Monday, February 22, 2010

With My Body, I Thee Worship

In light of this previous post, I am thinking of another post, from my old blog, which I originally posted in September of 2006 (and which, in turn, was adapted from an entry in my 'paper journal' from May of 2003). It also seems to fit with the fact that we are newly embarked upon Lent, and six weeks of spiritual contemplation, leading up to Easter.

I've never re-posted anything before (is this a sign of having 'jumped the shark'?), but having a new blog, and a few new readers who might not have seen all of the 'old stuff' (and who might be disinclined to go poking around an old 'dormant' blog), it seems I am afforded an opportunity, once in a blue moon, as it suits my purposes, to reprise some of my best 'old stuff'. . .


A while back, a phrase came into my mind (phrases do that to me, from time to time; it's my cross to bear), and it hasn’t left me alone ever since. I think it’s from an old form of the Anglican wedding service (incredibly geeky, I know, but what can I do?). Anyway, at one point during the vows, the bridegroom says to the bride: “With my body, I thee worship.”

With my body, I thee worship.

There is a real depth there, a real richness, that goes beyond merely “I love you,” or even, “I want to have a life and a family with you,” although those things are certainly included in it. It captures very well how I feel about my wife, and how I aspire to have my life be joined to hers.

On multiple levels, sex is an act of worship – Catholics would invoke the grace of the sacrament of Matrimony. But in a simpler, earthy sense, I can simply say that I mean to worship Jen. Not, obviously, in the same sense in which I worship God – I would mean something like ‘reverence’, or ‘venerate’, or ‘honor’ or ‘esteem’, but none of those words capture the full sense of what I mean the way that ‘worship’ does. Jen is worthy of veneration, just like, say, Catholic theology would say the saints are worthy of veneration, but she is the saint whose life is bound up with mine.

GK Chesterton wrote that being constrained to one woman was a small price to pay for the privilege of having even one woman, and that sense of reverential gratitude resonates deeply with me. Getting to know Jen – really know her – is like being let in on a great mystery. As a Christian, I want to go “further up and further in” (to borrow a phrase from CS Lewis) – grow deeper in my love of God, and give myself more fully to Him. In an analogous way, I want to ‘go deeper’ in our marriage, and the life we have together. I want to know her better, be known better by her, give my life more fully to her; and that begins to get at the ‘worship’ I aim to give her.

In Holy Communion, Catholics believe that we receive Christ directly into our bodies (there is a very earthy aspect to Catholic theology that I find immensely appealing). In an analogous way, we give ourselves, and receive each other, directly into our bodies when we make love, under the covering of the sacrament of Matrimony. It’s all so rich, I can scarcely say what I really mean. With my body, I thee worship.



  1. Good stuff, Craig. I have nothing to add!

  2. I won't comment on the theology - as if I'd have anything worthwhile to add - but I will say that if re-posting old stuff is a sign of jumping the shark, then I might qualify as the Evel Knievel of the blog world.

  3. Cocotte - Thanks. . .

    Suldog - Well, I didn't mean you had jumped the shark. . . Heck, you do the re-posting thing so well, yours is one of the main places where I saw that re-posting can work. . .

    And I can recall Evel Knievel jumping over all sorts of things - buses, fountains, canyons (OK, he didn't exactly jump over the canyon; more like into it) - but no sharks that I can think of (unless they were swimming in the fountain. . .)

    And I'm not so sure you've got nothing worthwhile to add; I've seen how you talk about YOUR WIFE. . .

  4. Just FYI, in case you're curious, the phrase comes from the traditional Catholic rite of marriage (which is not to say that it's not also said in an old Anglican form - I don't know). In any case, it was one of the casualties of the post VII reforms.

    "With this ring I thee wed; this gold and silver I thee give; with my body I thee worship; and with all my worldly goods I thee endow."

  5. Thanks, John. That really is beautiful.

    (*ahem*) I just remember it being in an old episode of 'All Creatures Great and Small'. So I don't suppose it would be terribly surprising if the Anglicans held onto the traditional Catholic form. . .

    And in this case, I won't object at all if you want to put scare quotes around 'reforms'. . . ;)

  6. A geek comments:

    Yep, it's from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, revised several times since and so now only appearing in old episodes of "All Creatures" or in Royal Weddings.

    It would have followed the Catholic liturgy, since Anglicans were Catholics that faced Canterbury to genuflect, rather than Rome :)

    But I was delighted by your post. As United Church believer (in Canada, a union of all the Methodists, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists) who just remarried to a woman who teaches Tantric Buddhism, we used the ancient formula for many of the reasons you write about so movingly ... to incarnationally and sacramentally 'ascribe worth' to one another with our bodies. Pretty powerful stuff, and not as outdated as we sometimes think.

    Thanks for the post.

  7. TM - Yeesh; I just noticed your comment, from two months ago. . . Thanks for stopping by. . .

    One geek to another, thanks for the info on the 1662 BCP. . . Just for the sake of saying so, I spent many of my formative years as a Congregationalist, and one whole branch of my family is descended from a Canadian Congregationalist minister. . .

    And I agree - the 'ancient wisdom' doesn't get nearly the credit it deserves, these days.

    Your wife teaches Tantric Buddhism? Lucky man. . . ;)

    (I'm tempted to say that the ToB is akin to 'Catholic Tantra', but I don't think it quite translates that way. . .)