I hope Geoffrey will forgive me if I respond to his posts yesterday in less full a manner than I should like, but this is being written rather early before a long day and after one, but I hope it makes sense – even if I know it is muddled.
I have been talking with my vicar and a curate about the so-called liturgy for blessing same-sex unions. Their opinion (which is mine) is that if there is such a thing, the Church is unlikely to adopt it for precisely the reasons Geoffrey states so eloquently; we cannot redefine sin to suit our own purposes. Matters such as women priests rest on Tradition, not Biblical prescription; one can take the view that as Christ did not have female apostles, women should not be priests, but that is an extrapolation from Tradition and an explanation for it; it is not an actual prohibition. As I take that view, I agree with Tradition; but I understand those who take a different view and probably respect their view more than they do mine.
I am well aware of the arguments used to suggest that the Pauline passages used to show homosexuality is sinful can be interpreted in other ways; but here, too, I am more persuaded by Tradition. That is still not how even my own Church reads Paul, neither would it be compatible with the reading of marriage as between one man and one woman for life. Yes, I know my own Church permits divorcees to remarry, and yes, I know that contradicts Tradition and Scripture. We have not chosen to go down the road of creating a quasi-legal process which investigates whether a marriage was, itself ‘valid’; we have not chosen to ask people whether they were sincere when they made their vows, or whether they really knew what they were promising; neither have we chosen to give vengeful ex-spouses the chance to refuse to cooperate with a tribunal. No, we have chosen here to prefer mercy and compassion. Marriages break down. We can add to the grief on people, or we can mitigate it; we have chosen to do the latter.
As a divorced woman whose husband simply walked out on her for someone else with no warning, this is sore point for me. I don’t actually know where he is at the moment – but I do know what his reaction to a letter from anyone looking into an annulment would be. Moreover, I could not accept an annulment. I loved him, I married him after long thought and knew precisely what I was doing. As far as I know, he did too, although as a non-Christian, he was not promising anything to God because he did not believe in Him. That was a marriage. He left and broke his vows. I do not want some cleric going through the details, nor would I want some poor cleric to receive the sort of letter my ex would send in a response to a request for cooperation. I can’t envisage wanting another relationship, let alone a marriage, but if that were to change, then my current Church would receive me to communion as a repentant sinner.
As such, I am in a very poor position to start throwing stones at others. It may be my sinfulness, it may be my weakness, but I crave the compassion my own church offers. If that sort of love were to reenter my life, I should not have either to say my marriage was no marriage, or that I would live with a new husband like a sister.
Muddled and confused? Yes, I am. But life is like that for so many of us. I’d love the simple certainties that others have, but don’t have them. So don’t be too harsh on those of us who find in Anglicanism a Christian church which nurses its poor, hurt children – and their broken hearts.