It has been interesting discussing the question of whether marriage requires a man and a woman or not with Tobias Haller (see posts below with many comments, here and there). Not least the interest comes as our forthcoming General Synod distributes the motions proposed to it to GS members (but not, yet, to the church at large, see below), and as our Commission of Eminent Persons is announced and commissioned. Among the motions are some pertaining to same sex partnerships. In respect of the Commission, Bosco Peters has already published an open letter to it about the blessing of same sex relationships.
Now I imagine that among those pushing for Anglican churches here and there to adopt rites for the blessing of same sex relationships are those who see it as (effectively) a concession: same sex couples ought to have a rite available to them, but not something which changes existing marriage rites (one motion to our GS lies in this area of 'progress'). But others are going to be bolder and push for change to marriage rites, whether investing a same sex blessing rite as a marriage service alongside others as a formulary, or even pushing for marriage services to be gender free so as not to discriminate between kinds of couples (another motion to our GS lies in this area of 'progress'). Incidentally, Bishop Dan Martins of TEC canvases such streams of thinking about rites re the forthcoming GC in this post.
Back to Tobias Haller's comments here. If I understand him correctly then this is what Christians ought to understand to be going on in respect of the Bible and marriage:
a. The essence of marriage is in heart and mind values concerning mutuality, faithfulness, love, etc.
b. Complementary sexuality is not essential to marriage, despite possible appearances otherwise in Genesis 1 and 2, and in the teaching of Jesus and Paul. That is, the evolution of Jesus and Paul's teaching on divorce, marriage and remarriage leads to the conclusion that God is indifferent to the kind of couple making up a marriage.
c. Sexual difference is accidental to humanity, the substance of which is what Christ assumed in the incarnation and died for on the cross, with the consequence that attempts to argue for the limitation of marriage to a man and a woman are not only contrary to the consequences of Jesus and Paul's teaching but also a movement away from orthodox Christian theology.
Now, Tobias has not yet said the following here, but I wonder if consistency in logic requires the following "d." and "e.":
d. It is a matter of (mature after 2000 years theological reflection) obedience to the teaching of Jesus and of Paul, and of consistency with Trinitarian orthodoxy to make no distinction when talking of marriage between marriages which involve complementary gender and those which do not (because such distinction has no bearing on a biblical understanding of the essence of marriage).
e. Thus no marriage rite in a church faithful to Scripture and proclaiming of its orthodoxy should distinguish between the kinds of couples who make up a marriage. That is, Jesus would have us promulgate a gender free marriage rite (if the logic of Tobias Haller is free from error).
What do you think?
It is the inevitability that the church which progresses to having rites for the blessing of same sex relationships must progress to calling those blessed relationships 'marriages' and then must progress to making no distinction between allegedly different kinds of marriages, which troubles some of us.
(Postscript: I am passionately in favour of the understanding that marriage is between a man and a woman. The complementariness which makes marriage the special, indeed sacred relationship which it is, is not purely about sexual differentiation, it is about gender (Men from Mars, Women from Venus) differentiation being bound together into "one flesh" as a physical-and-hearts-and-mind union. So here and below I am arguing for marriage to be what it is intended to be by God. I acknowledge that do so comes very close to arguing against the significance of same sex relationships being acknowledged in the life of the church as relationships in which love, mutuality, commitment and so forth are affirmable characteristics. But it is not my intention to make that negative argument. However I think it worth the risk because it troubles me that the church might not know what it is doing in respect of its theology of marriage if it lets go of its foundation in the coupling of a man and a woman.)
ADDITIONAL NOTE: With H/T to David Ould, go the SMH to read an article by Archbishop Peter Jensen on same sex 'marriage' and to Sydney Anglicans for a pastoral letter on the same matter by ++Peter. With H/T to Taonga, a further article re the Oz situation.