Perhaps the strongest argument for the existence of God is that creatures otherwise hypothesized as evolving from sludge have a moral compass. But right now, on the matters of marriage and human sexuality, the compass is spinning wildly. Are Christians becoming lost in a maze of complexity about what marriage means, to whom it applies, and how marriage difficulties are to be solved?
Exhibit One: the Rt Rev James Tengatenga is the Chair of the Anglican Consultative Council. He has been the Bishop of Southern Malawi but now wishes to take up a position as an chaplains' dean within Dartmouth College, USA. As Bishop of Southern Malawi he is on record as saying things in keeping with (let's describe it as) the conservative approach to morality of African Anglicanism (minus ++Tutu, who may not be in heaven with you and me). As a candidate for office in a (seemingly) liberal US college, +James has stated a new, having evolved position on homosexuality. So far so good. People (a) change their minds, (b) state positions in keeping with their office and its expectations. But, according to George Conger, this is not good enough for critics in Dartmouth College. His new position is 'too ambiguous'. In some circles, moral ambiguousness is a virtue, in others it is a vice, when we misunderstand which circle we are in we are in a moral maze from which we may not escape!
Exhibit Two: Pope Francis I, lauded here and in many places for the tone of his comments about gay priests in a recent high altitude interview, has not resolved the moral maze created by the dilemma of upholding church teaching while riding with the expectations of the changing societies of the 21st century. Cardinal Dolan of New York does a great job of interpreting the situation here.
Exhibit Three: again, Pope Francis. Fr Alexander Lucie-Smith makes an astute point that the most significant thing Francis said on the plane interview was about marriage and divorce. But read Lucie-Smith's article slowly, and then some of the comments that follow. Generally, the RCC position on "divorce and remarriage" is canonically simple: there is only one marriage union per couple's lifetime, so any attempt at a 'new' marriage after (civil) divorce requires the nullity (i.e. it did not exist) of the previous 'marriage.' Canonically speaking, there is no canonical possibility of divorce-and-remarriage. Punctuationally speaking, noting various scare marks above, the situation is not simple! What is marriage in contexts where civil and canonical law collide?
The Pope's remarks acknowledge there is a moral maze concerning marriage, divorce and remarriage. Some commenters' remarks at the end of the article, concerned that they may be more 'Catholic' than the Pope (!!), attempt to get out of the maze by restating the essential simplicity of the current canonical situation. But the commenters are not bishops and the importance of the issue is that the Pope is clearly going to attempt to do something as he meets in conference with his bishops about a situation in which many Catholics are either denied the sacrament of communion or conscientiously refrain from participating because of their marital situation or un-canonically receive the sacrament.
ADU has a modest proposal to contribute to solve the moral maze. (1) Church leaders will refrain from public pronouncements. (2) All eucharistic services will cease for the time-being while we concentrate on hearing God's Word and praying together. :)