And the two shall become one flesh…


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.

16 thoughts on “And the two shall become one flesh…”

  1. A good article, but again a little unfair on the Church of England. Our position is made clear by the statement of our bishops issued last month. ( ) That made it clear that there would be no gay marriage in the Church of England and that there should be no blessing of gay marriages in church. No doubt you will enjoy reporting on individual rebels who fail to comply with the teaching of the church, but the official statement is clear and shows the church does not “stand by silently as the secular world destroys the Christian concept of marriage and family life.”

    1. So how do you explain the linked article. And if the official statement you quote is definitive then why is there a conversation being had at all levels of the C of E about the subject amidst talk of possible change in the future?

      Which is to say, I hope you are right. I fear you are wrong.

      1. I’ve been trying to find the context of ++Justin’s remarks. I read it somewhere but now can’t find it. In it he was both affirming the official C/E line whilst saying there should be no homophobia and we had to accept that the law had now changed and that there was little possibility of undoing that change. The Guardian reported the second part and quietly ignored the fact that he had reiterated his opposition to gay marriage.

        1. The papers report to day that anybody who opposes the new position might very well not receive any government money for say running a hospice and also that chaplains will be expected to support SSM even though they are opposed. Liberals are very illiberal and everyone will have to toe the line. How very sad.

  2. I found the photos very moving Fr Ed. I cannot help but suggest that the reality of a groom in a clerical collar, as portrayed in the photos, is nothing like as offensive as the selective discipline of the Church would have us believe. I dare to say you might believe that you would not be the priest you are without Haley. Thus the Church just has accept that which God has ordained, as the Preface has it, particularly when the world so desperately needs role models in marriage, not least fatherhood! The attributes of fatherhood are absolutely required in our Fathers. I wonder if there is even a case to be made for obligatory marriage for secular clergy, for a while at least, in order to re-instate those qualities among the clerical ranks? God bless you and your lovely family and may you all continue to grace your community with the presence of the Lord.

  3. In my opinion, the Sacrament of Marriage is between one man and one woman for life – a man and a woman. Whatever else these ceremonies between two men or two women are they are not the Sacrament of marriage as I understand or as the church has taught for two thousand years.

  4. The Church has not taught for two thousand years that marriage is a sacrament; that is a later development. At one stage twelve sacraments were acknowledged by the Scholastics! And marriage was not, for women, the idealised state that is often presented; they were political pawns, and the property of their fathers and their husbands. And the church has a terrible record in its dealings with domestic violence, as it does with pederasty.
    To say that much of the brouhaha about gay marriage does not originate in homophobia is just plain blindness.

    1. Where on earth do you get this from? Jesus himself speaks of “two becoming one flesh” – marriage has always been a sacrament.

      1. There is much material about all this on the Church in Wales website. I found it through the Thinking Anglicans blog.

      2. I think most serious theologians and church historians would disagree with you. There was a time when the washing of the feet was classified as a sacrament, but not now. Jesus was quoting from the Hebrew Bible. Jesus words may be sacramental; that doesn’t make everything Jesus said sacramental.

        1. That view is not part of the Catholic faith. All serious catholic theologians would therefore disagree with you.

          1. That’s a very big statement, but unproven. Try reading St Albert the Great, the tutor of St Thomas Aquinas, or duns Scotus. Seven Sacraments is a relatively late development. Hence the eduction to two at the Reformation.

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