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David's Mental Meanderings
2nd December 2003

In a surprise change of journalistic style, rather than save the surprise for the end, I'll lead off with an announcement. We are expecting our next child in early May. We had the ten-week scan and with great relief we saw the baby's tiny heart beat. It was still beating during a recent visit to the midwife. It's amazing how such a tiny little organ can be the focus of so much attention.

With the contemplation of a new life come the thoughts of lifetime potential. What will our child become? If he is a boy, he might work as a lawyer or a teacher, even become a priest. If she is a girl, she might work as a lawyer or a teacher, but she won't become a priest. She can't become a priest.

Some of my friends, both on and off this list, will think that I'm being old fashioned, out-dated, or even misogynist to make such a claim. Why, women have to be allowed to become anything a man can become! They have a right to it. Our society has finally become enlightened enough to realise this, after all.

If we have a boy, he can't become a mother. What? No argument? Isn't that some sort of man-hating view? No, because we have no problem realising that a male is ontologically incapable of being a mother, a sister, or a daughter. That is to say it is contrary to the very nature of his being.

When it comes to matters of theology, we often think that God is what we say He is and therefore acts as we say He does. In other words, if I believe that God makes some women into priests, then He must do it and they must be priests. The only problem in thinking that what I believe matters to God is that it means forgetting Who is transcendently above whom in the whole scheme of existence. However if, regardless of what some have been enlightened by modernism to believe, God has never made women priests, it doesn't matter what formulae are spoken by bishops claiming to act on His behalf.

If you come from a tradition (or anti-tradition) that doesn't understand the ordained ministry in terms of priesthood, we can argue about that some other time. That's not the essence of what I'm saying here and that's no excuse for you to stop reading. The point is that things aren't what they are because you believe that is what they are. They simply are. They simply are because God simply is. He defines Himself and He defines us, for that matter.

The only time in the Gospels when followers deserted Jesus over a matter of theology was when he questioned their understanding of ontology. When He said they must eat His Flesh and drink His Blood, they couldn't handle it - just like so many today. But it all comes down to what is really real. Are the wine and the bread real because we can see them and taste them and are the Body and Blood symbolic because we do not sense Them? Are we the source and determiner of what is real and what isn't?

Liberal theology wants to avoid the Fatherhood of God and the Sonship of God as masculine constructs. Surely God must be genderless Creator (well, as long as It doesn't mess with evolution) and Redeemer (though since there was no Adam and no Fall, we can't be sure from what we need to be redeemed). The problem is that mere infinitesimally minute creatures cannot just make God something He isn't. (Even if we were gigantic creatures it wouldn't matter. We are still creatures.)

The Father is a Father and the Son is a Son. The Son was incarnate as a male human with Y chromosomes and outdoor plumbing. He died as a male and He rose as a male and He sits at the right hand of the Father as a male. Eternally the God-man Christ Jesus. Liberal theologians can emasculate themselves all they want, but God is Who He is and He doesn't become who we want Him to become.

Ontology is why we as Orthodox have a bigger Bible than Protestants. The Old Testament is not Holy Scripture because the Jews believe it to be so. It is Scripture because Jesus held it to be so and thus the Apostles held it to be so. The Church is built on the foundation of the Apostles, because they got from Jesus what was or wasn't so.

This is why the Church for more than 1500 years universally held the Old Testament to contain those books which Protestants now call the Apocrypha. The Jewish canon of the Bible, or "Tanakh", was decided upon by a group of rabbis at Jamnia in AD 90. The rabbis were developing a reinterpretation of their theology in light of the destruction of Jerusalem. When Martin Luther rejected the Church canon of the Old Testament in favour of the 39-book Jewish canon, he was, in effect, saying that first century rabbis who had rejected Great Rabbi knew better than those who sat at His feet and were entrust with His Church.

The recent passage in the US Congress of the ban on partial-birth abortion has reminded me of the crux of the matter in the public debate over when life begins: it isn't a debatable issue. Life is not a linguistic construct that can be manipulated. It isn't something that is a result of belief. It just is. You do not become less than a human being just because I say you do. I can believe sincerely and completely that you do not exist. This does not change your existence.

Neither can you change the existence of an unborn child by legislation or by court judgment. Whether or not it is a child is not a matter of opinion. This is the great flaw in the idea that whether an unborn child lives or dies is a matter of choice. Somehow, the ability to understand this simple concept has been lost. No one except loonies like Peter Singer would suggest that a child living outside the womb is sub-human or that a two-year-old is less human than a twenty-two-year-old. But place that child inside the womb, or in the case of partial-birth abortion, outside the womb and in the outside world but for its head in the birth canal, and suddenly there is room for differences of opinion.

Finally, in the last few weeks we have witnessed attempts on both sides of the Atlantic to redefine marriage. In the Queen's Speech, the Government announced that it would "maintain its commitment to increased equality and social justice by bringing forward legislation on the registration of civil partnerships between same sex couples." They haven't called it "marriage" yet.

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court wasn't so hesitant. In Goodridge v. Dept. of Public Health they ruled, "Our laws of civil marriage do not privilege procreative heterosexual intercourse between married people above every other form of adult intimacy and every other means of creating a family," and further, "We construe civil marriage to mean the voluntary union of two persons as spouses, to the exclusion of all others." All I can say to them is construe away. They can give it equal legal privileges. They can call it "marriage" all they want, in judicial decisions, in statute books, or in a landscape of peonies on the statehouse lawn.

Marriage is not a creation of the state. Whenever the state does something other than reflect the ontological reality of marriage as created by God from the beginning, it is merely calling a spade a diamond. It can extend rights as far as the horizon. It can conspire with the Devil to rip apart the moral fabric of society. It can call good "evil" and evil "good". But whether in its manifestation as the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Her Majesty's Government, or any other civil authority on this earth, it cannot create same-sex marriage.

Back to my original point. I pray that our as-yet-unborn child will fulfil the potential God has for him or her. I always pray that our already-born child will do the same. I pray above all things they learn and remember that they are who they are only because God is Who He is. And may God Who is on His Throne keep them and preserve them always.

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