Here's Michael Being Smart about Marriage-in-general and Marriage Equality-in-specific ... from his blog in response to yesterday's marriage equality in New York.
"Redefinition is the Church's Business"
by the Very Reverend Michael Hopkins
I am struck by the loud cries over the past few days and weeks about the state "redefining" marriage, this, of course, largely from religious leaders. A statement from the Roman Catholic bishops in New York last night decried that the state government had changed “radically and forever humanity’s historic understanding of marriage.” That is, frankly, just so much rhetoric.
The "understanding" of marriage has been evolving from the beginning, the chief record of which is the Bible itself. Search for a single "definition" of marriage in the biblical record and you will search in vain. You will find various understandings at various times and in various cultural settings, including Jesus' own. The church has even chosen over time not to follow Jesus' understanding, allowing for divorce (or that Roman Catholic divorce-by-another-name, annulment) in virtually every circumstance. One could argue that allowing for divorce changed the "understanding" or "definition" of marriage far more than allowing the partners to be of the same gender.
The church's job, in "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit," is constantly to be the agent of the new thing the prophets taught us God is always doing. That means "redefinition" is in our portfolio. It's the business we are in.
I am reminded of something the then Lutheran Bishop of the Washington Metro Area said to our Diocesan Convention in Washington many years ago. "Progressives in the Church need to remember that God never changes; traditionalists need to remember that God is always doing a new thing." I think this paradox is true today. In terms of marriage, it has, in fact, not changed, and we have, in fact, done a new thing.
See what I mean?