A Powerful Wedding Sermon about Love

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The Right Reverend Michael Curry from the Episcopal Church (official name 27th Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church) opened his speech at Prince Harry and Meghan’s wedding with the words of Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr, who said: ‘We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we do that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world. Love is the only way.’

He added: ‘Love can help and heal when nothing else can. ‘There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will.’ Such power could be seen in the service, he continued, saying: ‘Two young people fell in love and we all showed up.’ He then added: ‘There’s power in love. Don’t underestimate it. Don’t even over-sentimentalise. There is power, power in love.’

 

During his speech, he said the word ‘love’  58 times. Sometimes in Religious Studies answers we see students writing love about that many times when they try to explain the choices of religious people. Firstly there is the famous quote from Matthew 22…

Matthew 22: 36-40

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

However students could also look in 1 Corinthians 13 to find information on the importance of love…

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Finally in Luke 10: 25 – 28 the Parable of the Good Samaritan has Jesus confirming to the ‘expert in the law’ that you should love thy neighbour as yourself…

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’[c]; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d]

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

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Going back to Michael Curry, he said of Saturday’s wedding:  ‘The love that has brought and will bind Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle together has its source and origin in God, and is the key to life and happiness. And so we celebrate and pray for them today.’

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Family Feud by Jay-Z featuring Beyonce

In December Jay-Z dropped the 8 minute video for his song Family Feud. About half way through the video it shows him walking into a Catholic church with his real-life daughter, rapping away—”Nobody wins when the family feuds”. It is a dramatic music video with a huge storyline at the start before Jay-Z starts his song.

There is some swearing in the song.

For us in Religious Studies it offers us some learning opportunities:

  • the song is about adultery and the importance of family
  • the scenes inside what looks like a catholic church let us see pews, stained glass windows, the cross, pulpit and confessional booth
  • Jay-Z asks Beyonce for forgiveness (“can get Amen from the congregation?”) and she gives him redemption by singing “Amen”

With Jay-Z inside a supposed Catholic Church what would those with that faith say about his admitted infidelities?

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The first part of the video is also interesting from a PSHCE angle too:

  • the start of the video has the year 2444 and the monarchy is in distress with the head of the family dealing with an upset and jealous brother.
  • when the queen is helped by her boyfriend, “Is that good enough for you?” she shows her own power by silently stabbing him in the back with a knife saying, “It’s my throne.”
  • there are co-presidents who are black and native American which helps us imagine that one day there’ll be racial equality in the USA
  • eight women sit around a table and rewrite the constitution in the year 2050, with the narrator reminding us that this is “a time when some thought that making America great was making us afraid of each other” but in fact “America is a family and the whole family should be free”.

 

Update on Humanist Wedding Win in High Court

Here is an update on a story we wrote about a few weeks ago, where a footballer and his model fiance had gone to the Belfast High Court in an effort to get their Humanist Wedding seen as legal without also having to do a registry office wedding.

Eunan O’Kane and Laura Lacole had told the court they wanted a ceremony that reflected their beliefs, but the only legal options available to them were a religious or civil service. And they won!

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Laura said, “Our humanist ceremony will speak to our values and the love Eunan and I have for each other in a way no other marriage ceremony could. We’re thrilled that our action has extended the same choice to thousands of other couples.” Unfortunately though, Northern Ireland’s Attorney General is now going to appeal the verdict, so Euanan and Laura can’t completely celebrate yet.

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Footballer tries to get a Humanist wedding which is legal without a civil ceremony

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Laura Lacole, a model, is marrying the Leeds United and Republic of Ireland midfielder Eunan O’Kane in Northern Ireland next month. The couple, both humanists, want a ceremony that reflects their beliefs, but the only legal options available to them are a religious or civil service. They have taken the case to the courts because they say it is discrimination under European laws protecting freedom of belief that as Humanists they’ve got to have a civil ceremony to make their humanist wedding legal. It is quite a big news story in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and a landmark case for Humanists wanting to get married there.

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To learn more about Humanism you can check out the Humanists UK website, as well their YouTube channel.

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Family Court Refuses to Grant a 66 Year-old Woman a Divorce

In the new AQA GCSE for Religious Studies students need to know about divorce. In the UK there is only one legal ground for divorce, which is that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The person who starts proceedings, (called the Petitioner) must prove that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by establishing one of the following five facts:

  • Adultery (spouse has had sex with another person)
  • Unreasonable behaviour (see below)
  • Desertion (spouse has completely left you for 2 years or more which rarely gets used in divorce proceedings)
  • 2 years separation with consent (you and your spouse both agree to a divorce)
  • 5 years separation with no consent required (you or your spouse might not agree to divorce though you do have to be living apart for this)

Out of these five the most common fact on which to prove the ground for divorce in England and Wales is Unreasonable behaviour. For this you’ve got to show that your husband or wife has behaved in such a way that you cannot reasonably be expected to live with him or her. If the allegations are particularly serious, e.g. violence, then one or two allegations might be enough. If the allegations are relatively mild, for example, carelessness with money or devoting too much time towards a career, then you might need five or six allegations.

Well, Tini Owens was refused a divorce from her husband Hugh Owens in the family court and so has now taken her case to the Court of Appeal. One of the three Appeal judges who is hearing her case, Sir James, said the judges would examine legislation laid down by Parliament and told lawyers: “It is not a ground for divorce if you find yourself in a wretchedly unhappy marriage – people may say it should be.”

In the first failed effort at getting a divorce Ms Owens had made 27 allegations about the way Mr Owens treated her, including that he was “insensitive” in his “manner and tone” and said she was “constantly mistrusted” and felt unloved. “The simple fact is that I have been desperately unhappy in our marriage for many years,” she said in a witness statement. “There is no prospect of reconciliation.” The judge though failed to see this as unreasonable behaviour.

What do Christians and Muslims say about divorce?

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Church of England still rejects same-sex marriage

The Church of England bishops have rejected the need to change its standpoint on same-sex marriages. A new report entitled Marriage and Same Sex Relationships after the Shared Conversations, by the Church of England bishops suggests new teachings on marriage and relationships should be drawn up to replace those introduced in the 1990s. It said, despite rejecting the idea of changing policy on same-sex relationships, that the new teachings should provide “maximum freedom” for gay people. 

The report also said there was “some support” in the House for the new document including “penitence for the treatment some lesbian and gay people have received at the hands of the Church”. Penitence means the action of feeling or showing sorrow and regret for having done wrong which is like repentance.

In England and Wales the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act was passed in 2013 and became law in 2014. It allowed marriage for the first time between gay people because the Government believed that it should not prevent couples from marrying unless there are very good reasons – and loving someone of the same sex is not one of them. The law stated that religious organisation were allowed to opt out of being forced to conduct same-sex marriages as part of human rights legislation which guarantees the freedom of thought, religion and conscience.