Today there has been a lot of controversy and discussion around gay marriage and the position Church of England. I actually attended the marriage of two gay members of my church under a rite used in the Church of Canada. It was at the end of a vicar’s tenure who was always conscience led and not particularly bothered by official ‘lines’. It was beautiful and moving as almost every wedding is for me. But I held it together….alright, I did shed a couple of tears!
The convenience that church has offered as a unique countrywide administrator and officiator in previous centuries is not the same identity it holds now. But we are still bound into a situation where a religious ceremony and a legal one are intertwined. And this is part of what brings this debate into existence at all. The tension in a ceremony that is both religious and legal and how those things are united or seperated.
If you believe in God and are part of the church then you believe it is guided by him (in the end!). When the debate about women priests was going on I felt strongly that women should be ordained but also felt that if God was not interested in that course developing it wouldn’t. Women kept campaigning even after set backs, confident in the validity of their vocation but in conversation with the church. For me it was never a question of rights it was about whether God had truly called them to the ministry.
I take the same view on this issue.
The presence of God inside a partnership brings a difference and a depth. It marks a change. For believers a church marriage is important as part of the expression of their relationship – it says that even this powerful love is not the centre of their lives, God is. That is the purpose and blessing of a religious marriage ceremony. It’s a blessing people are craving but is also one that should be recognised as such, as a spiritual blessing for those who want to invite God consciously into their relationships, not a secular celebration or a solely legal event.
God has to work through his church and like all Christians the people who officiate in this area and who make decisions are flawed, can be predjudiced and may be afraid. God didn’t come for the perfect he came for us sinners. But it’s his will not ours that emerges in the end.