Thursday, February 13, 2014

EQUITABLE INCLUSION PART TWO


Society decides for the church on how the marriage vows ought to reflect the 
common good.


ATTENTION: Civic and Church leaders; Surely, the recent news must sound an alarm - Priests and Pastors are no longer free to read Jesus' own words about holy matrimony when conducting marriage ceremonies.

Lukas Berggren: What constitutes a marriage (Holy matrimony) ?

On 1 April 2009, the Swedish Parliament decided to revise the marriage law. Previously, the marriage vows were the lawful union between a man and a woman. But now even same-sex couples, a man and man or a woman and woman, can enter and exchange matrimonial vows.

In Sweden we live in a positivistic legal tradition and culture. In such a culture there are no right or wrong standards decided on purely natural (logical) laws, but matters are deemed right or wrong by law. It provides people with a very strong , yet vulnerable position . Decision made by ‘we people’ in a democratic spirit decides for us, ‘makes it right’. Every other option is wrong . Until we the people change again and shape new laws. Then it becomes right (again). And what we previously believed in is now wrong. Such a culture is, of course, very susceptible to future trends and whims. Vulnerable to ambush.

Logically , the idea is remarkable . Can something really be deemed legally right if only to 51 percent of the political representatives think so? Or even if 90 percent determine it to be so? Or even 100 percent ? Can laws be right for a while only, and then suddenly become wrong ? For those who believe in an objective morality, it is obviously problematic. And an objective morality presupposes a God who established and ensures valuations to values. Without God all is up to us humans, then human dignity and other values are simply social conventions. By what right then might we condemn evil ? Would we even be able to talk about good and evil, right and wrong?

Against the ‘right’ positivistic thinking is natural law, where things don’t become either right or wrong, but are right or wrong . There are certain values that are eternal. There are objective values that remain firm over time and cannot be altered by the vagaries of political majorities . A democratically elected assembly sharing such thinking can not change what nature deems right or wrong. Right can never be wrong, and wrong will never be right .

It’s important to note is that it was the legal definition of marriage that was changed in 2009, not the theological definition. And a change in the legal definition of marriage does not mean an automatic change of the theological definition. For us as Christians jurisprudence can never shape theology. A marriage is a marriage. Marriage is of God - an objective value - that protects both spouses and children . Thus, it is not up to us the people to define marriage , it's up to Him who ordained it .

A marriage , in the theological sense, is still a union between a man and a woman. The Creation procedure still applies. Jesus' words about marriage in Matthew’s nineteenth chapter still apply. Therein Jesus quotes from Genesis, and thus confirms the order of creation , when he says : “Haven’t you read,” he replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.”

Priests who officiate at same-sex marriages can no longer use this quote because the text confirms the order of creation - man and woman. Consequently, rather than resist pressure from the political majority, one gets to sort through the Scripture, and discard those definition of marriage that no longer seem or sound to ‘right’. Surely, there must be a real alarm set off when priests can no longer read Jesus' own words about marriage in a marriage ceremony? The theological legal positivism will undoubtedly have far -reaching consequences. Instead of letting the political forces shape  theology, we should, of course, ask God , "Lord constitutes holy matrimony (a marriage) ? "

On Sunday we will celebrate Matrimony Day throughout the country . For fear of offending the political majority, we have too often been silent. Marriage is constituted, in the deepest sense, whether in politics or law. It is God's grand original concept for the ‘man – woman’ relationship, the relationship that our whole future depends on . Marriage is worth celebrating.

Lukas Berggren

(Translated from the Swedish; Sven Ljungholm)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Laws are constantly being changed as civilizations develop. It was once illegal for women to vote, or own land. Clearly reality demonstrated that such laws needed to be changed. Those opposed to this change would undoubtedly have asserted the same stuff about natural laws, as was done for inter-racial marriage.

Seeing as though the Genesis account is very much about procreation it is no surprising that it leans in the direction of man and woman getting married. Funnily enough, none of the patriarchs seemed too concerned with these verses when they married their second, third, forth... wife. They also received no condemnation from God on that account either. In fact both Exodus and Deuteronomy give guidance on having more than one wife.

Though I know that people like to quote Jesus from Matthew, it is clear that here he is talking about divorce. It is a shame that those who oppose ss marriage totally ignore the scripture here when it is clearly talking about divorce. I would be able to appreciate the arguments more if I felt they were dealing fairly with the scriptures rather than bending them to suit their current fancy.

Anonymous said...

Let me understand your point; because the Matthew quote referenced divorce, the Genesis verses, clear as they are referencing marriage become irrelevant? And the patriarch reference; so if people in high political office, people of power elect to break God's laws, their actions super impose and negate God's ordinances?

Me thinks your theories are rubbish!

Anonymous said...

It's pretty obvious that genitalia are not designed for same sex relationships. This is a basic biological fact. People opposed to SS marriage oppose it because it is, in fact, not equal to heterosexual marriage at all, therefore it shouldn't be described as 'marriage'. And they cannot be accused of bending the scriptures to suit a current fancy - they hold the same interpretation of the Bible that has been faithfully held by conservative Christians since it was written. It is the people who advocate SS relationships/marriage who 'bend' the scriptures to accommodate their involvement is SS relationships.

Anonymous said...

"Let me understand your point; because the Matthew quote referenced divorce, the Genesis verses, clear as they are referencing marriage become irrelevant?"

No. He's saying they're either both relevant, or both irrelevant.

You can't split the difference, otherwise - to quote Jesus - "you're like whitewashed tombs, outwardly beautiful, but full of dead people's bones and uncleanness."

Anonymous said...

Actually, throughout time, scripture has been constantly re-interpreted over and over and over again. Theological immutables have been changed, and subsequently, the history of thought has been revised to edit out the reality of what once was. The first commentator is correct. Not only that, but look at polygamy, pedophilia, slavery, capital punishment, poverty, animal cruelty, xenophobia, blood purity, incest, etc. etc. etc. At one time, all of these were held as right by conservative Christians, believing that scripture undoubtedly supported all of these - even as recently as 150 years ago for some (and for some of those, even currently). Over time, thinking changed, and our understanding of the Scriptures changed.

Now, what the first commentator said is correct. Now, with our deeper understanding of Scripture, the only way we can support some of the traditional views of Christianity today (such as marriage), is to twist and bend Scripture.

We need to get back to Scripture, and seek to really study it, opening ourselves up to changing our views as that study proceeds. Remember, the vast majority of 'liberals' were once conservatives who sought through study to prove their conservative ideas, but ended up becoming liberal instead as deeper study of Scripture revealed how wrong they were, and how wrong much of conservative Christianity is.

Yours in Christ,
Graeme Randall - former Australian East in London

Anonymous said...

'Becoming liberal' in Bible study is nothing to boast about. It dilutes 'absolutes' but does not replace it with something better, just 'interpretation' which leads to confusion.
I would recommend Dean Bailey's FREE online book entitled Beyond the shades of grey. The link is:
http://www.beyondtheshadesofgray.org/
It's a good, honest read about someone once embroiled in homosexuality but who renounced it and has been happily married for 22 years.