The Anglican church has released a fresh statement on same – sex marriage, saying in effect – no change. A few weeks ago, the outgoing Bishop of Liverpool, Rt Rev James Jones, suggested that the Anglican church could consider offering blessings for same – sex couples. At present, this is officially contrary to Anglican church rules – but are widely practiced, more or less openly, in many local churches and at least one cathedral. It would have been reasonable to hope that the report by the Church Faith and Order Commission might have reached a similar conclusion, and indeed it does recommend that Anglican pastors must try harder to accommodate same -sex couples in committed relationships but that no, that should not include public blessings.
The Church of England has urged its priests to be more flexible in helping gay couples achieve a “closer approximation” to marriage.
A report by the church’s Faith and Order Commission – its doctrinal watchdog – said priests should “devise acco-modations” for same-sex couples in their parishes but stopped short of encouraging formal public blessings of gay civil partnerships.
At his blog, Bishop Alan Wilson has a superb response:
The Lion has Roared. The faith and order commission of the General Synod, no less, has uttered its mind on marriage equality.
Marriage is the faithful committed permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman central to the stability and health of human society
What would happen if we simply substituted “between two people”?
(And how will the church respond when, quite soon, British law does in fact simply define marriage as “the faithful committed permanent and legally legally sanctioned relationship between two people”?)
Well, very little has happened, actually, in jurisdictions that have done that.
Belgium remains, after ten years, a drably conventional place, where people are married and given in marriage.
In Belgium, Gay people are not forced to marry people of the opposite sex and pretend to be what they are not. A small number of them choose a life of marital commitment together. Er, that’s it.
But apparently this is what will happen in the UK:
When marriage is spoken of unclearly or misleadingly it distorts the way couples try to conduct their relationships and makes for frustration and disappointment. The reality of marriage between one man and one woman will not disappear as a result of any legislative change, for God has given us this gift and it will remain part of our created human endowment. The disciplines of living in it may become more difficult to acquire and the path to fulfillment in marriage and in other relationships more difficult to find.
Really? How would that be? Has anyone ever met any couple to whom this happened?
I agree that broadening access to marriage to include gay people and abolishing the unclarity inherent in forcing them to pretend to be heterosexual in order to get married can only reduce confusion, frustration and disappointment all round.
-continue reading this superb commentary at Bishop Alan’s Blog
- initial reactions to the CofE marriage document (thinkinganglicans.org.uk)
- press reports on new CofE marriage document (thinkinganglicans.org.uk)
- Gay marriage does not limit others’ rights (pantagraph.com)
- Irish bishops and gay marriage (news.queerchurch.com)
- Church of England rejects blessings for same-sex couples (guardian.co.uk)