April 21, 2013

Scots Engage Marriage Questions Seriously

The Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) has published a serious essay on marriage. The essay considers both heterosexual marriage and the possibility of sanctioning same-sex marriage. The report from the Doctrine Committee of the Scottish Episcopal Church is “Marriage and Human Intimacy: Perspectives on same-sex relationships and the life of the church.” Unlike the so-called “study document” from the Church of England (CofE) that was issued earlier this month, “Marriage and Human Intimacy” actually is worthy of study. On the other hand, “Men and Women in Marriage,” from the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission, simply advocates for that church’s current position regarding marriage. It has widely—and justly—been criticized as insensitive propaganda.)

The Preface of the SEC essay explains that
As members of the Doctrine Committee of the Faith and Order Board we represent a number of different views ourselves; we are by no means in full agreement on the important questions surrounding marriage and we by no means possess all of the answers. And yet, we offer this Essay as our attempt to help chart a way forward. We have tried to avoid prejudicing one view over another, and instead have sought to provide an honest appraisal of the various issues which influence the state of debate at present.
This intention seems to have been taken seriously.

The SEC document is substantially longer than the CofE one. The items in its table of contents hint at its comprehensiveness:
  • Preface
  • Historical Perspectives
  • Biblical Perspectives
    • The Old Testament
    • The New Testament
    • A synthesis of Old and New?
    • Metaphor
  • The church’s official teaching
    • Canon Law
    • Ingredients of marriage
    • The church’s Liturgy: marriage as worship?
  • Scientific Perspectives
    • Genetics
    • Brain structure
    • In utero hormones
  • Worldwide Anglican and Ecumenical Perspectives
    • Covenant versus contract
  • Pastoral Perspective
  • Conclusions
  • Appendix
  • Further reading
I won’t offer an analysis of the SEC essay except to say that it is well worth reading. Both conservatives and progressives will find statements to like and not like. In reading it, I learned a few things—I gained some theological perspective and even learned of some scientific findings of which I had beenunaware.

1 comment:

  1. Thinking Anglicans has linked to some criticism about the SEC essay. (See comments by Beth Routledge and Kelvin Holdsworth.) There is some legitimate criticism here, but the essay does not intend to draw conclusions. It is, in any case, much more useful than the report recently released by the Church of England.


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