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Lawfully Joined: A Liturgical Theology for Same-Sex Marriage

Lawfully Joined: A Liturgical Theology for Same-Sex Marriage

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Masters Thesis on the liturgical background to same-sex marriage within Anglican tradition. Contains an exhaustive analysis of the marriage liturgies from 1662 to the present. Winner of the General Theological Seminary "Most Valuable Thesis" award in 1997.
Masters Thesis on the liturgical background to same-sex marriage within Anglican tradition. Contains an exhaustive analysis of the marriage liturgies from 1662 to the present. Winner of the General Theological Seminary "Most Valuable Thesis" award in 1997.

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Published by: Tobias Stanislas Haller on Apr 20, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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Lawfully Joined
Same-Sex Marriage in Light of the Church’s Traditional and Liturgical PracticeTobias S. Haller, BSGSubmitted in partial fulfillmentof the requirements for the degree of Master of Divinity
The General Theological SeminaryNew York 
April 1997REVISED 2005Copyright © 1997, 2004 Tobias S. Haller All Rights Reserved
 
i
 Lawfully Joined: Same Sex Marriage in Light of the Church’s Traditional and Liturgical Practice
Tobias S. Haller, BSG
A
BSTRACT
This paper explores same-sex marriage from a pastoral and liturgical perspective. The first portionexamines issues of nature and natural law, and Jewish and Christian legal and canonical regulations of sexand marriage, with particular attention to discontinuities with the idealized myth of “lifelong,heterosexual and monogamous marriage.” The second section looks at the marriage rites for different- andsame-sex couples, and explores some of the questions remaining to be addressed as the churchrestructures its concept of marriage and marriage rites.
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ABLE OF
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ONTENTS
Introduction.........................................................................1Liturgy before (and with) theology.................................................2Life before liturgy..............................................................3A question of definitions: Marriage..............................................6The Idealized Myth and the Pastoral Reality................................................9The nature of myth............................................................10The substance of the myth at hand................................................10The nature of law and the law of nature............................................11A survey of the discontinuities in the tradition.......................................18Discontinuities in Anglican/Episcopal teaching and policy.............................23Concluding observations: Pastoral perspectives and approaches.........................25The Liturgical Background............................................................27Changing structures and meanings in Episcopal marriage rites..........................27Same-sex rites: Purported and adopted.............................................32Blessingas a pointer towards a theology of marriage................................37Concluding reflection..........................................................43Appendices.........................................................................44Appendix: The minority that dare not speak its name.................................44Appendix: Why not the Orthodox?................................................46Appendix: Episcopal (and Other) Marriage Rites.....................................47Works Consulted or Cited.............................................................70 
 
This paper is very much a work in progress. New material is becoming available at an increasing rate, much of it
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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
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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.
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Lawfully Joined
Same-Sex Marriage in Light of the Church’s Traditional and Liturgical PracticeTobias S. Haller, BSG
Introduction
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 
1
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— 
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 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
al
homosexual acts arose in large part from its interaction with Stoic philosophy and Roman legal structures.

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