Thursday, February 24, 2011

Just for the record: "Weddings @ All Saints Church"

I just got a call from a reporter who "was confused."

"Do you guys DO weddings or not?" he asked. And there it was ... a great, on-a-silver-platter chance to set the record straight (so to speak!) So here you go ... direct from our ASC website:
WEDDINGS

At All Saints Church we understand Holy Matrimony to be a physical and spiritual union, entered into within the community of faith, by mutual consent of heart, mind and will, and with intent that it be life-long. Our commitment to the sacrament of marriage being celebrated within the community of faith informs our policy of offering weddings for members of the parish.

We are committed to treating equally all couples presenting themselves for the rite of Marriage. Effective June 2, 2009, the Vestry of All Saints Church unanimously passed a marriage resolution stating that All Saints is called to make the sacrament of marriage equally available to all couples, and that All Saints clergy will not sign civil marriage certificates for any couples, until the right to civil marriage is available to all couples. Read the resolution.
And then I added this note:
We have not been serving as “agents of the state” on civil marriage since 2009. We still do weddings … lots of them … but we only do the sacramental part of the marriage blessing … we leave the civil part of the marriage contract to a judge or justice of the peace. We’re looking forward to getting back to being able to offer both equal blessing AND equal protection to all our couples … and yesterday’s DOMA decision takes us another step closer to that.

I think it’s a really important distinction to separate the civil marriage struggle from the sanctity of marriage fight. The First Amendment gives us the freedom to make decisions within our own faith communities which marriages we will or will not bless. And nothing that happens in the civil marriage equality arena impacts that one way or the other. Hope that clears it up. If not, give me a call …
Stay tuned ... and meanwhile, here are some pictures worth the proverbial 1000 words:

40 comments:

Martin T. said...

Is that right? Do you realize that technically every priest who took part in such a ceremony there should be defrocked right? Well, it's clear who controls the Diocese of LA.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

That's a reference to the Holy Spirit, right?

Honestly, Martin ... "defrocked" for what?

Martin T. said...

I know you know full well what I'm referring to but feel free to believe I said otherwise. Defrocked for disobeying the canons of the Episcopal Church. There is no resolution saying that you can bestow the sacrament of Holy Matrimony on any other couple but that of a man and a woman. So yes, anyone that did such a thing, including that bishop on the east coast should be sacked, but he won't.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

I really don't have much time for this today ... which is a pity, as it's such a ripe "teachable moment" ... but the discussion is a lively one about whether the canons on marriage are "proscriptive" ... of marriage necessarily being between a man and a woman or "descriptive" ... of marriage being solely between a man and a woman when they were written.

For bishops in six ... about to be seven as soon as Maryland steps up later today ... civil marriage is now available to both opposite and same sex couples ... and in many jurisdictions the pastoral care and liturgical blessings are following suit.

There will be much more conversation on this as we move forward ... but suffice to say it's a source of great good news to many that the Episcopal Church is being a headlight rather than a tail-light on the issue of marriage equality.

And now back to vestry-staff retreat planning.

IT said...

I believe that the idea of "generous pastoral provision" allows for wide latitude, right?

in Washington DC, Bishop Chane allows his priests to officiate at legal marriages. I know the Bishop in Massachusetts does the same and I'm sure there are others--and others allowing blessings without the civil marriage. In CA, I know that the BIshops in LA, SF and SD (at least) allow blessings--not sure about the others, Susan will tell us.

In SD, where we are, the Bishop requires any parishes that want to perform blessings, to go through an extensive self-study process and he must individually approve the blessings.

OUrs is Sat, BTW (blessing of a civil marriage).

(Is that Martin T's head exploding? )

Martin T. said...

No IT, my head isn't exploding. I'm not the one that has to answer for your actions and the clergy member that does it, you do. Anyway, good luck on destroying everything that has meaning for the sake of feeling good about yourselves.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

And does it not at some deep, perhaps unexplored corner of your soul occur that to say "... destroying everything that has meaning for the sake of feeling good about yourselves" so someone on the eve of their wedding that you are in fact living out that destruction of meaning for another human being in order to feel good about your own unexamined entitlement and privilege?

Sad, sad, sad.

And MAZEL TOV to IT and her beloved ... may it be as great a celebration as you could ask for or imagine!

Martin T. said...

What wedding,Susan? Have a nice day.

Katie B said...

Okay, I am going to regret this but here it goes (and I so rarely chime in)--
Martin T., darling, may I share with you a very valuable lesson in manners?
"good luck on destroying everything that has meaning for the sake of feeling good about yourselves" is considered an appropriate wedding greeting in any culture. "Congratulations." "Mazel Tov" "Feliz día de tu boda" and many other similiar greetings all work.

If by chance you do not approve of a pending nuptial, for whatever reason (say you are my grandmother who never encountered a happy couple for whom she could be happy)then the standard practice is to merely say nothing at all. Or to offer any of the above greetings in an insincere manner (like Nonna always did).

Hope this helps
Katie

Martin T. said...

Katie, I have no need to apologize. There is no pending nuptial. Have a good day Kate.

LGMarshall said...

Not trying to be offensive, but by definition, that type of same gender union is not Holy Matrimony. Going back in all recorded history, it was the gentiles, [or pagans] which had special contract same-sex unions. Not the Jews, the Christians or Muslims.

Jesus started his Ministry at a Wedding of his friends, a man & a woman. What a beautiful metaphor for us! God says, The Marriage is Important.

Christ is the Bridegroom, and his followers, His Bride. Jesus made the distinction many times. Male & Female, a perfect, & complementary union in every way.

I'm not offended by pagan rituals,[are you?] but I abstain from participating in them because of my personal religious beliefs.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Here are some more "fun facts to know and tell" about "traditional marriage" from a theologian and church historian friend of mine:

The “traditional” (view of marriage as a “sacred religious rite” emerged officially and explicitly only in the 13th century. For the first few centuries of the Christian era, marriage was something not to be sought after by a good number of Christians, tolerated by others, and strenuously avoided for spiritual reasons by still others. Augustine (no less) struggled to find any coherent way to speak theologically of marriage at all. The best he could come up with was to liken it to a “special friendship,” of the sort one has with the Bible – a text.

And let us not forget that the “sanctity” of this rite -- until recently -- included the legal rights of husbands over wives as they would have over any other item of property; this “sanctity” further allowed the retention of “Head and Master” statutes in the states until as recently as 30 years ago (the name says it all); and still further, enabled some states to refuse to recognize any such thing as “marital rape” until very late in the 20th century (the 1990s, I believe). In that lovely history we actually do see “biblical family values” in operation.

IT said...

First of all, had the wedding in 2008. Got the license to prove it: we're already married.

All THIS fuss is because the faith community to which we belong, is going to bless that civil marriage.

I think that MT and LGM's comments speak for themselves, and it isn't in a good way.

IT said...

"Traditional" marriage has always occurred between two men: a bridegroom and his father in law, dealing with property aka the Bride. What this is about, in part, is anger that gender roles no longer matter.

More here and here.

But what's REALLY informative here is the nature of the response to being told that a married gay couple will be blessed in church. In fact, to say it to my face, so to speak.

And it's pretty ugly, isn't it.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

It is ugly. And it's sad. And it's changing. And that doesn't mean it still isn's ugly and sad.

I know I've told the story before about the parishioner who came to me (years ago at St. Peter's in San Pedro) and told me the idea of a gay couple making vows to each other in "his" church in the same spot he'd stood and married his wife make his "sick to his stomach."

And then he paused and said ... "Nothing personal."

And the time for that kind of crap has passed and it's time to say "It IS personal .. and it's ugly ... and it's sad."

Folks ask me ALL the time why I put up with comments like that on this blog and I've come to the place where I can receive them as teachable moments. They help me hone my arguments ... they help me remember why it all matters so much ... and maybe, just maybe, they help all of us work to figure out how to respond to the ugly and the sad we encounter over and over and over again.

It doesn't work to hide it under the rock it climbed out from under ... it doesn't work to repay evil with evil. For me it's a just-keep-on-keepin'-on strategy that is either going to work or it's not ... but it's the one I've got.

And when that runs out, I've got Matthew 10:14, Luke 9:5 and Mark 6:11 ... interesting that the "dust off your feet" text made it into all three synoptic gospels.

And IT ... can you email me "off-blog" please? I want to make sure we give thanks for the blessing of your marriage here in our prayers on Sunday!

LGMarshall said...

As an adopted Jew, I guess I relate to the Jewish Wedding Ceremony like the one that Jesus attended with his mother and his friends, and where he performed his first miracle.

I just assumed it was a Jewish Religious Rite -- But your friend says those didn't come about until 13th century?

The first Marriage that God designed and thoroughly approved of had complete equality, harmony & joy, Adam & Eve, -- which came way before our Jewish friends, Abram & Sarah.

Adam & Eve became 1 flesh in their relationship. It was their decision to Sin & disobey God, that disrupted their perfect union. Their Sin was the seed of all iniquity among the sexes.

Yet, we should not be discouraged, When obedience to God is the goal of the Marriage, then it will bless God.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

LG ... theologically I don't even know where to start responding to that. But ... for the record ... part of the joy of being part of a nation where freedom of religion reigns is that I don't have to understand or agree with your perspective to protect your right to believe it.

AND ... nobody has the right to write their theology into our Constitution. Which brings us back to the marriage equality issue. Which is what this post was about.

Martin T. said...

Sometimes the truth hurts. No marriage happened and no blessing is happening. You can't consecrate something that doesn't exists.

David said...

Martin, dude, sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "la, la, la, la...it doesn't exist" over & over doesn't constitute a valid argument. It does, however, make you seem quite rude (esp. that oh-so-sweet "have a nice day" stuff you tack on to the end).

PseudoPiskie said...

I don't understand the problem. Would Martin or LG please explain to me how IT's or Susan's marriage affects anyone else's marriage? Do straits lose certain rights when gays or lesbians marry? Does same sex marriage cause other people to value male/female marriage less? If religion is removed from the discussion as it must be in the US, what are the facts against same sex marriage? There were none revealed in the Prop 8 trial. As I said, I don't understand the problem. It sure looks like simple ignorant (as in lack of knowledge) prejudice to me.

Dennis said...

Martin, I obviously know nothing about you, but your words remind me of one of the first clients I ever worked with, back when I used to see children and adolescents. This young man was making his family's life miserable. His mother had recently married her long time boyfriend and though my client had gotten along with him for years, he now was refusing to have a stepfather. He was miserable at the thought of that wedding and he would say hateful things to his mother about no wedding having ever taken place. Some "helpful" friend of his at school even gave him some out of context bible passages against divorce and he threw these at his (religious) mother at dinner and other family times. At the heart of it all was his angry refusal to admit that his mom was now remarried and he needed to accept a stepfather.

Well, being a new & wet behind the ears therapist, I tried reasoning with him. I tried explaining to him how miserable he was making other people who cared about him, and how this was affecting him. He had none of it.

Luckily I had a really good supervisor who helped me think about some of the reasons for his denial of his mother's happiness and to see how hurt he was at feeling some loss over his own misconnection with his father.

His denial of his mother's wedding had nothing to do with Bible verses or his inability accept that she was married. It was about his own pain.

If there is some reason that the happiness of two people is bringing you some sense of pain don't run and hide behind religion or God. If you think about it I'll bet that you are able to see that this isn't about God or the canons of marriage. Because no one gets this worked up over abstract and arcane theology.

I don't know you but I would ask you to take some time and see why this issue has you so bothered. Don't just come here and react, ask yourself why you decided to make this into a big issue. Perhaps find someone to talk to. Whatever the reasons I can assure you the marriage of this couple and their love for each other isn't the issue. You know, pain is never addressed by attacking others and trying to spread it.

I don't know you and I don't do blog-diagnoses or therapy, but whatever it is I can assure you that pretending to yourself that this is somehow deeply involved in defending important theology won't help you. Please go talk to someone. You are anonymous here other than a first name, and don't have your profile activated, so I don't know where you can go talk. But, for yourself, just for you, do it. OK?

JCF said...

No marriage happened and no blessing is happening.

Like King Canut ordering the tide out. Pathetic, in the original sense of the word.

I'm reminded of "cowardly, selfish, greedy" Uncle Andrew in the Narnia books:

the newborn Narnian animals terrorize Andrew so much (through no fault of their own; he so convinces himself that the animals can't talk that he only hears them roaring when they try to talk to him) that Aslan puts a sleeping spell on him that lasts until Digory and Polly return back to London.

We must pray for the "Uncle Andrews" of our world (and church): there but for the Grace of God...

IT said...

You know, I'm surprised to realize I'm really untroubled by Martin T and LGM. Their dislike and nastiness is out there somewhere... but not affecting me.

I am married to a wonderful woman, the love of my life, and our marriage will be blessed and we will renew our vows Saturday, in a community of friends and family who call us to make "US" something special. I know I am better as an "US" than a "ME".

I feel sorry for Martin T that he feels such vitriol towards people he's never met. And my mother would certainly disapprove of his manners.

But really, Martin doesn't matter. What matters is that we move ahead.

An inch at a time, someone said.

MarkBrunson said...

You have comment moderation on, why do you allow someone like Martin T. to use your blog as a platform for abuse?

You have no problem weeding out what you perceive as abusive from those on your side.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Mark ... we had a lengthy discussion here a few weeks ago about dialogue vs. diatribe .. and I pretty much got convinced to give folks some elbow room. Which is what I've been trying to do. Bless his heart.

JCF said...

But really, Martin doesn't matter

As a Christian, IT, I can't agree. He may be a cussed horse's @ss . . . but before even that, he's God's Beloved Child (as are each and every one of us).

Yes, just as In The Good Book (Jesus's Red Letters!), he has the right to "refuse to come to the Wedding Banquet" (figuratively or LITERALLY!).

But were he to "make his bed in Sheol", God's still with him. Still loves him.

And so must we. MartinT matters.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Martin matters. But his opinions about whether or not my marriage or IT's or anybody else's is "valid" don't. It reminds me a little of "the old days" when some folks adamantly refused to receive communion when a woman celebrated ... denying the efficacy of the sacrament because we didn't have the "plumbing" to be a priest. There are still a few out there but mostly they've either moved on or come around ... and the church has kept on movin' forward. And that's what I think will happen here. An inch a time ...remember?

Martin T. said...

There are plenty out there Susan (believe it or not), most are just afraid of backlash and lost of positions for believing in biblical principals, which is why I said before that I don't bother with pursuing any positions in the parish. As for everyone else, thanks for the comments. I never seen this blog so alive other than just the pats on the back from people once in a while. Despite popular belief, I'm not in any "pain", but it's a nice blanket to cover up the real issues. Make it out to be about me. It's only the oldest trick in the book. As for the gentleman that claimed I'm "sticking my fingers in my ear"...how is that? For calling something as I see it? I'm not the one sticking my fingers in my ears or closing my eyes. The biblical reality is that no, there is no blessing taking place because there is no marriage. Whatever that is, it isn't marriage and will never be marriage. It doesn't matter what liturgy is spoken and what prayers are said. God will never bless what He didn't call to be blessed in His Word. Just have a look at it, don't take my word for it. Last time I checked, it wasn't two of the same sex at the wedding at Cana. But hey, if it feels good do it right? You all take extra care now.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Martin, my friend, you lost me at "biblical reality."

Here's a bottom line for you: I do not believe "in" the Bible. I believe "that" the Bible. Believe -- as I said at my ordination -- that the Bible contains all things necessary to salvation. I did NOT say I believed all things contained IN the Bible were necessary to salvation. Big Dif.

I don't follow the Bible. I follow Jesus. Or try to.

So while I completely understand that a worldview defined in its totality by the literal words of scripture would not bless marriages between two people of the same sex I don't live in that world. I also don't live in the world where slavery is commended, women are told to be sujbect to their husbands and the sun revolves around the earth.

I get that we disagree about that.

What I don't get is the obsession with the "drive by" comments ... many of them overtly hurtful (case in point the comment about "destroying everything that has meaning for the sake of feeling good about yourselves" on the eve of somebody's wedding) ... in the guise of Christian witness.

It's not Christian witness. It's mean and bad mannered. And ... in point of fact ... not even very original as those are exactly the words heard by the first women ordinands in TEC ... they were selfishly destroying everything that was sacred about the church received from the apostles in order gratify their own un-biblical desires.

So there is is. Another day, another dollar. And another chance to make God's love, justice and compassion known to a world in desperate need of it. Choose wisely how you will used this day. I'll be using it meeting with vestry and staff on retreat so shall be away from blogland.

Later, alligators.

dr.primrose said...

My yardstick for measuring comments on blogs is Galatians 5:22-23: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control."

So whose commments meet this yardstick? Susan, you do -- your "patience" is much more than mine. Dear IT, you have so much fruit of the Spirit that I blush with embarrassment of my inability to get to your level.

Other commentators, not so much, I'm afraid. "By their fruits ye shall know them." (Mt.7:20)

Martin T. said...

Oh dear, always making comparisons to things that can never be compared. Only at All Saints will you get away with that. Tell us Susan, besides the Sermon on the Mount and the Greatest Commandment, do you believe anything else in the Bible to be true and worth following? Oh! And yes Doc, by their fruits ye shall know them, and no good fruit has came from embracing the culture of homosexuality in the Church. That's the point isn't it? Like I said before, the real obsession and fanaticism occurs when certain clergy can't write one sermon without talking about LGBT issues. You think about that Susan if you never think about the rest. Have a good day!!

dr.primrose said...

Ah, Martin, I do wish you wouldn't be so eager to prove my point.

Robert Hagedorn said...

When a man and a woman have normal sex together they can become one flesh as the verse states. But Adam and Eve never had normal sex together in their garden. That was the problem and that was their sin. Do a search: The First Scandal.

Martin T. said...

Wishful thinking doesn't replace fact Doctor. You have a good afternoon.

IT said...

Pshaw, Dr Primrose. Anything I am, I owe to the civilizing influence of my beloved.

Thanks to the rest of you who are offering good words.

But just a point, it is NOT a wedding tomorrow-- we had the wedding in 2008, in the Summer of Love, when we legally married, with the whole she-bang.

Rather, it is a Blessing of a Civil Marriage. Much lower key, equally joyful.

As for MartinT: Whatever all his anger is about, it's not really about me, or Susan, but about some sad thing in himself. I can't do anything about that. I think he needs help, of a sort not offered here, and the more he writes, the clearer that need appears.

Now we have to run to church for the rehearsal!

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

IT -- Hope the rehearsal went well and know that prayers ascend for a blessed day tomorrow!

As for Martin ... well, what is there left to say? I'm reminded of "back in the day" when one could preach a sermon the history and efficacy of baptism and if one used just ONE little pronoun in reference to the third person of the Trinity (or "her" or "she") it would be dismissed by some as a "feminist sermon" (as if that was a bad thing.)

Let those with ears to hear, listen.

Paula said...

"You can't consecrate something that doesn't exist."

I fretted a long time about the Roman Catholic teaching on Anglican orders and on the validity of Anglican sacraments -- until, finally, I realized it was just some dude's opinion (cf. clericalism, juridicism and triumphalism) and that the Eucharist in which I partake is as "valid" (and Utterly Mysterious) as the RC's -- even though it is confected by a woman ! -- who returned ebullient and joyful from the wedding that "that Bishop" presided at here in Massachusetts.

The same thing applies to Martin T.'s use of "exist." The reality of the spirit trumps canonical nitpickery.

Matthew said...

Susan, I am confused. If its important to separate civil marriage from holy matrimony, why perform civil marriages at all -- ever, even if the state allowed same sex marriage. You mentioned that all saints stopped in 2009. I sincerely wonder why clergy would ever want to be agents of the state even if same sex marriage is legal. The arrangement all saints has now seems reasonable even if same sex civil marriage were to return to California. I am beginning to think that all clergy should refuse to be agents of the state, any state at any time regardless of the law.

IT said...

My thoughts about our day here.

SUSAN RUSSELL said...

Matthew ... that's a very important question for us to be having ... and we have LOTS of opinions on what our next steps should be in that regard. But at the moment, that's not the question on the table. Marriage equality is.