“All of one size”: Deaths, births and marriages
Why same-sex marriage should not divide the Church, by Alan Sell
… Though a man may be poor and in tatters and rags,
We know that we ought not deride,
But remember the adage, we’ve all got to die,
And six feet of earth makes us all of one size.
(“Six feet of earth”, Frank McCravy)
This highly moral and biblically aware ditty was recorded by the gospel singers Frank and James McCravy of South Carolina in 1927, and was popular throughout the 1930s. If death is a great leveller, so is birth. Certain obstetric modifications apart, we all come into the world in the same way; but here I am concerned with the new birth. It is a pity that the phrase “born again Christian” often signifies a particular brand of Christianity, for all Christians are, by God’s grace, born again and, in this respect, are “all of one size”. They are engrafted into Christ as branches of the vine, and called into fellowship with visible saints in the one Church of which Christ is the one Lord. As John Calvin said: “There could not be two or three Churches unless Christ be torn asunder – which cannot happen!” Paul, referring to the Lord’s Supper, said: “Because there is one loaf, we, though many, are one body; for it is one loaf of which we all partake”.²
But we don’t! The visible saints are divided at the Lord’s table by those who say, in effect: “Until you see eye to eye with us on major points of doctrine and church order, we shall not have full fellowship with you.” This attitude manifests the sectarian spirit (and let us not be the first to cast stones); it elevates favoured interpretations and practices above the Gospel that has made us “all of one size” in Christ, obscures the given unity of the Church, and hinders its witness and service….
Alan Sell is research fellow at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David and a visiting professor at the University of Chester
This is an extract from the December 2014/January 2015 edition of Reform.