"The bond and covenant of marriage was established by God in creation, and our Lord Jesus Christ adorned this manner of life by his presence and first miracle at a wedding in Cana of Galilee. It signifies to us the mystery of the union between Christ and his Church, and Holy Scripture commends it to be honored among all people."
This is, for those who like the word, just about the most "inclusive" paragraph in Christian worship. Marriage exists before the church. Christ performed a miracle to prolong a wedding party, well before he preached his message to the world. While marriage signifies some unique expectations for Christians, all marriages - Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, whatever - reflect God's design and are to be honored. When people who were married outside of the church convert, we don't require some sort of "remarriage." Some people request a church blessing, and that's fine - but their marriage is honored with or without it.
Yet on a listserve for Episcopalian insider poobahs, one of them had this to say:
"It is a dumb prayer that is based on prejudice not Bible IMO - God did not establish a bond and covenant of marriage in Creation. The story has nothing to do with marriage - it has to do with procreation - which we no longer support with abandon. As to Jesus attending a wedding as a basis for holding marriage in esteem - also not much of a reason. I hope someday we have an opening to the marriage ceremony that is not so laughable."
You can guess why she thinks it's "prejudice." Not much effort to decode the little group of elitist, wine and cheese clergy that think that.
Besides which, the poobah's own reasoning is faulty. The Genesis account is not just about making babies, but about restoring the human representation of God in male and female (that used to be an "inclusive" talking point, but we're about half-past that now). Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding had nothing to do with procreation, unless maybe Cana had an unusually ugly poplulation and they needed "closing time" levels of inebriation to have sex. Paul's description of marriage as a reflection of the mystery of Christ and the church points beyond procreation, to the kingdom of God where Jesus says there is no more marriage. Like the rest of this Episcopalian leadership club, she has no idea what the Bible says and banks on the general Episcopalian ignorance of the scriptures to make a bogus argument.
Even more bizarre is that the person who posted this craziness used to be known as a "moderate" influence on the church.
But the most painful thing for me is to read a church leader - a leader in a church I still serve - expressing such contempt for my marriage. The language of that service has been a source of strength and inspiration for my wife and me for 20 years now. We have come back to it for help in seasons when "worse, poorer and sickness" outweighed "better, richer and health." But we are dumb, laughable beings to the single-issue advocates who fly all over the world to confabs about their single issue.
I've already sent the quote to my parish leaders. I will be sending it on to my Bishop in just a minute. I'll get the usual responses about, "Oh, well, just do a good job right where you are and stuff like this won't really matter."
I disagree. This crazy statement can't be overlooked. The traditional Christian understanding of marriage is not just about procreation. It emphasizes commitment, sacrifice, forgiveness, reconciliation, spiritual nurture, comfort and a journey of love beyond the campfire ease of eros and romance. It is what my wife and I do with our autistic child. It is what we do when one or the other is exhausted and our male and female brains just don't get each others' responses to that.
It is not a bunch of aging narcissists draping themselves in fancy robes and titles to talk about a campy LGBT catholic lite club that mocks what it claims to practice.
No wonder I would sooner go to the Wesleyan guy around the corner, an old lady in a nursing home or a Benedictine monk three hours away for wisdom. I wouldn't ask national Episcopal Church leaders how to boil water. They betray truth they promised to uphold, not to bring "justice" to others but to indulge themselves.
h/t Greg Griffith and there's oh-so-much-more.