Browsing Faculty of Humanities by Subjects
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Is equal marriage an Anglican ideal?A critical conversation between the Church of England's response to the Government's consultation on Equal Civil Marriage 2012, questions arising from professional parish practice as a priest, and literature in this area of research. The article explores the theological significance of 'equal marriage' (equal access to marriage and equality within marriage) as a Christian possibility within the Church of England, with contemporary approaches to gender and sexuality.
Marital Imagery in the Bible: An Exploration of the Cross-Domain Mapping of Genesis 2:24 and its Significance for the Understanding of New Testament Divorce and Remarriage TeachingGenesis 2:23 speaks of a miraculous couple in a literal one-flesh union formed by God without a volitional or covenantal basis. Genesis 2:24 outlines a metaphoric restatement of that union whereby a naturally born couple, by means of a covenant, choose to become what they were not in a metaphoric one-flesh family union—such forms the aetiology of mundane marriage in both the Hebrew Bible and the NT. It is this Gen 2:24 marriage that is understood in the Hebrew Bible as the basis of the volitional, conditional, covenantal relationship of Yahweh and Israel, and in the NT of the volitional, conditional, covenantal relationship of Christ and the church—that is, Gen 2:24 is the source domain which is cross-mapped to the target domain (God ‘married’ to his people) in the marital imagery of both the Jewish and Christian Scriptures. It is an imagery that embraced the concept of divorce and remarriage. The NT affirms that the pattern for mundane marriage is to be found in Gen 2:24 (Matt 19:3-9; Mark 10:2-12). But NT scholars and the church have conflated the aetiology of the Gen 2:24 marriage with that of Adam and Eve’s marriage described in Gen 2:23, and thus see that the NT teaches that mundane marriage is to be modelled on the primal couple—a model that imposes restrictions on divorce and remarriage that are not found in the Hebrew Bible. In contrast, this study suggests that the NT writers would not employ an imagery they repudiated in their own mundane marriage teaching, and that an exegesis of that teaching can be found, focusing on divorce and remarriage, which is congruent with its own imagery.
What is the meaning of equal marriage in the Church of England?The Church of England’s traditional theology of marriage between one man and one woman is protected in the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 from reforms to civil law to include same-sex couples. Within the Church of England, same-sex couples who enter civil unions (of partnership or marriage) are not permitted to have a service in church to celebrate with prayer for God’s blessing. Clergy in civil partnerships are not permitted by the Church of England to convert their union to civil marriage if they hold a bishop’s licence to practice. This research questions the meaning of equal relationships, both marriage and same-sex unions, to test three of the benefits of marriage asserted by the Church to the UK Government: mutuality, fidelity, and the biological complementarity of the couple with the possibility of procreation (Church of England, 2012). A methodology of practical theology, where my practice-based research leads to theory that reforms practice, fosters dialogue among voices of theology within the context of the Church of England. A postliberal interdisciplinary approach recognises plural meanings within my research field and adopts narrative methods for data generation, analysis, interpretation and presentation. Theologies of equal marriage and union, interpreted from narratives co-constructed with my participants, are brought into conversation with premodern liturgies for blessings of unions of Christian harmony and peace, seeking a fusion of horizons expressed through performed ritual. This research argues that two of the Church’s benefits of marriage, mutuality and fidelity, are embodied in all participants’ marriages and civil partnerships, but challenges the Church’s third benefit, because it is stated as derived from acknowledgement of an underlying biological complementarity of the couple. Changes in the legal and social contexts in England, academic research literature in the fields of gender and sexuality, and evidence from research participants’ lived practices lead to reinterpretation of the third benefit as responsible choices for parenting and the nurture of children in a pro/creative relationship. Implications for the Church of England are that emerging theologies in this research mandate policy changes, to lift the Church’s prohibition of services in church after same-sex civil unions and to pilot new liturgies of blessing. For mixed-sex couples to marry each other in a liturgy of Christian equal marriage, this research offers two areas for light revision of the Church’s contemporary liturgy to provide alternative options: gender-neutral language and rubrics, and nuanced language expressing loving intimacy rather than specific emphasis on sexual union. These changes will enable the Church of England to renew Christian marriage based on a recovered and reinterpreted theology of Christian unions of harmony and peace, so that couples can celebrate in church with prayer for God’s blessing either through marriage or a service after their civil union.