Tuesday, April 02, 2013

"Why doth the heathen rage?"

May I point out the internal incoherence here:

Fr. Murray elides the distinction between marriage by the state, and marriage as a Catholic sacrament.  I am an ordained UCC minister, and my church has recognized same-sex marriages since before I entered seminary.  A service for same sex marriages was in the UCC Book of Worship when I bought my first copy.  Does that make the UCC un-Christian?  Perhaps in Fr. Murray's eyes, but I was taught in seminary that the fundamental Christian bond was in baptism in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (which is one reason the baptismal blessing in the UCC did not shift to "inclusive language").

Fr. Murray, in other words, is at least not terribly ecumenical here.  But he's more fundamentally incoherent than that.  He insists a same sex marriage cannot be called "marriage."  First, I have to point out we don't have a French Academy here, which decides what words mean, or which usage is proper English usage.  "Marriage" may be limited to one man and one woman in Fr. Murray's personal lexicon, but he cannot lay claim to control the whole usage by the rest of the country.

Nor can he limit marriage to a word used only by Catholics for the sacrament of the same name.  He says Christian teaching is being caricatured as bigotry, but "marriage" is not an exclusively Christian, nor even Roman Catholic, word or concept.  Further, he says "they" (his opponents) now want to "assert" that "gay marriage is the only rational and Christian thing to do."  There are two arguments there, and he slides them together for his Roman Catholic convenience.

I say that only because the RC considers marriage a sacrament, and therefore it must be performed by a priest properly authorized to perform the sacraments.  That is not the law in America, and hasn't been the law since Protestants divided the Roman Catholic church from the state several centuries ago.  Whether or not the Church in Rome wants to recognize same-sex marriage is a theological and ecclesiological issue for that church.  The UCC allows me to decide whether or not to officiate such a union, although at the moment the laws of my state won't recognize such a union.  There is a legal concept of marriage, and there is a religious one.  Fr. Murray should know better than to presume the two are one, and the one they are is Roman Catholic.  I recognize only two sacraments, and the State is not involved in the administration or oversight of either.  By my tradition the state is free to redefine marriage, but it has no concern in how I define the eucharist, or to whom I administer it (and my table would probably be more open than the Roman Catholic table; but that's merely a point of illustration,  Although that might also make me less Christian in Fr. Murray's eyes).

Marriage is not exclusively Christian in this country, and has not been since its founding; otherwise no person could perform a wedding service except a Christian priest or minister.  Fr. Murray wants to control that term, but his Church lost that battle in the 16th century.  He knows he is free to refuse to marry together two persons of the same gender.  He should also understand they are free to be married according to the laws of the State.  It's been over 400 years; some issues are finally put to rest.

As for the "attack on our freedom to preach what we believe:"  pure nonsense.  I am free to critique what you profess to believe, whether I do it from a Christian perspective or as a disciple of Richard Dawkins.  This is, of course, the argument of a man who wants to say he is the only virtuous one; even as he disavows that line of reasoning because he says it is being used against people like him.

His final point in that clip is flat out stupid.  We don't, he asserts, allow "sinners" to have a legal recognition of their relationship.  In the Great State of Texas, an "informal marriage" can be established just by the couple saying they are married.  That is without benefit of clergy or even a ceremony by the state.  When I was young we called that "living in sin," but it's been the law in Texas since long before I was born.  Which means it's a legal recognition of their relationship.

Sorry, Father.  But what the law requires and what your Church recognizes, are two different things; and it's been that way for a very, very long time around here.


  1. By the look of him, my mother's been a Roman Catholic for from about four to five decades longer than he has and she favors marriage equality.

  2. Fr Murray is FOS. Excuse me for spoiling your beautiful blog with my language. I'd suggest that the good father go work with Christians in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, or another country where Christians practice their faith in fear of their lives, and he'd come to know what real persecution is. I'm thoroughly sick and tired of the whining of people who oppose gay marriage. If you oppose gay marriage, then don't marry a person of the same sex. And if you're a priest in the Holy Catholic Church, do not stand in witness at gay marriages.

    Is Fr Murray without sin? If not, then he is living in sin in company with the rest of us.