April 10, 2013

Status Quo Vadis?

The Church of England Faith and Order Commission has issued a study document on marriage, which from its title to its conclusion appears to be a solidification of the status quo. I hope to return to a closer examination and commentary in the near future, but for the time being, I will simply note its concluding paragraph seems to me to reach an unsupported conclusion. It ends:

50. ...The reality of marriage between one man and one woman will not disappear as the result of any legislative change, for God has given this gift, and it will remain part of our created human endowment. But the disciplines of living in it may become more difficult to acquire, and the path to fulfilment, in marriage and in other relationships, more difficult to find.
Why marriage equality should make the "disciplines of living" within traditional "marriage" more difficult to acquire does not seem to be immediately apparent. I have long argued that marriage equality may help all marriages to become better and more secure, by offering a model not based on the "traditional" and inherently asymmetrical mode in which the man relates to the woman as Lord — which is, after all, only an analogy introduced by Paul in an effort to understand the nature of the church — but upon the more deeply Christian understanding of a union of hearts and minds between equals.

I will note that the "complementarity" argument that has arisen in recent years has been a somewhat revisionist movement to try to accommodate a more "equalist" notion with the inherently unequal Pauline articulation. This argument fails on numerous grounds, which I've addressed in detail elsewhere. Suffice it here to say that any two people can be in relationship with each other, regardless of their sex. Like it or not, marriage equality is a fact, and its influence can be rejected as unhelpful, or used for what it can teach even mixed-sex couples of the true virtues of Christian life.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG



8 comments:

Deacon Charlie Perrin said...

I've lost all faith in the "Mother Church." They seem lost on so many fronts these days.

I read that last paragraph and said "huh?" It makes no sense and is contrary to my experience. Have the authors of this treatise been living under a rock?

Tobias Haller said...

I think, Deacon Charlie, this is in part the problem with living in a dogmatic mindset that takes little account of real life.

Lionel Deimel said...

The report seems more designed for indoctrination in reactionary opinion than it is for serious study. It does not admit to there being anything to discuss.

This report is yet another reason that our connection to the Anglican Communion should be at arm’s length. It is a relationship of convenience (or sometimes not), rather than some great gift of God we dare not question. We tend to think of the Nigerias of the Communion as being far removed from our own take on Christianity, but the doctrine articulated by the Church of England at times seems equally foreign.

Erika Baker said...

Even the loyal Church Times declared that it is a document only fit to be ignored!

Tobias Haller said...

Lionel, and Erika, thanks. I wonder in this case who the intended audience might have been conceived to be. Surely the authors know that many will see through the assertions and the logical fallacies, as well as the misstatements of fact. So is this a "flag" hoisted to rally the old guard in England, and the fractious Global Southerners. It just might work for the former, but the latter have already likely written England off.

John Hamilton said...

Did they rely on Gagnon again like they did for the last document they produced way back when?

Tobias Haller said...

No, John, this time round the document mostly refers to other church-produced documents, though without much depth perception involved. I see some more thorough responses to it have appeared, for which I am grateful, as my own time is a bit constrained at the mo'.

Whit Johnstone said...

I would hate to see TEC decide to keep the rest of the Communion- or even the CoE - at arms length over this report. While we are certainly the most progressive province on human sexuality, Canada, Scotland, and New Zealand are not that far behind us. The CoE itself has a very active pro-inclusion lobby, and this report was soundly criticized.