Day Five: In Which I Get Up to Speak in the House of Deputies

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“The next item on the calendar is A037: Continue Work of the Task Force on the Study of Marriage”

(For the full text of the resolution, click here)

Explanation (adapted from text written by the Task Force on Marriage):

The 77th General Convention directed its presiding officers to appoint a Task Force on the Study of Marriage, consisting of 12 people to consult, study, and provide educational resources on the subject of marriage.

In the course of completing these tasks, the Task Force became highly aware of a growing contemporary reality in society and the Church that is redefining what many mean by “family” or “household.” This changing reality is felt in our congregations, where there are an increasing number of those who fit the various categories detailed in the 3rd Resolve of this resolution (those who choose to remain single; unmarried persons in intimate relationships; couples who cohabitate; couples who desire a blessing, etc).

Contemporary data shows that these trends are increasing rapidly, challenging marriage as a normative way of life. And yet the Task Force did not have the time or resources to fully address this reality. More broadly, our Church has done very little to respond to it.

This time of flux bears continuing discernment and attention by our Church.

“I call on Deputy Hamilton from the Diocese of Olympia.”

(The clock begins to count down my two minutes)

I rise in support of this resolution.

For the last six years I have been in a monogamous, loving relationship with my boyfriend. We live together and share some expenses. Despite the admirable and well-meaning efforts of friends and family, I have no interest in getting married or having children. While that may not always be the case, for now my relationship is not seen as having any independent worth, but only as a precursor to something I don’t intend to do.

Ceiling and TwoThe church’s silence on this matter equates to passive judgement. By only acknowledging one kind of family, we imply others don’t count.

In Sunday School I teach my students that when it comes to sacramental rites (marriage, ordination, confirmation, confession, and anointing of the sick), we say that “all may, some should, none must.” However right now it’s clear that when it comes to marriage, we have acquiesced to secular society in saying that for marriage, “All Must Eventually.”

We don’t assume all lay people will be ordained, yet we assume all single people will eventually be married. I think this contradiction bears investigation, and it would mean a lot to me personally for my relationship to be acknowledged.

(I put down my official notes to speak off the cuff)

Finally, for any of you who are considering finding me after the session, putting a loving hand on my shoulder, and telling me I’ll change my mind when I’m older…I invite your silent prayers.

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One thought on “Day Five: In Which I Get Up to Speak in the House of Deputies

    Michael Hartney said:
    July 12, 2015 at 6:00 pm

    Your comments were the most thought-provoking ones I heard attending this General Convention. I have not decided how I can respond to you … but you have stretched my preconceived notions and experience as a priest of the church more than 40 years. Thank you – and keep provoking me.

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