe to toe on same sex unions

(The original blog post on this from August, 2009 is there.)

Budde: I’m not disagreeing with that, either, except that I think it is very dangerous to take our understanding of marriage and fidelity in relationships and try to imagine that even what Jesus was saying when he spoke the words that you quoted earlier because understandings of marriage in that time and that eras is very different from how people may experience marriage today. And to imagine that Jesus was speaking to the kind of realities that we are addressing now in same-gender, lifelong, committed relationships is just a huge distortion of the Palestinian world view that he was addressing.

He was addressing property issues. He was addressing men treating women like property and disposing of them at will and calling for a more egalitarian and respectful way that — and loving way — that men and women were to deal with one another. This is a time when women were treated like chattel and to have that idea of marriage held up to the standard that God calls us to now is, I think, is trying to take any view of order which was true in the Biblical era and make that standard for us now. It flies in the face of everything we know about now about how the Holy Spirit moves and works with us over time.

Harmon: This is exactly the kind of argument I think we need to have, by the way. The difficult here is the context that becomes the trump card, notice in her remarks, is the modern context. And so the Biblical context in the ancient world gets derated and we somehow suddenly know better how the Holy Spirit works in this modern era.

What’s so crucial to point out is there is such a thing as the history of the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit works through the church, especially the church globally and the church historically through time. And the church historically through time that has always understood that this kind of behavior is out of bounds and marriage is the context and what’s the height of the arrogance is that you impose this new understanding on the shoulders of the all the Christians we now understand, all the Christians around the world who haven’t been persuaded by these arguments.

Read it all or better yet listen to the whole program.


Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * By Kendall, Christology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sermons & Teachings, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), TEC Bishops, Theology, Theology: Scripture

36 comments on “Kendall Harmon and [now Washington Bishop-elect] Mariann Budde go toe to toe on same sex unions

  1. Terry Tee says:

    It would be interesting to have the views of Jewish historians on the assertion that Jewish women in the time of Jesus were treated like ‘chattels’. I cannot, unfortunately, give a source, but I believe that I have read that they had very real rights in Jewish law and practice. It’s dangerous to argue that they were powerless and that therefore we can learn nothing from marriage in the first century – or through history.

  2. Br. Michael says:

    To argue that modern civilization, or rather the period of time when you happen to be alive, is the pinnacle of human knowledge and cultural advancement, is the height of what CS Lewis called “chronological snobbery.”

    For a candidate for Bishop to make this argument is to say that God is temporally limited and didn’t know what was going to happen after the Bible was penned. It reflects profound contempt for Scripture and that is really what this is all about.

  3. Br. Michael says:

    And then there is this:
    [blockquote]U.S. Department of Agriculture activists want to impose their intense brand of homosexual sensitivity training governmentwide, including a discussion that compares “heterosexism” – believing marriage can be between only one man and one woman – to racism.[/blockquote]

  4. Cennydd13 says:

    WOW, talk about the radical revisionist feminist viewpoint! She hasn’t got a clue about the Church’s teaching on marriage, has she?

  5. Creedal Episcopalian says:

    [blockquote] the kind of realities that we are addressing now in same-gender, lifelong, committed relationships [/blockquote]

    What percentage of of the ~2% of Americans who are homosexuals actually [i]want [/i] to be subjected to a permanent relationship? Obviously those that exist ( and I know of a few) aren’t beating feet to Christianity. The whole point of those with soi disant “same sex orientation” is that they define their lives in terms of sexual behavior.
    For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

    [url= 12:8-10&version=KJV]Claiming that the Holy Spirit contradicts the words of Jesus is dangerous for an actual believer.[/url]

    This leads one to wonder what these people actually believe.

  6. John Wilkins says:

    However, some Christians are persuaded.

    Given the separation of the different traditions – the Orthodox from the Miaphysites from the Chalcedonian Christians over even the nature of Christ – is expecting unity on this issue a demand we can make with any kind of confidence?

    Is Kandall’s argument that there is something more spiritual about biblical culture? Did Jesus have a sense that Biblical culture would trump modern culture?

    A more coherent position is that we can be agnostic about prioritizing one culture over another. We may be able to ask what were the issues at stake in Biblical culture. I don’t think conservatives actually try to parse out the various social issues, feeling more comfortable in simply saying “no.” The truth is that marriage in biblical times WAS very different; and even now, marriage is different than it was in 19th century Kentucky, 16th century England or 9th Century France (or even in King Solomon’s Court).

  7. Don R says:

    #1 Terry Tee, that assertion of “chattel-hood” has become a pet peeve of mine, having raised its head several times in the last few weeks; our temporary pastor has said several times that women in ancient Israel actually [i]were[/i] chattel. I argue (striving for a charitable tone) that view is manifestly incorrect, rooted in an anachronistic application of contemporary cultural standards to an ancient and alien culture. While there is a property-like dimension to the relationship between the man as head of the household and members of the household, even slaves were not permitted to be treated as mere household goods or animals. And I know of no evidence that women could simply be sold by their husbands. (For example, a wife taken as a spoil of battle was to be released—[i]not[/i] sold—[url=]if her husband was no longer pleased with her[/url].)

    An unmarried daughter could be sold, but only under certain circumstances and with [url=]certain restrictions[/url]. On that point, though, it’s important to remember that anyone could sell himself (or herself) into slavery; to sell yourself into slavery (to a fellow Hebrew) was in some senses the equivalent of that culture’s “safety net” (recall the prodigal son’s wish to be a slave in his father’s household).

    Other passages seem pretty clear that women were not chattel, even commanding they be [url=]treated as well as men when released from slavery[/url].

    To me, this is an effort to diminish Scripture to the status of being merely the unenlightened record of yet another of antiquity’s retrograde cultures. Once we accept that, replacing its bigoted ignorance with our cultural preferences is only reasonable.

  8. Frances Scott says:

    #1 Terry Tee & #7 Don R
    I find the OT laws regarding women to be generally protective of women. It has been my experience that today’s women haven’t an inkling of what it meant to be a woman before the invention of baby bottles, disposable diapers, tampons, deoderants, and the plethora of other modern inventions that make being female comparatively easy.
    A good source for first century customs and laws regarding treatment of women is Sketches of Jewish Social Life by Alfred Edersheim (1825-89). Try to get an older edition; it is easier to deal with archaic English than to cope with the updated edition that seems to have been corrected by “spell check” and contains many words that just don’t fit context.
    Frances S. Scott

  9. Ian+ says:

    Sophistry is what wins the day in our age. And if the sophistical argument isn’t persuasive, then folks will arbitrarily opt for what their fallen wills are drawn to anyway.

  10. Karen B. says:

    Thank you Don R. for that really helpful and clear post, you put into words far better than I could something that I was thinking, but didn’t have time to research and provide links for.

    I’d like to add one comment to what you wrote. You said:
    [i]I argue (striving for a charitable tone) that view is manifestly incorrect, rooted in an anachronistic application of contemporary cultural standards to an ancient and alien culture.[/i]

    I agree. But I’d also argue that this is not merely a problem of an anachronistic application of modern culture to ancient. Your word ALIEN culture for me says it best, because I have seen the same thing done in terms of how Westerners view modern middle-eastern cultures. The Islamic area of Africa where I work is a case in point. Many of my Western friends assume that because the women here wear head coverings that they are subjected to, dominated by, oppressed by men in this culture.

    Surely that *IS* the case in some Middle-Eastern cultures and societies (with probably the most obvious example being the treatment of women under the Taliban rule in Afghanistan). However, where I work the issue is much more complex. Women here don’t dress “modestly” because they are “forced to” by men, it is their choice, part of their identity. They love their colorful veils robes and headscarves and are proud of their artistry in embroidery and tye-dying that creates beautiful fabrics and patterns. Yet so many Westerners immediately try to view ALL Muslim cultures through one small lens and make broad sweeping assumptions to try and fit vastly differing cultures into one narrow mold, seeing what they want to see in the culture, interpreting what they see to fit their pet theories, rather than asking the people what they really believe or what motivates them.

    Anyway, that’s off topic, but you did a great job of pointing out how quick we can be to misread a culture in light of our own personal worldview and assumptions, and that is a very important thing to guard against as we seek to understand Scripture.

  11. Creedal Episcopalian says:

    While the argument is consistently made that our biblical forebears were brutish sexists, in the ancient historical context the opposite was true. The Jews ( and by extension the early Christians), were actually differentiated from the surrounding cultures by their fair and equitable treatment of women and also their slaves/servants. An interesting discussion of this can be found [url=]HERE[/url], if you can tolerate perusing the viewpoint of a manifestly conservative author.
    It is interesting to ponder that progressive sexualists of all stripes appear to be trying to revert our culture into what existed before the entrance of Noahide and Mosaic law, considering that these moral codes themselves exemplify and are largely responsible for what sexual egalitarianism exists today.

  12. kmh1 says:

    Some good points made here. Nobody could look at the actual marriages that feature in the NT (Joseph and Mary, Zechariah and Elizabeth, Priscilla and Aquila) or what the writers say and accept the lazy and simplistic ideas that did the rounds in the 20th century.

  13. Don R says:

    Karen B, thank you for the compliment. That [i]alienness[/i] really can’t be fully expressed in a blog comment, but your example is excellent. A culture has a complex social fabric that we can certainly critique, but we too often fail to recognize the trade-offs that inevitably exist in every culture—especially our own.

  14. Don R says:

    #8. Frances S Scott, it appears that, though the wonder of the Internet, [b]Sketches of Jewish Social Life[/b] is [url=]available on-line[/url], including some free versions [url=]here[/url]. [url=]This chapter[/url] seems especially pertinent to this thread.

  15. newcollegegrad says:

    John Wilkins: Fr. Harmon’s argument presumably does not rest on one culture and time period being more spiritual than another. The argument is that God has spoken through the prophets, apostles, and most fully in Jesus Christ. What has God revealed to us? Foremost, God became flesh and dwelled among us in the man Jesus (Jn 1.14) and he is the only mediator between us and God (1 Tim. 2.5).

    It’s important to start there, because all of your arguments for agnosticism about morals equally apply to central theological teachings (as your second paragraph suggests). There are sincere, intelligent people who consider themselves Christians but doubt Jesus is resurrected and is fully God and fully man. If Fr. Harmon can’t convince them that they are wrong, does that mean there is nothing to choose between his faith and their skepticism? If his faith and their skepticism about Jesus are not equally valid forms of Christianity, then maybe the same sort of reasoning applies to moral matters. Maybe serious disagreement between Kendall Harmon and Mariann Budde on Christian morals does not mean that they have equally legitimate views on Christian morals.

  16. Creedal Episcopalian says:

    A more important and fundamental question is “Can there be differing but equally valid forms of Christianity?”. Inevitably we must reach a point where there are multiple differing faiths sharing the same appellation, the legitimacy of which can only be granted by the Holy Spirit.

  17. Capt. Father Warren says:

    I wonder what Jesus said about marriage? Mk. 10:6-9, “But at the beginning of creation God made them male and female. 7 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, 8 and the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. 9 Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate”

    Society, culture, the right, the left, the inbetween can say what they want about the [i]institution[/i] of marriage. The Christian sacrament of Holy Matrimony delivers the grace of Jesus Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit to those who manifest the sacrament.

  18. driver8 says:

    Astonishingly there is an archive from a well off, land owning but illiterate Jewish woman called Babatha living just a century after Jesus. For an introduction to Babatha see Her marriage contract is at’s_Ketubah:_An_Early_Marriage_Contract.

  19. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    Thank you for this post #2, Brother Michael, and I’m going to borrow it for a minute:

    “To argue that modern civilization, or rather the period of time when you happen to be alive, is the pinnacle of human knowledge and cultural advancement, is the height of what CS Lewis called “chronological snobbery.”

    For a candidate for Bishop to make this argument is to say that God is temporally limited and didn’t know what was going to happen after the Bible was penned. It reflects profound contempt for Scripture and that is really what this is all about”.

    And this is the crux of the huge disconnect between traditionals and revisionists. I once said the same thing to a committed revisionist. His reply was, in essence, “What the hell are you talking about”? They truly do have a “that was then, this is now” view of the Scriptures.

    I happen to be with my theologically-educated spouse–“God isn’t doing any ‘new thing’; the humans are simply doing ‘the old thing'”–starting with setting their desires and opinions above God’s. There’s a reason why Romans I says what it says–it’s about the road to idolatry; case in point.

    And good luck separating procreation from the actual theology of marriage. “If it is God’s will” regardless of age, health, and status. And it’s not about the gametes you can buy or any wombs you can hire. “Male and female” He created them; they are the natural order and their order makes more of them, with His blessing. One man, one woman, one marriage till death–that’s the standard. And I’ll say it again–just because so many can’t do the standard, or they fall short of the standard, it doesn’t mean we should have no standard or the standard has to change. Perhaps it is us who should change–through prayer, instruction, and His teachings.

    To be frank, other than being compassionate and sometimes sad, I don’t care what people do. Some are going to choose to embrace a broken humanity no matter what is said or what they are taught. But one should not expect the Church to place blessings on, or make a sacrament out of, things the Scriptures describe as sin or falling short of the standard. Some are going to do that no matter what, and it will be their job one day to explain that to their Creator. If the Church truly wants to embrace all this, then I hope someday to have a sacramental ceremony for my own adultery or polygamy. Why not just join the free-for-all?!! DUH…

  20. J. Champlin says:

    Thanks to all for the critical responses to the “property argument” — it’s another one of those well worn canards right up there with, “The Bible sanctions slavery and now we know better, so…”. Mariann Budde appears to have turned in a solid, long-term tenure as Rector of St. John’s. It’s disappointing at best that she takes her stand on these shop-worn cliches.
    Admittedly from another time and place, but I once heard a fascinating lecture on, of all things, Arthurian romance. Turns out some of the romances exalt marriage, and witness to an understanding of it very much like a partnership marriage. This would have been in the 1180s. The notion that now we know better wears very thin!
    There are at least two hermeneutical issues. First, there is a failure of historical imagination. That is, there is an unwillingness to accept figures from across history as fully our peers in any conversation; to accept their context as a fully human context, with its own wisdom and dignity. We settle instead for uninformed and simplistic “deconstruction” in order to more quickly dismiss them. And so, second, we are unwilling to recognize a witness to transcendent truth. We refuse to engage the substance of Scripture. With apologies to John Wilkins, this has nothing to do with first century culture trumping modern culture. First century culture was flawed; so is ours. Rather, it has everything to do with a reasoned, theological witness to the work of God in Christ exemplified in our commitments; exemplified in our commitments but greater than them, allowing for self-criticism by the light of the same truth. The witness to marriage in Ephesians 5 is grounded in our creation and our new creation, Christ’s love for the church; household relationships are to exemplify our service to one another in Christ. The particulars of marriage are, of course, radically different from ours. But we cannot dismiss the witness to it at will.

  21. AnglicanCasuist says:

    I have read with interest arguments from the “other side” against SSM. That is, from other sexual minorities who oppose it on the grounds that SSM is a conservative attempt to gain status and acceptance by a privileged small minority, at the expense of further marginalizing various “trans” groups, bisexuals, and others. After reading these often very cogent arguments, I come away thinking that they actually have a point. Not everybody qualifies for marriage (even SSM), and some of the people who will be left out feel, well, left out.

    What I find really maddening is the blind acceptance by the SSM supporters of the tradition of “two people not closely related by blood”. It is obvious, at least to me, that the intention behind these stipulations originated in issues surrounding procreation. And I find it bonkers that almost everybody I talk to assumes that the romantic ideal of traditional marriage will simply be adopted by same sex partners, even while there is no expectation that one will be the groom, and the other, the bride.

    So, the logic of the “we need to update the idea of marriage” argument is actually pretty arbitrary, especially if there is no rational reason to maintain the legal regulation of “two people not closely related by blood.” Why not three people? Why not siblings? Oh no, that wouldn’t really be marriage, because a real marriage is just two people. Give me a break. Liberal fundamentalism at its best. Throw out the stuff I don’t like, and enforce the stuff I like with a vengeance!

  22. Pb says:

    #17 Thanks. I am tired of the assertion that Jesus did not teach anything on this subject and therefore we can do what we wish. You cannot blame Paul for this teaching.

  23. Teatime2 says:

    Here’s the problem, as I see it, and it’s what has gotten the Christian Church and the Christian concept of marriage into trouble. I do believe that God calls and joins heterosexual couples in Holy Matrimony. However, I do NOT believe that God blesses and joins every heterosexual couple who presents themselves in Holy Matrimony. And this is an important distinction.

    Even heterosexual Christian marriage has fallen way off the mark of Biblical standards and covenant. When you consider the marriages in the Bible that several commenters mentioned, you realize that God drew these people together for His purposes, in many cases He joined their families together for His purposes, and honoring God, living the faith, preserving the traditions and culture, and raising children who would do the same were THE reasons for marriage.

    Can we say that about most Christian marriages now? Is God given the room and ability to act in lives so He can bring two people together? Or is it really the looks, the bank accounts, the education and earning potential, the family prestige or, in worst case scenarios, the hormones that have directed the choice of partners? How many people (and I include myself in this) have turned away from wonderful potential partners because they didn’t meet our criteria (but maybe they met God’s for us)?

    We have indeed set up all sorts of cultural rules that we cloak with religion. I grew up Catholic; I was not permitted to even consider seriously dating a Protestant. I did date a wonderful Presbyterian young man when I was away at college but my mother had a fit, especially when she learned he was contemplating seminary. It was untenable. We have other constructs, too, about marrying to increase wealth and security, advance one’s standing and career, and create “ideal” families from a social point of view. But does God really bless and join these unions?

    In other words, many Christians marry for the entirely wrong reasons and the entirely wrong people but we claim that as long as the couple is heterosexual, God blesses these unions. I think that’s hypocrisy. And because so many Christian marriages are really about wealth, physical attraction, status, and security, rather than Covenant and operating in God’s service, the notion of marriage has changed from one of a spiritual union to that of a practical, financial, legal expectation.

    You can’t blame the homosexuals for wanting those legal, financial, and security benefits, as well. And if the homosexuals happen to be even nominally Christian, then they might as well join the many heterosexual Christian couples who are lining up at the altar primarily for their financial and legal benefits. In fact, the homosexuals might even have a better moral argument in this scenario because they are not EXPECTED to want to marry and remain monogamous whereas the heterosexuals ARE expected to marry and often choose for the wrong reasons.

    IMO, saying words in a church in front of a priest and a large gaggle of witnesses does not mean that God has joined the couple together. (I think the RCC is right about that when they ponder whether a “real” marriage took place in the annulment process. The only problem is that “after the fact” pondering is bass ackwards.) But the Church marries nearly all heterosexual couples who present themselves and behaves as though they’re all matches made in Heaven. The institution has faltered and everyone knows it. And that’s why homosexual marriage supporters believe they have standing. They can marry for security, physical attraction, and legal standing just like everyone else.

  24. Capt. Father Warren says:

    TT2: homosexual persons can “want” the sacrament of Holy Matrimony all they want, but they cannot not manifest the sacrament in all its fullness and so their “want” is not actionable by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the spirit of truth, as called out by Christ. And the truth which the Holy Spirit is the spirit of, is God’s revelation to mankind within the Canon of Holy Scrpture. And the Canon in both the OT and NT declares homosexual sex to be a sin and an abomination before God.

    I guess it is akin to a piece of cheese wanting to be sacramentally the body of Jesus Christ in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. No matter how badly the piece of cheese wants to be the sacrament, it does not manifest the sacrament as was established by Christ. Therefore it will not be actionable by the Holy Spirit to be for us the body of Christ. The Epiclesis will not be there, nor efficacious.

    Now what homosexual persons can do is hijack the courts and have laws saying they can be married in the eyes of the state and they can have all the ‘”rights and privileges” that any heterosexual couple will have. But again, that is not the sacrament of Holy Matrimony.

  25. Teatime2 says:

    Capt. Deacon Warren,
    Yes, but here’s the problem — how many heterosexual couples truly want “the sacrament of Holy Matrimony” and even understand what it means? (If they did, some would choose their partners differently and some may not marry at all.) That has been the most pressing problem of the Christian Church and one, if it had been addressed earlier, would have gone a long way in preventing this current mess.

    After all, focusing on sacrifice, honor , and service/witness to God
    is less enticing, less of a “right,” than gaining legal standing and financial stability, plus having a fun and lavish party to boot.

  26. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    “Even heterosexual Christian marriage has fallen way off the mark of Biblical standards and covenant”.

    That’s a broken humanity(sadly) at work, and doesn’t have a whole lot to do with anything divine, or the divine standards laid out in Scripture. Again, just because ALL may fall short of the standard, that does not mean the standard should change.

    I think TT2 is simply trying to lay out the gay argument, which is fine. “Well, the straights have screwed it up, too, anyway; so give us a crack at it”. No. One does not hinder or eradicate sin by creating more sin.

    And I agree with CDW in 24. Civil arguments are one thing, Christian sacraments are another. But I have absolutely no respect for those who use civil statutes to skewer the Church into “providing pastorally for these people”. “Pastoral provision” can have a broad definition–and maybe for some, includes a referral to Redeemed Lives, instead of an automatic, poorly-thought-out, hijacking of the sacrament.

  27. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    “Yes, but here’s the problem—how many heterosexual couples truly want “the sacrament of Holy Matrimony” and even understand what it means? (If they did, some would choose their partners differently and some may not marry at all.)”

    Then the Church/priests need to do a better job of preparing people for marriage. My rector does, to the tune of even refusing couples who won’t go to professional counseling prior to the ceremony; if that, among other things, is what he believes they need.

    It is true that that scenario is not feasible in the RC Church. I’ve had friends who are RC priests, and frustrated with that “canon”, if that’s what it is. They can put the couples through pre-Cana and even other counseling if the couples are willing, but they cannot refuse an RC wedding to Catholics in good standing, even if the priest believes the couple is a total mismatch, or the union will not be “sacramental”. Bummer–I think it’s better when priests have the right of refusal. If the couples don’t like it, they can appeal to the bishop.

  28. Capt. Father Warren says:

    Our understanding of the sacrament is not related to its efficacy. That my 4 year old grand daughter does not understand the real presence of Christ in the celebration of the Holy Eucharist does not impair her reception of the grace which the outward visible sign of the wafer guarantees through the action of the Holy Spirit.

  29. Teatime2 says:

    Yeah, I’m sort of discussing the homosexuals’ argument. However, I’m most concerned about how Christianity has long given in to society’s view of marriage rather than transforming it, as faith would require. We lost the plot long ago and it seems that some want to blame the homosexuals now for “ruining marriage.” Nah, Christians allowed that to happen long ago.

    I totally agree with you on the need for better preparation and the necessity of the priest “just saying no” when the couple is ill-suited and/or not ready. It may not prevent the immature from tying the knot (they’d go elsewhere or do the civil thing, if determined) but wouldn’t that speak volumes about the Church being serious about marriage and its requirements?

    Capt. Deacon,
    None of us can explain the Real Presence adequately but even a 4-year-old can identify what makes a good relationship. Beyond that, marriage is the only sacrament that the couple themselves confer — the priest acts as the official witness for the Church. And that’s why the Church should pay even more attention to viability and preparedness of the couple to live that commitment, and for the right reasons.

  30. Bookworm(God keep Snarkster) says:

    I don’t think “society’s view of marriage” has not been transformed for lack of effort on the Church’s part. My spouse(clergy) has always taken marriage preparation(and/or his “right” to refuse) very seriously, and so have all the priests with whom I’ve been acquainted. My rector, when I was a girl, was so rigorous on this score(psychological testing and the like) that some hesitated to have him as the officiant, but he still did a lot of weddings.

    And yet sin will still rear its ugly head. I can think of one long-term married couple(from my home church, when I was a girl), where the wife started monkeying around with another husband in the congregation, thus breaking up both marriages with children involved. I was actually shocked when my former rector then married the cheating couple; not something I would have done if I was clergy. And another couple I know lied through their teeth during all their preparation, neglecting to disclose that the husband was a raging alcoholic. That marriage, which seemed so promising, ended in divorce when the husband attempted to work on his issues, but the wife would not work on hers. And the false witness in the premarital counseling didn’t help. Also a case where the priest tried hard to do his job, but was thwarted by those who couldn’t understand that everything they needed to know, they learned in kindergarten(such as, “Don’t lie”.)

    It’s not a reason for the Church not to try, but I’ve seen the institution(marriage) destroyed numerous times by those who either won’t listen to the teachings or won’t take any of it seriously. Thus, some have to WANT to be transformed before they are. And many, despite all the best Christian teaching and counseling, could care less. Sad…

    I agree with you that some want to blame gays for “ruining marriage”. That is a ridiculous and untoward defense of traditional marriage. I also agree with you that a lot of straights are good at ruining marriage all on their own. I can only pray this gets better. People need to understand that childhood baggage will be worked out(or not) in marriage. Compatibility can be key, and time aids in the determination of that. Similar interests and worldviews, plus the ability to work as team players, can be possible indicators of success. And people need to understand that the brain is the primary sex organ, not anything in “the nether regions”, if you get my drift. Eventually, if one can’t stand somebody practically or intellectually, anything “hot” will tank real quick. All this to say that marriage should never be an impulsive act. I’d imagine that most of the “impulsives” are doomed. Omniscient I’m not, but the best advice I could ever give people is LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP. And I pray the priests are stressing that, too.

  31. MichaelA says:

    Jesus didn’t endorse marriage between a man and a woman on the basis that every marriage would be perfect.

    That is why the failure of many marriages is not an argument in favour of broadening marriage to same sex relationships.

    God made marriage between a man and woman, and that is what it is. There is simply no basis to extend it to same sex relationships, no matter what sophistry we come up with.

  32. Teatime2 says:

    The priests you mentioned so have it right! If many more were like them, I think the state of marriage would be healthier!
    No one is expecting “perfection.” But wouldn’t you agree that when civil and religious marriage collude, problems will result? Churches marry on behalf of the state and civil marriages put in a few phrases or sentences that sound spiritual. But religious marriage and civil marriage have some very different philosophies and goals that have been glossed over to make them sound hand-in-glove compatible.

    And that’s the problem. Civil marriage serves the interests of the state; religious marriage should be a foundation for serving God and has different expectations. Along the way, that’s been lost. This is why homosexual unions have become a secular and political cause that has spilled over into the churches.

    The state will marry any heterosexual couple in which the parties aren’t close relatives, minors (unless they have permission) or already married. The church has — or should have — higher standards for Holy Matrimony but, too often, it’s been as lax and blind as the state. The majority of priests/ministers in any denomination aren’t as meticulous as Bookworm’s fine examples. So, for couples, the choice for their weddings has become the quick/secular place or the really pretty/heartwarming place. The pretty, heart-warming place might have some additional expectations involved but it’s worth it because the venue is, well, pretty and heart-warming.

    Interestingly enough, the state of Texas, concerned over the frivolity of many marriages instituted a marriage preparation program for couples seeking a civil marriage here. (I believe it’s called Texas2gether or something like that.) It’s encouraged but not mandatory and, if completed, offers some perqs like a discounted marriage license fee. Despite a campaign and publicity, very, very few couples have participated. But, sheesh, if a state government is concerned enough to put together a program like this, doesn’t that say something?!

    And, again, the collusion and laxity concerning marriage are what landed the SSM demands squarely on the churches’ doorsteps. Standards eroded, marriage became more about hormones, finances, and social status (not necessarily in that order) than about fulfilling God’s plan and serving Him, and WHAM! Pandora opened her jar.

  33. MichaelA says:

    [blockquote] “No one is expecting “perfection.” But wouldn’t you agree that when civil and religious marriage collude, problems will result?” [/blockquote]
    No, why would I? Marriage existed before the church, even before any of the Old Testament dispensations. Nor did Christ or his Apostles give any particular attention to a marriage service or rites – their sole interest was in how people acted after they were married.
    [blockquote] “Civil marriage serves the interests of the state; religious marriage should be a foundation for serving God and has different expectations.” [/blockquote]
    I don’t think that has ever been the case. We Anglicans have an excellent marriage service in the old BCP and it embodies sound and wholesome doctrine, but we never held a doctrine that a couple are only “properly” married if they are hitched using the BCP service. Given the New Testament view of marriage, I don’t see how we could have viewed it otherwise.
    [blockquote] “This is why homosexual unions have become a secular and political cause that has spilled over into the churches.” [/blockquote]
    I don’t think that is the reason at all. This has become a cause because the homosexual lobby seek full acceptance in society in all ways, and are prepared to use any means to achieve it.
    [blockquote] “Standards eroded, marriage became more about hormones, finances, and social status (not necessarily in that order) than about fulfilling God’s plan and serving Him, and WHAM! Pandora opened her jar.” [/blockquote]
    Here again I disagree with you. Marriage has always been like this – some enter into it properly, some do not. Nothing has changed over the past 2,000 years.

    Nor is a proper view of marriage directly related to Christian faith – those without such faith can have very successful marriage, and those with such faith can have shockers. I believe that the trend is the other way, but there are no absolutes.

    It sounds like you are conflating the Roman Catholic view of marriage (as one of seven sacraments ordained by Christ) with the Anglican view (that marriage is not a sacrament, in the sense that baptism and the Eucharist/Lord’s Supper are sacraments). Of course we encourage couples to get married using the BCP service or something based on it, but even if they do not use that, they are still married.

    Jesus was quite plain about the nature of marriage, that it applies to everyone:
    [blockquote] “Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?”

    “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘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 flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” [Matt 19:3-6] [/blockquote]
    Marriage is between a man and a woman, and once people are married (by whatever means) it behooves them to stay married, and it behooves society to protect and nurture their marriage by the limited means available to it. There is nothing new about this, it has been the teaching of the Christian church for thousands of years. The only thing different now is that some want to pervert Christ’s definition of marriage to be between those of the same gender.

  34. Capt. Father Warren says:

    Marriage is one of the sacramental rites of the Anglican Church. It is not one of the sacraments (Holy Baptism, Holy Eucharist) ordained by Christ in the Gospel.

  35. Capt. Father Warren says:

    Mea culpa, too big a hurry: Holy Matrimony is one of the sacramental rites of the Anglican Church. Commonly called marriage, but not as proper a usage.

  36. Teatime2 says:

    You’re quite right (or rite, lol) that I likely have an RC understanding of marriage because I was, in fact, raised RC and spent three-fourths of my life in that church. I’ve never had reason to delve into the Anglican understanding and the ways that it differs. You make a very good point.

    However, I still think that the secular and the Christian standards for marriage are quite different and, as such, the “legalities,” as it were, should be kept quite separate. I don’t believe that priests, ministers, rabbis, etc. should be serving as legal agents of the state and thus performing both a civil and a religious function.

    It was this relationship that gave the activists standing. Since clergy are marrying on behalf of the government as well as the church, then that secular, legal function makes religious communities vulnerable to the “civil rights” argument. We see this in the UK — aren’t faith organizations that provide adoption as part of state social services now expected to adopt to homosexual couples, as well? Some of the groups have chosen to stop providing services rather than compromise their beliefs and teachings.

    In our country, there is much made of the separation of church and state. We don’t have church-affiliated schools as part of the public school system, receiving public funds. And this is why. Religious groups do not want to be pushed to compromise their beliefs in the delivery of state services. I suppose that back when it was decided that clergy could marry on behalf of the state as well as their own tradition, it was seen as harmless. It no longer is.