The writer and playwright Alan Bennett has written simply and touchingly of the marriage of his parents Walter and Lilain in the early hours of the morning in a Leeds church with only the vicar and witnesses present.
Walter was a butcher at the local Co-op, and when he requested time off so that he could be married, it was refused; the only way forward was for him to secure a 15 minute leave of absence so that the principle part of the service could be undertaken early and the pronouncement of the marriage lawfully declared immediately at 8 o’clock, giving Walter just enough time to kiss hiss bride, and jump on his bicycle to arrive in the shop just before his leave of absence expired.
Notwithstanding the time constraints, Walter and Lillian would have heard the full majesty of the opening lines of the Marriage Ceremony, lines which their famous son came to love, as he later became a significant member of the Prayer Book Society
DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this Congregation, to join together this man and this woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men’s carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ’s body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.
Walter and Lillian’s marriage lasted a lifetime.
Brother Ivo could not help but bring the simple integrity of this story to mind as he awoke to learn of the “ mass wedding” which occurred live on television during last nights Grammy Awards, when 34 couples, some gay, some straight, were brought into marital union by a rap singer, Queen Latifah, who had been temporarily appointed as a Marriage Commissioner for the occasion.
The couples had been recruited by a casting agency and sworn to secrecy so that their families and friends knew nothing about it until they were shuffled into the television schedule, so that a bunch of self regarding celebrities might preen and offer themselves congratulations at their liberal outlook and ground breaking innovation.
The President of the Recording Academy said “I think it was as elegant and meaningful and powerful as we wanted it to be”.
Well, in the country of the Elvis impersonator Wedding Chapel, one supposes that this passes for “elegant and meaningful”, although in future one wonders whether those who were brought in as extras for this purpose will still look back on it in that way.
Brother Ivo wondered what might have happened had someone smuggled a canine pair into the proceedings and whether anyone might have raised an objection that this was a step too far in demeaning the solemnity of the occasion or would that, too have been welcomed in as evidence of progressive thinking.
Brother Ivo specifically makes clear that whilst he did not and does not support the redefinition of marriage, his criticism of this event stands independent of that debate which has been resolved and is settled law. He should also clarify that he is one of a minority of participants in the debate who does respect gay Civil Partnerships and has actually cast a vote in favour of such unions being blessed within an appropriately structured Anglican Service.
His problem with last night event centres upon seriousness, an aspect that eluded the imagineers of last night’s events, who evidently think that nothing says “reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly,” like a wedding, shoehorned into an awards ceremony, in the absence of all who love and care for you, conducted by a here today gone tomorrow “Minister’ who gave you no preparation and would pass you in the street tomorrow without a flicker of recognition – except they are all to grand to walk the streets that you frequent ( they have people who do that sort of thing for them).
So what next year?
What could possibly top this year’s extravagant celebration of all the great things Liberalism stands for?
Brother Ivo has an even more ground breaking suggestion.
Why not have an even more “edgy” celebration of a Constitutional Right which these Hollywood/Music Industry folk have fought to establish and extend for years.
It is a Constitutional Right, the reality of which has never been shown on television before. It will change hearts and minds in ways that this one could only dream about.
It is a right which their liberal President has repeatedly supported and one which they will doubtless be very proud to have “ out there”, “in your face” and “loud”. If you don’t like it “Deal with it!”>
Next year, lets show and celebrate live on screen for all to see , the world’s first celebrity partial birth abortion.