It has been disappointing, to say the least, watching church leaders continue to say that marriage is primarily about procreation. It is disheartening for those of us who are waiting to perform same sex marriages, and who will be permanently denied that prospect by the current legislation.
When the Marriage Act is finally passed into law, it will be impossible for Gay couples (Christian or otherwise) to get married in their local parish church, where they could well have been lifetime members of the congregation.
It doesn't even look like church leaders, including Archbishop Welby, seem to care about the complexity of what Jesus actually says about marriage.
At daily prayer yesterday I was reminded of a passage in chapter 12 of Mark's Gospel that deals with some thoughts on marriage, children and heaven. It is a clash between religious leaders and Jesus, in which they are trying to prove a point about the afterlife. The passage inadvertently reveals a fixation by religious leaders with the notion that marriage is only legitimate if a child is born into the relationship.
Jesus dismisses their ignorance of scripture revealing that in heaven, marriage is no more, and people are lifted into higher 'angelic' status. It is a complicated passage with many subtle interpretations, but it points to something important during this debate - Marriage is not as 'normative' in the Bible as some conservative Christians would have us believe. It is clearly a societal construct, not a heavenly one.
Society has the right to develop marriage into something more than simply being about procreation, and thankfully, marriage has already changed in many ways over the years. It has moved on from simply being about male ownership over women and control over their bodies.
It can develop into one of greater equality and one where love is the genuine root of marriage, not patriarchy or simple procreation. If the institution of marriage is allowed to progress, then perhaps it will eventually overcome the inequalities within it, that clearly prevented it from being part of Jesus' vision of heaven.
18Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him and asked him a question, saying, 19“Teacher, Moses wrote for us that ‘if a man’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child, the man shall marry the widow and raise up children for his brother.’ 20There were seven brothers; the first married and, when he died, left no children; 21and the second married her and died, leaving no children; and the third likewise; 22none of the seven left children. Last of all the woman herself died. 23In the resurrection whose wife will she be? For the seven had married her.” 24Jesus said to them, “Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God? 25For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.