(Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music Blog) Jay Johnson–Called into Relationship

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Same-sex blessings, Sexuality, Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion), Theology

8 comments on “(Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music Blog) Jay Johnson–Called into Relationship

  1. Archer_of_the_Forest says:

    Oh, is that what we mean when we take wedding vows.

  2. Undergroundpewster says:

    Whenever many words are needed to describe a simple concept, watch out.

    I thought I used to understand what marriage was, but I must have been young and foolish. Having read all the Episcobabble on the subject produced over the past several years has made me realize that I am not supposed to understand what they are talking about when the word marriage or vocational convenantal relationship comes up.

    I am much better off now that I am confused.

    I’ll agree to anything now.

    Thank you Episcopal church.

  3. jamesw says:

    If marriage is now just about entering into a “covenantal life long relationship”, then why should this be restricted to two persons who are “in love”? Multiple parties can form covenantal relationships, as can siblings, children with parents, employer/employee, etc. Perhaps we can simply do away with marriages altogether and simply add a “Blessing of the Covenants” day to go along with “Blessing of the Animals”.

  4. frreed says:

    I actually agree with him about the lack of understanding Christian marriage as a covenantal vocation. Sacramental marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman and God. The western (American) marriage has become, as Johnson’s post suggests, a rite of passage at best, but more realistically it has become a fornication license. It relieves the participants of the burden of “living in sin”. Far too many churches marry far too many couples in 15 minute ceremony that meets the legal requirements and provides a nice photo op before the all important reception.

    Ask most people if they had any premarital counseling. Most will say no. How many of them were instructed on the nature of Christian marriage, by the officiant before the service? I would guess very few. How many shared the Eucharist as their first act as husband and wife? You know the answer to that.

    The nature of marriage as sacrament and covenant has been abandoned by much of western Christianity. Ironically, it is this abandonment that has led us to the point where marriage can mean whatever we want it to mean. When we fail to defend the Truth…

  5. Br. Michael says:

    3, absolutely. What then is the point of marriage both in the Church and in the state? Why is it important that two (or more) enter into a covenant at all? Both the courts and the Church have dispensed with children has having anything to do with it, so again what is the point?
    Why should couples (or more) get any benefits that singles don’t get? Why this discrimination and unequal treatment of singles living together?

  6. Ad Orientem says:

    [blockquote] Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music[/blockquote]

    We had something like that… 1500 years ago. His name was St. John Chrysostom.

    Liturgy: If it aint broke, don’t fix it.

  7. Jill Woodliff says:

    I, too, agree that our cultural understanding of Christian marriage as a covenantal vocation is lacking. The divorce rate among Christians is a travesty.
    There is a certain irony in quoting Marvin Ellison in providing supportive materials for same-sex marriage.

  8. New Reformation Advocate says:

    frreed (#4),

    Yes, the Church has generally been quite negligent on all fronts when it comes to fulfilling Hebrews 13:4, “[i]Let marriage be held in honor by all[/i]…” In most congregations, Anglican and otherwise, we need to be doing much more to help people build and sustain strong, healthy marriages that can last and thrive.

    Once upon a time, long ago, and in a galaxy far, far away, I served as the Executive Director for the local chapter of a marvelous national ministry known as [b]Marriage Savers[/b], founded and led for over two decades by Mike and Harriet McManus (evangelical ex-Episcopalians; Mike is a syndicated columnist). I can’t recommend that fine ministry too highly.

    Among the great things the Marriage Savers movement does are these two crucial things:

    1. In over 200 localities now, [i]Marriage Savers[/i] has sponsored a joint clergy set of standards and agreements known as a “Community Marriage Policy (CMP).” Each CMP is different and tailored to that community’s special needs, but they generally involve clergy in an area agreeing to uphold common standards when it comes to marital preparation and support. For example, the CMP I drafted for my hometown of Sioux Falls, SD, was signed by pastors from about 70 churches of many denominations. Among other things it committed the clergy to expecting as a general rule requiring 4-6 premarital counseling sessions, including the taking of one of the standard marital prep inventories/questionaires (e.g., PREPARE, PREP, FOCCUS). Better preparation has helped lower the divorce rate in many communities, often by 10-40%.

    2. Best of all, though, [i]Marriage Savers[/i] has pioneered the use of “[b]mentor couples[/b],” to encourage engaged and newlywed couples. Mentor couples are simply volunteer Christian couples who’ve been married for over ten years and are willing to meet occasionally with younger couples to help answer their questions and provide support during the crucial first two years of marriage. Almost every church has couples out there in the pews who could do this well. It’s a very simple and yet profoundly significant ministry that really makes a difference.

    The flagship Marriage Savers parish in Sioux Falls, First Baptist, has achieved stupendous results through its multi-faceted marriage ministry. A thriving American Baptist congregation with an ASA around 600 that has fully embraced the whole Marriage Savers program, including an annual couples retreat to strengthen existing marriages, this large evangelical congregation, with a membership of over 1200, has (believe it or not) practically eliminated divorce among their members. In ten years, that parish experienced a grand total of…

    (are you ready for this?)…

    THREE couples that went through the agony of divorce. Yep, just three (3), in ten years. That’s astounding. Phenominal. Praise God. It really is possible. Other congregations have achieved dramatic reductions in the divorce rate too, but it takes a lot of hard work and persistent effort.

    Jill is right, of course, that the scandalously high divorce rate among Christians is a travesty. But we don’t have to roll over and play dead, as if it’s inevitable that Christians will suffer as many divorces as non-Christians.

    I tell you this, in a society like ours where divorce is epidemic and the sacred institution of marriage is under assault on many fronts (both cultural and economic), if the Church were to get its act together and actually help lots of people build the healthy, stable, thriving marriages that they continue to dream of (though often despair about getting or regaining), lost and hurting people would be flocking to us and pounding on the doors, wanting in. This is a crucial area where we are missing a golden opportunity.

    Another shameless plug. I also highly recommend another tremendous resource: [b]The Alpha Marriage Course[/b], done by the same people at Holy Trinity, Brompton/London, who gave us the original Alpha Course. It’s fantastic. The tools are out there. We just have to discover them and develop the will to use them effectively.

    Let repentance, like judgment, begin with the Household of God. Let us again become “the salt of the earth,” in a rapidly decaying society. When we do, church growth will occur almost spontaneously.

    David Handy+