Avril at Romsey

… and Lancefield and Riddells Creek and Mount Macedon

Thinking historically about same-sex marriage

A version of this essay was published in Cross Purposes, Issue 29, December 2012.

In common with the rest of Australian society, the Uniting Church does not have a single sexual ethic.[1] Reflecting recently on his experience of the Church’s (homo)sexuality debate Alistair Macrae mused: ‘In my long engagement with this issue, you’ve probably got twenty per cent of our Church on each end who have very strong opinions on this issue, mutually exclusive positions, and sixty per cent in the middle who are saying “complex issue, not sure”’.[2]

For those members of the Church who are at either end of the sexuality spectrum, there are easy answers to the question: ‘Should faithful, lifelong, same-sex relationships be celebrated and blessed as “marriages”?’ Those who believe that homosexuality is a choice or a disorder, and that homosexual behaviour is a sin, answer ‘no’.[3] Those who believe that homosexuality is one example of the diversity in creation, and so homosexual behaviour should be judged by the same standards as heterosexual behaviour, answer ‘yes’. But what are the sixty per cent of people in the middle to think?

A simple appeal to history is unlikely to provide an answer. History offers us very few examples of same-sex marriages. Those that exist usually seem to have involved one of the partners taking on another gender identity; as in some Native American nations where those considered to be ‘two-spirit’ people were able to marry partners of the same sex.[4] These were same-sex marriages, but they were not same-gender marriages. However, the mere lack of same-gender marriages in the past is not an insuperable obstacle to them being celebrated in the future. Enormous changes have taken place in understandings of marriage over time; in writing about the difficulty of defining ‘traditional’ marriage Jeremy R. Garrett points out that historically aspects of marriage considered essential or permissible have included polygamy, concubinage, temporary marriage, child brides, arranged marriages and anti-miscegenation laws.[5] Merely exploring the history of marriage does not provide an immediate answer to the church’s conundrum.

What history can do is help us think through questions around same-sex marriage.[6] History reminds us that what we mean by ‘marriage’ has changed profoundly over time. History reassures those who fear that celebrating same-sex unions will lead to the end of marriage and family life that previous changes thought to be just as fundamental have not destroyed them. And history can even suggest compromises and alternatives that might lead us out of our current impasse.

The Historical Superiority of Celibacy

Listening to some marriage-debate protagonists, people could be excused for imagining that marriage is the only appropriate lifestyle for Christians. It is easy to forget that for most of Christian history marriage as a Christian way of life was a poor second to celibacy. There was even a time when those who argued that it was the equal of celibacy were considered heretics. This is unsurprising. Scriptural endorsements of marriage in the New Testament are rare; John the Baptist, the Apostle Paul and Jesus himself were all unmarried;[7] and Paul, when asked about marriage, agreed that it was permissible, but admitted that he himself wished that all Christians would follow his celibate example.[8] The Pastoral Epistles, written later in Paul’s name, seem more positive about marriage, but as John C. Cavadini writes: ‘It is sometimes hard, looking back on these texts, to discern what ele­ments are proclaimed as essential to an understanding of marriage as a good established by God and what are apologetic concessions to the Ro­man way of doing things in the face of suspicion and persecution.’[9]

After the Scriptures’ less than enthusiastic endorsement of marriage, marriage was attacked in the first two centuries of Christianity as incompatible with full Christian commitment.[10] It had been to those advocating compulsory celibacy that Paul responded in the First Letter to the Corinthians: ‘Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: “It is well for a man not to touch a woman.”’[11] Paul, as we know, did not go on to suggest universal celibacy, but some early Christian groups did.[12] Debate raged.

The winners of these first marriage debates decided that celibacy was not to be compulsory for Christians, but agreed that it was superior to marriage. In the late-fourth century Jovinian, a Roman Chris­tian, argued for the equality of married and celibate Christians, saying that all baptised Christians were equally holy. Other Christians found this idea ‘horrifying’.[13]

Pope Siricius excommunicated Jovin­ian for authoring a ‘new heresy and blasphemy’ and saints Ambrose and Jerome each independently reached the conclu­sion that Jovinian was a heretic.[14] Saint Augustine’s response was milder. He wrote De bono coniugali (The Good of Marriage) in 401 as a middle-way response to both Jovinian and Saint Jerome, arguing that: ‘marriage and fornication are not two evils, the second of which is worse; but marriage and continence are two goods, the second of which is better.’[15] Marriage is not an evil, as Jerome seemed to have come close to arguing, but it is a lesser good: ‘In no way can it be doubted that the chastity of continence is better than the chastity of marriage’.[16]  A married couple can make this good of marriage better ‘as they begin the earlier to refrain by mutual consent from sexual intercourse,’ Augustine advised.[17]

The superiority of celibacy to marriage remained the official position of Christianity until the Refor­mation, with clergy strongly encouraged to choose it (with rather mixed results).[18] Then the Protestant Reformers, frequently clerics themselves, completely overturned centuries of tradition, creating what Diarmaid MacCulloch calls ‘the greatest fault-line in Christian attitudes to sex’.[19] Martin Luther, for example, declared marriage ‘a hundred times more spiritual than the monastic estate’[20] and married an ex-nun.[21] He argued that the vows of celibacy the church demanded of its clergy were useless. If a person was not destined to a life of celibacy, such a vow was comparable to a vow to turn women into men or people into sticks and stones; ‘if you would like to take a wise vow, then vow not to bite off your own nose; you can keep that vow’.[22]

The change from centuries of tradition was so sudden that it was often difficult for people to accept the woman and children living in the pastor’s house as his legitimate wife and children, and some wives were jeered at as ‘priests’ whores’.[23] In response Protestant reformers tried to make marriage not only normal, but respectable. Marriage and family were idealised in a flood of polemical literature, and marriage went from being second-best to being the idealized norm.[24] The current debate about same-sex marriage shows how successful that campaign was.

Remembering those centuries in which celibacy was superior to marriage provides two consolations to observers of the current marriage debate. The first is the reminder that we have survived enormous shifts in sexual ethics before. No member of the Uniting Church, for example, would argue today that celibacy is superior to marriage, and yet for centuries its superiority was taken for granted. The second consolation is the reminder, in theologian Elizabeth Stuart’s words, that ‘heterosexuality, marriage, and family life are not identical with Christian discipleship’. For centuries people could live good and godly lives without marriage. No matter how heated the marriage debate gets, Christians can remember that there is more to life than marriage.

Divorce and Remarriage

Marriage might not have been as good as celibacy, but the majority of Christians did marry. So what made a marriage ‘Christian’, beyond the simple fact that it was between two baptised believers? In On the Good of Marriage Augustine argued that among the three goods of marriage there were two that were common to all people: ‘the cause of generation and the fidelity of chastity,’ and one that was unique to Christians: ‘the sanctity of the sacrament’.[25] This third good of marriage drew on the image of marriage in Ephesians that compared it to Christ and the church, with two becoming one flesh.[26] Becoming ‘one flesh’ meant that Christian marriage, unlike civil marriage, was indissoluble. According to the Church Fathers the divorce and remarriage available under Roman law, like the concession made by Moses for the Jews’ hardness of heart, was a human innovation. The essence of Christian marriage, a divine innovation, was that it was the symbol of the enduring marriage of Christ and the church – and Christ and the church could not be separated.

This was the ideal, but reality did not always match it. By the fourth century the Council of Nicaea agreed that those who had divorced and remarried could be accepted back into the church, if they repented of their sins. After suitable penance their second marriage would be recognised.[27] However the Counter-Reformation ended this accommodation in 1563 when the Council of Trent made the indissolubility of matrimony part of canon law.[28] The Catholic Church continues to hold that ‘between the baptized, a ratified and consummated marriage cannot be dissolved by any human power or for any reason other than death’.[29] Civil divorces and subsequent marriages are not recognised: ‘the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery’.[30]

The Catholic Church was responding to the Protestant Reformers who, by declaring that marriage was not a sacrament, had opened up the possibility of divorce. If marriage was an agreement between two people, those two people could agree together to modify their contract. So divorce was permitted among Protestants, with grounds including marriage to an unbeliever (a Papist!), adultery, impotence, contagious disease and malicious desertion.[31] Post-Reformation divorce was a normal part of the marriage law of all Protestant countries; although divorces remained rare because of the economic and social consequences.[32]

Fascinatingly, by an accident of history, England was the exception. Alone among Protestant countries England did not bring in divorce law during the Reformation, which left it with the strictest marriage laws of any Western European Protestant country.[33] Australian law, of course, followed. Divorce could only by granted by an Act of Parliament until the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857 set up a special court to hear divorce cases. The Act allowed men to divorce adulterous wives; women could divorce adulterous husbands who were also guilty of incest, bigamy, cruelty or desertion.[34] The same law applied in Australia and other Dominions, but surprisingly not in Canada, which was seeking to distinguish itself from its neighbour to the south.

The divorce laws in some states of the United States were less strict that those in England, which led to charges by concerned Americans that they would lead to the fall of society: ‘Marriage indissoluble may be an imperfect test of honourable and pure affection, as all things human are imperfect, – but it is the best the State can devise; and its overthrow would result in a general profligacy and corruption such as this country has never known and few of our people can adequately imagine,’ claimed Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune.[35]

Divorce remained for cause in Australia until the nineteen-seventies, with some couples forced to manufacture evidence of adultery to satisfy the courts. Australian Protestants cannot personally remember the paradigm shift in sexual ethics that saw marriage preferred to celibacy, but many will remember the paradigm shift created by the passing of the 1975 Family Law Act with its introduction of no-fault divorce. Historians point out that today’s debate about same-sex marriage mirrors that earlier debate about divorce and remarriage. Concerned citizens argued that society would crumble if the Act was passed and no-fault divorce was permitted.[36] As the Minister for Tourism and Recreation, Mr Frank Stewart, argued: ‘We’ll be paying for people to appear in divorce courts; we’ll be paying for the care of the deserted wife and or the deserted husband and the deserted children. And unless you’ve got a foundation on which to base your society, you won’t have a society for very long.’[37] Twenty-five years on society seems to have survived.

It would be interesting to look at how the soon-to-be Uniting Church dealt with the introduction of no-fault divorce in 1975. By the time the Uniting Church made a statement on divorce and remarriage at the 1997 Assembly the question was a non-issue.[38] How did the church get there? Did churches support the introduction of the Family Law Act¸ or were they on the side of the Minister for Tourism and Recreation? There is work to be done. But at this point, maybe it is enough to call attention to the fact that the acceptance of divorce and remarriage is, for most churches, another enormous shift in sexual ethics that has been survived.

The Centrality of Procreation

The Church Fathers argued that the New Covenant’s vocation of virginity had superseded the Old Covenant’s obligation to procreate,[39] but procreation continued to be tied to reasons for marriage. For Augustine, procreation was not a reason for marriage, but an excuse for sexual intercourse within marriage: ‘Marriage has also this good, that carnal or youthful incontinence, even if it is bad, is turned to the honourable task of begetting children, so that marital intercourse makes something good out of the evil of lust’.[40] The Book of Common Prayer listed procreation as first among the three reasons given for marriage; and there is echo of that in the current Uniting Church wedding service that says that marriage ‘may include the gift and nurture of children’.

While some people argue that marriage exists for the sake of procreation, and thus that same-sex couples by definition cannot marry, the issue is not so simple. Marriage has never been a prerequisite for conceiving or delivering children. As Mark D. Jordan points out: ‘procreation may have justified marriage, but marriage was never a requirement for procreation’.[41] For centuries marriage was necessary to make children legitimate, with all the benefits that flowed from legitimacy, but that is no longer true either. After the passing of various Status of Children Acts in Australian states: ‘the relationship between every person and his father and mother shall be determined irrespective of whether the father and mother are or have been married to each other’.[42] Marriage and procreation have never been linked biologically, and are no longer linked legally. For the Catholic Church they remain linked theologically because openness to procreation continues to justify sexual intercourse within marriage and any act which seeks to prevent procreation is ‘intrinsically evil’.[43] In contrast, the Uniting Church has broken that theological link by recognising that while marriages may include the gift of children, they are valid without them; and that non-procreative sexual intercourse is not a sin. Simple appeals to procreation as the essence of marriage do not work for non-Catholics in the twenty-first century.

Even if the legal and theological link between child-bearing and marriage remained it would not be an automatic argument against same-sex marriage. The recent Australian census found that twelve per cent of same-sex couples are currently raising children, who have come from a previous opposite-sex relationship of one of the partners or who have been conceived, adopted or fostered in the same-sex relationship.[44] Twelve per cent of 33,714 couples is not a large number, but it does mean that there are already some four thousand Australian families in which same-sex couples are raising children.

Ethicists like Margaret Somerville argue that same-sex marriage cannot be approved because it will take away children’s rights to a (preferably biological) father and mother.[45] Even if it true that children raised by same-sex couples will suffer in comparison with children raised by heterosexual married couples, and the data on that is not yet in, history provides us with a very recent warning on making family policy on the basis of the ideal rather than the actual. The Senate recently released the Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices, which reported that ‘in the post-war era, white married couples with secure incomes represented the ideal family unit and were regarded as more or less the only ones capable of providing appropriate levels of care for children’.[46] As a result children were taken from ‘individuals and families who did not fit the idealised family unit’.[47] The results of this policy are only now being identified. Churches involved in forcible adoptions face class action, and the Synod of Victoria and Tasmania has already apologised for its role. While the four thousand same-sex families do not compare in numbers with the 250,000 babies estimated to have been taken away between the nineteen-forties and nineteen-eighties, they still exist. Those opposed to same-sex marriage on the ground that marriage is for the purpose of bearing and raising children need to remember them.

Church and State

For centuries marriage was not considered an official ritual of the church.[48] Christians got married in exactly the same way as their non-Christian neighbours and the church had no effect on the civil consequences of that marriage.[49] The church may have intervened in the marriages of slaves and clergy, permitting some ‘marriages of conscience’ kept secret from secular autho­rities, but apart from those cases the contracting and celebrating of marriage remained a familial and civil event until the early Middle Ages.[50] When the Western church declared marriage one of the seven sacraments in the thirteenth century it did attempt to convince the laity that it should be celebrated within the framework of the church’s liturgy, but ‘the laity clung to the conviction … that although marriage might be a gift of God, an act of marriage consisted of an act of consent between the woman and man concerned’.[51]

The civil nature of marriage explains the lack of marriage liturgies in the Western church. Before the fourth century, there is no compelling evidence of marriage in a distinctively Christian ritual. The earliest surviving Latin text for a wedding in the context of the eucharist comes from the seventh century, and until marriage was declared a sacrament a full ‘church wedding’ was more a privilege than a requirement for a valid marriage.[52]

This changed during the Reformation and Counter-Reformation. Registers of marriages, births, baptisms and deaths started to be kept, and both Catholics and Protestants sought the regulation of marriage.[53] The Catholic Church now declared that a marriage was created by the consent of the parties in front of a priest in the presence of two witnesses.[54] While Protestants no longer counted marriage as a sacrament (Calvin argued that it was much like ‘farming, building, cobbling and barbering’ which were ‘lawful ordinances of God, and yet are not sacraments’[55]) they still saw it as significant, sacred if not sacramental, and demanded that weddings be celebrated in churches.[56] In Protestant states weddings without parental consent, the blessing of a pastor, or a public ceremony were no longer merely frowned at; they were not weddings at all and did not create marriages. Large numbers of couples began to be brought before courts for not solemnizing their engagements with a wedding.[57]

Historically, the demand that the church be involved to create a marriage is relatively recent. For most of history the creation and regulation of marriage was a civil responsibility. As Martin Luther expostulated: ‘The pastor in Zwikau wrote me about marriage. I’ll give him something to remember me by for implicating me in such matters that belong to the government.’[58] The debate about same-sex marriage might be an occasion for churches to hand the regulation of marriage back.

Love and Friendship

In his conclusion to The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe John Boswell wrote of these unions: ‘In almost every age and place the ceremony fulfilled what most people today regard as the essence of marriage: a permanent romantic commitment between two people, witnessed and recognised by the community’.[59] The trouble, as even Boswell admits, is that for most of history marriage was not a romantic union. If an introductory level text can tell students of liturgy that: ‘Marriage, for much of human history and in many societies today, is an arrangement between families for the continuation and betterment of the two families involved’[60] without fear of contradiction, it is evident that companionate marriage entered into by individuals on the basis of their feelings for one another has shallow historical roots. Historians of marriage argue that the Western ideal of companionate marriage is a product of the nineteenth century.[61] Before that the inequality between men and women made the idea of such a relationship difficult if not impossible:

As long as men controlled family property, including women’s earnings, as long as women had no legal status apart from their husband’s, as long as couverture – covering – smothered wives with their husband’s identity, as long as husbands pledged to protect and support their wives and wives pledged to serve and obey their husbands, pragmatic marriage trumped marriage rooted in love.[62]

For much of Western history it was friendship, not marriage, which embodied love.[63] Friendship is presented much more positively in the Christian Scriptures than marriage. Jesus may be a metaphorical bridegroom, but he was a literal friend.[64] At the time friendship was the only relationship based upon equality, a relationship of reciprocity and mutuality unlike those between husband and wife, parent and child, master and slave, patron and client. Socrates saw friendship as subversive, because it existed regardless of rank.[65] It is friendship that the Scriptures show us Jesus offering his disciples and enacting in his death: ‘No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’[66]

The Christian community was called to follow this example. The summary descriptions of the church in the Book of Acts, the believers being of one heart and soul and holding all things in common, draw on Greek descriptions of friendship. For Greeks, friends were those who held ‘all things in common between friends’[67] and those who were ‘of one soul’.[68] Even more radically than the Greek model of friendship, this early Christian community of friends included women and slaves.

Trying to find an early medieval theologian who wrote favourably about marriage, Marie Anne Mayeski turns to a twelfth-century saint, Aelred of Rievaulx.[69] Aelred, abbot of a Cistercian abbey in Yorkshire, is known primarily for his writings on friendship. While he did write positively of marriage, he saw it as a somewhat frail subset of the relationship between friends.[70] It is friendship that Aelred describes as the ideal Christian lifestyle:

[I]n friendship are joined honour and charm, truth and joy, sweetness and good-will, affection and action. And all these take their beginning from Christ, advance through Christ, and are perfected in Christ. Therefore, not too steep or unnatural does the ascent appear from Christ, as the inspiration of the love by which we love our friend, to Christ giving himself to us as our Friend for us to love, so that charm may follow upon charm, sweetness upon sweetness and affection upon affection. And thus, friend cleaving to friend in the spirit of Christ, is made with Christ but one heart and one soul, and so mounting aloft through degrees of love to friendship with Christ, he is made one spirit with him.[71]

Given the importance that Christianity has placed on friendship, it is no wonder that Boswell found liturgical blessings for it. Historically, friendship could be considered a more ‘Christian relationship’ than marriage. After all, as Stuart points out: ‘The church has in the past seen same-sex (particularly male) friendship as anticipating heaven in a manner marriage could not because unlike marriage friendship could survive death.’[72]

Conclusion: A Modest Proposal

There are currently several bills that seek to authorise same-sex marriage before the Commonwealth parliament. It is unlikely that any of them will pass, because ALP members have been given a conscience vote on the issue, and Coalition members have not. It looks likely, though, that Australian civil society will recognise same-sex marriages sometime in the next few decades. At the end of the Radio National program, ‘Marriage, Australian Style’ journalist Keri Phillips summed up: ‘As we as a society—and our politicians—consider the concept of same-sex marriage, the obvious lesson from history is that the way we think about marriage and the law that enshrines our view, is always open to change.’[73] It appears that Australians are coming to accept this.

Australians are not alone in this. A review essay on several books about same-sex marriage notes that the authors ‘all remain optimistic that same-sex marriage will be accepted in the foreseeable future, and that this is a positive development … All presume that the history of marriage shows constant change, and that the pace of this change has increased over the past fifty years in particular’.[74] Same-sex marriages are recognised in a number of countries and several states of the United States; Australia will be following a trend in the Western world.

How is the Uniting Church to respond to this? I would like to suggest a way forward, based on the past. The church has not always been involved in the creation and regulation of marriage; that has more commonly been a role for civil society. The Uniting Church could thank the state for giving its ministers the right to solemnise marriages under the Marriage Act, and hand that right back, encouraging other churches to do that same. Creating and regulating marriages for the purposes of inheritance, taxation, superannuation, medical issues, public recognition, and so on, would be the responsibility of the state. The state could then offer the same recognition to same-sex as to heterosexual couples, without affecting religious understandings of marriage.

Churches could then choose whether or not to bless these relationships created by the state. Some would refuse to bless same-sex relationships, just as some denominations refuse to ordain women despite gender equality being a tenet of civil society. The Uniting Church in Australia, which welcomes people in same-sex relationships as members, and whose presbyteries can ordain people in same-sex relationships as ministers, could bless same-sex relationships.

The liturgy used in these blessings need not be a marriage liturgy. Drawing on historical precedents, the Uniting Church could bless ‘covenant friendships’. While covenant is a word most properly used of a relationship between God and humanity, YHWH and Israel, the new covenant in Christ, it is a word that the Uniting Church already uses to signify a particularly solemn relationship in the Covenant between the UAICC and the rest of the Uniting Church.

‘Covenant friendships’ would be relationships based on love and faithfulness, entered into by equals, for life. They would draw on the model of friendship shown by Jesus; rather than having to read a blessing of marriage into Jesus’ attendance at the wedding at Cana liturgists could quote Jesus’ actual words. Heterosexual couples who wanted to affirm that their relationship was one between equality partners, based on love rather than economic considerations, could also choose this type of blessing. Blessing romantic relationships as ‘covenant friendships’ might soothe those most committed to ‘marriage’ being between a man and woman. Most importantly, such ‘covenant friendships’ would not be second-class marriages, because the most significant lesson that the history of marriage teaches us is that marriage is not as important to Christianity as current debate argues.


[1] For the Uniting Church this diversity of views was recognised in Assembly minute 03.12.04.

[2] ‘A presidential chat’, Crosslight, No. 223, July 2012, p. 20.

[3] Interestingly, one of the traditional reasons given for marriage is to hallow sexual relations that would otherwise be sinful. Thus the service for the solemnization of marriage in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer says of marriage: ‘Secondly, It was ordained for a 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.’ The Book of Common Prayer (London: Everyman’s Library, 1999), p. 196. Might the sinfulness of homosexual activity be overcome by marriage?

[4] Elizabeth Abbott, A History of Marriage (London and New York: Duckworth Overlook, 2010),pp. 12-3.

[5] Jeremy R. Garrett, ‘History, Tradition, and the Normative Foundations of Civil Marriage’, The Monist 91 (2008), p. 450.

[6] Of course, much of the ‘history’ of marriage and sexuality available to us is contained in the writings of (frequently celibate) men; we know what someone like Saint Augustine wrote on marriage, but much less about whether and how his writings affected married couples, for example. This limitation must always be kept in mind.

[7] Although Peter Brown points out that it was almost a century before any Christian justified their celibacy as following Jesus’ example. Peter Brown, The Body and Society: Men, Women and Sexual Renunciation in Early Christianity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), p. 41.

[8] 1 Cor 7:7.

[9] John C. Cavadini, ‘The Sacramentality of Marriage in the Fathers’, Pro Ecclesia 17 (2008), p. 443.

[10] Interestingly, by both those who endorsed celibacy and those who endorsed something that looks like ‘free love’. Richard M. Price, ‘Celibacy and Free Love in Early Christianity’, Theology & Sexuality 12 (2006), p. 121.

[11] 1 Cor 7:1

[12] Price, ‘Celibacy and Free Love’: p. 127.

[13] Brown, The Body and Society, p. 360.

[14] Jennifer Rycenga, ‘Review Essay: Marriage: Religious Authority and Religious Imagination in Arguments for Same-Sex Marriage’, Religious Studies Review 35 (2009),p. 10.

[15] Augustine, ‘The Good of Marriage’ in Treatises on Marriage and Other Subjects, edited and translated by Charles T. Wilcox (New York: Maryknoll, 1955),p. 20.

[16] Ibid., p. 44.

[17] Ibid., p. 12

[18] Merry E. Wiesner-Hanks, Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World: Regulating Desire, Reforming Practice (London and New York: Routledge, 2000), p. 29.

[19] Diarmaid MacCulloch, Reformation: Europe’s House Divided (London: Penguin, 2003), p. 609.

[20] James F. White, Protestant Worship: Traditions in Transition (Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster/John Know Press, 1989), p. 45.

[21] While the Reformers’ rejection of the superiority of celibacy was undoubtedly liberating for many, for others the new emphasis on marriage as the ultimate Christian way of life was instead imprisoning. Historian of celibacy Elizabeth Abbott points out that women seized on Christian celibacy as a way of transforming themselves into independent people who travelled, studied, wrote and preached. While men saw celibacy as deprivation, women saw it as empowerment; a source of empowerment denied to them after the Reformation. Elizabeth Abbott, A History of Celibacy (Cambridge: Lutterworth, 2000), p. 17.

[22] Martin Luther, ‘The Estate of Marriage’ in Luther’s Works, vol. 45: The Christian in Society, translated by Walter I. Bryant(Philadelphia: Muhlenberg Press, 1982), p. 22.

[23] Wiesner- Hanks, Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World, p. 73.

[24] Jane Shaw, ‘Reformed and Enlightened Church’, in Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body, ed. Gerard Loughlin (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008), p. 222.

[25] Augustine, ‘On the Good of Marriage’: p. 48.

[26] Ephesians 5:32-33.

[27] Bernard Cooke and Gary Macy, Christian Symbol and Ritual: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), p. 67.

[28] Abbott, A History of Marriage, p. 200.

[29] Catechism of the Catholic Church, second edition (Strathfield: St Pauls, 2000), p. 573, section 2382.

[30] Ibid., section 2384.

[31] MacCulloch, Reformation, pp. 655, 660; Wiesner-Hanks, Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World, p. 78.

[32] MacCulloch, Reformation, p. 660; Weisner-Hanks, Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World, p. 78.

[33] MacCulloch, Reformation, p. 660.

[34] Abbott, A History of Marriage, p. 199.

[35] Quoted in Abbott, A History of Marriage, p. 207.

[36] Radio National recently broadcast a documentary, Marriage, Australian Style, which drew together historians with archival material.
This can be accessed at http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/rearvision/marriage2c-divorce-and-the-law-in-australia/4073436

[38] Assembly minute 97.31.12.

[39] Philip Lyndon Reynolds, Marriage in the Western Church: The Christianization of Marriage During the Patristic and Early Medieval Periods (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994), p. xxii.

[40] Augustine, ‘On the Good of Marriage’: p. 13.

[41] Mark D. Jordan, Blessing Same-Sex Unions: The Perils of Queer Romance and the Confusion of Christian Marriage (Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 2005), p. 79.

[42] Status of Children Act (Vic) 1974 – s 3(1)

[43] Catechism of the Catholic Church, p. 570, section 2370.

[45] Margaret Somerville, ‘Children’s human rights and unlinking child-parent biological binds with adoption, same-sex marriage and new reproductive technologies’ Journal of Family Studies 13 (2007), pp. 1-20.

[46] Commonwealth of Australia, Commonwealth Contribution to Former Forced Adoption Policies and Practices, 29 February 2012, available at http://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate_Committees?url=clac_ctte/comm_contrib_former_forced_adoption/report/index.htm

[47] Ibid., s. 2.18

[48] Cooke and Macy, Christian Symbol and Ritual, p. 161.

[49] Reynolds, Marriage in the Western Church, p. xviii.

[50] Marie Anne Mayeski, ‘”Like a Boat is Marriage”: Aelred on Marriage as a Christian Way of Life’ Theological Studies 70 (2009), p. 93.

[51] MacCulloch, Reformation, p. 634.

[52] Jordan, Blessing Same-Sex Unions, p. 129.

[53] Wiesner-Hanks, Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World, p. 10.

[54] MacCulloch, Reformation, p. 637.

[55] White, Protestant Worship, p. 67.

[56] MacCulloch, Reformation, p. 648.

[57] Wiesner-Hanks, Christianity and Sexuality in the Early Modern World, p. 74.

[58] Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, vol. 54: Table Talk translated by Theodore G. Tappert (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1987), p. 194, item 3267.

[59] John Boswell, The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (London: HarperCollins, 1995, p. 281.

[60] Cooke and Macy, Christian Symbol and Ritual, p. 28.

[61] See, for example, Stephanie Coontz, Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage (New York: Penguin, 2005).

[62] Abbott, A History of Marriage, p. 85.

[63] Cooke and Macy, Christian Symbol and Ritual, p. 29.

[64] Elizabeth Stuart, Just Good Friends: Towards a Lesbian and Gay Theology of Relationships (London: Mowbray, 1995), p. 168.

[65] Ibid., p. 29.

[66] John 15:13.

[67] Admittedly, when Plato quoted this proverb in The Republic he included wives and children as among the things that men should hold in common; for the Greeks friendship was a masculine privilege. Plato, The Republic, trans. Desmond Lee (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987) pp. 191, 226.

[68] Luke Timothy Johnson, The Acts of the Apostles, Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1992), p. 86.

[69] Mayeski, ‘“Like a Boat is Marriage”: Aelred on Marriage as a Christian Way of Life’.

[70] Ibid., pp. 98-102.

[71] Aelred of Rievaulx, Spiritual Friendship, trans. Mary Eugenia Laker (Kalamazoo: Cistercian Publications, 1977), 2:20-21, pp. 74-5.

[72] Elizabeth Stuart, ‘Sacramental Flesh’ in Queer Theology: Rethinking the Western Body, ed. Gerard Loughlin (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008), p. 73.

[74] Rycenga, ‘Re-Thinking marriage’: p. 1

December 27, 2012 - Posted by | Life, etc., Ministry | , , , ,

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