From the Book of Common Prayer:
Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honorable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprized, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.
If Christians are to accept gay so-called marriage, they must accept that our liturgies and our services, our pastors and priests, our forefathers and foremothers have been for centuries wrong about the meaning of marriage. What they heard, what the pastor read, what their grandparents knew to be true was wrong as rain. And not just a little wrong, but fundamentally mistaken about the most essential elements of marriage. If gay marriage is right, then there is almost nothing in the old Book of Common Prayer that is right.
- Marriage is not the joining together of a man and a woman uniquely, naturally, biologically, and by divine design fit one for the other, but the joining together of any persons who wish to commit themselves to each other in a state sanctioned ceremony.
- Marriage is not a pre-political entity instituted by God, but a social construction which can be defined by personal desire and judicial mandate.
- Marriage does not signify the mystical union of Christ and the church, which requires the differentiation of male and female, but a commemoration of professed commitment and modern notions of equality.
- Marriage was not ordained for the procreation of children and therefore does not require two persons whose one flesh union can, by the nature of the differentiated sexes becoming one, produce offspring unless age or infirmity prohibit.
We are often told that we are only being asked to make little a tweak here or there to the Christian understanding of marriage, that gay marriage is just about more marriage for more people. But if the wisdom of the church through the ages tells us anything, it’s that the only way the Christian can accept gay marriage is by believing something different about marriage altogether.