Thursday, October 21, 2004

Neither is their Matrimony Lawful

A few months ago, Jonathan Rauch appeared on Michael Medved's show to discuss his book Gay Marriage. In the course of a reasonably friendly conversation, Rauch quoted the famous opening lines of the The Form of Solemnization of Matrimony from the Book of Common Prayer (BCP):
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;
This was a version of the sentimental argument in favor of Same Sex Marriage (SSM). You've seen all the pairs of brides in white, the tuxes, the flowers, etc. More of an emotional (if one's emotions work that way) than a logical augment in favor of SSM.

Rauch stopped reading the formulary with the word 'Matrimony' because rest of the ceremony is not very supportive of SSM.

For the benefit of those Mods who're completely unfamiliar with the Western concept of marriage that existed for 2,000 years or so, here's the complete formulary from the 1662 BCP which is still one of the official (by Act of Parliament) liturgies of the Church of England [emphasis added].

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.

I REQUIRE and charge you both, as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgement when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed, that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, ye do now confess it. For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God's Word doth allow are not joined together by God; neither is their Matrimony lawful.

Now this ceremony may not speak to the peculiar tastes of Mods but it does tell us a great deal about the traditional understanding of marriage and its use has been a bit more widespread than the Apache Wedding Prayer.

The BCP wedding service has been controversial for quite a few years. Here is an excerpt from Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers (1937) in which Lord Peter Whimsey and Miss Harriet Vane are engaged to be married and are fighting over the details of the service with his sister-in-law Helen. As his mother (the Dowager Dutchess of Denver) records in a letter:

16 SEPTEMBER Helen obligingly presented us with a copy of the new form of marriage service, with all the vulgar bits left out--which was asking for trouble. Peter very funny about it--said he knew all about the "procreation of children" in theory though not in practice, but that the "increase of mankind" by any other method sounded too advanced for him, and that, if he ever did indulge in such dangerous amusements, he would, with his wife's permission, stick to the old-fashioned procedure. He also said that as for the "gift of continency," he wouldn't have it as a gift, and had no objection to admitting as much. At this point, Helen got up and left the house, leaving P. and Harriet to wrangle over the word "obey." P. said he would consider it a breach of manners to give orders to his wife, but H. said, Oh, no--he'd give orders fast enough if the place was on fire or a tree falling down and he wanted her to stand clear. P. said, in that case they ought both to say "obey," but it would be too much jam for the reporters. Left them to fight it out. When I came back, found Peter had consented to be obeyed on condition he might "endow" and not"share" his worldly goods. Shocking victory of sentiment over principle.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Tora Bora

John Forbes Kerry has mentioned Tora Bora and Osama frequently implying that not capturing Osama represents a major tactical and strategic failure.  His knowledge of geography and war seems a bit limited:
  • You can never guarantee the capture and killing of a given man.
  • We still don't know exactly where Osama was in November 2001.  Tora Bora, Pakistan, Iran, somewhere else in Afghanistan.
  • No one has or had enough troops to "surround" everywhere OBL could have been in the northeast mountains of Afghanistan (if he was there).
  • Even if OBL was up against the Pakistan border, he was not surrounded.  The Pakistan border was right there and on the other side was Pakistan's Northwest Frontier Province which is not under the control of the central government.  See bottom of this map.  He could have crossed at any time.
  • The US would have had to invade Pakistan to "surround" OBL.  They would have destroyed the current government there.
  • OBL may be dead.  So Bush's strategy may have worked.
  • Here's a free sound bite for the Administration:  "Osama bin Laden was never trapped in Tora Bora because he could escape at any time into the ungoverned Northwest Frontier Province of Pakistan.  Pakistan couldn't stop him and we couldn't have stopped him without invading Pakistan which is completely against US policy."