Friday, March 18, 2011

SCLM consultation on same sex blessings

As you may know, our friend Susan Russell is part of a subcommittee gathering resources on same sex blessings for the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music. Susan comments on her blog here:
Our task will be to consult with representative deputies (two from each diocese; one lay/one clergy) on the resources we (the task forces charged with the task by the SCLM) have been gathering and developing in response to Resolution C056 ... passed in 2009 by General Convention and calling for "an open process for the consideration of theological and liturgical resources for the blessing of same gender relationships."....
I think we have a chance to break new ground in Atlanta by modeling a transparent collaborative process involving the whole church in creating these resources in response to the church's request for them via C056.
The plenary sessions can be watched live here. The SCLM committee has a blog here.

A couple in a jurisdiction that allows SSM, and whose Bishop allows marriages (e.g., Massachusetts)-- why can't they use the BCP? Or a couple married in a civil jurisdiction who wants a blessing. There's already a BCP liturgy for "Blessing of a Civil Marriage". If the result of the consultation is a separate liturgy based on the gender identity of the couples, I think many will consider it a failure. The goal to be treated equally, and called to exactly the same standards and responsibilities as any straight couple.

If you read the comments following the first post on the SCLM blog, you'll find a number of very angry conservatives saying over and over again that our relationships can't be marriage and shouldn't be blessed. And what's really apparent is that they define our relationships as just one thing: a sexual act. That's all they think we have. They think we have nothing outside of the bedroom.

Now, it's clear marriage ≠ procreation. There's no test for fecundity, and there are many married couples who do not want, or cannot have, children. So, then, what defines marriage to the conservatives?

When they talk about straight marriage, they will invoke "complementarity" but what they really mean is --- sex! All they have to distinguish themselves is who puts what part where.

But what this is really all about is the proper role of women and men. One of the great revolutions in marriage is not just the ability to choose one's partner, but the equal division of labor between partners. (More here). The feminist movement made marriages much more likely to be partnerships, than rigidly defined roles (he as head of house, she faithfully serving him). As PJ Myers at Pharyngula wrote recently,

If we strip marriage of the asymmetry of power, as we must if we allow men to marry men and women to marry women, then we also strip away the man and wife, dominant and submissive, owner and owned, master and servant relationship that characterizes the conservative view of marriage. This is what they want to preserve, and this is what they are talking about when people like Gingrich echo those tired phrases about "Judeo-Christian values" and complain that their "civilization is under attack". And it is, when we challenge their right to treat one partner, so-called, as chattel.

And once you look at it that way, you see no abuse of their values when Gingrich goes tomcatting around—he's simply asserting his traditional privilege as the Man.

Paradoxically, though, it turns marriage into a brittle business where women are stressed by subservience and oppression (believe it or not, women are human beings who might resent being treated as servants), and men feel it is their right possess any woman willing to surrender to them. It's not surprising that their relationships break up in courtroom battles.
Now,if you ignore Myers' reflexive kneejerk religion bash elsewhere in the post, he's absolutely right here. And perhaps helps explain why the divorce rates are lowest in blue states like MA, where there are liberal feminists and gay married people, than in the traditional red states in the South.

But back to the SLCM. I hope that they will move towards realizing that we LGBT couples are in no way different in our calling or our desires from our straight brethren, and lay the groundwork for actual marriage.

In the meantime, in one of those little ironies, I'm in Atlanta right now on the final leg of my East coast business trip. Later today, I'll be zooming past the Atlanta Airport Hilton, where the meeting is, on my way to catch my flight home to my beloved.


dr.primrose said...

Newt Gingrich's defense of marriage is, of course, the height of hypocrisy. He's been married three times, having had an extra-marital affair with No. 2 while married to No. 1 and with No. 3 while married to No. 2 --

And of course, according to the literal words of the New Testament, which he claims to follow, he remains a practising adulterer.

Nonetheless, he has now become a Roman Catholic.

So all he has to do is say all that he did was "inappropriate" and all is forgiven.

The L.A. Times had a story a few weeks back about his wooing of the evangelical block --,0,3442550,full.story . The response has been favorable, according to the pastors' responses:

"But as the former speaker moves closer to a potential White House bid, with more details expected Thursday, his wooing of the evangelical community appears to be paying off.

"'I think he's just excellent,' said Pastor Brad Sherman, who leads Solid Rock Christian Church in Coralville, Iowa. 'Everybody brings up his past, but he's very open about that, and God is forgiving,' said Sherman, who had lunch with Gingrich last fall.

"Jim Garlow, the pastor of Skyline Church, a congregation in a San Diego suburb, called Gingrich 'the strongest possible candidate' for the GOP nomination. Garlow led the effort in 2008 to pass Proposition 8, which outlawed same-sex marriage in California."


"This year, several potential presidential candidates are vying for attention among religious conservatives. But only Gingrich was instrumental in the most heralded event of recent Christian political activism: The effort last fall to remove the Iowa judges.

"'It wouldn't have happened without Newt,' said David Lane, executive director of Iowa for Freedom, the organization that led the campaign. 'Newt provided strategic advice and arranged the initial seed money, about $200,000, which is what got everything started.'

"The money came from an anonymous donor whose contribution was arranged by Gingrich, Lane said.

"Robert L. Vander Plaats, chief spokesman for the judicial campaign, said the former speaker provided key strategic advice.

"He said Gingrich had won over pastors in the state with his 'open and transparent' approach.

"'Does the faith community have high standards? You bet,' said Vander Plaats, who was Huckabee's state chairman in 2008. 'But do we also understand that we all fall short of the standards? Yes, we do.'"

But, by comparision, faithful, monogamous marriages between two people of the same sex will destroy life on earth as we know it.


dr.primrose said...

I recently left a comment. Since my previous comments with an HTML tag went into spam, I used only website addresses. While the recent comment appeared briefly, it's now disappeared as well. I'm assuming it's gone into spam, as well. I'd appreciate your resurrecting it. Thanks.

JCF said...

Behold, Blogger's All-Consuming "Spam"-Eater function! :-0

It's very effing annoying, isn't it dr. p?

Jim Pratt said...

The trouble with using the BCP marriage service, or blessing of a civil marriage, is that it is steeped in biblical imagery that doesn't always work for a same-sex couple (Genesis 2:24, Mark 10:7-8/Matt. 19:5-6, Eph. 5:31-32). Just changing the pronouns doesn't work.

What is needed is a rewrite of the marriage service, which would apply for everyone. The Ragsdale/Lloyd liturgy was a good start, with its emphasis on 1 John 4:7-12.

And hopefully this will also put one more nail in the coffin of the idea that the man is head of the wife.

JCF said...

I believe Jim Pratt has lost a comment * to Blogger, too. [Please, mods, can't something be done about this??]

* Jim's comment, beginning:

"The trouble with using the BCP marriage service, or blessing of a civil marriage, is that it is steeped in biblical...(more)"

IT said...

Apologies for the comments getting caught in the spam filter.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be a way to opt out of this "service". I have notified blogger and will try to check regularly. I've been traveling so was unable to check much last week.

Not at all clear why Jim's comment went there since he didn't have a link!

Please continue to let us know when Blogger "Disappears" your comments and we will retrieve them. Thanks for your patience!

IT said...

On topic: Yes, Jim, that makes sense. The critical thing, I believe, is to make sure that there are not different liturgies for different couples.

Prior Aelred said...

"Now,if you ignore Myers' reflexive kneejerk religion bash elsewhere in the post, he's absolutely right here."

You can say that about anything from PZ -- although, to be fair, he did give a shout out to TEC for choosing a marine biologist (specializing in squids, no less) as PB.

IT said...

It's one of the reasons I don't read him much, as I find it tiresome. Get over yourself, PZ!