Gay Wedding

This is the first of a series of post looking at the news this morning that a London Anglican Clergyman "married" two other male priests in a ceremony that mimicked marriage.

This post looks at the liturgy used in that service and compares it to a BCP marriage service to show that the explanation that this was only intented to be "a blessing" is specious.

This coloured text indicates language lifted directly from the BCP
This coloured text indicates language directly altered from the BCP (so as to use the language of marriage but to apply it to two men).

BCP Marriage Service – from here
St Bartholemew Service Liturgyhere
Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.

Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together these Men in a holy covenant of love and fidelity; Such a covenant shows us the mystical union between God and God’s people and between Christ and his Church;

The Holy Scriptures point to the offering and receiving of love as the principle sign of God’s presence; the union of two people in heart, body and soul is intended by God for their mutual joy, for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and that their love may be a source of grace and blessing to all whom thy encounter. Today Peter and David wish to commend themselves to each other exclusively and pulblicly, in making a solemn covenant as a seal and sacrament of their mutual love and devotion. This step has been carefully considered and is not enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God.

N, wilt thou have this woman to thy wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou love her, comfort her, honour, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?
The Man shall answer, I will.
Peter, wilt thou have this man as thy partner, in the sight of God? Wilt thou love him, comfort him, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?
Peter shall answer, I will.
N. WILT thou have this man to thy wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Wilt thou obey him, and serve him, love, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?
The Woman shall answer, I will.
David, wilt thou have this man as thy partner, in the sight of God? Wilt thou love him, comfort him, honour, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all other, keep thee only unto him, so long as ye both shall live?
David shall answer, I will.
I N. take thee N. to my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to I love and to cherish, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth. I Peter take thee David as my partner, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to I love and to cherish, till death us do part; and thereto I plight thee my troth.
I N. take thee N. to my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to I love, cherish and to obey, till death us do part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my troth. I David take thee Peter as my partner, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to I love and to cherish, till death us do part; and thereto I plight thee my troth.
WITH this ring I thee wed, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. WITH this ring I thee bind, with my body I thee worship, and with all my worldly goods I thee endow: In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
ETERNAL God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of all spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life: Send thy blessing upon these thy servants, this man and this woman, whom we bless in thy Name; that, as Isaac and Rebecca lived faithfully together, so these persons may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, (whereof this Ring given and received is a token and pledge,) and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. ETERNAL God, Creator and Preserver of all mankind, Giver of all spiritual grace, the Author of everlasting life: Send thy blessing upon these thy servants whom we bless in thy Name; that, as David and Jonathan’s souls were so knit together, so these men may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made, (whereof this Ring given and received is a token and pledge,) and may ever remain in perfect love and peace together, and live according to thy laws; protect them from all trouble and danger, and bring them, with us, to the heavenly feast of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
FORASMUCH as N. and N. have consented together in holy wedlock, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have given and pledged their troth either to other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving of a Ring, and by joining of hands; I pronounce that they be Man and Wife together, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen. FORASMUCH as David and Peter have consented together in a holy covenant, and have witnessed the same before God and this company, and thereto have given and pledged their troth either to other, and have declared the same by giving and receiving of a Ring, and by joining of hands; I pronounce that they be bound together, In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.
GOD the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favour look upon you; and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace, that ye may so live together in this life, that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting. Amen. GOD the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, bless, preserve, and keep you; the Lord mercifully with his favour look upon you; and so fill you with all spiritual benediction and grace, that ye may so live together in this life, that in the world to come ye may have life everlasting. Amen.

 

My next post will be a commentary on the text of the covenant service and its theological implications.

Posted in Church of England, Heresy, Sexuality Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
  • Blair

    Perpetua,
    just quickly, I know winston can speak for himself, but I’m 99.999% certain he’s not ‘outing’ Richard Chartres. C of E dioceses have diocesan bishops (Richard Chartres in London), but also a number of assistant bishops (called suffragans for a reason I can’t recall) – I would suggest (from the gossip I once heard) that it’s an assistant bishop within the Diocese of London whom winston’s suggesting is a friend of Dorothy…
    in friendship, Blair

  • No.5

    Hope deanery synod was good.

    I’m not meaning to be difficult and hold no great affection to forms of words. So if another form of words works better for you that’s fine. All I mean is that you are obligated by your bishop’s instructions to you – contained in the Bishop’s Guidelines – so long as they aren’t illegal and aren’t lying. I believe the whole House of Bishops committed themselves to the Guidelines and so would be surprised to hear that your bishop isn’t upholding them in Chelmsford. Is that what you are saying?

    Likewise, I know enough about the Diocese of London to know its diversity and was in London during the era of Brain Masters and John Klyberg. The current Guidelines don’t prohibit same sex relationships for clergy – they prohibit non celibate same sex relationships (as per Issues in Human Sexuality). Is it really true that Richard Chartres is appointing clergy to positions who he knows are in breach of the Guidelines? At the very least ordination candidates and those who enter civil partnerships should expect (so say the Guidelines) to give assurances that their relationships are in accord with Issues in Human Sexuality. Is this really not happening in London?

  • Blair

    Hi No.5,

    OK, incurable pedant that I am, have now read the HoB guidelines and essentially you’re right – paragraph 17 says, “In addition, the House of Bishops affirms that clergy of the Church of England should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership”. I suppose the only hint of ambiguity in the guidelines is that para 18 says, “Where clergy are approached by people asking for prayer in relation to entering into a civil partnership they should respond pastorally and sensitively in the light of the circumstances of each case”, whereas the final paragraph has, “In its approach to civil partnerships the Church will continue to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships between people of the same sex and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently” – one could say the last bit of that, about what exactly ‘minstering sensitively and pastorally’ can mean, is left open.
     
    …but yes, that’s splitting hairs. In any case Rev Martin Dudley, the priest who did the service in question, has plainly said he disagrees with the guidelines – he is at least nailing his colours (rainbow flag?) to the mast. To my uncharitable eyes the guidelines themselves aren’t helped by what looks like the HoB’s wilful naivete in insisting that there’s “ambiguity” in the civil partnership legislation – if they were not intended as potentially sexual, why the prohibited degrees of relationship that are the same as for marriage? Given that, and the close mirroring of marriage legislation in other areas (property and taxation for instance), it’s remarkable that the Bishops say the legislation leaves “entirely open” the question of what kind of commitment couples entering a CP will make to each other.
     
    But enough – as I said, it’s uncharitable, and in any case the Bishops’ guidelines had to fit within the positions held to in previous documents (eg Issues in human sexuality, Some issues in human sexuality etc), so it’s unsurprising that there’s an awkwardness about them.

    Bit off-topic – oops.

    in friendship, Blair

  • No.5

    I agree largely but I think the House of Bishops point is that non consumation is not grounds for “annulment” (so to say) of a civil partnership – whereas it is a ground for a civil annulment of a marriage, as I understand it. Thus the perception is that civil partnerships may be, but are not necessarily, non celibate.

    Hence the Bishops convoluted wording Yes – to prayer after civil partnership. No – to blessing. Yes – to laity entering civil partnerships with no questions. Yes – to clergy entering civil partnerships so long as they expect to affirm that the partnership is celibate. It’s the same awkward compromise as Issues in Human Sexuality.

  • Oh my goodness me.  I’ve stopped listening to the radio (for my childrens’ sake), we don’t have tv, and dh only reads the FT, so this all passed me by, and my mouth is just hanging open.

    God have mercy.

    I am not an Anglican, and it was this type of thing (but I never expected this) and female “priests” that contributed to my certainty that I could not be an Anglican. 

    I think Winston was talking about being aware of the realities of the people in the pews and ministering to them pastoraly.  Which is fine.  But the pews are full of sinners of all sorts, with a variety of besetting sins that need to be stamped out, and I thank God for priests  who do care about life after death enough to get after us all and do all they can to stop us sinning.  I don’t recall many special “blessing the housebreaker’s tool box” services, nor any “adulterous partnership blessings” either. 

  • Cathy_Lou

    Peter,
    Maybe you’ve already seen it (I haven’t read all comments) but I just noticed this link to your post from a story in GetReligion.org   http://www.getreligion.org/?p=3609

    “But this is one case where it really helps to remember that this story focuses on the radical redefinition of an ancient sacramental rite in a church that claims apostolic ties to Catholic orders and creeds. This has to be a story about worship and doctrine.
    That’s where another Telegraph story really shines. To truly grasp the importance of what is going on, and all the fine details, I suggest that GetReligion readers click here and print out a blogger’s close analysis of the actual text for this same-sex rite, compared and contrasted with the Book of Common Prayer rite that it is modernizing or postmodernizing, depending on one’s point of view.”
    (Links to https://www.peter-ould.net/2008/06/15/gay-wedding/).

  • winston

    No5

    In answer to your questions – the Bishop of Chelmsford does not ask any questions concerning the sexual nature of any priest entering into a civil partnership; he is congratulatory and assures them of his full support.

    The Bishop of London, likewise, refuses to see the obvious, and carries on appointing.  My experience of him asking the question about sex is that he dresses it up in such tortuous language that it is difficult to know what he is asking.

    I am intrigued by the ‘Clergy Discipline Measure’ in that London has organised it that Chelmsford nd Southwark are his investigating bishops – neither of them are going to be very keen to make this present case an ecclesial court issue.

    It is all crazy, and the time it all stopped the better!  You mention being connected to the Edmonton area – the press and anybody who eyes, all know that the Bishop of Edmonton is in a gay relationship - it is doubtful if anyone asked him if it celibate.  There is also a great deal of hypocrisy amongst many of the ‘Forward in Faith’ priests in the Edmonton area, they preach orthodoxy in public in the sexual arena, but many behave differently in private.  I find it amazing that ‘Reform’ and ‘Forward in Faith’ have become bedfellows in all of this – it is like chalk and cheese, and it is impossible to envisage them both coexisting in the same Church.  Can you imagine Syndey Anglicans working alongside the clergy of Edmonton?  I find it very interesting that there are 3 Anglo-Catholic parishes in the diocese of Syndey, all of who are battling against a new puritanism that has little room for the type of Christianity that goes beyond their understanding of the Bible. 

    By the way, do you know if using the ‘Roman Missal’ is still in contravention of the oaths a priest makes at their ordination?  It is interesting that many Anglo-Catholics have done this for most of the twentieth century – I certainly grew up in such a parish, ASB – what was that?  They even stopped praying for their bishop after he voted for the ordination of women, the Pope though remained central.

    Sorry, to those of you who have no idea what I am talking about!

    Sorry, I am moving off topic, but I think we really need to take a hard look at some of the alliances at the moment, and what they are really about.  Maybe, if you are a conservative evangelical – you should find out about this stuff, as ‘Forward in Faith’ is a constituency which is now fully aligned with the resistance to the so called ‘liberal’ agenda.

  • Winston, I am very concerned by your comment that “the Bishop of Chelmsford does not ask any questions concerning the sexual nature of any priest entering into a civil partnership; he is congratulatory and assures them of his full support,” (no fault ascribed to you, of course).

    The House of Bishop’s guidelines are quite clear on this: “Members of the clergy and candidates for ordination who decide to enter into partnerships must therefore expect to be asked for assurances that their relationship will be consistent with the teaching set out in Issues in Human Sexuality” (para 21).

    Interestingly, this paragraph does not specify by whom such assurances may be sought. They could reasonably, I think, be sought by parishes making an appointment, by patrons and so on (compare para 23, “23.The House considers that lay people who have registered civil partnerships ought not to be asked to give assurances about the nature of their relationship before being admitted to baptism, confirmation and communion,” which clearly does not apply only to bishops).

    However, since they are guidelines for the bishops, and since the bishop is responsible for ordination, licensing and so on, it is reasonable to presume that it is the bishop who will be expected to receive the assurances referred to in paragraph 21, and therefore that it is the bishop who will ask for them.

    If a bishop does not ask for such assurances, is he not, therefore, avoiding what the guidelines are designed to achieve, and therefore effectively in violation of the guidelines at this point? I am conscious of the seriousness of such an suggestion, but if Fr Dudley is wrong to ignore the guidelines, surely so is a bishop.

    In fact, we have already had a situation in the Chelmsford Diocese where a local clergyman, concerned about the status of a civil partnership and frustrated by his bishop’s response, had a very cordial meeting with the clergyman concerned who was happy to tell him it was not celibate. There was no personal animosity involved, but the two of them achieved over a cup of tea what the HoB guidelines would seem to require a bishop to establish.

    Once again I ask, surely it is incumbent on bishops to make this enquiry? Otherwise the guidelines are being ignored. Incidentally, this doesn’t give me any confidence that a ‘Code of Practice’ applied on the issue of Women Bishops would be much provision for those who are opposed!

  • No.5

    I just want to say how how grateful, Winston, I am for your frankness and for your willingness to dialogue. For folks like me it is terribly, terribly disheartening to see our bishops say one thing and then to hear of them doing another. I find it heartbreaking. Nevertheless I really appreciate your desire to keep the conversation going and pray that God blesses you in your ministry.

  • I’ve only just begun reading and I haven’t read the comments, but I have a quick suggestion.  On the BCP side, strike or color those parts of the text that were simply omitted, such as, “which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency . . .”

  • james noble

    Incidentally, this doesn’t give me any confidence that a ‘Code of Practice’ applied on the issue of Women Bishops would be much provision for those who are opposed!

    Actually, I think the fact that there are gay-ordinations and gay parishes coexisting with pretty hardline conservative evangelical parishes in the same diocese – if anything, should give some confidence that Women Bishops won’t change much.

    The CoE compromise is, of course, you can be as gay/straight/christian/pagan/femninst/traditional/catholic as you like – provided that you agree (at least in public) that all the bishops are bishops, all the priests are priests —- and if you do that, they they’ll leave you mostly alone.

  • No.5

    Whoah – what do you make of Bishop Richard’s letter to Fr. Dudley. Blimey – talk about breathing steam. I don’t think this is going to be swept under the carpet. Do you still think so? I think Fr. Dudley is going to be made a public example.

  • The Bishop’s letter is about as unambiguous as you can get. If Fr Dudley is shown to have clearly disobeyed the Bishop’s lawful instruction, then he’s history.

  • Are the Bishops of Chelmsford and Southwark under the Bishop of London?
    Winston says that Chelmsford and Southwark are the Bishop of London’s “investigating bishops”. 
    But I have seen elsewhere that it is the “Archdeacon of London” who is in charge of the investigation.
    Is there any reason to think that any of these are the one referred to by Winston as the gay bishop in the Diocese of London? 
    Has the Bishop of London appointed a known advocate/ practitioner of homosexual behavior to investigate this matter?

    Blair
    June 16, 2008 9:15 pm 

    C of E dioceses have diocesan bishops (Richard Chartres in London), but also a number of assistant bishops (called suffragans for a reason I can’t recall) – I would suggest (from the gossip I once heard) that it’s an assistant bishop within the Diocese of London whom winston’s suggesting is a friend of Dorothy…

    winston June 17, 2008 8:18 am
    In answer to your questions – the Bishop of Chelmsford does not ask any questions concerning the sexual nature of any priest entering into a civil partnership; he is congratulatory and assures them of his full support.
    The Bishop of London, likewise, refuses to see the obvious, and carries on appointing.  My experience of him asking the question about sex is that he dresses it up in such tortuous language that it is difficult to know what he is asking.
    I am intrigued by the ‘Clergy Discipline Measure’ in that London has organised it that Chelmsford nd Southwark are his investigating bishops – neither of them are going to be very keen to make this present case an ecclesial court issue.

  • Bob

    While the bishops letter to Fr Dudley was to the point, I was a bit cynical when reading it, and could not help but wonder -is what he writes what he really means? Is it just a political stunt? This being the week of GAFcon and everything, is it not possible that he publicly releases a stern letter and then rings up Fr Dudley and says -‘Don’t worry about it chap. I need to appear to rebuke you, but you have my full support. It will all go away after a while.’ 

  • Blair

    Hi Perpetua,

    the short answer to all your questions is no. Chelmsford and Southwark are separate dioceses so the bishops of these dioceses aren’t ‘under’ the Bishop of London. The Bishop of Edmonton (whom Winston referred to and I was thinking of!) is (I believe) an assistant bishop within the Diocese of London, but is an entirely different person (and role) from the Archdeacon of London. I had to look this up, cos my understanding of C of E hierarchy is patchy, but in case you also were wondering, an archdeacon ranks just below a bishop.

    Hope winston won’t mind me saying this but I’m taking it that he was saying the bishops of Chelmsford and Southwark won’t “be very keen to make this present case an ecclesial court issue”, because they themselves may well have partnered gay clergy in their dioceses, and/or churches in their dioceses have been used for blessing same-sex partnerships (the second of those is certainly true in Southwark).

    …clear as mud? :)

    in friendship, Blair

  • William

    Members of the clergy and candidates for ordination who decide to enter into partnerships must therefore expect to be asked for assurances that their relationship will be consistent with the teaching set out in Issues in Human Sexuality.

    Notice how nicely worded that is. It doesn’t say “must be asked”, still less “the Bishop or Archdeacon must ask”,  but “must expect to be asked”. I’ve expected all sorts of things in my life which have never happened. So clearly no-one has an absolute obligation to ask for assurances that … etc. No doubt many bishops profit from the Preacher’s wise advice that there is “a time for keeping silent, a time for speaking”. (Ecclesiastes 3:12)

  • Blair makes the crucial point that there is the danger that if Fr Dudley is disciplined, it could all get very messy very quickly. I can foresee three equally bad scenarios:

    i) Some Conservatives engage in a witch-hunt, outing clergy they believe are breaking the Bishops’ guidelines in “Issues” and in the pastoral guidelines on Civil Partnerships
    ii) Some revisionists out themselves in a “what are you going to do about it” stance
    iii) Some revisionists out senior Anglican clergy who are in gay relationships, not necessarily with their consent, in order to engage again in brinkmanship.

    I’m not really sure what I think about this. Part of my is nice and puritan and wants a church that stands by what it officially believes instead of taking a “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach. The other part of me knows that such a purge could be deeply disastrous, not just the public face of the church but also the thousands of parishioners suddenly left with no priest.

  • Bob

    Peter, if you had hundreds of vacant churches with no priest, you could always fly some in from Sydney or somewhere else! ;-)

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