Pushing back on marriage

Everyone’s commenting (in my part of the world) on the front-page SMH article on the proposed new vows in an additional order of marriage to be considered for inclusion in the new Sydney Anglican prayer book. I agree: well done to Rob Forsyth and Andy and Steph Judd for their comments.

My contribution is to ask 4 questions I’d like to hear Kevin Giles—a correspondent in the article who questions the theology surrounding the term ‘submission’—answer.

1. Why does Giles say the subordination of women was exclusively related to the ‘Fall’ in the Bible? I note in 1 Cor 11:3-16, Paul gives as one reason for his comments about some differences between men and women as being due—in 1 Cor 11:8-9—to the order they were created in, which comes pre-Fall in Genesis 2. Likewise as his first reason for his comments about women and men and teaching and authority in 1 Tim 2:11-15 is that Adam was formed first not Eve, and this is ‘pre-Fall’.

2. Why does Giles caricature all marriages where the parties use the traditional-style asymmetrical vows including protection and submit (or BCP’s obey) as “unhappy marriages are ones where one or the other party is controlling”? In what way is this generalisation accurate of fair? I do not know one Sydney Anglican minister who would think that the traditional style vows mean the husband must control the wife, even inadvertently.

3. More broadly, does he have any broadly-based, methodologically-sound social science research to show that ‘egalitarian’ marriages are happy and ‘complementarian’ marriages are unhappy? If not, then by what right does he make such sweeping statements?

4. When a person like Kelvin Giles is ordained as an Anglican clergy person, we are required to make a promise along these lines “I ……………. do solemnly make the following declaration—I firmly and sincerely believe the Catholic Faith and I give my assent to the doctrine of the Anglican Church of Australia as expressed in the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons; I believe that doctrine to be agreeable to the Word of God; and in public prayer and administration of the sacraments, I will use the form in the said book prescribed, and none other, except as far as shall be ordered by lawful authority.” (The exact wording may vary from diocese to diocese, but I am confidant Giles would have made such a promise.)

So does Giles believe the doctrine of BCP which includes the vows asking women to obey their husbands is agreeable to the Word of God? If that’s no longer the case, would it not be the honourable thing to do to admit you cannot keep your vow and resign as an Anglican clergyman?

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