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A free floating commentary on culture, politics, economics, and religion based on a passionate commitment to the truth and a desire graciously to refute that which is contrary to it….
"He must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it."
--Titus 1:9, Revised Standard Version
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To reiterate my on view of the nature of the church’s blessing, there is a kind of “test” that needs to be m[ad]e, which resolves around answering positively the following kinds of questions:
* Does God “do it”, and does it accord with God’s being and character and will?
* Is it in conformance with creative life?
* Is it obedient according to the common Christian understanding of divine command?
The human blessing of a marriage, understood traditionally, according to this scheme is rather obviously not only congruent but almost necessary. If we take the very language of blessing in the OT as we saw it, the notion of divine blessing is in fact essentially bound to the act of God’s creating human beings as male and female and ordering their existence procreatively within the earth. “And God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Gen 1:28). And when, subsequently, we are given the shape of this creative ordering, we are told: “Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24). The fact that someone – a priest, the church – “blesses” this reality is but the human reflection of something truly already present. “All your works praise you, O Lord”: one could look at a marriage service as this kind of inevitable praise, “ascribing” to the Lord the honor due to His own work.
The contested issue with same-sex coupling is: is this in fact the “work” of the Lord? If our blessing of something “displays” what God has already more fundamentally enacted in His creative purposes, how would one know, thereby to “bless” it? The question, obviously, has got to get way beyond the silly claims that “the Church blesses all kinds of things – fox hunts and submarines – why not this?” Because, as we have seen, the Church ought not to bless all things, if in fact some things are not aspects of the creative purposes of God’s life-giving and life-extending character and will and do not accord with God’s “command”. If the Church does this, she becomes like the false prophets, trading in lies and ultimately engaging the deep “rebellion” against God: divine blessing and curse are humanly and woefully reversed.
And in this light, I believe that the issue of blessing same-sex unions cannot be construed in terms of whether this is a moral or a doctrinal issue. The distinction between the two, while it may have some canonical bearings within the Church’s decision-making process, has no theological rationale: there is no clear difference, Scripturally speaking, between “moral” and “doctrinal” reality, whether in the OT or NT as a whole.
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Filed under: * Anglican - Episcopal Anglican Provinces Anglican Church of Canada Sexuality Debate (in Anglican Communion) Same-sex blessings * Culture-Watch Marriage & Family * Theology Ethics / Moral Theology Sacramental Theology Theology: Scripture
Previous entry (below): Pauline Chen: Taking Time for the Self on the Path to Becoming a Doctor
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