Monday, June 16, 2008

What is not to like?

If GAFCON needs any goading to take whatever line it may take in contra-distinction to a Canterbury-orientated Anglican Communion then male Revs Dudley, Cowell, and Lord have provided it. A day or two ago Dudley (C of E priest) presided over a ceremony of commitment (aka 'gay marriage') for Cowell (C of E priest) and Lord (as it happens, NZ priest, but see disclaimer here) in full public view in famous London church, and trumpeted in media outlets here there and everywhere, as linked by Thinking Anglicans. Particularly provocative is the close wording of the ceremony to the wording of the BCP marriage service. Peter Ould provides a helpful comparison.

Ruth Gledhill begins her blog on this event with the question, "What is there not to like in the service of blessing billed as the Church of England's first gay 'marriage' between two clergy?" To which my response is that I do not like parodies of solemn, sacred rituals ordained by God. In the service of holy matrimony a wondrous event takes place whereby a man and a woman bound by their common humanity yet differentiated by their sexual distinction in both body and psychology are joined together to become one being, full of potency for the procreation of life, and full of promise for the fruitfulness their union of male-and-female brings to society.

Male-male or female-female couplings, whatever their merits, are not marriages - whether or not they are full of binding love which cannot be unbound (I agree with one commentator to Ruth's blog that one cannot 'unlove someone upon request') . The church has no business subverting its wedding liturgies in order to bless relationships which are not marriages. Of course the church should not be blessing relationships which are not ordained by God fullstop. But the error is compounded where the church treats same sex couples making public declarations about their commitment to each other as though a similar wonder to the holy mystery of a man and a woman being joined together in one union is taking place.

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