Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!

Our liturgical expert friend Bosco Peters has a wonderful link on his blog that talks about a lot of the same issues with the little problem of dissing same sex marriage while allowing serial heterosexual marriage, but from a liturgical/scriptural standpoint. It's a wonderful (and more scripturally erudite) treatise that tag teams my earlier post.

That leads me to do a little more thinking about the topic from that angle. We have always dinked around with creating loopholes in this particular sacrament. All societies have had laws and conditions for divorce. The Hebrew "get" exists in present day orthodox Judaism in essentially similar form as its ancient counterpart. Jesus himself had absolutely nothing to say about homosexual behavior, but He certainly had plenty to say about divorce. (As the old story about Calvin Coolidge telling aouot the church service goes, "He was agin' it"--in no uncertain terms, in fact.)

Well, and for those who take such great stock in the literacy of the Bible, where does plural marriage fall into that? Many of our most revered Old Testament prophets and sages had multiple wives. I don't recall any admonishment or any rule changing on that topic. I don't recall seeing any "Thou shalt not have multiple wives anymore," in the Bible. In fact, the lack of info on that was exactly the foundation of the Mormon church (one of the big dollar supporters on "Yes on Prop 8", BTW) early doctrine that plural marriage was ok. The only person to my recollection who even came close to saying anything was Paul, and that was just that deacons should have one wife (which, BTW, is what most Baptist churches use to keep women from being deacons.)

I nosed around on the internet for quite some time to see any "who/where/what" in history changed our attitudes about plural marriage. All I could find of any substance was that St. Basil of Caesaria (330-379) wrote, St. Basil wrote that "such a state is no longer called marriage but polygamy or, indeed, a moderate fornication." He ordered that those who are engaged in it should be excommunicated for up to five years, and "only after they have shown some fruitful repentaere they to be allowed back into the church." I also found that St. Augustine wrote, " "Now indeed in our time, and in keeping with Roman custom, it is no longer allowed to take another wife, so as to have more than one wife living." So it makes me wonder if the Romans were the one who had put the kaibash on plural marriage, not anything in terms of Jewish or Christian law.

In antebellum slave states, slaves were not allowed to marry. They were, after all, property. But some slaveowners allowed them to couple up, and ceremonially "jump the broom" (a euphenism that still is heard now and then in rural Missouri, particularly among African-Americans.) The symbolism of "jumping the broom" implied you were keeping house together. Some even made vows to stay together "till death or distance part us."

Hey, while we're at it, let's look at the canons of the Episcopal church in the U.S. Canon law states, "“Holy Matrimony is a physical and spiritual union of a man and a woman, entered into within the community of faith, by mutual consent of heart, mind, and will, and with intent that it be lifelong” (Title I, Canon 18.1.b). All weddings must also conform with civil law." (Title I, Canon 18.1.a)

Hmmm. Let's do those one at a time, starting with "with intent to be lifelong." Oh, ok, it doesn't have to be lifelong, you just have to have good intentions. (Of course my late grandmother telling me the road to Hell is paved with good intentions immediately comes to mind.) That little onery part of me is also saying, "Yeah, interesting how your intentions look so good when you're just looking for acceptance for getting laid on a regular basis." But the Episcopal church does not really push that "lifelong" button too hard.

Now let's talks about that civil law business. Ok, what does that mean in states where same-sex marriage is legal? I guess, technically, the church is off the hook because they defined that "man/woman" thing but it does raise the ugly little gremlin that canon law is now no longer "all-inclusive" with regards to civil rites which carry legal weight for inheritance and family lineage.

It still simply boggles my mind that a group of people will continue to cling white-knuckled to a few little scraps of Leviticus and Paul's letters when we, without a single guilty thought, eat shrimp and wear cotton-poly blend. I can't remember ever being invited to a good stoning, and several reasons for that are carefully outlined in the Bible. I have never had to show my rashes or cold sores to my vicar (I'm sure our blogfriend Eileen is glad of that, too, since she's had the hives), and although I've certainly felt unclean plenty times in my life, I have never had to actually LOOK unclean in front of all of Kirksville. (Oh, my, I'd love to see the look on our dear vicar's face if I stood out in the yard of the vicarage, yelled, "Hey, Wallace! I got this HEAT RASH I gotta show you so I can still go to church!" and yank my blue jeans down. He'd run screaming down Harrison St.)

The final thing that crosses my mind is this: Why do so many Christians carry on so about all the "dont's" when none of us are very good at the "do's?" Personally, I think if we simply worked on the "do's" we would not have time to worry about the "dont's." That actually seems more productive to me anyway.

2 comments:

I suspect that the answer to your last question is that we, in our heart of hearts, can't bear to be reminded of how far we fall short---so we look around for others who we believe fall shorter to make ourselves feel better.

I really do think THAT is the Original Sin. Our need to put others down to make ourselves look better. (See Adam: "That woman MADE me eat that apple, Lord! I would never have done it, except she led me astray. Did you notice she was NEKKID?!?!?!?" ;-)

Funny you mention your version of Original Sin. I have said for years that "I have a feeling the first thing that happened when you ate from the Tree of Knowledge of Good 'n Evil was that you learned how to put the blame on someone else. Because I'm sure Eve's counter to your version of Adam's comment was, "But I didn't do it, it was that damn snake!"

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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