THINKING ANGLICANS

civil partnerships: Peter Selby

UPDATE The article is available on the Diocese of Worcester’s website.

The Church Times today carries an article by Peter Selby Bishop of Worcester. There is a report in the paper about the article by Rachel Boulding headlined Selby breaks bishops’ ranks which summarises the article well.
Sadly, the article itself is at present available only to paid subscribers. Update now available and linked. Meanwhile it has been quoted in part on titusonenine. That does not include the following excerpt:

It should be a source not of fear, but of delight, that many who do not aspire to matrimony, or to whose circumstances it is inappropriate, wish none the less to order their lives by means of as many of the aspects of the married state as are made available to them.

Is it not a vindication of all that has been revealed to us about the contribution of marriage to human flourishing that, often in the face of sustained public and ecclesiastical disapproval, and the presence of some very destructive lifestyles within the “gay scene”, many gay and lesbian people have aspired to order their lives in the kind of faithfulness and responsibility that civil partnerships involve.

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Simon SarmientoMerseymikeVincent ColesMartin ReynoldsMark Beaton Recent comment authors
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Merseymike
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Well said, +Worcester.

I hope there will be more to follow.

John D
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John D

Bravo +Worcester. As an American obstetrician who has gradually attracted a number of wonderful lesbian couples having children(who are greatly loved and supported) simply because my office staff and I are welcoming of ALL people, I salute any part of our Church moving beyond traditional strictures. Unfortunately, the unilateral US behavior in Iraq makes some of us reluctant to agressively support the Episcopal Church in its lonesome support of same-sex unions within the Anglican Communion. It’s a damned mess that only Our Lord can resolve. Pray, but don’t give up the good fight.

bls
Guest

I agree – very positive and very encouraging. The Rachel Boulding article is excellent.

Vincent Coles
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Vincent Coles

In his article the Bishop says “I find this fear difficult to understand, since nobody has ever been prepared to tell me that their own marriage was threatened by the public recognition of gay relationships.” It is rather telling that he should imagine anyone would ever say such a thing. The argument is profoundly secular and depends upon diagnosing irrationality in opponents for any force which it might carry, by way of analogy with “homo-phobia” – an alleged fear of homosexuality. It is therefore a profoundly disreputable way of carrying on debate even in a secular context, let alone among… Read more »

J
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J

Vincent Coles considers it unimaginable that anyone would say that marriage is “threatened by the public recognition of gay relationships”, and that arguments against this viewpoint are “profoundly secular”. Yet certain proponents in the USA have been loudly claiming that “The legalization of homosexual marriage will quickly destroy the traditional family”, and producing books such as “Marriage Under Fire” which provide “more ammunition in the battle against gay marriage”. Such arguments are made by politically influential Christians such as James Dobson. http://www.focusaction.org/articles/a0000003.cfm Personally, I don’t consider “diagnosing irrationality in opponents” to be a particularly secular approach but more of a… Read more »

Vincent Coles
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Vincent Coles

J, let me spell it out for you. By defining the debate in advance by claiming that an opponent is “homo-phobic”, or that a particular couple’s marriage is somehow “threatened” by the advent of civil partnerships, one is not engaging with the issues, simply reducing the discussion to an ad hominem form of abuse. An abuse which says “you have psychological problems.” That is what the old Soviet Union did to its political opponents, like Solzhenitsyn, who were sent for “medical” treatment in far away places. It is also how some bishops treat some people in their dioceses with whom… Read more »

Mark Beaton
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Mark Beaton

J: Dobson’s argument, which leans upon comments by U.S. Justice Scalia in Lawrence v. Texas, is really very straightforward: if marriage is defined, in libertarian terms, as a private consensual (freely entered) compact of human beings, instead of a religiously based, trans-cultural fact (i.e. a creation ordinance) then there really is no final argument against polygamy, group marriage, incest or other consensual arrangements. This is not scaremongering but logical perceptiveness. If we find these ‘relationships’ unacceptable, that may be because of lack of familiarity with the mores of rural Utah or Saudi Arabia – but watch this space. Arguments for… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

No, Vincent, in common parlance, homophobic simply means ‘anti-gay’. Thats the way in which the word is used colloquially.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Civil marriage, Mark, is definitively not religiously inspired – no religious symbolism or content is allowed within those marriage ceremonies. Civil marriage is not the concern of religionists.

As far as the rest of the points are concerned, the usual scare tactics.

Mark Beaton
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Mark Beaton

Merseymike, I was writing on the meaning of marriage as a Catholic Christian, not a secularist. Catholics recognise ‘civil marriage’ as real marriage, even if God’s name is not invoked. It doesn’t make any difference that ‘religious symbolism’ is presently forbidden in England; that will change as it has in Scotland, where humanists can now perform marriages with their own ‘vows’. Civil marriage developed in Britain out of Christian marriage, so it *is ‘religiously inspired’. This will change further as (barring a miracle) Christianity largely disappears from Britain in the next 30 years or so (as it did in North… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

Humanists can, but that is because humanism is not Christian. The churches themselves are those who most want to keep civil marriages and religious content separate, no doubt to keep them ( the churches) in business – theres money to be made out of weddings. Simply because something ‘developed’ from an original does not mean its meaning does not change over years – civil marriage is now completely separate from church marriage. Otherwise, atheists would not be able to get married. The secular arguments against polygamy would be based on the rights of women, and as far as incest is… Read more »

Vincent Coles
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Vincent Coles

MM, I rather think that Dr Fraser uses the term “homophobia” in precisely the sense which I indicated.

Not that even colloquial misuse justifies a term of abuse which is arguably meaningless.

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

No, I don’t think he does. And it isn’t ‘misuse’, merely that the meaning of the word has changed – a bit like ‘gay’ ( an aside ; notice how conservatives always use ‘homosexual’!). Far from being meaningless, it describes the position of those who wish to impose anti-gay attitudes upon gay people. As the Religious Tolerance website explains: http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_phob.htm Homophobia – engaging in a behaviour aimed at restricting the human rights of persons who have a homosexual orientation and/or who engages in homosexual behaviour. This behaviour can take many forms: signing a plebiscite; sending an Email to one’s senator… Read more »

Vincent Coles
Guest
Vincent Coles

My point exactly – it is used as a term of abuse to prevent free discussion of the issues involved.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

We are wandering off the point again: if you want your comments published, relate them clearly to what Peter Selby said.

Vincent Coles
Guest
Vincent Coles

Peter Selby said, “I find this fear difficult to understand, since nobody has ever been prepared to tell me that their own marriage was threatened by the public recognition of gay relationships.” This fear only exists in Peter Selby’s imagination, but it is used like the implied psychological implications of “homophobia” as a device by which to propel a rather unconvincing argument. It is the institution of marriage which is threatened by New Labour equating it with something which is not, in the understanding of classical Christianity, marriage at all. On the contrary, the relationships which New Labour seeks to… Read more »

Merseymike
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Merseymike

But marriage is not primarily the property of ‘classical Christianity’. The majority of marriages in the UK are civil, and I see no reason at all why couples would not opt for marriage, nor why marriage as an institution would be in the least threatened, unless you have a vision of marriage which isn’t shared by the bulk of those who enter it. Personally, I think you must view marriage as a very weak institution, if you think that giving rights and responsibilities to gay couples is going to have such a devastating effect on marriage. ‘Oh, we can’t possibly… Read more »

Vincent Coles
Guest
Vincent Coles

You have missed the point altogether MM. Christian marriage is very much the property of the Church. Nowhere else in the UK are religious vows exchanged by husband and wife at the solemnisation of the union, celebrated in a rite which speaks unmistakeably about the intention of the ceremony as a Christian commitment to one another and to the possibility of procreation. The intention of some, evidently including the New Labour machine (to judge from the debates reported in Hansard) and the Bishop of Worcester is to equate Christian marriage with other forms of relationship, including the newly devised civil… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

‘Christian’ marriage is no different to any other sort of marriage, in legal terms, and most marriages do not take place in CofE churches. Hence, if we are talking about ‘marriage’, then it is the civil institution which is what the State has involvement with. The CofE has involvement as a result of establishment, but for the State, marriage is not an exclusively Christian institution. I wonder , if all those marrying in church were asked, whether they would have the same interpretation as you? Or did they marry in church because they liked the building and the DVD would… Read more »

Vincent Coles
Guest
Vincent Coles

MM, It’s a free country, for the time being at least, and people are free to have whatever civil ceremonies the state devises for them, or they devise for themselves. No one is obliged to have a Church wedding, which is the context here, since we are discussing the Church of England bishops’ response to the Civil Partnerships Act, and in particular the views expressed by one Church of England bishop. If someone chooses a Church wedding, then it is a requirement that the order of service is either the BCP, or one of those authorised as alternatives in more… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Actually, no, Vincent. This is not the issue. No-one has suggested that Civil Partnership ceremonies will take place in churches. There has been some discussion on what sort, if any, prayer or blessing could take place in addition to the civil ceremony, but thats all. The question of church weddings is, thus, something of a red herring. However, I think you really should get real. I know quite a few people who have had church weddings in recent years. Not one of them is anything like a committed Christian, and all chose that option for aesthetic reasons alone. I wasn’t… Read more »

Vincent Coles
Guest
Vincent Coles

MM, you are very quick to dismiss the motives of your friends. Can it be that you are ALWAYS right and that you know even better than they do what brought them to choose a church wedding, and to make the vows which are required? In any event it is the wedding service which defines what the Church believes about marriage, not the private opinion of any individual bride or groom. So far as coercion is concerned, the Church of England is now legally required by New Labour to perform weddings for those who have legally changed their gender on… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Actually we did press the government very hard when it came to excluding religious premises from the registration of Civil Partnerships. Our arguments were persuasive and won the day on the floor of the House of Lords, even the lead bishop of the day (Oxford) had to agree, as he said: “In relation to that point, however, I have one or two questions to raise about the Bill. The first involves Clauses 2 and 6(1)(b), relating to England and Wales, and Clause 89, relating to Scotland. Those clauses would statutorily prevent registration from taking place in any premises designed or… Read more »

Vincent Coles
Guest
Vincent Coles

Martin, I shall be interested to see just how much pressure begins to be applied to all sorts of categories of private opinion within the Church of England when the new Clergy Discipline Measure is brought into effect in 2006. Not only priests who are prepared to defy the present policy in “Issues” and Lambeth 1.10, but a whole range of things which at present incur (impotent) episcopal rage. My estimate is that the House of Bishops wishes to create a much more homogenous Church of England and to silence private opinion much more effectively, not least because of their… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Vincent
I am intrigued by your “estimate”. Do you have any evidence at all for this assertion about the future intentions of the House of Bishops. I gather that you disapprove of any such move, so I conclude it is not wishful thinking on your part. Perhaps we should start a separate discussion thread about the CDM and its likely effects. It would provide some relief from the concentration on sexual matters, at least.

Martin Reynolds
Guest

Yes, Vincent, Wales does seem to be a different place. There does not seem to be the same hostility on a whole raft of issues that I see elsewhere. Here lesbian and gay people are openly present in all areas of church life while at the same time the views of those who have recently been dubbed “orthodox” are esteemed and valued equally. I recently gave a paper at a study day and those presenting the contrary view to mine are old friends and we complimented each other on our contributions and engaged in respectful dialogue on points we had… Read more »

Vincent Coles
Guest
Vincent Coles

Simon, Just to take one instance, the House of Bishops was very disappointed that their plan to upgrade the Clergy Discipline Measure to deal with doctrine and liturgy was turned down by General Synod, and a second attempt is being prepared. We have heard so much nonsense about the Church of England being governed by the Bishop-in-Synod, when in fact there is a titanic power struggle taking place as the bishops seek to assert control over everything. That is why the Archbishops’ Council has proved to be so ineffective: it is the House of Bishops which is driving the agenda.… Read more »

Vincent Coles
Guest
Vincent Coles

Martin,

Thank you for your description of Welsh church life. It sounds very inviting – but for the weather!

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

To an extent, though, Vincent, that is exactly what the present compromise (1991 ‘Issues…) amounts to. Few think it makes much logical sense, and it pleases neither reasserter nor reappraiser.

This current statement is much on the same lines.

Really, unless we are both prepared to accept the right of the two views to co-exist in the same denomination, which i don’t see happening, the only feasible outcome is to split.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Vincent Certainly the Bishop of Chester was upset last year by the synod’s rejection (due to the clergy vote 99 for and 103 against) of the proposals for new legislation to replace the Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1963. But the vote against that report in the House of Bishops was only 27 for and 12 against. Quite a divide within that house I suggest. I fail to see in any case, how that vote points at any episcopal intention wrt the use of the Clergy Discipline Measure, which as you well know does not cover matters of Doctrine. So how it… Read more »