Anglican Reformation

Christian Marriage Shining Brighter–in Sydney

A little controversy has broken out in Sydney, Australia.  It’s about marriage.  Marriage vows, to be precise.

For a long time now the Sydney Diocese of the Anglican Church has been a hotbed of solid biblical faith.  Strange, but true.  The archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen actually believes the Bible to be the Word of the Living God–not in a Barthian sense, mind, but in the orthodox sense.  A reformation is gradually percolating through the veins of the church that is encouraging to say the least. 

One of the points of reformation has involved marriage vows.  This from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Brides will be promising to submit to their husbands under a new marriage vow the Anglican diocese of Sydney is expected to approve at its synod in October.  It requires the minister to ask of the bride: ”Will you honour and submit to him, as the church submits to Christ?” and for her to pledge ”to love and submit” to her husband.  The service is already being used in some Sydney parishes, under a diocese that opposes the full ordination of women and supports an exclusively male leadership doctrine.

As the world of Unbelief increasingly re-defines and re-contextualises marriage to include anything, any relationship, inflating its meaning the point of worthlessness, Christians will need to re-coalesce around the true meaning of marriage as ordained by God.  What “they” have is two lesbians and a budgie; what we mean by marriage is a permanent relationship between a man and a woman created and fenced by vows of mutual fidelity.  But the relationship is structured so that the woman submits to her husband, as the Church submits to Christ, and the man has to love his wife as Christ loves the Church.  We commit to this because God requires it. 

The vows were written by the diocese’s liturgical panel, which has the imprimatur of the Archbishop, Peter Jensen. The panel chairman, the Bishop of South Sydney, Robert Forsyth, said ”submit” was a deeply biblical word. ”The Bible never said women must obey their husbands but Paul and Peter did say submit, which I think is a much more responsive, nuanced word.”

Long may the reformation amongst the Sydney Anglicans continue.  Of course the Herald could not let the matter go without getting a word from some other professing Christians who long ago decided they had authority to cut and dice the text of Scripture for their own devices.  Here is some pop-theology that is laughable, albeit it typical:

Kevin Giles, a New Testament scholar in Melbourne, said the subordination of women was exclusively related to ”the fall” in the Bible and in 2012 made for bad theology.  ”Jesus not once mentions the subordination of woman and says much in contradiction to this. Paul’s comments over the subordination of women fit into the patriarchal culture of the day and are not the biblical ideal. The truth is that happy marriages today are fully equal, and unhappy marriages are ones where one or the other party is controlling.”

We agree that biblical authority structures in Christian marriage make for lamentably bad theology in 2012 in the minds of some, but that tells us more about the state of heart amongst pagans and paganised Christians in our day than anything else.  But here is the clanger: Paul apparently reflects a patriarchal culture when he calls for a wife to submit to her husband.  So, to be consistent, his calls for the Church to submit to Christ must also be thus contextualised, and as we moderns in 2012 can disregard such primitivism in the marriage relationship we can thus also dismiss the headship of Christ Himself. So much for New Testament “scholarship” in Melbourne.

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