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A Questioning Faith: Does God bless same-sex marriages?

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Presentation on theme: "A Questioning Faith: Does God bless same-sex marriages?"— Presentation transcript:

1 A Questioning Faith: Does God bless same-sex marriages?

2 Possible Trajectories Is this issue a challenge to the institution of marriage? Is this an issue of civil rights? Is this about the acceptance of gay and lesbian people?

3 Focus on blessing God does not bless same-sex marriages God does not bless opposite-sex marriages

4 Who blesses? The Church blesses in the name of God Ultimately this is a ecclesiological issue

5 What is the relationship between marriage, Scripture/tradition and the Church? This moves us into a larger context This will allow the issue to be seen in light of the broader discussion of history and church tradition This will allow us to raise key questions that will help shape our conclusions

6 What does Scripture state about marriage? “The Old Testament has very little to say about marriage as an institution. In fact, there is no word for marriage, nor are their separate words for husband and wife.” Mary Shields Example: Genesis 2:24-25- most translations say “wife” the Hebrew is “woman”

7 What is stated? “It is very difficult to assess the extent to which marriage functioned as a free-standing social institution within ancient Israel. Clearly ancient Israel organized most if not all of its households around a man, and such households included both women and children under the authority of the man.” Jon Berquist

8 Marriage in Bible was: 1. Only between a man and a woman 2. Contractual in nature- Usually between two male head-of-households 3. Preference to endogamy

9 4. Involved payments Mohar- gift from groom to bride’s father Dowry- gift from bride’s father to groom

10 Polygamous

11 Arranged

12 Royal

13 Levirate

14 Monogamous

15 Marriage Ceremony “The Old Testament records no wedding ceremonies that might depict how marriages happened. It is not known if there were wedding ceremonies in most cases or if such occasions occurred only among wealthy families.” Jon Burquist

16 Examples Given Central ritual of bringing the bride to the groom’s house Celebrations center around weddings

17 Development in New Testament Marriage relations unclear among Jesus’ followers Marriage is understood as temporal

18 Apostle Paul Paul advocates for no marriage Paul makes provisions for those who chose to marry Marriage is concerned with sexual fidelity

19 Marriage as metaphor: Covenant In Old Testament Describes the relationship between God and Israel In the New Testament Describes the relationship between Jesus and the Church

20 Early Church Marriage was a private matter between families No state or church involvement Marriage is concerned about birth of children

21 Marriage Ceremony Betrothal Ceremony Done with bishop’s awareness 1. Giving of earnest money- pledge 2. Ring- sealed household effects for wife

22 Marriage Ceremony Betrothal Ceremony 3. Dowry promised 4. Couple’s hands were joined 5. A kiss was exchanged

23 Nuptial Ceremony 1. Eucharist celebrated 2. Blessing given by priest

24 Church becomes involved 12 th century- 1. First direct relation in approving weddings as “licit” 2. Priest present 3. Marriage becomes a sacrament of the church in 1215

25 13 th century- priest in charge of proceedings 16 th century 1563- Roman Catholic Church requires all marriages be in the presence of a priest and two witnesses No more private or informal weddings for Christians

26 Reformation Changes “All Reformed communities rejected the medieval idea that marriage is a sacrament, yet held high views of its importance. According to them the essence of marriage lies in the mutual declaration and promise of fidelity before witnesses, the consequence being that the ‘pronouncing together’ by the minister was only a confirmation of the marriage.” J.A. Lamb

27 Reformation And Marriage Martin Luther believed that marriage was a worldly thing that belonged to the realm of the government

28 English Puritans believed that marriage was no longer a sacrament and did not need a minister, but rather a justice of the peace

29 1792 most of Europe believed that the church need not be involved in marriage- compulsory civil marriages

30 Current Situation in US Merge both functions Marriage must be administered by some magistrate or government official. Clergy become an extension of the state authority

31 Christian Responses to Same-Sex Marriage Two basic responses 1. Refuse to marry same-sex couples 2. Bless same-sex couples

32 Churches who refuse to marry Position 1 See such an act as a threat to the institution of marriage Position 2 Support civil unions for same-sex couples as a civil rights issue, but do not bless Position 3 Support and bless civil unions of same-sex couples

33 Position 4- Individual clergy bless and support same-sex marriage outside the authority of church and church takes a “don’t ask, don’t tell attitude”

34 Churches who bless same-sex marriage A few denominations support the blessing of same-sex marriages

35 Presbyterian Church (USA) “Marriage is a gift God has given to all humankind for the well-being of the entire human family. Marriage is a civil contract between a woman and a man. For Christians marriage is a covenant through which a man and a woman are called to live out together before God their lives of discipleship. In a service of Christian marriage a lifelong

36 commitment is made by a woman and a man to each other, publicly witnessed and acknowledged by the community of faith.” W-4.9001- Book of Order 2007-2009

37 Implications Marriage is between a man and a woman Presbyterian clergy may lose his/her ordination for marrying a same-sex couple A number of church court cases have ruled that Presbyterian clergy may officiate at the blessing of a civil union

38 Currently a special committee appointed by the Moderator of the General Assembly is studying “Civil Unions and Christian marriage.” Their report is due in June 2010

39 Conclusions Marriage remains a central value of human community and church theology The institution of marriage has been fluid in form Christians (some of whom are setting right next to you) do not agree on the issue of blessing same-sex marriage This cannot be reduced to an issue, but must be a discussion about the Church, God and human beings

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