Of Interest
September 23, 2012, 3:38 PM

Editorial on DOMA & Prop 8

June 26, 2013

 

An Editorial:  A Pastor’s response to DOMA & Prop 8 Rulings

 

The Supreme Court recently ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits. And by declining to decide a case from California, effectively will allow same-sex marriages in that state.  Like any controversial decision, there were those who celebrated and those who mourned.  As a pastor of a local congregation in Sutter Creek, here is my response to these rulings.

 

The union of two people, in heart, body, and mind is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and for the procreation of children and their nurture.  Therefore, marriage is not to be entered into unadvisedly or lightly, but reverently and deliberately.  Some people desire that their union be blessed by the Church, placing God at the center of their relationship.  Others prefer a secular union, leaving God out of the equation.  Some couples plan to have children while others do not.  All of these different situations have been recognized by the state as being “legal marriages.”

 

No minister of the Church is required to witness the marriage of anyone or sign the marriage certificate.  If a minister does sign the certificate, s/he is acting as a civil servant and must follow the laws of the state.  Some people question whether the church should be in the civil service business or should focus solely on the blessing of the couple.  The separation between church and state is the issue here.

 

However, when it comes to conducting a wedding in my own church, the criteria I have always used to judge the readiness and character of a couple is as follows:  “Fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful & honest communications, and the holy love which enable those in such relationships to see in each other the love of God.”  Most of the time, I also require that a couple be in relationship for at least one year and are willing to engage in pre-marital counseling.  I will continue to use these same criteria for all couples coming to the church for God’s blessing in marriage once the Church and the State officially approve of same-sex marriage.

 

Modern day concepts of marriage are so different from Biblical times that it is a challenge to use biblical principles when it comes to 21st century marriages.  For instance, polygamy was widespread in ancient biblical times.  The patriarchs had multiple wives (Abraham, Jacob, etc).  They also took concubines, especially in cases in which the wife had difficulty with conceiving children. The legislation of the Torah takes for granted that a man may have two or more wives. The kings of Israel were known to have large harems and multiple wives and marry for political alliances.  Jesus (as far as we know) was single and did not have a biological father.  St. Paul was also single but discouraged marriage unless a person was tempted by lust.  Marriages were arranged and determined by the patriarch of each family.  Marriage was not based on “love” between the man and the woman but was viewed as a property exchange that might enhance wealth, status, and power among the two families.

 

In the Greco-Roman world of biblical times, this is what it meant to be married:  “To have sons one can introduce to the family and the neighbors, and to have daughters of one’s own to give to husbands.  For we have courtesans for pleasure, concubines to attend to our daily bodily needs, and wives to bear children legitimately and to be faithful wards of our homes.”  Fortunately in the United States, we have witnessed the changing nature of marriage since biblical times.  Equality and mutuality are now considered important.

 

So how can we best deal with the recent Supreme Court rulings?  It is my opinion that religious institutions need to spend their time and energy on trying to help couples create healthy and life-long relationships that are able to withstand the difficult times.  We need to focus on strengthening all marriages so that couples learn how to live in “fidelity, monogamy, mutual affection and respect, careful & honest communications, and the holy love which enable those in such relationships to see in each other the love of God.”  Trying to prevent same-sex couples from marrying based on biblical principles seems dishonest and a misdirection of precious energy.

 

It seems to me that what we all seek (whether straight or gay) is to love and to be loved.  Any movement, any ruling, any opening of the heart which moves in the direction of authentic love, has my support.   For love is the greatest gift of all.

Comments
Paula on 09-16-2014 at 9:46 AM
I am new to the area and I am gay. I was hoping to find something on you website that clearly addresses your congregation's full and equal affirmation of all people and all loving relationships. Some of these comments are a bit scary. Seems like you, as a congregation, are still working through this.
Ken P. on 07-05-2013 at 10:39 PM
God is great! He loves me. I love my partner (soon to be my husband). God loves my partner. My partner loves me. (I am soon to be his husband). I have no doubt, that God has brought us together, just as he does an opposite -sex couple. Isn't that what the world needs now......MORE LOVE! I am at peace knowing that God is my judge, rather than man. Thank you Pastor Karen for speaking of God's love for us all.
Scott on 07-05-2013 at 4:49 PM
I appreciate your response but it raised more questions than answers. I have a few questions for you.

1. Do you believe this is a "story" as you put it or do you believe that it is "truth"?

2. Do you belief that truth is relative?

3. Which parts of the Bible do you choose to be accurate and which parts do you choose to not apply to modern society? How do you make that determination?

4. Do you believe just because a civilized society acts a certain way that God's desires for our life changes?

It seems to me that God's ideal plan, as laid out in Genesis 2 actually has a lot of similarities to marriage as it is today, between a man and woman. I'm not sure why you think it is not relative to the modern western world.

I'm just trying to understand the theology behind your statements because right now, I don't see any.
Rector on 07-05-2013 at 11:40 AM
I agree that women make great helpers and partners. But this story does not address modern day marriages as we understand them in the western world.
Scott on 07-05-2013 at 8:45 AM
You state, "Modern day concepts of marriage are so different from Biblical times that it is a challenge to use biblical principles when it comes to 21st century marriages" yet you don't mention the earliest example of this relationship in the Bible in Genesis 2, which is before the fall. Since this is from before the fall we can really claim this to be God's ideal vision for a romantic relationship between two human beings. Let's take it from Genesis 2:15.

"15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

18 The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

19 Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20 So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.

But for Adam[f] no suitable helper was found. 21 So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs[g] and then closed up the place with flesh. 22 Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib[h] he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

23 The man said,

“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
24 That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh."

Now, I suppose if you don't believe that the Bible is the authoritative Word of God, then it doesn't matter what Genesis says. But I would caution you to abandon truth that doesn't feel comfortable to you.

Yes, love is a great gift. Christ's love for me and love for you let Him to sacrifice himself for our sins. Remember, God's desire for our lives should rise above our personal desires for our lives.
MaryK on 06-30-2013 at 1:30 PM
In a society where there is too little love, too much struggling alone, and too much agony about engaging in what would be a loving, satisfied,and Godly relationship, these 2 decisions should make possible strong, secure families that will enhance society.
Mary Blessing on 06-26-2013 at 10:49 PM
Well stated. Thank you.
Victoria Hinton on 06-26-2013 at 1:50 PM
Whether one agrees with same-sex marriage or not, this is a loving, compelling "argument" in favor of True Love.
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