Hanukkah 2012

It’s a bit early this year, but as always there’s some good music to go with it.

For those not familiar with Hanukkah, it’s the last miraculous saving act of God in the life of Jews before the coming of Jesus. As such it stands in a long line of types of Christ in the Scriptures and Apocryphal texts foreshadowing the events we are preparing to celebrate this Christmas.

The Hanukkah festival of lights, which Jesus himself celebrated (John 10:22-30) recalls the legend how, when it came to light the menorah in the Temple again after casting out the Greek Seleucids who had sacrificed a pig on the altar of the Temple, there was only enough oil available for one day’s burning. However, that oil lasted 8 whole days (one Sabbath to the next Sabbath – oil burning for 8 times it’s normal time is generally considered a miracle) so each day in Hannukah you light the servant candle in the middle first (the “shamash” candle) and then one extra candle starting from the right.  The Shamash candle reminds us that Jesus came not to be served but to serve. He is the light of the world, the one whom the darkness can never put out.

But there’s more. As I wrote a few years ago, when you start to explore the timings around Jesus’ birth, you find yourself drawn to the conclusion that the annunciation of Gabriel to Mary that she was carrying the Son of God occurs on the final day of the Hanukkah festival.

  • May 7BC – Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the Constellation of Pisces
  • Feb 6BC – All the bright planets conjoin in Pisces (including an occultation)
  • 20th Feb 5BC – The moon and Jupiter and Mars and Saturn are close, again in Pisces
  • March 5BC – A SuperNova in the sky – the “Star of Bethlehem”

Pisces is important because in Babylonian astrology it signifies Judea.

So this leaves us with a date after March 5BC for the Wise men to set off on their trek to Jesus. That still doesn’t help us work exactly when Jesus was born. For this we turn to Luke’s Gospel. Luke 1:5 tells us that John the Baptist’s father Zechariah belonged to the priestly division of Abijah. We know that this division was the 8th of 24 to serve in the temple and this information helps us put a date on when Zechariah was in the temple – roughly the ninth or tenth week of the Jewish year or to put it another way (if this chart is right) towards the end of May 6BC. He goes home, has sex with his wife and they conceive (Luke 1:24). This would have been around early to mid June.

Now let’s leap forward to Luke 1:26. In the sixth month (after John’s conception) Gabriel visits Mary. Now if John was conceived early to mid June then this takes us to early – mid December 6BC. What’s important about this date? Well it’s bang smack during Channukah, the festival of lights. Channukah celebrates the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean revolt. During Hanukkah candles are lit every day to remind Jews that though there was only enough oil to light the flame in the Temple for one day, the flame lasted eight days allowing a full consecration of the Temple to take place.

Why is this important? Well, without a proper consecration YHWH couldn’t return to the Temple. The fact that the flame lasted eight days meant that YHWH would have returned to dwell in the Holy of Holies.

Let’s now look at what Gabriel says to Mary in Luke 1:28 – “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.” These last 5 words are not insignificant. Just in the same way that YHWH returned to the Temple after the consecration to be with his people, so Gabriel’s annunciation to Mary on the last day of Hanukkah signifies that YHWH is once again with his people, but this time he is living inside a human, not a stone building. Jesus’ conception at the climax of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, is a clear sign that he is indeed the Light of the World.

And now we simply need to count 40 weeks forward from the end of Hannukah in 6BC. This takes us to the 14th of September 5BC which is the first day of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, surely the perfect day for the one who “dwelt (tabernacled) amongst us” (John 1:14) to be born. Sukkot remembers the Israelites in the wilderness before they entered Canaan, when YHWH was with them in the Ark. In the same way Jesus was born so that God would finally be with us forever (Immanuel).

Not convinced yet? Each day during Sukkot the worshippers in the Temple would have walked around singing Psalm 118:25-27:

O LORD, save us;
O LORD, grant us success.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.

The LORD is God,
and he has made his light shine upon us.
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.

Assuming Jesus was born on the first day of Sukkot, that would have meant that these words would have been sung in the Temple every single day up until he was brought by Mary and Joseph for the customary offering, at which point Simeon would have taken him in his arms and said:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
and for glory to your people Israel.

Pop Psalm 118:25-27 and Luke 2:29-32 next to each other and you see even more the context of Simeon’s prayer:

O LORD, save us;
O LORD, grant us success.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
From the house of the LORD we bless you.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all people,
The LORD is God,
and he has made his light shine upon us.
a light for revelation to the Gentiles
With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
up to the horns of the altar.
and for glory to your people Israel.

Of course Psalm 118 itself is a great messianic Psalm, full of prophecy of Jesus.

Now, where did I put my Menorah?

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  • http://www.facebook.com/siheron Simon Heron

    There is an interesting piece in today’s Sunday Times which suggests that the Government having struggled to come up with a satisfactory definition of ‘consummation’ of a marriage between two people of the same gender, have decided that rather than try and work it before legalising same sex marriage have decided to let the courts work it out after it has been introduced.

    The same is the case for defining what ‘adultery’ will mean for same-sex couples.

    The potential legal aspect for heterosexual couples who are seeing their own marriage redefined could be interesting.

    • sheppied007

      Simon:
      Very interesting, as the government is finally showing its hand. BTW, here’s the link to the news article: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/National/article1170451.ece

      I don’t think they had a choice, since consummation is a standard part of contract law. There’s no possibility of a genderless definition of consummation, so it’s a fudge to leave judges to make sense of it. Heterosexual intercourse triggers a range of potential legal consequences (issues of consent, abortion rights, parental and extended kinship rights and responsibilities and inheritance) that other kinds of interaction don’t. As with other contracts, consummation demonstrates the sober intent of both parties to be bound by the legal contract of marriage. It is expected that both parties to a valid contract have the capacity to fulfil it.

      Here’s my own take on the issue of valid marriage and annulment:
      http://u-church.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/valid-marriage.html

      • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

        It’s such an interesting case because it is the prime example of how guarantees that the Law will protect people might be worthless. Letting courts decide us abrogating law making to them and NO-ONE knows what decision they will make.

        • Fiddlesticks

          This is just bizarre. A lot of civil servants sitting down to decide what particular intimate sexual act needs to be performed before the government decides to accept your relationship as legitimate or not. ‘What do you mean you’re not into that kind of thing? What kind of a homosexual are you? No. Your love just doesn’t meet government guidelines. Sorry.’ I can see why gay rights groups want to leave out the whole issue of consummation altogether. Are you really sure you want the government this involved in your private life, Linus?

          • sheppied007

            Plaintiff: ‘So, we met on holiday and kept in contact. We fell in love, or so I thought. She/he came to England to stay with me on holiday. I guess I wanted to keep our marriage special, for the wedding night to mean something. We got married a year ago, but since the wedding, there’s been some intimacy, but specifically no intercourse. Things have deteriorated so much and she/he now wants half of the estate in exchange for a quick divorce. I just don’t think it was ever a real marriage’

            Solicitor: ‘Well, there is the remedy of annulment that would simply treat the marriage as invalid. You both walk away with what you each owned before the wedding. The courts need to decide whether you are still bound by your partner or not, that what was withheld showed that she/he never intended to fulfil the basic expectations of marriage. Although there was intimacy, it appears that it was never consummated.’

            Plaintiff: ‘What do you mean by consummated?’

            Solicitor: ‘That’s a bit vague now’

            • Linus Wilmington

              Marry in haste, repent at leisure.

              If the person in your example wants a religious annulment, all they have to do is explain their circumstances to their church and they’ll be free to marry again.

              If they can show bad faith on the part of the spouse, then the courts will probably grant a civil annulment. Basing this on a specific sexual act, or rather the lack of it, is in this day and age virtually impossible to prove. Upwards of 90% of heterosexual women have had sex before they marry, so there will be no physical evidence of non-consummation. At the end of the day the courts will make their decisions based on the credibility of each spouse during cross-examination, supported by witness statements and other proof of unreasonable behaviour.

              The infinitesimal number of women who can prove physical virginity will certainly be able to use this fact as supporting evidence of unreasonable spousal behaviour, but it won’t be in and of itself the only reason for annulling a marriage.

              • sheppied007

                As you well know, consummation and nullity are standard parts of contract law, not just marriage. There is no reason for a special pleading to exclude either frrom marriage.

                Permanent medically incurable impotence of an individual does not demonstrate bad faith. They may not have been aware until the wedding night and sought treatment. It does limit the extent to which their faithful partner can fulfil the reasonable intimacy with a spouse who is discovered to be incapable of intercourse. The law says that there is the right to treat the marriage as if it hadn’t occurred. A religious annulment will not return both parties to their position before the marriage was contracted, so it’s not the correct or complete remedy.

                The fact that, as you say, it may be hard to prove is no reason for a special exception of excluding it as nullifying the marriage contract, especially not as a means of shoe-horning into the institution of marriage those fully potent individuals who, only by the very paired constitution (which is the focus of legal invalidation) lack the capacity and are declared void ab initio. Just as the fact that a spouse has had previous sexual partners, or the difficulty in obtaining evidence is no reason to exclude adultery as a fact of divorce.

          • Linus Wilmington

            The whole concept of consummation is a hangover from medieval times when women were regarded as vaginal real estate and a husband quite literally had to “move in” to his new possession in order to validate the acquisition. It has no place in a modern society predicated on notions of gender equality.

            Personally I believe that the government is leaving this issue up to case law because that’s the best and fastest way of consigning “consummation” to the dustbin of history without making a political football out of it. If a marriage can only validated by a specific sexual act that same-gender couples cannot perform, it will be argued that the requirement is discriminatory and must therefore be abrogated.

            Of course conservatives will shriek about “one more nail in the coffin of traditional marriage”, but here’s the thing: no matter what the law says, they’ll still be able to consummate their marriages according to the traditional manner. There will be no legal recognition of their first act of vaginal coitus, but then, why should there be?

            I have no fear that the government will interfere in my private life, and when the concept of consummation is abandoned it will stop interfering in the private lives of straight couples too. Less government interference makes for more personal freedom, as our American cousins would say. I see this as a good thing.

            • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

              So this begs a question. If we remove all reference to consummation from marriage law (which would essentially remove the idea that marriage is a monogamous sexual union), does that mean that adulterous sex isn’t grounds for divorce?

  • cerebusboy
    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      Was waiting for the obligatory “Christians pretending to be Jews” comment from you

      • cerebusboy

        It’s a legitimate one! From the (orthodox) Jewish perspective, conversion is infamously very difficult, suggesting that members of other religions pretending to be Jewish (I’d imagine you’d have a problem with a non-Christian participating in the Eucharist!) is a tad problematic. From the Christian perspective, is the church calendar really so deficient that we have to celebrate the feats of other religions? From a logical perspective, don’t the Jewish holy days gain much of their meaning from their relationship to each other? Is it safe to say that, in contrast, you probably will not be drinking until you don’t know the difference between “cursed be Haman” and “blessed be Mordechai” on Purim, suggesting something of a problematically pick-and-choose approach?
        At least I (or rather Jerry Seinfeld) was funny this time ;-)
        Would you agree that even if someone did agree with your biblical interpretation above that would not make observing Hannukah a good (let alone necessary) action?

        • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

          You obviously weren’t with me last Purim….

          This evening Reuben and I Iit the servant candle and the first candle. We talked about how this remembered the last miracle before Jesus was born. We even talked about how when Mary lit her eighth candle the angel Gabriel appeared to her to tell her she was carrying a special baby – Jesus. Then we sat in the dark playing Coin Dozer on my tablet while the candles burnt in the window for all to see (as instructed).

          And if that’s a bad thing well, then we did a bad thing. Sue me.

          • cerebusboy

            A lovely vignette (seriously), but would you say that you are a Christian engaged in ‘Christianised’ Jewish worship, or are some (but not all?) Jewish rituals/Holy Days potentially/inherently Christian? You’d agree that Christians, at best, will have to be pretty ‘pick and choose’ about what aspects of the Jewish faith and practice they endorse? Would you also agree that some Jews might have problems with non-Jews celebrating Jewish festivals, perhaps especially if said festivals are being interpreted as being about Jesus?

            • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

              Would be more than happy to say:

              (i) They are unashamedly Christianised
              (ii) That they aren’t in any sense obligatory and no Christian is missing out by not marking them
              (iii) Yes, I’d expect some Jews to be very unhappy about Christianising these things, but that’s not rocket science!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4NMN2XEV65N7EHTIKOX6TDWNJU Ian

    Sir, a friend of mine stumbled across your website and gave me the link. He did this because I gave him a copy of a paper documenting research I did some years ago. Eschewing astrology as unbiblical and relying mostly on Hoehner’s ‘Chronological aspects of the Life of Christ’. I did some research modifying Hoehner with Tabernacles/Sukkot. I had some date calculation software and using that I discovered how the Magi not only knew the birthdate of Jesus but also His death and resurrection. I think the second time they were more discreet and the Gentiles who would see Jesus were treated to a reference to the Son of Man. It’s all in Daniel, a book they would have possessed due to his pre-eminence in his time. The dates I have for His birth are the same as yours. There are many other significances that I have discovered since then and I am in no doubt that Chanukah is the Incarnation.

    As to cerebusboy: it’s not about being Jews or Christians. The feasts are the feasts of the LORD are prophetically related to the Messiah so it’s about the identity of the Messiah. Tabernacles will , one day be celebrated by the whole world, Zechariah 14. It’s His birthday feast as well as His wedding feast. Jews and Christians are now in the same place, waiting for the coming of the King Messiah. The difference is that we know who He is.

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      I’m curious that you think the Magi knew the date of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Not sure I can find any evidence for that in the Scriptures. Perhaps you’d like to expand that idea?

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4NMN2XEV65N7EHTIKOX6TDWNJU Ian

        It’s based on the numbers generated by the relationship between the Babylonian 360 day year and the observable year. These numbers come up in apocalyptic books. The crucifixion is calculable from Daniel 9:24 ff. What seems to be a mysterious reference in Daniel would be a big hint to the Magi. After that it’s just a case of counting back from the crucifixion, adjusting by a few days for Sukkot and then discovering that your start point has moved from the crucifixion to the Barley havest feast of first-fruits(not Pentecost). At that point, you have the whole story. I haven’t published so I don’t wish to give too much away.

        • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

          I’m afraid you might have to do the math for me to get me convinced!

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4NMN2XEV65N7EHTIKOX6TDWNJU Ian

            The Daniel 9:24ff calculation is well known in conservative evangelical circles and Hoehner’s ‘Chronological aspects of the Life of Christ’ does the work for you. You already know the date of His birth. Using Hoehner’s work and what you already know, together with date calculatoin software and you can duplicate my work. it’s that easy.This is far more than an unpublished researcher shoud give anyone.

  • Linus Wilmington

    It’s very likely that equal marriage legislation will be in place by next year. I will then marry my partner and our marriage will be fully legal with or without your acceptance.

    That’s all I care about. If you offered goods or services with a discount or special conditions for married couples and refused me and my husband the same discount or conditions, I would then take you to court and you would, based on current precedents, be found guilty of discrimination and punished accordingly. But otherwise our paths need never cross, so your acceptance or non-acceptance of my marriage would be a matter of supreme indifference to me.

    The only other manner in which your non-acceptance of my marriage could affect me would be if we found ourselves in the same social circles and had occasion to visit each other’s homes. But if my husband and I felt our marriage was not accepted in your home, believe me when I say we would not dream of darkening your door. And neither would we invite you into our home.

    And that, as they say, would be that.

  • Revd_Dave

    Peter, you might say: “the day two men or two women have naturally compatible sex organs I will accept there is no basis for marriage being uniquely a framework for male-female sexual relationships” too!

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Try answering the question again. What right do you not have at the moment that others do?

  • Fiddlesticks

    My problem with your argument is that it seems to go: I want to get married. I don’t care if this means altering the nature and laws of marriage (essentially turning them into civil partnerships, which I already have). I don’t have to listen to your arguments because this is about me and how I feel.

    If this was about hospital visiting rights, or bullying in school, or your right to kiss in a cafe, then I would accept that this is all about you and how you feel, and other people’s needs or feelings just don’t count. I’m just not convinced that you can alter an institution to fulfill your own felt needs without at least considering how it might affect the institution or other people.

  • Linus Wilmington

    *Sigh* Yet again a conservative tries to shoo a liberal into his miserable little “marriage is all about babies” trap.

    Only marriage is not all about babies. There are no legal distinctions between children born to married and unmarried parents. If marriage was specifically designed for the purposes of reproduction, children born in wedlock would enjoy privileges denied to those born out of wedlock. This has not been the case for many years. Society’s idea of what entails a marriage is therefore no longer dependent on reproduction and hasn’t been since the last century.

    Marriage is a formalized relationship between two consenting adults. If they happen to be a man and woman capable of reproducing, they may well reproduce. Or they may not. The marriage is no less of a marriage whether there be children or not. Children do NOT a marriage make.

    So, what right do I not have at the moment that others do? To enter into a marriage with the only person I want to enter into marriage with. I won’t enter into a discriminatory civil partnership with him because we’re not interested in fake marriage, or decaffeinated marriage, or “I can’t believe it’s not marriage!” We want the real thing.

    Whether you recognize it or not is utterly immaterial. All we require is for civil society to recognize it and for our marriage to be legal and equal with everyone else’s marriage. The goal is equality, which civil partnerships do not offer. Once we have civil equality, we’ll campaign for our marriage to be recognized by the Church. And we won’t rest until it is.

    Simple as that, really.

  • Fiddlesticks

    Actually, the ‘I can’t believe it’s not marriage’ is quite good :-)

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Let’s take those two key points.

    i) There ARE legal distinctions between children born in and out of wedlock. For starters, there is a presumption of biological parentage which allows (a) married fathers to register the birth of their children and (b) married fathers to have a presumption of parental rights in the case of marital breakdown.

    ii) You write that the right that you don’t have is “To enter into a marriage with the only person I want to enter into marriage with”. Well, the same as the rest of us. I am not allowed to enter into a marriage with a family member, even if I love them. I am not allowed to enter into a marriage with someone of the same-sex, even if I love them. The law does not treat you or me as homosexuals any different to a heterosexual. What you are advocating is not “equal rights” but rather (a) a new right for everybody and (b) the changing of the current rights for everybody.

    If we want to move to a position where two men or two women can be married then we have to remove parental assumptions from the current understanding of marriage. That is an attack on my rights as a married father. It is simplistic to say that you can have “parental marriage” and “non-parental marriage” – that would be two different institutions.

    Let me ask you a clarifying question. Say two women (A and B) get married. Woman A has a baby (Child Z). Is woman B presumed to be the biological parent of Child Z? If not, why should Husband B of Wife A be presumed to be the biological parent of their Child Y?

  • sheppied007

    Peter:

    I know that you probably know this by heart, but its worth repeating:
    Canon B30: ‘The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side,

    for the procreation and nurture of children,

    for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections,

    and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.

    The Book of Common Prayer repeats this order (The Form of Solemnization of Holy Matrimony).

    Scripture:
    Gen. 2:22 – 24: ‘Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman, for she was taken out of man.” Sexual differentiation.

    vs. 24: ‘*For this reason* a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.’ Sexual differentiation within our species is the impetus of a man parting from the descent group to form a new permanent line of kinship. Kinship by affinity is immediately created without reproduction. Christ cites this in Matthew 19:5 as the prototype of all marriage.

    Kinship is far from secondary. Of course, when it suits, detractors want to have it both ways and say that we’re only talking about changes to civil marriage.

  • Linus Wilmington

    The “right” you’re talking about is not a right. It’s not even a presumption. You will only be legally recognized as your child’s father if you’re married to its mother AND you register your name as the child’s father on the child’s birth certificate. Marriage does not give you automatic paternity without making a declaration of filiation when the child’s birth is registered, and that you can do whether you’re married or not.

    You don’t have as many rights as you think you have, although perhaps your sense of entitlement can be forgiven considering your dogmatic positions are all firmly planted in a past that no longer exists. Fifty years ago you wouldn’t have had to lift a finger to be recognized as your wife’s child’s father. But times have changed, although it’s clear that you haven’t changed with them.

    And I’m sorry you don’t have the right to marry a family member, but marriage is held to be a sexual relationship and sexual relations with family members are currently illegal in this country. If you want to be able to marry a family member, I’d recommend you first start a campaign to decriminalize incest. If you can get that past Parliament and the people, then marriage may follow. Good luck though. I think you’ll have an uphill struggle…

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    If all you can do is spout ad hominem (“Fifty years ago you wouldn’t have had to lift a finger to be recognized as your wife’s child’s father”) then you are admitting that you have lost the debate.

    But let’s try again. Contrary to what you suggest, the law of England and Wales assumes that the husband of a wife who gives birth is the biological parent of that child. That is why a married father can go to register the birth of a child but an unmarried father cannot. The presumption is PRE registration, not post. If that is so, should the married wife of a woman who gives birth be able to go and register as the biological parent of a child who she is not the biological parent of? If not, why should a married father have any presumption as to his parentage of a child of his wife?

    And you didn’t even begin to answer the second question, so let me ask it to you again. What rights do you and I as homosexual men not have that heterosexual men have?

  • Linus Wilmington

    The second question I’ve already answered, so I won’t repeat myself. If you’re unclear about my answer, go back and read my previous post again. If your response to that is still “but I can’t marry my mother” then we’ll just have to agree to disagree. I’ll still press for the right to marry the person I love and you can do as you please. Although, if you do marry your mother, you may find yourself in a spot of bother…

    And regarding the registering of a birth, as far as I’m aware the word “biological” does not appear on United Kingdom birth certificates. I’m not familiar with the legal situation in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but in English law there has never been any form of document that positively registers a child as the undisputed biological offspring of its father. Even when he registers the birth, there is no proof of paternity beyond his declaration. From a legal perspective, birth certificates are merely a register of parental responsibility, a fact attested to by the appearance of adoptive parents on these documents under the headings “mother” and “father”.

    So I see nothing incongruous about a woman’s wife appearing as one of the parents on a child’s birth certificate. Certainly it’s no more incongruous than a current birth certificate where the name of the father doesn’t appear at all, either because the mother doesn’t know who he is or because he wasn’t married to her and/or declined to be registered as the child’s father.

    A child with two parents of the same gender will know that at least one of them isn’t his biological parent by logical deduction. If his birth resulted from surrogacy or a sperm donation, current legislation gives him the right to find out who his second biological parent is. The appearance of his non-biological parent on his birth certificate is merely a statement of parental responsibility, not of biological filiation. But this is true of all birth certificates, not just those of the children of same-gender couples.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    That wasn’t an answer! You didn’t give me a specific action you and I as homosexual men cannot perform that heterosexual men and women can. I asked you what rights they have that we don’t. You have singularly failed to come up with a response to that.

    On the parental assumption issue you keep dodging the point (and I suspect you know that you’re dodging the point). For example, you say there is no proof of paternity for a married father. That is simply incorrect. The legal “proof” or presumption is that he is the father by the very nature of the fact that he is married to the child’s mother. Anybody who suggests otherwise has the burden of proof on them to prove that the woman’s husband is not the biological father – the law assumes he is and he never has to prove it. The fact that adoptive parents can acquire a birth certificate for their child with their names on it does not in any sense undermine this simple understanding in law that the husband of a child’s mother is presumed to be his biological father. If you want to suggest the law has another understanding then please point us to the relevant argument and at the same time explain why married fathers can register their child’s birth but unmarried fathers cannot.
    Linus, you might well disagree with me on many things, but evading the questions does you no credit. I’ll let you have one more go.

    Spell out for us all here, unambiguously, one right that heterosexual men and women have that you and I as homosexual men do not have. Just one right. No dodging the issue – name the right or stop arguing that you are being deprived of rights that other people have.

  • Fiddlesticks

    When it becomes illegal to prevent gay couples getting married in Church (as Linus predicts), what do you think will happen to the BCP marriage service? There are two potentially offensive comments in there 1) that marriage is for procreation 2) that this is the right direction for natural instincts to take. I guess if we get rid of the first, we could keep the second. What do you think will/should happen, Linus? I’m interested in your opinion. Should certain BCP services/words be banned as offensive?

    I don’t believe for one second that the Church will be able to carry on for long refusing the marry gay couples. Divorce is different. Divorced couples made a decision to split from their previous relationship. In all the cases of discrimination law we’ve seen, gay relationships cannot be treated as a decision. There’s long, rocky road ahead.

  • Revd_Dave

    ROFL I’m looking forward to the spectacle of the Government trying to tell religions that they have to change their beliefs and perform a religious rite that they do not have!

    ps It’s not just the words of the wedding ceremony, what about the wedding sermon? Will the Government tell ministers what they can and cannot teach about the Bible saying that God condemns same-sex sex? Maybe they’ll write a new Book of Homilies and impose them on clergy?
    pps Not just the BCP either Common Worship also says marriage is between one man and one woman and that it is a reflection of the natural order etc etc

  • Linus Wilmington

    To say that gays and lesbians have the same right to marry as everyone else is a willful, Pharisaical twisting of the reality of the situation. We all know that marriage involves the kind of love that gays and lesbians do not feel for people of the opposite gender. Holding yourself up as an exception to that rule proves nothing beyond your own willingness to sacrifice everything to your rigidly held principles.

    Can I contract a legal marriage? Yes, I can. I can shackle myself to a woman whom I’ll never be able to love as a wife should be loved and then talk loudly about the transformative nature of marriage, while she watches me ogle every good looking man who crosses my path and thinks “how wonderful it is to have a husband who can never really love me – how lucky am I?”

    What I can’t do is contract a marriage with someone I can love and treat as a spouse should be loved and treated. But a straight man can. So our rights are not equal. He has the right to have his intimate, loving relationship recognised as a marriage. The best I can hope for is a civil partnership. We are not equal. You know it. Everyone knows it. So using the smokescreen of “but anyone can marry so we’re all equal” is just pure, unadulterated bad faith.

    If I’m starving and you offer me a dish you know I can’t digest then you’re not only acting in bad faith, you’re also showing me just how much contempt and disregard you hold me in.

  • cerebusboy

    Is it really innacurate to say that gay men and lesbians do not have the right to marry their partners in a way, all else being equal, not true of straight people?

  • sheppied007

    I think they plan to call it ‘Erastian marriage’!

  • cerebusboy

    Depends what you mean by ‘compatible’. I think you’ll find that two women very much do indeed have the equipment conducive to splendid ‘natural’ mutual orgasms (and I note that conservatives from CS Lewis down have indeed regarded orgasms as saying much about the ‘meaning’ of sex) in a way, if anything, not true of the missionary position phallocentricisms beloved of antiquated (unscientific) patriarchy cum heterosexism.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Strictly speaking, yes. No-one has the right to marry their partner. There are a number of different partnerships which you cannot marry (incest, polygamy etc). Heterosexuals do NOT have the right to marry their partner, they simply have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex. As do homosexuals.

    The point is this. The “equal marriage” proposition is actually NOT about equalising rights, it’s about creating a new right and that is to marry the partner of one’s choice.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    But the point is, I think, that such splendid orgasms can never lead to procreation.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    “What I can’t do is contract a marriage with someone I can love and treat as a spouse should be loved and treated”

    No, and neither can a heterosexual. He does not have that right. He cannot marry the mother he loves. He cannot marry the two people he loves.
    What he does have the right to do is to marry someone of the opposite sex and to establish a home with them and raise children with her whom the State assumes are his by right of biological kinship.

    What you are asking for, and you are perfectly entitled to ask for it, is the right to “marry” anyone you want. But, such a right will by its very nature transform the understanding of what marriage currently is. It will by necessity strip marriage of notions of biological kinship and in doing so denude married fathers of their parental assumptions in the eyes of the law.

  • Linus Wilmington

    And you really think this flimsy, puerile “poor little straight boy might lose one of his privileges” argument is going to convince anyone that gays and lesbians should continue to be denied a fundamental human right?

    I suppose it’s a sign of conservative desperation. Red herrings often are. All you have to do is look at countries where equal marriage is legal to realize that men have not been stripped of their paternity rights. You know this and yet you still claim it will happen here. I find that very disturbing.

    I’m glad I came here. I’m learning a lot about the conservative agenda and the tactics you use to promote your interests. I’m more convinced than ever that we can no longer think of ourselves as one Church. Roll on the next session of Synod and the single clause measure currently being discussed as the only viable solution to the women bishops debate. That should set the cat among the pigeons quite nicely…

  • cerebusboy

    The straight person in your scenario has a qualified right to marry whom he loves (i.e. he can do so, unless they fall into the categories of first-degree relative etc). Gay people, given that the campaign for equal marriage is hardly also advocating for state recognition of incestous unions, are asking for the same right.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Actually, this is not about losing privileges. This is about you accepting that the changes you want to make to the understanding of marriage will affect every single married couple in the country, not just “extend” a right to some. Frankly, I don’t mind you advocating change to the marriage law in this regard, it’s just that we’d appreciate it if (a) you admitted that this was what would have to happen and (b) you weren’t so damn happy that this change would remove biological parental assumption of married fathers.

    But let’s not finish without pointing out the simple fact – in days of discourse you have not been able to identify one right heterosexual men have that we homosexuality men don’t have. Not one.

  • Linus Wilmington

    I’ll say it again: heterosexual men have the right to marry the person they love. They can’t marry their mothers or their sisters. They can’t marry more than one woman. But they can marry a single woman who is not their close blood relative and whom they love enough to want to marry. Within the constraints of these few rules, they are free to marry for love.

    Gay men are not free to marry for love. They can only marry out of a sense of religious or social obligation or as a smoke screen to hide their sexuality.

    In days of discussion you have consistently refused to address this basic fact. The more you avoid the issue, the more it looks like bad faith.

    When equal marriage becomes legal, you will be just as married as you are now. You will be just as much the legally recognized father of your children as you are now. Nothing will change for you. But everything will change for me. I therefore have no qualms about campaigning for a change that positively impacts me and has no negative impact on you or anyone else in an opposite-sex marriage. You may not like seeing gender neutral terms replace gender specific terms in marriage law, but not liking something doesn’t mean it takes any rights away from you. You have to prove that the change will have a measurable negative impact upon you, which you have not been able to do. You assert that you’ll lose your right to be recognized as your child’s father, but you provide no example of this having happened in any other country that has legalized equal marriage. All you can do is say “I’m sure it will happen, I know I’m right”.

    Well, I don’t think you’re right and I don’t think the government thinks you’re right either. So I’m going to dismiss your objection as unfounded and trust that the government and parliament will do the same.

  • sheppied007

    Well said, Peter. He’s playing a shell game called ‘hide the meaning of marriage’. What’s lost is what an institution actually is and the purpose that it fulfils: the shared social meaning of marriage that informs each generation. The law would cease to uphold the optimal environment for stable kinship and beneficial genetic diversity for the sake of a special pleading.

    We could also hide the meaning of citizenship. UK natives have the right to belong automatically as British Citizens to the country they love. Non-natives who also love this country and would die for it are not free to belong automatically as British Citizens (case in point, Mohamed Al Fayed). They can only become British Nationals, or citizens of their country of origin. A liberal would call this xenophobic discrimination.

    If British citizenship was extended to every resident non-native, you and I would be just as much British Citizens as we are now, but everything would change for Mohamed Al Fayed and many thousands of others.

    It’s a vapid argument that tries to change marriage from a claim-right (a demand for reciprocal duty of State and social recognition, validation and support as equivalent) into a liberty right (freedom from hindrance, such as free speech, etc.). Wrong, wrong, wrong.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Heterosexual men do NOT have the right to marry anyone they want. You yourself admit this in your examples below. Marriage is not an Institution predicated on the right to marry who you want. It never has been.

  • Fiddlesticks

    Somebody’s going to have to be very unBritish and spell this out or this conversation is going to go round in circles. What Peter is saying is that marriage is currently the right to stick your penis in somebody’s vagina and have the government formally recognise that act and prepared to support you in dealing with the consequences.

    Now, I don’t want to get personal, but I am assuming that your partner (who I have no doubt you love as much, or more, than any opposite sex partner could – not being patronising, I really honestly believe you that you have a sincere commitment to this person) does not have a vagina. Peter is politely inquiring what it is that you want to do with your partner that the government is refusing the recognise.

  • cerebusboy

    ‘all else being equal’ covers incest etc.

    “Straight people have the right to marry their partners (unless said partners are first-degree relatives, already married to someone else etc)”

    “Gay people do not have the right to marry their partners (even if said partners are not first-degree relatives, already married to someone else etc)”

    Are either of those statements untrue? If we’re generalising about ‘gay people’ and ‘partners’ then plainly we’re not talking of homosexual-men-hooked-up-with-women extreme exceptions to a rule.

  • cerebusboy

    Most sex is recreational – and this is as true of the evangelical christian world as it is the secular one. Most people understand relationships in the language of partnership and romantic love, rather than theological symbolism. Marital law catching up with the facts on the ground – c.f. the criminalisation of rape in marriage in, God help us, 1994 – is not necessarily a bad thing.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Then one would argue that the homosexual person has a qualified right as well. I don’t see how this helps.

    Marriage as the law sees it is *not* about romance but kinship and biological kinship as the fruit of that kinship. If you want to change that go ahead but be honest about (a) what the current legal framework actually is and (b) how the changes you propose would impact those currently married.

  • sheppied007

    So what if most sex is recreational? Partnership and romantic love are not the basis for making the marriage contract actionable. No-one says, ‘I’m going to court to make him romantic again’. The law can’t remedy that.

    You confound the motives for getting married (‘Most people understand relationships in the language of partnership and romantic love’) with the cause of marriage: the reason that it’s legally enforceable. The reason is grounded in protecting the shared social meaning of marriage and the basic expectations of biological kinship responsibilities, expectations that have always been essential to human survival. This is what the law can remedy.

    Those remain the facts on the ground.

  • Fiddlesticks

    You keep saying that, Ryan (and a Catholic priest isn’t going to disagree with you), but surely the point is not what the couple thinks sex is about, but the consequences when the condom breaks or the woman forgets to take the pill one day. With all the technology in the world, can we ever wish away biology? Connected to that, can we legislate away biology?

  • cerebusboy

    Biological kinship is not the only ‘facts on the ground’ contemporary ‘social meaning’ of marriage, nor do I concede that awe-in-the-face-of-reproductive-unions, however necessary to human survival it may have been in the past, is necessarily the foundation for good law in the year of Our Lord 2012 (or 3012?)

    NB – given the user name, am I talking to David Shephard or James Bond? ;-)

  • cerebusboy

    Perhaps not ‘wish away’, but surely it’s demonstrably true that, since the invention of the pill especially, people are no longer slaves to biology? (Rather than being a cause for alarmism, one could note that escaping from biological inevitabilities are a large part of medical science per se)
    In your scenario, the women could take the morning after pill or have an abortion. the conservative might note that both those options show that medical science has been divorced from morality and that seeking to curb biology may be fraught with dangers, but that doesn’t change the fact that curbing biology is often the rule rather than the exception in many a sphere these days.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    It is the legal meaning and that’s the important thing.

  • sheppied007

    You have unmasked me, O progeny of Hades’ three-headed guardian beast! Oh, that’s Cerberus. (Would you believe me if I said that sheppied001 to 006 were taken?)

    Again, you return to common motives for marriage, rather than the legal cause of marriage. Put another way, is a loss of romance a reasonable basis for treating a marriage contract as null and void, as if it never happened, rather than irretrievably ruined? For the former the remedy is annulment, for the latter, it is divorce.

    Socially, we’ve come to realise that romance is a critical part of marriage. Nevertheless, the loss of ardour does not give one party the right to declare that the other never intended the sort of union, commitment and surrender to each other that society understands as marriage, that the other party never intended to be bound by the expectations of marriage.

    In contrast, for one party to withhold sexual intercourse interminably after exchanging vows begs the question of what fidelity is commonly understood to mean, especially when the law has to intervene to ascertain the contractual intent of each party. Sexual intercourse involves greater potential consequences than any other form of human intimacy. It demonstrates that both parties intended and had the capacity to be bound by the marriage contract. If this basic level of marital intimacy can be withheld indefinitely or forever denied because of permanent and incurable impotence, the contract can rightly be viewed as void ab initio (from the outset).

    The problem remains that there is no legally resilient genderless definition of consummation that would be applicable to all sexual orientations. Yet, there is only one estate of marriage.

  • Fiddlesticks

    I’m not so convinced that we’re slaves to biology without contraception or abortion. Have you never heard of natural family planning? You choose when to have sex after considering the consequences and working with your body rather than trying to subdue it with lots of chemicals. It has no side effects and it’s as free as the wind.

    On the other hand, this ‘freedom from biology’ that you’re talking about is the freedom to have sex, inconsiderately, with the wrong people at the wrong time when we’re not in a position to deal with the consequences. A condom snapping is therefore a disaster that we weren’t prepared for. We can then go down to the abortion clinic, deal with the ‘problem’ and suffer all the physical and psychological consequences, which make us less happy individuals, and less able to form trusting, stable relationships.

    So, to sum it all up, ‘freedom’ from biology brings us nasty side effects, horrible post-abortion trauma and crappy relationships. No thanks to freedom from biology.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Spot on.

  • Linus Wilmington

    Marry him.

    And the government is no longer refusing to recognize my wish. Quite the reverse. It’s falling over itself to put measures in place that will recognize it fully. The only people who refuse to recognize it are your good selves. But you’re not the government.

    Laudate Dominum!

  • cerebusboy

    Interestingly, I gather that heterosexual anal sex was only decriminalised fairly recently too. Does that not rather suggest that the phallocentric discourse on consummation may well lag significantly behind the facts on the ground, and that the marital law catching up on reality is not necessarily intrinsically a bad thing?

    Perhaps conceding that a heterosexual man who wishes to stick his penis in a particular vagina belonging to a special lady but who has zero interest in having children, and gets married to do so, will reap the benefits of marriage would progress the discussion? Women expecting guys to ‘commit’ to them is scary enough without bringing kids into the mix (I jest ;-) )

  • Fiddlesticks

    ‘Marry him’

    And this is why this conversation is going round in circles.

  • Fiddlesticks

    Actually, if the government does legalise gay marriage who says I won’t recognise it? I thought we were just having a conversation here.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    We want to recognise your wish to be recognised as loving your partner and committed to him. That’s why we have Civil Partnerships which give all the same legal rights as marriage.

    *Sigh*

  • Linus Wilmington

    “The problem remains that there is no legally resilient genderless definition of consummation that would be applicable to all sexual orientations.”

    So in an equal marriage context, consummation becomes obsolete as a concept.

  • sheppied007

    Consummation is a standard part of all contracts. It fulfils the stated intention of both parties to be legally bound. So, genderless marriage ceases to maintain the hallmarks that make it actionable as a contract. Well done.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Congratulations. You freely admit that introducing gender-neutral marriage will alter irrevocably every single current marriage and all future marriages between a man and a woman. Welcome to the club!

  • cerebusboy

    If consummation is a standard part of all contracts then it’s not implausible that our Best and Brightest Legal Brains will be able to find a marriage-appropriate one that is something other than vaginal penetration, surely?

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    The fact that some who enter into marriage do not / cannot have children does not undermine the notion of marriage as an institution for rearing children in. We’ve done this one to death…

  • cerebusboy

    An institution where all unions therein are assumed to be procreational and are validated on that basis is arguably quite different from the contemporary picture of marriage. Would you agree that, theoretically speaking, it’s easy to conceive of a tipping point where the preeminance of non-procreational unions still gaining the benefits of marriage law means that it’s legitmate to question the emphasis on procreation in the latter’s discourse?

    And, hey, it’s not my fault you blog on topics that can lead to dead ends! I’d love a post on The Dark Knight Rises, for example :-)

  • sheppied007

    The fact that it’s a standard part of all contracts does not mean that it’s plausible to simply apply principles from the world of commerce to marriage. Marriage is an institution in which its social meaning is shared and protected by law. It’s expectations are of a specific type of commitment.

    Nevertheless, don’t be coy. (drum-roll) Take a stab at a legally resilient genderless definition of consummation.

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    Then let’s explicitly change the law around the assumption of biological kinship so married fathers are no longer assumed to be the parent of their wife’s child. See how well that goes down.

  • cerebusboy

    The expectations around marriage are (in many cases) the work of man-made laws,often reflecting a more patriarchal and less enlightened age, not some immutable law of the Universe or Biology that was presumably merely transcribed by ye lawyers of olde. If consummation already has a non-commerce meaning in marriage then why assume that its’ not possible to find another, non-commerce one?

    Have Batman and sporting commitments, but may get to your challenge ;-)

  • cerebusboy

    would you agree that such a change need not necessarily arrive from SSM? I’d have though a good Anglican would appreciate a good fudge ;-)

  • cerebusboy

    Natural Family Planning? As Billy Connolly said: I’d like to thank the Rhythm Method, without which I wouldn’t be here today ;-)
    The trauma of abortion is an argument for the merits of birth control. Crappy relationships? I’d think most women would say that if pregnancy was a very likely risk every time they had sex with their boyfriends then their relationships would be highly enervating and possibly not worth the effort. Women often want to forego children until career etc is sorted. Such relationships are hardly worthless.. In point of fact people not having children until they’re ready for them (and so using birth control) is highly commonsensical.
    Your evidence that ‘freedom from biology’ leads to ‘crappy relationships’ is what exactly?

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