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‘THIS HOLY ESTATE’ The Report of the Commission on the Marriage Canon of the Anglican Church of Canada

October 10, 2015

THECanada has been ahead of the game for some time on the issue of blessing gay relationships and this is a very thorough, detailed theological rationale.

It received submissions during 2015.

Not everyone agreed with the idea of accepting submissions: It shouldn’t be up to me or any other layperson to decide what is and what isn’t God’s revealed truth. The fact that I have to write this letter to defend one of the most fundamental doctrines of the church as made clear by Scripture, tradition and reason is disheartening to say the least.” J. Brown, New Westminster

“I believe we walk on shaky ground when we make such a radical redefinition of marriage that this motion suggests, especially when the vast majority of the Christian denominations and other religions are not walking with us.” Larry Robertson, Yukon

 Their ecumenical partners, Lutherans, already bless such relationships.

Integrity Canada “[W]e urge you to provide draft legislation that makes such marriages available to all couples. Then the church will have moved closer to providing all the sacraments for all the baptised .”

People talk of being ‘in harmony with’ Scripture. This is a musical metaphor. In practice, churches has altered previously held beliefs about what the bible says, e.g. on pacifism, on divorce.

On the conscience clause that allows clergy NOT to conduct these ceremonies: “I have never heard of any cleric being compelled to perform a ceremony of marriage for a couple whom she or he did not choose to marry.”A. Budgey, Toronto

“There can be no guarantee of immunity under civil law. Jesus himself would not be able to claim immunity. At the same time, it is almost impossible to imagine any court or other government agency interfering in church affairs. This concern is a red herring.” R. Chaplin, Ottawa

Is the Bible the last word, or does it function like a “heritage document” for the church. It belongs to a less enlightened time. At best, it provides a descriptive account of what people at a certain time and place believed, rather than a set of prescriptions for all times and places?

Neither, they say: “By not acknowledging the cultural contexts of the various passages, Scripture has been used as a weapon of oppression, rather than a life-giving, life-affirming message of God. If we do not differentiate between these cultural descriptions from the voice of love found in the Scriptures, then we will have nothing to offer anyone .” R. Lott, Niagara

And: I believe that Scripture points to an ever expanding community of inclusion that begins to stretch the traditional set up of institutions such as marriage.” C. Harvey, Toronto

The usual biblical passages are trotted out though the comments lack the originality and subtlety of the US bishops report in 2010 apart from those ideas which it borrows from it.

Canon law defines marriage as being between ‘two authorised persons’ – it does not say ‘man and a woman.’

“Throughout both testaments there are many models of marriage and family which are taken as normative in their time, from the polygamy of the ancestor stories, to the one man/one woman understanding of first-century Palestine, to the idealization of celibacy in the New Testament, to the strong covenantal relationship between David and Jonathan. The common thread seems to be long-term faithfulness and covenantal love as a foundation of family life.” S. Sanford Beck, Saskatchewan

[I]f the church is going to continue to marry people, the question I ask myself personally is: can I really be a part of a church that doesn’t see me as an equal member? The message to exclude same-sex couples amounts to rejection. We are not being seen as equal members of the church.” R. MacAdam, Toronto

“We are opposed to same-sex marriage. We are not opposed to homosexuals.”H. & M. Cleaver, New Westminster

“It is not difficult to imagine a future day when the church will engage in a corporate act of repentance for its involvement in the social marginalization of GLBTQ communities.” R. Gillis, Nova Scotia & Prince Edward Island

“Other than the love affair Isaac and Rebekah, the human relationship in the Hebrew Scriptures that most resembles idealized “Christian marriage” was the love between David and Jonathan. These two young men entered a covenant (berith) of love and mutual commitment: berith is the word that describes the relationship between

Yahweh (a husband) and Israel (his wife) W. . Lewis, Fredericton

… “Sermon on Marriage” applies the command to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” within a limited context. “The earth, Chrysostom explains in the fourth century, is full; its population is enough.” But “filling the earth” is qualitative as well as quantitative, “so that the Genesis command ends in ‘dominion.’ To Paul, as Chrysostom reads him, it suggests the qualitative fulfillment of history in the dominion of the Messiah. The command of creation is fulfilled, that is, when the Second Adam fulfills the promise of the first and brings the dominion of God.”

The full report is here.

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