March 2, 2012


I've been thinking a bit more about the essay from Fulcrum casting the Anglican Covenant in terms of a marriage contract. Even if I believed that it was wise more strictly to order the relationships of people who are having difficulty ordering their relationships, I think this author has the wrong relationship in mind. Marriage is spoken of in the church — but it is not the marriage of the members of the church to each other or the symbolic marriage of one church to another church. Rather the church's members, or the various churches, all have one Lord — one husband. It is no accident that the Hebrew Scriptures presented God in the form of a patriarchal husband with several wives, even portraying Israel and Judah as sisters.The various churches are more like the wives and handmaids of Jacob, and their various quibbling offspring — family squabbles being quite natural in such a setting, more characteristic of historic Christianity than otherwise, I think.

One of the critiques aimed at those who support same-sex marriage is that it represents a confusion between marriage and friendship. (I do not think this a fair assessment, as most couples, mixed- or same-sex, know the difference between their spouses and their friends.) It is therefore ironic that covenant supporters actually seem to make this mistake: portraying as spousal what is at base fraternal.

In short the churches of the Anglican Communion are not, and ought not be, married to each other. We are siblings or friends, not spouses, to each other. The church is not spousal to itself or its members, but to its Lord, as the Bride of Christ. Within the church and between its members we rejoice in our brother- and sisterhood. To arrange a marriage would be incestuous, and distort the proper relationships we have as children of one Lord, united in one Faith, adopted in one Baptism.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG


June Butler said...

So very many discussions of the Anglican Covenant go astray by overlooking the basic truth of Christianity that our unity is in Christ. The church is the bride, meaning the entire church in the world, all who are in relationship with God through Jesus Christ. The varying groupings and denominations are secondary to our our unity in Christ.

As you say, Tobias, we are not spouses to other Christians, except for our one chosen spouse, but rather sisters and brothers in Christ.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, Mimi. The irony is that the earlier sections of the Covenant seem to recognize our unity in Christ, while the latter ones forget about it!

Erika Baker said...

There seems to be a widespread misunderstanding that we can only be united in Christ if we are all uniform.

We are told we must be identical twins and triplets, we must not be different siblings with their own independent character and identity.

I think that's one of the fundamental misconceptions among the pro-Covenanters.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Indeed so, Erika; there is an engrained inability to distinguish "unity" from "uniformity." Real comprehension is an embrace of diversity.

Daniel Weir said...

The Provost of Coventry wrote:
What kind of church would my church be
If everyone in it were just like me?

Two answers:
And not Christ's

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thank you, Daniel. Coventry speaks wisely here...

Muthah+ said...

Excellent observation, Tobias.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Thanks, M+.