The Task Force on the Study of Marriage faces a number of obstacles despite the decades long efforts of progressive Episcopalians to clear the minefields in their way. One major obstacle remains the Bible. After reading the following suggested Bible study question from "Dearly Beloved A Tool-Kit for the Study of Marriage, p. 23," I get the sinking feeling that TEc's revisionist minesweepers will make short work of any objections that might come from the typical pewsitter. Here is a taste of what they are up to,
•( Ephesians) Verses 28-29 describe the wife as identical to the husband’s own body, on the analogy of Christ and his Body, the church. What, if anything, does this say to you about gender in relation to the body?What in the world? How could anyone reach the conclusion that the wife is identical to the husband’s own body from that text? For those who need a little reminder the task force provides the source,
The following passage (Ephesians 5:1-2, 21-33, NRSV) is commended for use as a reading in the BCP “Celebration and Blessing of a Marriage.”The bizarre interpretation that the wife is identical to the husband’s own body is likely intended to help lead people to approve of marriage being the union of a male wife to a male husband or a female wife to a female husband. As far as the task force's theological drift goes, I would consider this to be "directed theological revisionism" or "revisionism with intent" which might be another name for the major heresy which infects the Episcopal church today.
Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 20 and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. 21 Be subject to one another outof reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. 24 Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27 so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind— yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33 Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.
The Task Force's revisionist strategy shows up again in the following (highlights added),
b. Different historical periods interpreted the marriage ritual in different ways, Eastern and Teutonic cultures believing that the marriage rite dramatically changed and blessed both the husband and the wife, Romans believing that the wedding day was in fact the bride’s day.
Question: How do we still see this ancient question being played out in contemporary marriage practices? How does the concept of same-sex marriage further inform this ancient divergence of viewpoints?
c. For much of history the expectation and necessity of formal, legal marriage was one left to those with power, status, and property. In our own day we do not believe that economic or social status should have any impact on people’s right to marry.
Question: How does this change in the Christian understanding of who can marry change our contemporary understandings of the nature and purposes of marriage?
d. Throughout history access to legal marriage has been closely related to the right to give consent, a right directly related to one’s ability to act and choose autonomously. Only those with the right to act autonomously could exercise the right to choose marriage. Often this has meant that those who were oppressed and subordinated in a patriarchal and colonial context could not decide their own lives. Access to marriage became a means of controlling the powerless in a society.One thing the Episcopal church has taught me is to beware of Task Forces. Their task is to force you into accepting something that you would never accept on your own.
Question: Are there situations in contemporary society where access to marriage is still being controlled by the powerful and privileged to the detriment of those with less power?