This paper is very much a work in progress. New material is becoming available at an increasing rate, much of it
emerging from consultations lacking sponsorship of ecclesiastical authorities. Given this, some participants take part oncondition of anonymity. I have sought to maintain confidentiality by using pseudonyms or generic titles for all materialfrom such sensitive sources. These sources are indicated with the symbol †.Agreement with Scroggs’ conclusion does not indicate my full agreement with all of his arguments. The same is true
for others whose work I cite here. Some at the polemical edges of the sexuality discussion entirely dismiss some scholars’work on the basis of minor flaws, errors, or inconsistencies. (The wholesale dismissal of much of Boswell’s work is anexample.) Unless the flaw lies in a fundamental premise, or the omission (or misrepresentation) of some crucial piece of evidence, conclusions should be given the weight they deserve.
Same-Sex Marriage in Light of the Church’s Traditional and Liturgical PracticeTobias S. Haller, BSG
It often happens, with regard to new inventions, that one part of the general public finds them useless andanother considers them to be impossible. When it becomes clear that the possibility and the usefulness can nolonger be denied, most agree that the whole thing was fairly easy to discover and that they knew about it allalong. — Abraham Edelcrantz,
Treatise on the Telegraph
This paper explores same-sex marriage from a pastoral and liturgical perspective. After a brief
introduction, the first portion examines issues of nature and natural law, and Jewish and Christian legaland canonical regulations of sex and marriage, paying particular attention to discontinuities with theidealized myth of “lifelong, heterosexual and monogamous marriage.” This is not an exhaustive survey, but highlights significant changes in each major period. The second section of this study looks at themarriage rites for different- and same-sex couples, and begins to explore some of the questions remainingto be addressed.The first section shows that the acceptance of same-sex marriage requires of the church littlegreater pastoral flexibility than it has already demonstrated with regard to different-sex marriage. Thesecond suggests that a critical examination of different-sex marriage, in light of the challenges andquestions same-sex marriage raises, provides an avenue for a clearer and more consistent liturgicaltheology of marriage.This paper is not an apologia for homosexuality in general, rebutting arguments adduced againstit, though it will address such arguments in passing as they relate to the larger concern. As to Scripture,many such apologetic studies exist, and I concur with the conclusion of New Testament scholar RobinScroggs—
Biblical judgments against homosexuality are not relevant to today’s debate.
They should no longer be used indenominational discussions about homosexuality, should in no way be used as a weapon to justify refusal of ordination,
not because the Bible is not authoritative
, but simply because it does not address the issues involved.(Scroggs 127)
Some apologists seek to interpret the Biblical evidence so as to remove all reference to homosexuality.This strains the credulity of open-minded critics, and provides those of more polemical bent with readyammunition to undermine even the sound arguments of such apologists. However, in the judgmenttypified by Scroggs, these passages relate to homosexual rape, homosexuality as punishment for or as acomponent of idol-worship, cultic practice, prostitution, or pederasty. The early church’s broader application of these texts to
homosexual acts arose in large part from its interaction with Stoic philosophy and Roman legal structures.