Wednesday, January 07, 2015

The "Moral Goods" of Marriage

Nineteen years ago yesterday I spent the morning answering the following question:
SET V Saturday, January 6, 1996, 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

LIMITED RESOURCES - You are limited in resource material to the Bible, the Book of Common Prayer, the Hymnal, and the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church. You may use printed or electronic versions of these texts but no other resources of any kind, printed, written, verbal or electronic.

(Set V focuses on the canonical area of Ethics and Moral Theology. It also deals with the areas of Holy Scripture, Liturgics, and Contemporary Society.)

A couple active and involved in your congregation who have been living together for some time come to see you. They tell you that they have decided not to have children. They ask you, "Are there reasons to get married other than having children?"

In an essay of no more than 1250 words, discuss how a Christian understanding of the moral goods of marriage invites them to marry in spite of their decision not to have children. Include in your answer at least the following:

A. The moral goods of marriage as set forth in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer;

B. The Biblical groundings of this understanding of marriage;

C. The moral criteria for evaluating a decision not to have children.
Today I'm spending the morning getting ready for the upcoming release of the Blue Book Report from the A050 Task Force on the Study of Marriage -- a group that was charged to answer these (among other) questions about marriage ... not for the Board of Examining Chaplains but for the 78th General Convention.

And it occurs to me these are still good questions for us to be mulling -- individually and collectively -- as marriage equality comes to Florida, bringing the numbers up to over 70% of Americans living in jurisdictions with civil marriage and as the Supreme Court prepares to consider whether they'll consider pending marriage equality cases in their docket. What does the Episcopal Church have to say about "the moral goods" of marriage? What makes Christian marriage "Christian?" And what can we do as a church to offer a theology of marriage as vocation that both inspires and supports couples as they strive to love, honor and cherish each other until death do they part?

Stay tuned. Coming Soon to a Blue Book near you!

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