Continuing the series on issues that will be heard at General Convention 2015 in Salt Lake City. The Blue Book (all reports and resolutions) will be available here
The Task Force on the Study of Marriage has issued its report for General Convention. The task force was formed in response to Resolution A050) of the 77th General Convention in July 2012 for a group of “theologians, liturgists, pastors and educators to identify and explore biblical, theological, historical, liturgical and canonical dimensions of marriage.” Given a very small budget and making use of technology to meet and work, the Task Force has offered a lot of food for thought for the church and some resolutions for GC2015.
The Task Force did its homework on history of marriage and the church, the Scriptures, and tradition. The Report consists of seven essays, a study guide and two resolutions.
First the resolutions (from Susan Russell’s blog– a member of the Task Force):
One calls for changes to Canon I.18 (Of the Solemnization of Holy Matrimony) and the other to continue the work of the task force for another three years. The suggested canonical changes would make the Canon I:18 [a] ordered more practically in terms of pastoral practice; [b] focused on the actual vows made in The Book of Common Prayer marriage rite; [c] reflective of the theology expressed in the task force’s study and essays; and [d] inclusive of both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
 Continuing the work of the task force would provide an opportunity for the church to study — and possibly respond to — the changing realities of marriage in our culture and in our congregations beyond the scope of what the wide-ranging A050 study allowed for.
The essays are by far the most interesting and thorough part of the report. Topics are:
1. A Biblical and Theological Framework for Thinking about Marriage
2. Christian Marriage as Vocation
3. A History of Christian Marriage
4. Marriage as a Rite of Passage
5. The Marriage Canon: History and Critique
6. Agents of the State: A Question for Discernment
7. Changing Trends and Norms in Marriage
Mary Frances Schjonberg, Episcopal News Service has an in-depth report on the resolution about the Marriage Rite.
Tobias Haller, a member of the Task Force writes on his blog
As I read the whole report I wonder (and I know this is outside their assigned task):
- And what of the fact that about 50.2 percent of adults in the US are single? In 1950, that number was about 22 percent. What do they see in this report?
- What about the reality of relationships that most parish clergy see. All those who can’t or won’t live according so some ideal norm? How does this report answer the questions of those who are considering divorce?
- Are we are trying too hard to make something out of marriage and we are asking marriage to bear too much weight?
- What is at the heart of our concern about marriage regulation and rituals? Marriage in the church is no longer about property rights or “protecting” women — or inheritance. Is it because we want to regulate sex and who can have intimate relationships? Should we be focusing on what it means to be Christian and in a relationship of any kind? Do we need to talk about sex and the church’s seeming need to control it? What ever happened to one of the better resources of the church Sexuality: A Divine Gift?
- In my experience as a priest people really want to know “What are the qualities of ethical relationships?” “How do I live as a Christian in relationships whether sexually intimate or not.”
What are your reactions as you read the resolutions and the reflections?
Another place to discuss issues to come before General Convention is the Bishops and Deputies list serve. Click here to sign up.
posted by Ann Fontaine
“Omne Bonum Royal6EVI104 Anulus” by James le Palmer / anonymous illustrator – British Library Royal MS 6 E VI, fol. 104. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons