We are Wed

Marriage is the first and the last Sacrament. Marriage predates the old or new covenant, expressed in the deepest intimacy between persons.

It seems to be the fashion to go back to genesis when discussing marriage these days. In Genesis 2 God makes Adam, and places Adam in Eden, meaning a place of fruitfulness, well-watered. A place of pro-creation.

Here is a relationship between persons. One God, is beyond all concepts of gender. The other Adam who contains all that would become Male and Female. Here is a relationship that is truly pro-creational, in the tending and growth of the Garden with the tree of life at its heart.

This then is the first instance of the sacrament of Marriage. Yet there is a gulf, even between Adam in innocence and God in perfection. Adam is still alone. We know the rest of the story, the parade of animals, the dividing of Adam, and how that gendering ultimately leads to the fall.

It doesn’t get much happier after that. I am not one to question God’s plan of salvation, but a reading of relationships in the Old Testament leads me to conclude that gender is not the solution to the need for deepest intimacy between persons. Indeed all human relationships, enriching and wonderful as they can be, whatever our gender identity, all fall short of God’s intention, together with Adam in the Garden of Procreation.

In the incarnation, we see something new. A person outside of human marriage and human sexuality. Yet a person who is fully human and fully God. A person who breaks down the constructed barriers of gender identity, in being, in life, in service, in sacrifice and in resurrection.

Which brings me to where we should have started to reflect upon Marriage. Revelation. The richest liturgical manual of the new testament, embracing all of sacramental life, worship and experience. The heavenly temple our absolute model for our worship on Earth. Here is the altar and sacrifice, here is the sea of baptism, here is Mary and the saints, here are robes and incense, angelic song, ecstatic response and wild worship. Here is New Wine and Walsingham wrapped up together and turned up to 11.

And in the midst of heavens cacophony of joy is the resurrected Jesus. “Clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.” Sorry for the KJV moment, but the seer of Revelation knows Jesus, and sees Jesus as beyond gender. The greek (translated as paps) is mastos – female breasts.

The resurrected Christ, the last Adam, is more like the first Adam, not the second sundered into male and female, but rather Adam who was alone in the garden of pro-creation with God.

I have no reason to believe that in the resurrection we shall be any different. Jesus himself hints on it when speaking of marriage – we shall be like the angels. The bible begins with a relationship that is truly pro-creational, full of intimacy, but which cannot be sustained. The bible ends with a great marriage feast between Christ and the Church that is eternal. Just like the first marriage this is a wedding without gender or biological sex, and with the tree of life at its heart.

In my New Church days there was a term that was popular – Kingdom Now. It was occasionally tempered as Now but not Yet.

This is where we are as persons who experience gender – it is an experience of lack. But we also live in a coming Kingdom where all that we lack shall be fulfilled. In becoming more Christ like we become less lacking, less gendered. It is in intimacy with God that we find that fulfilment.

Earthly relationships are all reflections of, windows into, Icons of Divine Marriage.

The life of two people committed to one another is marriage. The life of singleness is marriage. The life lived in community with others is marriage. The intimacy found in sodality or modality, monastic – new & old, even parish church, all is marriage.

We are all Wed.

There is a name for when an earthly reflection becomes the focus above a spiritual reality. When a temporal thing becomes obsessed over blocking view of the divine reality. It is Idolatry. The obsession over gender and relationships and sexuality, and in particular heterosexual marriage, has become an idol. We cannot see the fullness of relationship that God offers us, the fullness of being that God offers us, because of it.

This week we have prayed together, shared together, lived together. We are Wed. As we return to our own Icons of the Divine Marriage, however marred they may be, my prayer is that we carry something of that divine intimacy with us.

Marriage in its diverse forms isn’t easy, but it is the first and the last Sacrament.