GENERAL CONVENTION 2003
RELATIONSHIPS and a Theology of Marriage
John Snow got us off to some wonderful reflections on marriage some years ago when he made a distinction between a theology of marriage and the specific vocation to Christian marriage. I'm sorry there has not been more of a focus on vocation in our discussions about marriage and consecrations and ecclesiology.
John Snow was convincing
for me. I believe there is a specific calling or vocation to Christian marriage
that is different from a decision to get married. We also talk about the vocation
of teaching and many other callings. When we focus on the calling by God into
a relationship of love and commitment,
the questions do get transformed. So, too, when we think about being called into the creation of a family rather than a family being a consequence of marriage or procreation, the questions are transformed.
Whatever one thinks of Leviticus, et. al., our "theology of marriage" cannot be threatened or overturned by two people being called to create a family rooted in the love of Jesus Christ and grounded in love, grace and forgiveness.
Likewise, one part of the church may be called (or have a vocation) to express the goodness and love of God in a way other branches are not yet called. We are called to be pastoral and we are called to be prophetic. As I understand the function of the prophetic, few deputies are chosen as deputies for their prophetic ministry -- by and large we represent the pastoral and settled church.
I am grateful for those,
over my 40 years of ordination in this church, who have helped us hear God's
prophetic calling in so many ways -- from John Hines' call to give ourselves
to the world, to the ordination of women, the renewal of our liturgical life,
our witness in and through the civil rights
movement and even the seating of women on our vestries. None came easily -- and I don't remember our following the lead of another part of the Anglican communion when we responded to those prophetic challenges. The Church in Africa with evangelism and the Church in Central America in loving concern for the poor have been way ahead of the PECUSA in many ways in heeding the call of the spirit for the renewal and extension of the church. Good for them! Good for us!
Pray that we may all stay awake -- settled and prophetic Christians alike.
—Tom Woodward ECR c3 Salinas, California
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