Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Marry Me, Janie

Here is a statement by Rev. Jane Spahr regarding the decision. It was an odd decision. She was found not guilty of marrying these same-sex couples because same-sex couples cannot get married. Even though, Janie called them as equal as equal can be--they are marriages!--well says the PJC, they are not. So Janie is innocent, though I wonder if she would have rather been found guilty?

Who can help me with this one:
what about where these marriages are legal, such as Massachusetts? Has a PC(USA) minister done a wedding for a gay couple in Massachusetts and signed the license? This has had to have happened by now. Or would it still be a non-issue as far as the PC(USA) is concerned since the PC(USA) hasn't figured out that same-sex couples can get married yet?

In other words, if Janie had signed a marriage license would the PJC have rendered the same decision?

15 comments:

  1. From my reading, the PJC says you can't violate the BoO by performing a same-sex marriage because same-sex marriage doesn't exist according to the Book of Order.

    The old rule from the Benton case said that a minister can't *think* he/she is performing a real marriage ceremony for a same sex couple. Now it doesn't matter what the Minister thinks. He/She can think they're performing a real marriage (because they are), but if it's between members of the same sex, it doesn't violate the BoO, because according to the BoO there's no such thing.

    LOL

    So John, you could perform a solemn ceremony to marry 2 pigs and it wouldn't violate the Book of Order because that's not a marriage either.

    See where this goes? The FUNDIES have led the PCUSA to incest, polygamy and bestiality.

    Gotta love the layers and layers and layers of irony.

    Wrote about all this on my blog... Just couldn't help myself. LOL

    ;)

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  2. This is absolutely fascinating. Fascinating. I can't tell if I should laugh or cry. How do you fight against something that tells you you don't exists. Sort of like my little cousin who used to play hide and seek by putting her hands over her eyes. If she couldn't see us she thought we couldn't see her........

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  3. I thought the decision was pretty slick. It essentially says that Jane, or any Presbyterian minister can marry whomever they please. (For the present, I ignore the suggestion that pigs might be married ;-)) Ok, so what if the official body of the PCUSA doesn't recognize the marriage? Who gets married to please an official church body, anyway? If the body of PCUSA doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, that's their issue. People don't get married in church bodies, they get married in local churches because they want to legitimize, or sanctify their union in the sight of God (whom they worship in the local church) and in the presence of their loved ones. I don't see that this has anything to do with the body of the PCUSA, and apparently, that's the way the body of the PCUSA sees it, too.

    On a different angle, couples get married by someone vested with legal authority because they want certain personal property and legal considerations to be recognized. This is a state goverance issue and it is independent of individual church law. California and New York do not vest any persons with authority to perform same-sex marriage. So, when Jane marries a couple in New York, Jane recognizes the marriage, the happy couple and their loved ones recognize the marriage, the state of New York doesn't officially care and neither does the body of the PCUSA, and that's pretty much where the matter rests. The minister is pleased the couple is pleased and nobody higher up officially notices, until you get to God, and He's judging for himself.

    If a state, such as Massachusetts does vest same-sex marriage authority with Presbyterian ministers, I would imagine that the state would recognize marriages performed and licenses signed by Presbyterian ministers, and at the same time, the body of the PCUSA would not offer such recognition. And that's where it would end.
    This is an excellent resolution, and a pleasing separation of the powers of church and state and a good application of the principle of local authority applied by the body of the PCUSA. It's like a fine state of justice where everyone (except fundamentalists) gets what they want. (Fundamentalists stew in the juices of their own anger over this, and that, too is its own form of justice.)

    I applaude the PJC for its profound wisdom and tolerance.

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  4. This at least should give clergy the courage to do what they need to do. For Janie and couples for whom she did the weddings, they are for real, and clergy can officiate at them without being convicted in ecclesiastical court of wrong doing.

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  5. Good points, Rastus.

    I think the ultimate message from the PJC was this:

    "Stop wasting our time and money with silly court cases regarding clergy who provide pastoral care to lgbt people."

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  6. Wow. What a stupid decision. And yet, at least Rev. Spahr will be able to continue doing what she does.

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  7. I think the key is what rastus says.

    "California and New York do not vest any persons with authority to perform same-sex marriage".

    In the US, marriage is not the business of the church. The church does not have the power to decide who can get married and who cannot. It is a decision of the state.

    Every declaration of "I now pronounce you man and wife" is preceded by the declaration "by the power vested in me by the State of XYZ"

    Without that power there is no marriage. And if the couple is not legally married, then you can't convict someone of marrying them. They can have used the vocabulary of marriage all they want, is is still just make-believe. Simulated marriage.

    OTH in states where same sex marriage is legal, a minister who legally marries them and signs the marriage license according to the law of the land, will have conducted a same sex marriage. As a matter of order, if the denomination nevertheless >>forbids<< its pastors from conducting such marriages, it is grounds for dismissal on the basis of insubordination.

    It is odd, but months ago when my daughter asked me if our church allowed same sex marriage, I told her basically the same thing, that for now the issue was mute, because there is no such thing. Legally a thing has to exist before it can be outlawed.

    But once it exists, all bets are off.

    See, a lot of Fundamentalists think that marriage is a sacrament. That is where they start to get confused.

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  8. Jodie writes, "OTH in states where same sex marriage is legal, a minister who legally marries them and signs the marriage license according to the law of the land, will have conducted a same sex marriage. "

    I'm not sure that's the case. The decision says:

    "W-4.9001 provides four definitional statements of marriage. As a definition, W-4.9001
    does not prohibit a minister from performing a same sex union. Moreover, the 1991 AI did not
    prohibit ministers from performing ceremonies intended to bless or recognize the union between
    two men or two women.

    The ceremonies that are the subject of this case were not marriages as the term is defined
    by W-4.9001. These were ceremonies between women, not between a man and a woman."

    I'm not sure state-sanctioned SSM has anything to do with this, as their definition relies entirely on the "man + woman" equation.

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  9. "See, a lot of Fundamentalists think that marriage is a sacrament. "

    BTW, I once wrote Bill Frist a letter after he appeared on some Sunday morning talk show saying that "marriage is a sacrament." So I wrote him a reminder that he's a Presbyterian elder and therefore should know there are only 2 sacraments and marriage isn't one of them.

    He never wrote back.

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  10. Oooh! Oooh! Can we bring up the Video Doctor on charges before the PJC? Sounds like a latent Catholic to me!


    As far as Janie goes, I've wondered how it would work if my significant other and I decided to get married. He lives in Canuckistan (his parents live in the riding of Comrade Stockwell Day, if you know anything about Canadian politics) and belongs to the United Church of Canada. Both the church and government marry the 'mos. If we had the service outside the PC(USA) and indeed outside the (USA), could my pastor participate if she stood on one foot with her stole on backwards?

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  11. "If we had the service outside the PC(USA) and indeed outside the (USA), could my pastor participate if she stood on one foot with her stole on backwards?"

    According to this ruling, I'm pretty sure she can participate however she wants, wherever she wants, in whatever capacity she wants. No winking required. Seriously folks, I'm pretty sure there's no way to discipline people for conducting any same-sex marriage anywhere (legally recognized or not), under any circumstance.

    And it's all thanks to a strict *literal* reading of the Book of Order! LOL

    (And while you're at it, be sure to send a copy of the wedding pictures to the Lay Committee, the IRD, and any other fundie group you can think of. I think perhaps we should suggest that they start to run gay wedding announcements in the Layman. LOL

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  12. Alan,

    You make me wonder if the definition of marriage in the book of order is out of order.

    The Church in America (as in most parts of the world) has no authority to define marriage.

    If the State says a couple is married, they are. If not, then they aren't. The Church has no say in the matter one way or the other.

    What is in the book of order is merely a definition of a type of worship service that Presbyterian Church's have.

    Who wrote the BOO anyway? It seems the folks who wrote it were really prone to bad English. This is not the only case. They can't seem to write what they mean, and don't mean what they write. What is up with that?

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  13. Needless to say, the Book of Order was in fact written by committee.

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  14. "If the State says a couple is married, they are. If not, then they aren't. The Church has no say in the matter one way or the other."

    Not exactly true, but I know what you're saying. In fact, the State allows the Church to act as an agency of the State for the purposes of marriage (ie. by the power vested in me by the State of Intoxication...)

    But you're right, clearly the Book of Order only means to define marriage for the PCUSA, not the State, though there are clearly some Presbyterians who would like to do that too.

    "They can't seem to write what they mean, and don't mean what they write. What is up with that?"

    Well, it comes from attempting to appear polite and reasonable. While they want to write, "We hates the gays, don't we precious?", they don't want to appear to be the bigots they are. They don't have the guts to say "We don't want the wrong kind of people to be ordained, and I think you know who we're talking about, don't you?" [insert flouncing stereotypical gay swishy affectation here.] So instead they come up with a silly "fidelity and chastity" clause that is clearly *meant* only to prohibit those icky LGBT folks from getting ordained, but never actually even mentions us by name. Because to name it would be terrifying to them, I suspect, and far, far too honest.

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  15. Humm...

    Even worse. The fidelity chastity clause effectively says nobody can be ordained. To use it only against gays is by definition bigoted.

    (I'd push it all the way through. It is clear that God calls unrepentant sinners to serve the Church all the time. It's what God does. We should all get off our high horses and get over that. You can't deny a person office in the church on the basis of them being an unrepentant sinner because it is mutiny. God calls whom he calls)

    But as a society we say we don't want certain people doing certain jobs all the time. Child molesters should not teach kindergarten, and I'd probably keep them out of the pulpit, I don't care what God calls them to do. Sorry God. Don't deny your calling them, not my pay-grade to make that ruling, but I have rules of my own.

    Anyway, it would be easy enough to simply say that as a point of order, for whatever reason who cares, we don't want to ordain the following list of people, and include anybody we want on that list. Do that instead of keeping everybody whispering back and forth, bringing suits, arguing about what the Scriptures say or don't say, blah blah blah.

    Just be honest.

    The Church will eventually accept gays into all aspects of church service, and gay marriage as well. And I am OK with that.

    And just for completeness, I don't think its a sin. I think we've been mistaken on that account.

    Compliments to Peter Berger and his "Social Construction of Reality"

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