What is your only comfort?

Urban God-talk for the church-o-phobic.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Legally Married? Yup.

Some folks have commented that even though we got married in Massachusetts our marrige is not valid in New York. Not so, thanks to our Republican mayor Mike Bloomberg. Bostered by an opinion from Atty Gen. Eliot Spitzer, Mayor Mike determined that New York City will recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

From an article dated April 8, 2005:

New York City becomes the sixth locality in New York State to proactively affirm that it recognizes the marriages of same-sex couples, according them the same rights as all other marriages within their local jurisdictions. Other localities are Buffalo, Rochester, Brighton, Ithaca, and Nyack. These announcements follow attorney general Eliot Spitzer's opinion that marriages and civil unions of same-sex couples performed outside the state should be treated as valid marriages in New York State.

Anthony W. Crowell, a spokesman for the mayor wrote: "On behalf of the mayor, I am pleased to confirm to you that it is the policy of the city of New York to recognize equally all marriages, whether between same- or opposite-sex couples, and civil unions lawfully entered into in jurisdictions other than New York State, for the purposes of extending and administering all rights and benefits belonging to the couples, to the maximum extent allowed by law."


At 3:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting...now the bigger question: is your marriage eclesiatically legal. It could be said, that since Dr. Kanfield was found guilty by the church for his part in your marriage ceremony that your marriage falls outside the blessing of God and the church that gave him the authority to bless as Minister of Word and Sacrament.

At 4:15 PM, Blogger Ann said...

I suppose that there are many different ways to look at this. If marriage were seen as a sacrament (which it isn't in the Reformed tradition), then the notion of ex opere operato would come into play. A sacrament is seen to convey God's grace independent of the faith or moral character of the celebrant or recipients. The value comes from the divine institution itself.

But marriage isn't a sarament, even for straight people.

Added to this is the understanding that marriage is done before God and within the community. Even though my father was found guilty for his part in officiating at the marriage, what about the participation of the entire community? They blessed the marraige as well.

An additional question that you didn't raise, but which comes to mind is that since my father was found guily by the church for his part in my marriage, does that mean that all of the other marriages at which he officiated now fall outside the blessing of God and the church that gave him authority to bless them as a Minister of Word and Sacrament? If so, there are going to be some pretty upset straight couples out there in the world.

At 4:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very good fodder for thought, and irenic as well. Thanks.

You are quite right about the communal aspect within the reformed tradition. I realized after posting that the question could sound quite Roman.

I had considered the marriages Dr. Kansfied preformed prior to your own. The thinking (or 'question', perhaps, is a better word) is that since it was in preforming your marriage that the church excersised disipline, the implied question remains...has it removed its blessing of the marriage covenant.

Either way you slice it, it is a question the RCA will have to consider in general. I am not saying it must consider it specifically to your case. Althougth, you know well that there may be those who will. :(

I'm new to the blogger bit (thus the anon posts), but will register as RogueMonk in due time. Blessings and peace.

At 10:23 PM, Blogger greg said...

Anon, you say your marriage falls outside the blessing of God and the church that gave him the authority to bless as Minister of Word and Sacrament. What does the fact that if falls outside of the church rules have to do with God? You seem to be confusing rules made up by people with the will of God. Neither you nor any other human past, present, or future can know the will of God.

Whether or not Ann's marriage is blessed by God is not up to you or the RCA or any other church or person or government. The same, incidently, holds for my own heterosexual Lutheran marriage. I happen to believe that my marriage is blessed by God, but the fact that I was married in an official Lutheran ceremony by a called and ordained minister doesn't prove this. It just proves that the Lutheran church happens to agree with me on this issue. And of course a minister can't confer God's blessing on anyone - only God can do that. What the ceremony does is demonstrate the fact that the church (not God) recognizes the rightness of the union. This is important, but it is only tangentially related to God.

The conviction of Ann's father simply proves that the RCA doesn't approve of what he did. It says nothing about the will of God; it is only an indication of the RCA's leadership's perceptions of God's will. Even granting that Ann is a member of the RCA because she respects its leadership's perceptions of God's will, it doesn't mean that she must agree with them in every case. Indeed, because they are human, they are guaranteed to be wrong a good portion of the time. To blindly accept their opinions on everything would be the height of folly - a fact which even they themselves should recognize.

It seems clear to me from the level of debate on same-sex unions that the will of God on this issue is not at all clear to us mere mortals (however clear my own view of the matter may be to me). In these cases I find it best to keep an open mind and look to time, debate, and mostly the Holy Spirit to clarify the issue. So talking about what you or I think God's will is is a fine thing, but claiming that (or acting as though) you or I actually know what God's will is seems to me idolotrous - worshiping the creations of our own or another human's mind as though they are God's.

In the event that I have misunderstood your scriptural short-hand (i.e., that you were saying that in the RCA's leadership's current opinion her marriage falls outside the blessing of God), I apologize and you can just ignore the whole post :).

At 10:31 PM, Blogger anon_a_ms said...

thanks greg!

At 1:16 AM, Anonymous RogueMonk said...

greg, I was not 'saying' anything. I was asking a question, one the RCA must come to consider in one way or another. Your reactions to my comments miss that point, I think.

I would like to respectfully disagree with your statement: "Neither you nor any other human past, present, or future can know the will of God." Do a search of scripture for the words and them "will of God." The Apostle Paul, for example, repeatedly declares that he is "an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God". In fact, Paul even says: "I have not hesitated to proclaim to you the whole will of God." (Acts 20:27). On this I will direct you further to the Belgic Confession, Article 7: "We believe that this Holy Scripture contains the will of God completely."

Of further consideration to some of your other thoughts, I would refer you to the Heidelberg Catechism, QA 83-84.

Wow...I could go on and on...but I doubt that appropriate, here.

Grace and peace,

At 12:14 AM, Blogger greg said...

Hi RogueMonk,

Actually, I think that I understood your point, but I found the assumption that you made on your way to it more interesting, so I focused on that.

Clearly, you and I have a very fundamental disagreement, and I have no more intention of trying to change your mind than you do of trying to change mine (for which I thank you!). I just wanted to remind you that not every Christian shares your assumptions concerning the nature of God, and God's will, and God's blessing. I am, of course, well aware that that same statement applies to me as well.

And just to show that I can quote chapter and verse too, check out Isaiah 55:8-9. Not because I believe that the person who wrote this part of Isaiah knew what the Lord was thinking - I just believe that he or she hit pretty close to the mark :)

Yours in Christ,


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