Friday, May 06, 2005

ECUSA on the issue of blessing same-sex unions

It seems many critics of ECUSA's 2003 GC assume that there is no biblical argument in favor of blessing same-sex unions. They infer ECUSA's leadership has abandoned biblical warrant as a guiding reference point, and some feel convicted by conscience to withdraw altogether from the national church. Although an observer might be tempted to dismiss the fuss as a minor brush-up in a small denomination, ECUSA's decisions on same-sex unions have much wider significance. If successful in bringing same-sex blessings into their liturgy, ECUSA could inspire other mainline denominations to do the same. With mainline Christianity pulling in the same direction, wider political effects could follow--perhaps impeding current federal and state drives to prohibit legal gay unions or marriage.

ECUSA's success may hinge on whether it can stay together. For instance, if the AAC/ACN manages to displace ECUSA in the Anglican Communion, what ECUSA does with respect to same-sex unions will have rather less significance.

Will ECUSA stay together? It might help to have clear biblical warrant for same-sex unions. Here is an argument I am currently working on, a piece of biblical theology, in favor of same-sex unions:

(1) Jesus is resurrected in the flesh. [Yes, "in the flesh" is overkill, but I want emphasis.]
(2) In the world to come, the members of the Church will be resurrected in the flesh.
(3) In the world to come, Jesus will enter into a new relationship, R, with the members of the Church.

(1)-(3) have strong biblical support, and a conservative flavor. The argument works with conservative premises to achieve a rather un-conservative conclusion. Ironically, some supporters of GC 2003 would qualify or deny these premises; to them, my argument would seem unsound.

(4) Marriage among Christians here-below is to be modeled after R.

Again, (4) has strong biblical support. The meaning of Christian marriage is to be found in the union God, in Christ, seeks and will attain with his people, the Church. So far, my argument is orthodox.

(5) R holds between men.

There will be male members of the Church in the world to come, I hope, and Christ is male. (5) sounds odd in this context perhaps because you see where I am going, but it is still orthodox.

(6) Given that R holds between men (from (5)), and marriage here below is to be modeled after R (from 4), it follows that marriage here below can be between men.

And (6), of course, is unorthodox. Yet it follows from orthodox premises.

I am tempted to say self-described "orthodox" ECUSAns do not know what follows from what they believe; they do not seem to have taken either marriage or resurrection seriously enough. If you deny (6), which of the premises will you deny? Denying (1) implies denying the resurection of Christ, denying (2) implies denying the general resurrection, denying (3) implies denying that there will be a new, real, reciprocal relationship between Christ and the Church in the afterlife, and denying (4) denies marriage the mystery of its meaning alluded to by Paul.


At 10:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brilliant--an hilarious parody! Angliscot has given us a demonstration of the pitfalls of argument from analogy.

In Robert H. Thouless’s words, “Reduced to its bare bones, the argument from analogy has the form that because some thing . . . N has the properties a and b which belong to M, it must have the property c which also belongs to M. . . . The original analogy is useful as a guide as to what we may look for in . . . research; [but] the choice of analogies cannot be taken as a sure guide as to what we shall find in it”(Straight and Crooked Thinking, 1932: chapter 8, "Pitfalls of Analogy")

Of course, we do this so much we sometimes don’t even realise it isn’t the word ‘pitfall’ itself an analogy, in this context? (Well, sorta.)

At 10:25 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Don't worry too, too much about the pitfalls of analogy--semantic contagion is ubiquitous. Still, my argument is based on Paul saying the eschatological relation is normative for marriage--literally.

Taking Paul seriously, I don't argue as if similarities between the eschatological and marriage relations ground just one more similarity--that they both might hold between men.

Rather, the marriage relation is ordered to the eschatological relation, finding its justification and meaning for Christians as a foretaste of the final, ultimate satisfactions with God that fulfill and eminently contain those of marriage.

At 5:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're right, I didn't mean to imply that 'argument from analogy' was the only flaw in your parody--you have pointed out another. Irony at its best has this sort of structure, with multiple layers of logical defects: otherwise it comes off as one-dimensional and puerile. Best of luck on your current endeavour--I hope you'll share it with us when it's more fleshed out. From the outline you've provided, it promises to be a real side-splitter!

At 1:51 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

Come now--don't evaporate in ironic detachment and self-referential prolixity. Or at least do it better, like this: See, I am of small account; what shall I answer you? I lay my hand on my mouth. I have spoken once, and will not answer; twice, but will proceed no further.
But seriously, Gird up your loins like a man, radicalfeministpoet; I will question you, and you declare to me: since the issue is soundness rather than validity (if not, add an inconsistent conjunct to the antecedent), which of my premises is false? Or maybe you have a "Golden Island"-type counterexample? Don't be shy!

At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I beg your pardon. Perhaps you were serious in your "argument".

At 5:15 AM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...


At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your argument fails at point 4, which has no scriptural support whatsoever, and is indeed contradicted by Matt 22:30 and Mark 12:25, Luke 20:35.

The foundation of marriage is given in
Matt 19:4.

At 6:16 PM, Blogger The Anglican Scotist said...

charles ashworth,
Think again, my good chap--and thank you for your comment.

The Scriptural warrant for (4) comes from Ephesians 5:21-32, i.e. from Paul.

You mention:
(1) Matt. 22:30. R is not marriage--this verse does nothing to contradict (4).

(2)Mark 12:25. Again, R is not marriage--as that on which marriage here below is modelled, it is distinct from marriage here below.

(3)Luke 20:35.Same as with my (1) and (2).

Your objections are ineffectual--can you do any better than this my fine fellow?

You mention Matt. 19:4 as giving the foundation for marriage--but note (a) on pain of contradicting Paul, not all males or females must marry; they can remain celebate as was Christ, and as Christ,they sufficiently model God in their humanity. It is un-Scriptural to think we need to be married to someone of the opposite sex to image God--and Christ does not say that here; (b)to say "It is obligatory that heterosexual marriage is permitted" which that text does imply, IMHO, does not entail "Homosexual marriage is forbidden"--a simple logical point.

Think some more,and come back when you are truly ready to hear the Living Word speak to your heart.


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