Saturday, June 04, 2011

Same sex unions

Over at the PrayTell blog, a lot of chronically irritated people (my peeps?) get exercised over papal bad behavior, overdressed prelates and The New Mass Translation. One of them, an Episcopal, put up a new marriage rite for homosexuals and asked for comment. The responses had a lot to do with papal bad behavior, overdressed prelates and The New Mass Translation.

I also opined from the Macadamia Nut Gallery:

" I hope it will be OK to make a comment about the same-sex unions liturgy rather than the erotic doings and undoings of prelates in Western history.

I understand the Catholic position on homosexuality. Although I do not find it personally convincing, I also conclude that for the Roman Church to say otherwise would utterly unravel its whole teaching on sexual morality. So I am not going to argue there.

The Episcopal Church, on the other hand, has shown itself to be very pliable and responsive to changes in mainstream liberal Western culture: ordained females, ordained, even episcopal gays, etc. And so a Holy Union liturgy is not surprising.

I am not supportive, however. Not because I have a personal judgement against homosexuality per se, but because I think the drive for gay marriage, while societally and legally understandable (that is, it gives approved social status and legal benefits), is “archetypally” wrong-headed. That is, it does not do justice to the specificity of male/male and of female/female dyads. (And homogenizing them all into one format with changes in the gender references erases the specific sacramentality of the male/female dyad, as well.)

Following the agenda of the gay culture, this liturgy subsumes two male lovers or two female lovers into a structure that has, for its entire immemorial history, assumed a male and a female (at least one of each!). To me, the specific sacramentality of a male/male and a female/female dyad is thus left ignored, unexplored, unsignified. It puts these two different relationships together as well as, frankly, hiding them under a heterosexual bushel basket. Gay marriage, to me, is homosexual love in straight drag.

Jack Donovan & Nathan Miller have written “Blood Brotherhood and Other Rites of Male Alliance”, a historical and cross-cultural survey of how men ritualize intimate bonds with each other (most of which are not sexual). These structures are indigenously male. To me, a better path.

And since I am on the topic, although I know proponents would never accept this –equality must trump all these days–, it would be intriguing to explore ritualizing the two different varieties of same-sex union not as a sacrament but as a sacramental. (This is a category that may have small purchase in an Anglican tradition, however.) To think about these unions as more like monastic vows, which are sacramentals but not sacraments. That might allow more respect for the unique qualities of love between two men or two women rather than that frankly annoyingly neutered Episcopal liturgical habit of speaking of “these persons.” Whatever happened to gendered incarnation?

(Unless the un or semi conscious agenda is to reduce maleness and femaleness to mere categories of socially constructed oppression, a la feminism.)

And it would leave the sacrament of marriage in its natural archetypal role. Like it or not, the marriage of male and female has a central role and function and meaning in human history that vastly outweighs same-sex unions. Hey, if we’re supposed to be in favor of “diversity”, why try to homogenize these diverse forms of dyadic love?

I realize that for Rome, this horse will never leave the barn and that for ECUSA, the equine creature is long out of it, but I sometimes like to read myself write."

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