Sunday, January 12, 2014

Quick, someone bring me some wine!

Have I told you guys I know a ridiculous amount of clergy people?   Well, thanks to the internet and college (campus ministry makes you meet people) I do.   They're not all Episcopal priests either.  (Some of them aren't even Christian.  I have a batshit crazy woman rabbi in my rolodex.  We compared notes on exorcisms, houses and people, but that's a story for another day.)  I'm unusually belligerent today and one of my particularly crunchy (Read: Liberal hippy type)  Methodist priest pastor acquaintances set me off.

Someone needs to bring me some wine.   Seriously.  This is getting ridiculous.   It was innocent enough.

Well, here it is:
I suppose the real problem was the caption: We can no longer say that (most) Episcopal churches are hypocritical about marriage. (remember how that denomination got its start? : )
Are you, pardon me for saying it this way, fucking serious?   Really?  From a guy whose church just defrocked a man for officiating at his child's wedding?  Whose church is, pardon me for pointing this out, so closely related to my own that my church and his church couldn't get married in most states because they're basically first cousins?

I want to point out that the popular conception of Henry VIII isn't really fair on this.  I don't defend dead British monarchs lightly, and he was a bit of a creep in a lot of ways, but hear me out.  Henry's first wife was married to his BROTHER first.  She claimed the marriage was never consummated, but who knows?   Henry became convinced that God was punishing him for marrying his brother's wife (Dude was dead, I figure sis is fair game theologically but he was more of a theological scholar than I am so I don't get to have an opinion.) and he asked the Pope for an ANNULMENT.  Now, his lack of knowledge of how biology works, and the fact that it was his perfect sperm that kept producing girls (have you ever seen a Y chromosome? It looks like a broken X chromosome) aside, he really thought this.  He legitimately thought it was his sin (too many mistresses didn't help?) that was keeping Catherine of Argonne from producing a much needed male heir to the throne.  So he asked the Pope for an annulment.

An annulment means the marriage NEVER HAPPENED.   This is different from a divorce which says it happened but it didn't work out.  It's an important difference. With an annulment, for example, if you're say, the King of England, you don't have to give her half your stuff if you split up. Or half your money.  Or the crown jewels. Or West Essex.  It also means you haven't sinned in getting married again--which you can't do in the church unless your first wife is dead.   If he simply divorced Catherine, he'd have to prove her unfaithful, which since he was the King, was also treason, so no good there, he'd have to make her dead.  Annulment was actually the least shitty option he could come up with to dispose of his wife.  (Except, of course, the one he came up with for a subsequent wife he simply didn't find attractive.  He declared her his sister, put her up in a castle and basically hemmed and ha'd his way out of that one, much to the irritation of Germany, from whence she had come, and his advisors, who had arranged it.)

All asides aside, this would delegitimize the marriage.   Catherine was furious.  She already had a daughter by Henry and this would make her a bastard.  (Mary ended up being Bloody Mary, so yikes!  Don't try and annul your marriage to your kid's mum.)  Good thing for Catherine, the Pope was more afraid of Spain, where she was from, than he was of England.  Bad thing for the Pope?  Henry wasn't afraid of him.   Henry was the frickin King of England and he had theological training and he just told the Pope that he was cutting ties with Rome.

Is this unexpected?  Do you know anything about the English and foreigners telling them how to do things?  They don't like it.  Ask Hitler about that.   Christianity was in the British Isles long before the Bishop of Rome ever sent anybody there.   The Church of England was never really theirs anyway.  So meh!

Is the Episcopal Church late to the party on this?  Heck yeah.  Are we getting there sooner than I or many of my friends ever thought we would? Hells yes.  Did we beat the Methodists?  Yeah buddy.  The Methodists, the Presbyterians, the Baptists, and the Roman Catholics.  We dealt with this before they did and you'd better believe they watched with bated breath to see how it went for us.  We did it first and it cost us a lot of our friends.  It wasn't fun, but like Henry and the end of his first marriage, we had to think we had a damn good reason to do it first.

The UCC beat all of us to the punch, but you know what?  That's okay.   We have a lot of baggage (history) to carry with us and it takes a while to get all that to the train station.


  1. It is not about who is first at recognizing they've been wrong on issues of equality and human dignity, it is about who puts in the work to make-up for all the spiritual abuse and trauma that was inflicted upon those people whose dignity was trampled with your assistance. The real work of the Church (or other religious institutions) is to have their mea culpa moment and then work to fix what they helped break, abuse, destroy, rob, etc. Of course it's messy and doesn't make the news, but that is actually of greater value than statements by the institution saying they are now in favor, etc. The Episcopals and Methodists, UCC, and the rest can boast about firsts.....but to the people who survived the spiritual torture it is of little consequence. It would be better perhaps for these institutions to work to ensure that next time (and there will be a next time) they will side with human dignity first and discrimination last. So all religious groups can stop patting themselves on the back that have finally come around to stop discriminating against LGBT people on the issue of marriage. It is entirely inappropriate considering that there is still a lot of other issues lingering with LGBT people in our society, let alone other discrimination that continues with some of it unchallenged by any one.

    1. This post wasn't about congratulating anyone so much as it was about correcting a common misconception about the history of my church.

      I know the church has a lot of work to do and I'm doing something about it. I'm staying and fighting to change the way things are so we live more fully into the kingdom of God. I'm doing the best I can to make sure the bad things that happened don't happen again. Of little consequence? Maybe to some, but for that five year old kid down the street who just figured out he fancies other boys? It's a big freaking hairy deal. Hopefully he'll. never realize what a big deal it is because by the time he comes of age it won't be a big deal.

    2. BTW, do I know you? Please email me if I do. :)