SCHEDULE II [editorial note: 'proposed Canon' in the first sentence below is anachronistic and represents an oversight on the part of the tidying up section of General Synod re the writing of legislation. It refers to a now legislated clause which I now append to the statement below]
The following are the major relevant excerpted sections from the Formularies to be read in conjunction with the proposed Canon, clause 1.3. The teaching enshrined in the Formularies is further enlarged by considering the whole of the service to be used at any specific wedding.The above Schedule should be read in conjunction with this Clause (1.3) from our Canon on Marriage:
Marriage is intended by God to be a creative relationship - God’s blessing enables husband and wife to love and support each other in good times and bad. For Christians, marriage is also an invitation to share life together in the spirit of Jesus Christ. It is based upon a solemn, public and life-long covenant between a man and a woman, made and celebrated in the presence of God and before a priest and congregation. (A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, p. 779)
Marriage is a gift of God our Creator, whose intention is that husband and wife should be united in heart, body and mind. In their union they fulfil their love for each other. Marriage is given to provide the stability necessary for family life, so that children may be cared for lovingly and grow to full maturity. Marriage is a way of life to be upheld and honoured. No one should enter into it lightly. It involves a serious and life-long commitment to each other’s good in a union of strength, sympathy and delight. (A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, p. 780)
Praying is an outlook, a sustained energy, which creates a marriage and makes love and forgiveness life-long. Eternal love never fails; our love needs to forgive and be forgiven. As we pray and forgive we minister reconciliation. Those who marry are God’s ministers to each other of reconciliation and change. As they grow together, wife and husband foster one another’s strengths, they provide each other with reassurance and love needed to overcome their weaknesses. From this beginning God draws them now to a completely new life. They become awake to each other, aware of each other, sensitive to each other’s needs. (A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, p. 785f.)
Marriage is the promise of hope between a man and a woman who love each other, who trust that love, and who wish to share the future together. It enables two separate people to share their desires, longings, dreams and memories, and to help each other through their uncertainties. It provides the encouragement to risk more and thus to gain more. In marriage, husband and wife belong together, providing mutual support and a stability in which their children may grow. (A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, p. 790)
Marriage involves caring and giving. It involves learning to share one’s life with another person, forgiving as Christ forgives; enjoying the love and meaning which can be found together. It involves facing together whatever adversity may arise. (A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, p. 790)
[Marriage is to be entered into in the fear of God], duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
First, It was ordained for the increase of mankind according to the will of God, and that children might be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained in order that the natural instincts and affections, implanted by God, should be hallowed and directed aright; that those who are called by God to this holy estate, should continue therein in pureness of living.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and in adversity. (Book of Common Prayer, 1928)
The minister shall provide education to the parties seeking marriage on the Christian understanding of marriage, or see that such education is provided by some other competent person, in accordance with any Guidelines that General Synod may from time to time issue. In particular the minister shall ascertain that the parties understand that Christian marriage is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman, entered into in the community of faith, by mutual consent of heart, mind and will, and with the intent that it be lifelong. The Church's teaching on Christian marriage is enshrined in the Formularies of the Church and is expressed in all the marriage services in the Formularies and in the introduction for the congregation to Christian marriage in A New Zealand Prayer Book - He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, (See Schedule II of this Canon).
What is it that we have asked of ourselves as a church for our engagement with the theology of marriage over the next two years?
Are we being herded towards a change to the above which would see reference to 'man', 'woman', 'husband', 'wife' removed?
(At which point it would become nonsense to talk about '[Marriage] was ordained for the increase of mankind ...').
Or are we being softened up for an additional section which permits variation for the special circumstance of the marriage of two men or two women?
(At which point it would be a nonsense to talk about marriage equality ... wait, is there any way we could have a canon on marriage which equalised marriage with gay 'marriage' without de-gendering our teaching on marriage?)
We have much to lose when we start tampering with marriage as fundamentally founded on the biological fact of humanity being created male and female and depending for continuity on the joining of man and woman in one flesh according to the complementarity our Creator has provided through our reproductive organs.
I think it worth reproducing a comment made last night on my post Ships Passing in the Night? ,
"I can't help wondering if people have missed the point, marriage as defined by Genesis and for many centuries has consisted of male (husband)and female (wife). To suggest that this is somehow unfair to female/female and male/male relationships is to miss the point, such relationships don't qualify to be called marriage. The only way they can qualify is to redefine marriage. This to me is the essence of what is going on. Something that has been cherished over the centuries is now being redefined in the name of equality. I don't qualify as a medical doctor, or as Maori, I may argue that is unfair but it is an issue of qualification, nothing to do with equality."