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Marriage, Abortion, Sacraments and Grey Matters


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From the Top 25 Marriage Films: Results thread:

: I feel the weight of the objection that attendance would be construed as rejection of them. On the other hand, there is the equally intractable reality that attendance would be construed as some level of recognition of the event, as it certainly would be.

You know what this *does* remind me of? The thought I've put into the question of whether I would ever take a friend or daughter to an abortion clinic. I don't approve of abortion What. So. Ever, but, if there was the possibility of my friend or daughter being shamed or abused by protestors, I'd still want to protect them, and support *them* (even if I did not support *their decision*). And I guess I'd always hold out hope that maybe my friend or daughter would give their unborn child a last-minute reprieve.

See, that I could do. Escorting someone is not a solemn public act, as attending a wedding ceremony is. It doesn't have built-in ceremonial significance. I can walk with you on your way to do something I disapprove of. I can't sit in the pew at your non-wedding, because sitting in the pew means something.

Wow. That strikes me as somehow wrong on a few levels. Physically doing something (escorting someone) doesn't "mean something" in a way that passively sitting somewhere does?

Yes, absolutely, and the whole objection seems to me to reflect a somewhat desacrilized, pragmatic, anti-ceremonial set of assumptions.

You're right, I don't think my use of "passively" was the best word choice.

A congregation at a wedding, or whatever term would apply to the equivalent group at a civil ceremony, are not a mere audience. They are not passive, they are fulfilling an official function on behalf of the whole community. They are bearing witness. Their very silence, in the ceremony of the wedding, gives consent to it, recognizes it, accepts it on behalf of the community.

By their very presence they say to the spouses: This is no private thing you do, of no consequence to the larger world. It is not a whim, privately undertaken and privately to be renounced if you decide later on it was a mistake. We have seen; we bear witness. We all recognize that by this act you have undertaken duties to one another and to the community, duties that of course come with privileges. In principle, the community extends to you those privileges — we shall accord you the recognition and respect of a married couple, as opposed to a mere pair of fornicators — and hold you to those duties.

That is what a wedding is, and why there must be witnesses.

Excellent summary. And I agree with this description of what a marriage congregation does in the abstract. But it leads to a pressing question to my mind: Does bearing witness imply consent?

Does sitting in the waiting room while the person you escorted has an abortion mean something?

It does not. It's a naked, pragmatic, unceremonious act.

Here's the primary thrust of my "objection." And please note, I'm not objecting in a throwing-the-guantlet-down way. I am objecting as someone who has some personal experience in both witnessing marriage (and being married, for that matter) and accompanying someone to have an abortion. I'm not trying to call you out, I'm just seeing something that doesn't correspond with personal experience. But then, I'm conflicted over that itself, so I want to understand your rationale/moral guidelines.

I think we both agree on the sanctity of life. And I think we can both agree that murder is about as clear cut a sin as any, being in the 10 commandments.*

Depending on how you answered the question above, are you saying that bearing witness to a "marriage" you feel is illegitimate is more morally objectionable than bearing witness to the murder of a human life?

I'm assuming, of course, that prior to the trip I have not only made known my beliefs regarding the sanctity of life and done everything I can to dissuade the mother from her course. I'm assuming that my beliefs are sufficiently known that she recognizes the grief I take to myself in accompanying her, that there is no danger of her misconstruing my accompaniment as any kind of tacit consent. Since this is a private act, the understanding between us is sufficient (unless I'm liable to be recognized going into the clinic and my presence should give scandal).

I suppose in the case of the "wedding" I could have the equivalent discussions with the couple, and also with all of the guests (let's assume a small ceremony!). But even then, the language of ritual and ceremony is what it is. A same-sex union is an affront to marriage, and there is no way I can honor marriage and at the same time bear witness to a same-sex ceremony of this sort.

Apologies if this seems over the top, but working from the proposition that an abortion is murder let me put forth an alternate scenario:

Your friend John asks you to accompany him while he pays someone to kill his neighbor. Assuming you have not only made known your beliefs regarding the sanctity of life and done everything you can to dissuade John from his course, do you still accompany him?

Or, a more likely (and much more "grey") scenario: Your friend John asks you to accompany him while he gives the doctor permission to unplug his elderly mother from life support. Assuming etc., etc., do you still accompany him?

In addition, I'm confused as to why it is more objectionable to pay heed to the importance of the "community" than it is to the individual. By that I mean, you say you would not bear witness to an "illegitimate" marriage because of the perceptions it might show to the rest of the community you maybe have not had a chance to voice your objections to, but you would be OK bearing witness to an (at least) morally objectionable act in "private." That seems to me on some level to be putting the cart before the horse.

As a postscript: I say I could do this, right now, as a lay Catholic, a private individual. Could I do it once ordained to the diaconate? I would have to rethink that. My impulse is to say no.

Another wrinkle! I'm not even going to touch this at the moment. smile.png

*There is, of course, the debate over whether the termination of a fetus is the ending of a human life. If it is, it is clearly murder. If not, well... For the argument at this point I am putting forth the proposition that it is.

Edited by Darryl A. Armstrong

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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As a postscript: I say I could do this, right now, as a lay Catholic, a private individual. Could I do it once ordained to the diaconate? I would have to rethink that. My impulse is to say no.

Speaking as clergy: in all "grey" scenarios described above--bearing witness at a gay marriage ceremony, escorting a person to have an abortion, and witnessing a person unplug their elderly parent from life support--my response would depend upon the person's spiritual standing and knowledge of Christ and accountability within a church community. To put it briefly: for me, my attendance in other act would depend upon if they were a follower of Christ or not, and any witness would certainly include my explicitly-shared beliefs with that person and the church's stance on the issue. If they claimed to be a follower of Christ, it would be an entirely different conversation than if they made no such claim, or claimed the opposite (i.e. they are certainly NOT a follower of Christ). In any case, I'd hope to have such a conversation with a tone of grace and unconditional love while also being willing to extend the gracious gift of sharing truth, even truth that is difficult to share (for me) and swallow (for them).

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Darryl A Armstrong said:

:By that I mean, you say you would not bear witness to an "illegitimate" marriage

This leads to one of my questions as to the subject. Lets say that someone has been divorced and remarries. Yes scripture (and Jesus) speaks against this. But then we must consider God's grace in the matter, and in God's grace I don't think that a remarriage is illegitimate, especially if the people have repented of, and prayed through their earlier mistakes. They then have a clean slate and God in his grace is a God of second and third and fourth,,,,,etc. chances. Not that I think marriage isn't sacred. But where sin abounds grace superabounds.

I've seen remarriages that were/are incredible, where God is obviously working in the marriage and where the work of God is being revealed in the marriage, and where people, families, and children who have been broken because a previous divorce have been given new life. Where children now have more of a stable functioning family unit again. Etc.

I also know of people who have been guided to others and given the go ahead to getting married again by Holy Spirit.

God's grace is working in the new marriage to restore that which has been lost and broken. Holy Spirit is obviously active in, and blessing the marriage, so then it would seem obvious to me that this marriage is legitimate.

So trying to make a marriage work is of course ideal and something to try and maintain. But what about extreme abusive situation etc. Is it God's will for the wife to be in the marriage when the husband is hopelessly abusive (see the movie Tryrannosaur.) Can't God's grace give her a new chance at a better life and marriage.

In my understanding of Grace I think this is entirely possible. In fact I think this is one of the points of grace, that's one of the ways that grace works.

Edited by Attica
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You're right, I don't think my use of "passively" was the best word choice.

I'm glad we agree. Looking back, I hope my rhetoric wasn't too strong; I've been writing in haste, in between pressing commitments. (Hang it all, I shouldn't be writing this now…)

Excellent summary. And I agree with this description of what a marriage congregation does in the abstract. But it leads to a pressing question to my mind: Does bearing witness imply consent?

Consent, at least in the sense of approval, no. Recognition or acceptance, yes. You don't have to think it's a good idea that the couple is getting married, or approve of the match; you do have to recognize the union as truly binding. That's the role of the witnesses.

Even though the old line "If anyone knows just cause why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace" is often omitted from ceremonies these days, the silence of the congregation (or the guests / witnesses) is still a ceremonial act signifying society's recognition of the normative force of this union.

Here's the primary thrust of my "objection." And please note, I'm not objecting in a throwing-the-guantlet-down way. I am objecting as someone who has some personal experience in both witnessing marriage (and being married, for that matter) and accompanying someone to have an abortion. I'm not trying to call you out, I'm just seeing something that doesn't correspond with personal experience. But then, I'm conflicted over that itself, so I want to understand your rationale/moral guidelines.

Fair enough. Your experience in the latter regard exceeds mine, and I could be wrong. I've never been there; I'm thinking in the abstract, imagining a certain idealized scenario. In the real world, I don't doubt it would often not be possible to accompany a mother to an abortion clinic without tacitly supporting her decision in some way.

I think we both agree on the sanctity of life. And I think we can both agree that murder is about as clear cut a sin as any, being in the 10 commandments.*

Indeed.

Depending on how you answered the question above, are you saying that bearing witness to a "marriage" you feel is illegitimate is more morally objectionable than bearing witness to the murder of a human life?

The phrase "bearing witness" is being used in two very different senses. Until now we've been speaking about taking part in a ceremony, playing an assigned role in which to bear witness is by definition to recognize, to accept.

Witnessing a crime (and the deliberate taking of innocent human life is always a crime; no law purporting to legitimize it can have legal force) is entirely different. To witness the taking of human life can indeed be a pro-life act, in different ways, depending on context.

For instance, one can bear witness precisely as an act of resistance, or of witness to the truth. One can witness a crime without legitimizing it. One can be present precisely in order to take a stand of holiness against the evil being perpetrated. One cannot take part in a ceremony in the same way.

In the case of a friend or relative going for an abortion, I think I can imagine scenarios in which it might be possible to most effectively bear witness to the sacredness of the child's life precisely by the strongest possible affirmation of love for the mother.

In principle, in the right scenario, I can imagine the integrity of a Christian accompanying a frightened woman to an abortion clinic later helping lead her to repentance and healing, or even helping to persuade her to change her mind at the last moment. I find it harder to imagine a Christian attending a same-sex union ceremony having any helpful effect in leading to repentance or change of heart (though it could certainly have other positive consequences, such as preserving a relationship that could ultimately have salutary effects).

I can't imagine driving a pregnant woman to an abortion clinic, or helping her fill out forms, etc. I can imagine walking with her, holding her hand, hugging her, telling her I love her. I'm not saying it would work in every scenario. Hope that makes sense.

Apologies if this seems over the top, but working from the proposition that an abortion is murder let me put forth an alternate scenario:

Your friend John asks you to accompany him while he pays someone to kill his neighbor. Assuming you have not only made known your beliefs regarding the sanctity of life and done everything you can to dissuade John from his course, do you still accompany him?

Almost certainly not. For one thing, as you've described the situation, John doesn't need my emotional support. He isn't frightened and ashamed and desperate over something happening inside his body that he isn't prepared to accept. He isn't walking into a situation where he will feel relatively powerless and vulnerable to other people. He isn't placing himself in the path of people who may abuse him at a moment when he's most unable to defend himself. For another, he's breaking criminal law, and I probably have other options, such as calling the police, warning the victim, etc.

Or, a more likely (and much more "grey") scenario: Your friend John asks you to accompany him while he gives the doctor permission to unplug his elderly mother from life support. Assuming etc., etc., do you still accompany him?

I can imagine scenarios in which I might be willing to be present for this, yes. Heck, in that situation, I could tell him to his face, as he talks to the doctor, "John, this is wrong. You shouldn't do this." I can hardly say that to my gay friend at a same-sex ceremony.

In addition, I'm confused as to why it is more objectionable to pay heed to the importance of the "community" than it is to the individual. By that I mean, you say you would not bear witness to an "illegitimate" marriage because of the perceptions it might show to the rest of the community you maybe have not had a chance to voice your objections to, but you would be OK bearing witness to an (at least) morally objectionable act in "private." That seems to me on some level to be putting the cart before the horse.

It has to do with the nature of giving bad example and potentially encouraging others in sin, of "scandal" in the technical moral sense. In private, it is much easier to ensure that one's beliefs are known and to put one's actions in the proper interpretive light. In public, where "the world must construe according to its wits," we are at least somewhat responsible for how our public actions are likely to be interpreted by others, and the likely effects that this may have on them.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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You're right, I don't think my use of "passively" was the best word choice.

I'm glad we agree. Looking back, I hope my rhetoric wasn't too strong; I've been writing in haste, in between pressing commitments.

Not at all. Think no more of it.

Consent, at least in the sense of approval, no. Recognition or acceptance, yes. You don't have to think it's a good idea that the couple is getting married, or approve of the match; you do have to recognize the union as truly binding. That's the role of the witnesses.

Even though the old line "If anyone knows just cause why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, let them speak now or forever hold their peace" is often omitted from ceremonies these days, the silence of the congregation (or the guests / witnesses) is still a ceremonial act signifying society's recognition of the normative force of this union.

I don't mean to dig up skeletons or push any buttons, but you did offer without prodding the example of your father's wedding. You're saying you consent to that, but do not recognize it?

Here's the primary thrust of my "objection." And please note, I'm not objecting in a throwing-the-guantlet-down way. I am objecting as someone who has some personal experience in both witnessing marriage (and being married, for that matter) and accompanying someone to have an abortion. I'm not trying to call you out, I'm just seeing something that doesn't correspond with personal experience. But then, I'm conflicted over that itself, so I want to understand your rationale/moral guidelines.

Fair enough. Your experience in the latter regard exceeds mine, and I could be wrong. I've never been there; I'm thinking in the abstract, imagining a certain idealized scenario. In the real world, I don't doubt it would often not be possible to accompany a mother to an abortion clinic without tacitly supporting her decision in some way.

Indeed. And this is the "confliction" I mentioned. On one hand, I do not doubt what I did was the best thing to do in that circumstance. On the other, I view what I did as complicit in the act. I think of George Clooney's line in Three Kings: "The way it works is, you do the thing you're scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it." An imperfect analogy, but experience does not convey wisdom, nor "peace" for the decision.

The phrase "bearing witness" is being used in two very different senses. Until now we've been speaking about taking part in a ceremony, playing an assigned role in which to bear witness is by definition to recognize, to accept.

Witnessing a crime (and the deliberate taking of innocent human life is always a crime; no law purporting to legitimize it can have legal force) is entirely different. To witness the taking of human life can indeed be a pro-life act, in different ways, depending on context.

A significant distinction. However, I want to be clear. A "crime" is not a moral distinction, it is broken promise to society. Maybe we disagree here (I don't know), but a crime is not necessarily a sin. How do you mean a witness of the taking of a human life be a pro-life act? And does a formal "ceremony" imply more or less responsibility to the witness(es)? You state this as fact here, but what is your support for the argument?:

For instance, one can bear witness precisely as an act of resistance, or of witness to the truth. One can witness a crime without legitimizing it. One can be present precisely in order to take a stand of holiness against the evil being perpetrated. One cannot take part in a ceremony in the same way.

In the case of a friend or relative going for an abortion, I think I can imagine scenarios in which it might be possible to most effectively bear witness to the sacredness of the child's life precisely by the strongest possible affirmation of love for the mother.

Again, that's a statement, but not supported by any detail or even anecdote.

In principle, in the right scenario, I can imagine the integrity of a Christian accompanying a frightened woman to an abortion clinic later helping lead her to repentance and healing, or even helping to persuade her to change her mind at the last moment. I find it harder to imagine a Christian attending a same-sex union ceremony having any helpful effect in leading to repentance or change of heart (though it could certainly have other positive consequences, such as preserving a relationship that could ultimately have salutary effects).

To be blunt, I can. In the realm of imagination, you can't? In fact, you seem to contradict yourself in your own parenthesis there. Can you clarify?

I can't imagine driving a pregnant woman to an abortion clinic, or helping her fill out forms, etc. I can imagine walking with her, holding her hand, hugging her, telling her I love her. I'm not saying it would work in every scenario. Hope that makes sense.

It does.

Almost certainly not. For one thing, as you've described the situation, John doesn't need my emotional support. He isn't frightened and ashamed and desperate over something happening inside his body that he isn't prepared to accept. He isn't walking into a situation where he will feel relatively powerless and vulnerable to other people. He isn't placing himself in the path of people who may abuse him at a moment when he's most unable to defend himself. For another, he's breaking criminal law, and I probably have other options, such as calling the police, warning the victim, etc.

I'm not interested in "breaking the law" as much as breaking a Christian/moral commandment. Yes, we should subordinate ourselves to the law. But in the case of abortion - legal - we must act upon our conscience. If the country of our residence declares "lawful murder" legal, does that change our (as Christians) sense of moral duty? Does that make sense?

I can imagine scenarios in which I might be willing to be present for this, yes. Heck, in that situation, I could tell him to his face, as he talks to the doctor, "John, this is wrong. You shouldn't do this." I can hardly say that to my gay friend at a same-sex ceremony.

I submit that that might depend on how well you know your gay friend. And how well you each have a mutual respect for one another as humans and your beliefs.

It has to do with the nature of giving bad example and potentially encouraging others in sin, of "scandal" in the technical moral sense. In private, it is much easier to ensure that one's beliefs are known and to put one's actions in the proper interpretive light. In public, where "the world must construe according to its wits," we are at least somewhat responsible for how our public actions are likely to be interpreted by others, and the likely effects that this may have on them.

Agreed. But I don't think it is wise or beneficial to put that public consideration before the personal one.

"It's a dangerous business going out your front door." -- J.R.R. Tolkien
"I want to believe in art-induced epiphanies." -- Josie
"I would never be dismissive of pop entertainment; it's much too serious a matter for that." -- NBooth

"If apologetics could prove God, I would lose all faith in Him." -- Josie

"What if--just what if--the very act of storytelling is itself redemptive? What if gathering up the scraps and fragments of a disordered life and binding them between the pages of a book in all of their fragmentary disorder is itself a gambit against that disorder?" -- NBooth

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Consent, at least in the sense of approval, no. Recognition or acceptance, yes. You don't have to think it's a good idea that the couple is getting married, or approve of the match; you do have to recognize the union as truly binding. That's the role of the witnesses.

I don't mean to dig up skeletons or push any buttons, but you did offer without prodding the example of your father's wedding. You're saying you consent to that, but do not recognize it?

It was my mother's wedding, FWIW. And I'm not sure I follow. I didn't attend. I didn't recognize their marriage, and still don't (though that could change, as she is pursuing an annulment and hopes to become Catholic, as my father did long ago). Where did you get consent from? I didn't do that either.

On one hand, I do not doubt what I did was the best thing to do in that circumstance. On the other, I view what I did as complicit in the act. I think of George Clooney's line in Three Kings: "The way it works is, you do the thing you're scared shitless of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it." An imperfect analogy, but experience does not convey wisdom, nor "peace" for the decision.

Gotcha. I don't think I would ever express myself that way — if it was the best thing, then I wouldn't say I was complicit; if I thought I was complicit, I wouldn't say it was the best thing — but I understand your sense of conflict and the issue of peace for the decision.

A significant distinction. However, I want to be clear. A "crime" is not a moral distinction, it is broken promise to society. Maybe we disagree here (I don't know), but a crime is not necessarily a sin.

A crime isn't necessarily a sin, but it tends to be, barring mitigating circumstances. And the crime of deliberately taking innocent human life is always a sin. Anyway, I was speaking of "crime" in the fairly stable sense of what is essentially contrary to just law, which is always wrong.

How do you mean a witness of the taking of a human life be a pro-life act? And does a formal "ceremony" imply more or less responsibility to the witness(es)? You state this as fact here, but what is your support for the argument?:

For instance, one can bear witness precisely as an act of resistance, or of witness to the truth. One can witness a crime without legitimizing it. One can be present precisely in order to take a stand of holiness against the evil being perpetrated. One cannot take part in a ceremony in the same way.

In the case of a friend or relative going for an abortion, I think I can imagine scenarios in which it might be possible to most effectively bear witness to the sacredness of the child's life precisely by the strongest possible affirmation of love for the mother.

Again, that's a statement, but not supported by any detail or even anecdote.

I could unpack these statements, but I hope they're reasonably transparent. I offer them for reflection, for now at least. Perhaps in a few days, when I have more time, I'll comment further.

In principle, in the right scenario, I can imagine the integrity of a Christian accompanying a frightened woman to an abortion clinic later helping lead her to repentance and healing, or even helping to persuade her to change her mind at the last moment. I find it harder to imagine a Christian attending a same-sex union ceremony having any helpful effect in leading to repentance or change of heart (though it could certainly have other positive consequences, such as preserving a relationship that could ultimately have salutary effects).

To be blunt, I can. In the realm of imagination, you can't? In fact, you seem to contradict yourself in your own parenthesis there. Can you clarify?

I can.

What I mean is: I can imagine the consideration "You are a good Christian; you truly live your faith, and you exemplified your love for me by being with me even when I was getting an abortion" more easily leading to "I can't dismiss your faith and your witness" and finally to "What I did was wrong; I'm sorry I did it" than I can imagine "You are a good Christian; you truly live your faith, and you exemplified your love for me by being with me even when I was marrying another person of the same sex" leading in the same way to moral illumination and repentance.

Part of the reason, of course, is that I can easily imagine someone going for an abortion already having a deeply conflicted conscience, half-knowing already that it's wrong and feeling deeply guilty about it before even doing it, but feeling she has no choice, that she's trapped. (All of this is part of my ideal scenario in which I can most easily imagine finding it possible to go to the clinic. I can also certainly imagine many scenarios in which I would not find it possible.)

I find that assemblage of emotions — half-knowing guilt; fear and a sense of being trapped, of having no choice; gratitude for an act of friendship during a time of extreme crisis; etc.) much less likely in the case of a gay wedding.

All of that aside, however, for me the role of witness at a wedding, or at any similar ceremony, is what it is, and no possible psychological extrapolations could justify taking that role if I could not recognize what was being celebrated.

I'm not interested in "breaking the law" as much as breaking a Christian/moral commandment. Yes, we should subordinate ourselves to the law. But in the case of abortion - legal - we must act upon our conscience. If the country of our residence declares "lawful murder" legal, does that change our (as Christians) sense of moral duty? Does that make sense?

Certainly changes in the law potentially change our duty, in part because they potentially change our options. If I have the option of calling the police and having a killer arrested before he strikes, then I may well have the duty to do so. If abortion were illegal and I could have my friend's back-alley abortionist arrested before the abortion, that would certainly change my moral thinking, wouldn't it?

I can imagine scenarios in which I might be willing to be present for this, yes. Heck, in that situation, I could tell him to his face, as he talks to the doctor, "John, this is wrong. You shouldn't do this." I can hardly say that to my gay friend at a same-sex ceremony.

I submit that that might depend on how well you know your gay friend. And how well you each have a mutual respect for one another as humans and your beliefs.

You could say it before or after, but during the ceremony you bear witness in silence. The ceremony doesn't permit you to adopt an actively dissenting role.

At least, it's generally assumed no one will take such a role. I suppose it might be different if the officiant were to say "If anyone knows just cause why these two should not be joined…" and you were to shout out, "I do! The institution of marriage is a socio-anthropological universal by which an enduring union is established between a man and a woman as the privileged context for socially sanctioned sexual activity! Furthermore, homosexual acts are contrary to natural law!" Then I suppose my whole sense of conflict might founder. smile.png

It has to do with the nature of giving bad example and potentially encouraging others in sin, of "scandal" in the technical moral sense. In private, it is much easier to ensure that one's beliefs are known and to put one's actions in the proper interpretive light. In public, where "the world must construe according to its wits," we are at least somewhat responsible for how our public actions are likely to be interpreted by others, and the likely effects that this may have on them.

Agreed. But I don't think it is wise or beneficial to put that public consideration before the personal one.

I wasn't necessarily putting anything before anything. Just noting that the public presents us with certain constraints not present in the private. We can't account for or engage what the public thinks in quite the same way that we can a private group of a few close friends and family.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

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I think I can understand SDG's stance coming from the viewpoint that mothers aborting their children nine times out of ten have no idea it's murder. They don't know what they're doing and I don't know if there's really any convincing argument one can give in the thick of the thing.

At that moment they've made their choice, and they're not making it maliciously...if they knew they were allowing a living human to be murdered I can assure you they'd probably be not doing it.

Either way I can see what SDG is saying about being there for emotional support.

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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Justin Hanvery said:

:Either way I can see what SDG is saying about being there for emotional support.

I can completely see this.

One of the things our society largely fails to mention (or covers over) is the fact that so many women end up traumatized after the abortion with a troubled conscience. They so often need support through this afterwards. I know of church's that have helped women through this and prayed for their healing.

When we were in the charismatic movement my wife was once at a large healing meeting. She said that the minister in charge asked if anyone would like prayer for the inner damage caused by having an abortion. Tonnes of hands went up, and this in an environment and dealing with an issue where one wouldn't really want to put up their hand (note my wife's wasn't one of them.)

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Yep, it's a real concern of mine that so many mothers who have aborted are pretty much equated with murderers and treated as such. I think the rhetoric the Church uses here is very damaging. Our sorrow over the loss of life blinds us to the brokenness of those left behind.

"The truth is you're the weak, and I'm the tyranny of evil men. But I'm tryin Ringo, I'm tryin real hard to be the shepherd." Pulp Fiction

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Yep, it's a real concern of mine that so many mothers who have aborted are pretty much equated with murderers and treated as such. I think the rhetoric the Church uses here is very damaging. Our sorrow over the loss of life blinds us to the brokenness of those left behind.

Well. That pretty much gets back to the earlier discussion of our use of language. I think some of the same concerns and points would apply here.

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This leads to one of my questions as to the subject. Lets say that someone has been divorced and remarries. Yes scripture (and Jesus) speaks against this. But then we must consider God's grace in the matter, and in God's grace I don't think that a remarriage is illegitimate, especially if the people have repented of, and prayed through their earlier mistakes. They then have a clean slate and God in his grace is a God of second and third and fourth,,,,,etc. chances. Not that I think marriage isn't sacred. But where sin abounds grace superabounds.

I've seen remarriages that were/are incredible, where God is obviously working in the marriage and where the work of God is being revealed in the marriage, and where people, families, and children who have been broken because a previous divorce have been given new life. Where children now have more of a stable functioning family unit again. Etc.

I also know of people who have been guided to others and given the go ahead to getting married again by Holy Spirit.

God's grace is working in the new marriage to restore that which has been lost and broken. Holy Spirit is obviously active in, and blessing the marriage, so then it would seem obvious to me that this marriage is legitimate.

So trying to make a marriage work is of course ideal and something to try and maintain. But what about extreme abusive situation etc. Is it God's will for the wife to be in the marriage when the husband is hopelessly abusive (see the movie Tryrannosaur.) Can't God's grace give her a new chance at a better life and marriage.

In my understanding of Grace I think this is entirely possible. In fact I think this is one of the points of grace, that's one of the ways that grace works.

This entire post resonates with me. I don't know any of the official lines. But in my mind, from wishful thinking and above all, the travesty of a God whose mercy would not surpass human reckoning and understanding, some questions have to remain open. Hope has to spring eternal. To use your fictive example, if marriage is a permanent covenant, the union in Tyrannosaur isn't a marriage. It's an unholy alliance, a hurting field. It's not procreative (I think Hannah may imply that his brutality is literally why she can't conceive, but if that's not the biological truth it's certainly the moral truth. Imagine a little girl with that father.) And it's certainly not unitive (over and over, it takes the prelude of tenderness - a husband watching his wife sleep or pressing his body close - and wreaks loathing and self-loathing. ) Sex is rape, nurture is torture, anticipation is dread. I can't fathom that the sacramental nature of matrimony feeds on human souls. And I have to believe that every hard and fast rule - about sin and damnation, victimhood and repentance, second chances at wholeness and refuge - is God's to transform and mediate, not just ours to impose. My faith very much depends on that.

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I'm glad. I actually prayed that it would resonate for whom it could. Grace superabounds over the hard and fast rules. Not that there aren't guidelines for us to live by, but grace is another thing. It flows out of a love that is greater than the rules. It gives us second and third .... chances and leads us on to a fullness of life, inspite of (even because of) our failures. In it God says, "My love is bigger than your sin", and your life can move on to be incredible.

It's one of the elements that makes Christianity different from most of the other world religions.

Without grace we're doomed to be trapped in the consequences of our sin (missing the mark.) But that's not what God wants for us. Without this we can never heal and move on to being the people and society that God wants us to be.

This grace is what can help one to heal from the consequences of their previous marriage. Marrying again can be part of this healing process, where God shows that his love is greater than their sin.

After all our sin has been taken away for all time at the cross.

Edited by Attica
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