(I will get back to 'Scripture Alone' but that has been an item on the Anglican agenda for some 500 or more years ... so no hurry).
In recent days news of a prominent ceremony of blessing in a cathedral with a bishop presiding and two well-known clergywomen has been reported, mostly in terms of it being a 'marriage'. All three clerics are licensed clergy in TEC, the ceremony is being justified in terms of a resolution of TEC's General Convention, and nothing I have read suggests that anyone of note in TEC is concerned that this event will have any bearing at all on the immediate future of the Communion (bearing in mind the imminence of the next Primates' Meeting, at the end of this month, in Dublin).
Cranmer writes of the matter with clarity:
"But when does a blessing become a marriage?
The Revd Peter Ould has performed an autopsy on the liturgy used in this service, and determined that it is indeed a marriage ceremony. Like that presided over by the Revd. Martin Dudley in London, the Rt Rev M Thomas Shaw has been content to amend the Prayer Book to accommodate the same-sex union.
And so all references to procreation have been excised.
While this may be nothing new in the US, it illustrates that The Episcopal Church has departed from the traditional Christian understanding of marriage and the orthodox teaching of the Worldwide Anglican Communion.
In Genesis 2, God says: “It is not good that the man should be alone. I will make a help mett for him’ (v18). It continues: ‘Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh’ (v24). Although these verses do not purport to define marriage, they do describe its origin, and are therefore crucial for understanding the Bible’s teaching on marriage, which is both heterosexual and monogamous. This precludes homosexuality (Exod 22:19; Lev 18:22f) and Lesbianism (cf Rom 1:26f). Some heterosexual unions are also prohibited (Lev 18:9-17; 20:11-21; Deut 22:30; 27:20-23). Bigamy, though evident in the OT, is not ideal (Lev 18:18; Deut 17:17), being portrayed negatively (Gen 16:4ff; 21:10) or deemed problematic (Deut 21:15-17).
Three purposes for marriage can be identified out of v24: (i) the procreation of children; (ii) companionship, and (iii) sexual union. Marriage is a covenant before God, which is explicitly confirmed by Jesus when he states that marriage is that which ‘God hath joined together’ (Mt 19:6); when a person ‘leaves’ and ‘cleaves’. Jesus refers to being ‘yoked together’ (Mt 19:6; Mk 10:9), the Greek term meaning a profound union. The marriage covenant was designed by God to last until at least one of the spouses dies (Rom 7:2), though it could be severed by divorce.
This is the unequivocal Anglican position, as stated in the Book of Common Prayer."
Except these days I suppose it is, for some Anglicans, the equivocal position!
Cranmer is right. With the Primates' Meeting imminent (a prayer for which is here), this is a point of departure. But who is departing from whom? Has TEC arrived at a new point of unequivocal commitment to difference from the majority of the Communion?
I will publish comments on this post which discuss (1) the (in)significance of this event of blessing in Boston for the life of the Communion (2) whether or not "The Episcopal Church has departed from the traditional Christian understanding of marriage and the orthodox teaching of the Worldwide Anglican Communion" (3) the likelihood of any consequential alterations being made to the Primates' Meeting in Dublin at the end of this month. I will not publish comments which (1) include ad hominem comment on anyone involved in the event of blessing or other episcopal leaders in TEC or the Communion (2) engage in general discussion about human sexuality.