January 28, 2012

York Preaches to the Choir

Archbishop of York John Sentamu is wagging a primatial finger at Prime Minister David Cameron from the relatively safe and supportive context of Jamaica, know for its robust defense of all that is good and holy.

In his statement, the Archbishop reveals himself to be almost completely innocent of familiarity with sacred and secular history, and the rudiments of political science. Most importantly, he seems not to be aware that marriage is not a Christian invention, nor are Christians the only ones with a right to determine who may or may not marry, or how, or for how long — though, to be fair, the Church of England itself has shown remarkable adaptability in changing its own rules to accommodate folks down through the years.

Ultimately, the notion that the state is dictating to the society represents an ironic example of failing to recognize ones own visage in the glass. Sentamu wants the Church of England to be able to dictate to the civil society on a subject which only partially concerns it. The idea that the State will insist that any church perform same-sex marriages is absurd, particularly when every effort has been made to clarify just the opposite.

Scare tactics, red herrings and straw men: The Church of England welcomes you!

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

Update: A full transcript of the Archbishop's interview is now available. Although it casts some of his more offensive comments in a kindlier context, those comments themselves remain problematical as examples of circular and/or definitional reasoning: i.e., marriage is between a man and a woman because that's what marriage is; and, the state shouldn't get involved in such things because it isn't the state's business.


John-Julian, OJN said...

It really does make one wonder where in the world he got his education...He has this pitiful C of E tunnel vision that must be contagious since a number of C of E bosses seem to suffer from it.

JCF said...

The context takes the outburst from ignorant, to *disgraceful*. ++Sentamu, resign!

Scoop (Leslie Scoopmire) said...

Marriage certainly existed before the Bible and in places that have never heard of the Bible and exists as a legal contract independent of the Bible. I thought only Americans were this confused, but I didn't blame them, since we have blurred the destinction between secular purposes and religious purposes of marriage since the founding of our country. And, as I pointed out in a post at my blog, his use of the Bible as the basis for marriage is ridiculous.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Amen, FR. J-J. I sense the context of his speaking shaped the speech. And yes, JCF, that makes it all the more reprehensible. He could have shown the "choir" a different tune, a more salutary and moral one, but chose to join the homophobic sing-along with a reggae beat.

Scoop, I think the main reason for this is our English heritage of establishment and merger of marriage across state and church. Much of the rest of the world does not live with that -- churches cannot perform civil marriage. But for the English and their colonies -- including Sentamu's native Uganda and the US -- it is hard for people to tease this apart, and you get that nonsensical and ahistorical thesis advanced: Marriage is a sacred institution. Even the Bible is not enough to shake that unassailable fiction from its place... such is the power of Establishment!