Those wanting a fine example of Anglican patrimony, of the sort worth preserving within an Ordinariate as a gift to enrich the Catholic church, need look no further than the ancient preface of marriage taken from the Book of Common Prayer. It is written in beautiful language and makes it abundantly clear what marriage is and what it is not. Let us examine it…
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered together in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding: but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.”
Ok so far so good. The preface has instructed us of two facts. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Marriage is God given and therefore of profound importance to man. Next the preface spells out the causes for which Matrimony was ordained:
“First, it was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy name.
Secondly it was ordained for the remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
Thirdly, it was ordained for the mutual society, help and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity.
Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew and just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.”
Today those words, which have graced the weddings of Royals and paupers alike for centuries, are being abandoned as the first so called “gay marriages” take place. The historic definition of marriage as set out in the marriage preface is being ripped up by the State and something new is being put in its place.
And, equally lamentably, the Church of England has decided to stand by silently as the secular world destroys the Christian concept of marriage and family life. Archbishop Welby explaining that there will be no fight for Gospel truth. I find that profoundly sad. Risible in fact.
Today is a dark day for families who simply want marriage to mean what it always has. It is a dark day for parents who want their own children to have a clear understanding of terms such as husband, wife, bride and groom. Our children will no longer have a clear definition within society that helps them understand how men and women best come together to create and raise the next generation.
It is not a dark day because we have a problem with gay people then, as so many love to suggest. But because we have a massive problem with the ripping apart of marriage as historically defined. Here is a good article that spells this out and begins to explore how Christians can best respond. Pray today for all families and especially for children being raised in a culture where marriage is almost meaningless and where the wants of adults ever trump their needs.