As I thought it might be, Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at Saturday’s Royal Wedding was a cracker. It divided opinions, sure, but that is a better fate than being ignored or swiftly forgotten, as normally happens. Funnily enough, the sermon got the thumbs-up from the Guardian. But then as Brendan O’Neill observed, the sermon was, like the new Duchess, very political.
Curry is “woke” when it comes to matters like gay marriage. I have not researched the matter, but I doubt there is a single issue on which he is not “progressive”; and though we do not know that much (yet) about the Duchess of Sussex’s views, we can surely hazard a guess that she is absolutely “woke” as well.
While I appreciated the sermon – especially the way Curry made the wedding into an explicitly religious occasion, as opposed to a secular ceremony with religious ornaments – the political overtones of his sermon leave me scratching my head. For the truth is that love on its own is not enough. Listeners might have come away with the impression that human goodwill can save the world, by making poverty history and so on. That wasn’t actually his message, but listeners could have been forgive for thinking otherwise.
The world needs human goodwill, but – and this is the key point that the Church needs to keep on proclaiming – human goodwill will seriously go astray unless it has a profound understanding of God’s law. For instance, marriage is a good thing because it conforms to God’s law for the human race; and God’s law for the human race with regard to marriage is made clear to us through revealed law (the Ten Commandments), through tradition, and through natural law as well. Marriage provides us with a structure that gives form and shape to our good will; once that structure is removed, once we think goodwill alone can redeem any structure, particularly those of our own devising, then disaster usually follows.
The other thing that has to be said is the Law, natural and revealed, is part of God’s goodwill towards us, and not to be rejected as standing in the way of love. It cannot do so, for love and law have the same source, God Himself.
I imagine that Curry and myself would be poles apart on matters such as Natural Law, and God’s law in general. But there is no progress without reference to tradition and reference to law. God is love, and we find that love in tradition and law.
But let me end on a more positive note by saying that, as one born in Sussex, I am happy to have a new Duchess, however “woke” she may be.