Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Notes on SSB Rite

In comparing and contrasting the marriage rite used in the Episcopal church for "opposite sex" couples with the same sex blessings that were recently approved by its General Convention (click here to read the whole thing), check out some the suggested readings for the new liturgy, and in particular read the ones that differ from those used for opposite sex couples.

There is the obligatory reading from Ruth, one that has been used in Lesbian "marriage" ceremonies before.

But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord deal with me, be it ever so severely, if even death separates you and me.” Ruth 1:16-17

Never mind that the main plot in Ruth is to get her married off... to a man! I guess it wouldn't work to include Ruth 4:13,
So Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he made love to her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

Nah, she was just faking it.

And what would the author of Ecclesiastes have to say if his words were co-opted for use in this rite?
 9 Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

He would probably say, "Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity."

And what would Paul do if he saw his letter to the Galatians carved up so as to omit  verses 15-21 (as it is suggested to use Galatians 5:14, 22-26)?
15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
16 So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.
19 The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; 20 idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions 21 and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. - The omitted verses (NIV)

I guess most couples will pick the next choice because it so fits the theology.
21 Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22 and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. 23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us. 1 John 3:18-24

Show me where He commanded us to love one another in that way.

One line from a suggested Gospel reading gave me a chuckle (when considered out of context).

38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. Luke 6:32-38  NIV

Sorry, but my mind must have been in the gutter, Episcopal church General Conventions tend to do that to me.


  1. Isn't Ecclesiastes 4:12 more apropos for a menage a trois rather than a mere twosome?


    1. Matthew, it should work for much of the sexual alphabet.

  2. Here's the problem with your analysis, Lowly, as I see it.

    If you had simply stopped at Ruth 1:16-17 you'd find 99.9% of Episcopalians (liberal OR traditionalist)would consider that an accurate understanding of a deep friendship and a legitimate basis for a rite to bless such a life long friendship. Most of us are lucky enough to have or have had at least one person like that in our lives. I can think of no greater blessing of God than this, save marrying your best friend.

    What you do, though, is imply that when two folks of the same gender have a life long tender friendship there MUST be a sexual component to it AND it must be of the sort that is an abomination to God.

    Now what I find fascinating is that it is no longer assumed that sex is automatic between male and female friends, or when two broterhs or sisters live together, but only between unrelated folks of the same gender! You presume a great deal and I ask how your assumptions square with the admonition, judge not lest ye be judged? Thoughts?

    1. SFitC,

      The rite has much the same material as the marriage rite, why stop with Ruth?

      Chastity is nowhere implied in the ritual. The underlying point is to bless any sexual behavior imaginable. Why restrict it?