The Task Force for the Study of Marriage has presented a final, 122-page report to General Convention that would separate the definition of marriage from its definition in the Book of Common Prayer.
The proposals include:
- Revising the marriage canon to remove references to man, woman, husband, and wife. The canons would instead refer to two people or two persons.
- Asking General Convention for a three-year budget of $45,000 to help the church “study and possibly respond to the changing realities in society and in our congregations that challenge marriage as the norm for adult relationships and what it means to be a ‘household’ or even a ‘family.’”
- No longer requiring that a couple declare belief in the definition of marriage found in the Book of Common Prayer.
The declaration reads:
(e) “We, A.B. and C.D., desiring to receive the blessing of Holy Matrimony in the Church, do solemnly declare that we hold marriage to be a lifelong union of husband and wife as it is set forth in the Book of Common Prayer.
(f) “We believe that the union of husband and wife, in heart, body, and mind, is intended by God for their mutual joy; for the help and comfort given one another in prosperity and adversity; and, when it is God’s will, for the procreation of children and their nurture in the knowledge and love of the Lord.
(g) “And we do engage ourselves, so far as in us lies, to make our utmost effort to establish this relationship and to seek God’s help thereto.”
The task force explains its reasons for removing the required declaration:
The present canon casts these causes in literally creedal form, as it requires the couple to declare that they “believe” a set of statements about marriage. This is to some extent problematical when one member of the couple may not be a “believer” at all or may come from a tradition with a different theology of marriage. It should be sufficient that the couple be instructed in, and understand the rights, duties, and responsibilities of, marriage as expressed in the marriage vows; and attest to that understanding as well as to their legal competence to marry.
The task force members write that their proposal “recognizes that, in addition to the three rites in the Book of Common Prayer, there are (or may be) other marriage rites authorized by this Church, either for trial use throughout the Church or for provisional use under the direction of the local ecclesiastical authority.”
The full text of the report follows.