Thinking Anglicans

weddings, baptisms, blessings

The Church of England announced that it welcomed couples who already had children to get married. Last week, the Bishop of Wakefield explained this in an article in the Church Times Why the Church needs to welcome new weddings.

Now the Church is turning its attention to extending an extra welcome to couples with children, following Archbishops’ Council’s Weddings Project research in Bradford and Buckinghamshire, which found that one in five couples who come to church for a wedding already have children, together or from a previous relationship.

Nick Nawrockyi had a letter to the editor in the same issue, questioning the logic.

The House of Bishops stated in 2005: “Sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively.” What the Church is now saying is that we can offer you liturgical provision celebrating the fact that you’ve had children before marriage, but only because you’re heterosexual…

Meanwhile, Colin Coward wrote Civil Partnerships and gay marriage in England – the church’s nemesis. He concludes:

I think the conservative groups holding the church to ransom on gay blessings and the ordination of women bishops are doing untold harm to mission and evangelism in this country. The arguments for a change in teaching are as strong as those in favour of the abolition of slavery, the ordination of women, the acceptance of divorce and contraception. Change in teaching and practice is driven by Gospel imperatives of love and justice.

The general population and the majority of CofE members have got there more quickly than the senior bishops. The bishops are being held to ransom by the demands of other Provinces in the Anglican Communion and conservative pressure groups in the UK and North America.

The recent interventions by the Archbishop of Canterbury and even more so by the Bishop of Durham have been disastrous for the Church of England, alienating it even more from the people inside and outside our churches. People yearn for spiritual resources, creative worship, integrity in leadership and truthfulness in preaching and teaching. They perceive the church to be prejudiced and dishonest.

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Christopher ShellBillyDChirstopher ShellFather Ron SmithGöran Koch-Swahne Recent comment authors
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Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“Questioning the logic” indeed.

There isn’t one.

Una Kroll
Guest

Thank you, Colin. ‘A voice crying in the wilderness’, maybe but a very welcome one. I am appalled by the thought of a two track Anglican Communion on theological grounds. We are not saved by our ‘works’, our lifestyles, but by faith which is a gift from God. Women used to call out: ‘ordain us or stop baptising us’: The was good theology. The idea that you and I cannot ‘represent’ the Church denies God’s loving gift of ‘new life in Christ’. What have we come to? Love and support from Una.

brenda harrison
Guest
brenda harrison

My partner and I, both evangelicals, registered our Civil Partnership last week. Of our 28 guests, 5-6 do not attend church, three were LGBT Christian activists, the rest `ordinary’ faithful worshipppers, including six 70-80 year old `traditionalists’ from the `8 o’clock’ BCP community at the local conservative evangelical mega church, plus our Rector. Hardly rabble rousers. We will have our blessing and big celebration next spring, when health permits. Our guests could not comprehend the fact that this will be not be permitted in our parish church, and that the clergy may not bless us `in case people get confused… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Sir, — This is a fuss about nothing. What the parents have been up to is of no significance in baptising a child. If they want to marry, and they want their child baptised, we should welcome them with open arms, as the law requires us to. Some of us have been doing it for years. If you close the door on people, you can’t be surprised when your church is empty.” – RICHARD HAGGIS. Letters to The Church Times – This is about the spirit of inclusiveness that should be a hallmark in the Churches today. In this simple… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

So – let me get this – uh – straight. It’s OK for the church to marry straights who have been intimate enough to produce a child or children,, and to at the same service baptize the kid[s]. In fact it’s the church recognizing changing social practice and mores, according to this bishop. But when gays want marriage, that’s a no no, the ABC says, because the only proper place for sexual expression is within marriage between a man and a woman, according to the ABC. Right hand and left hand should be introduced to each other. Where is the… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Until cohabitation was outlawed in Sweden in 1918 by the so called (very much “so called”) “Children’s Laws”, it was the Custom of the Land from Times immemorial and perfectly legal.

The Church of England only introduced the “virginity” of the Bride as a “requirement” in the 1750ies…

“Sexual Morality” is largely a late pre Modern to Modern phenomenon!

Pluralist
Guest

I decided this morning that, no matter what I do as a free-floater locally, I don’t want to be associated with the Anglican name.

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

Congratulations to Brenda and partner !

And what a very encouraging tale of ‘everyday folk’ at an Evangelical parish church. How I wish I had been present to enjoy such an uplifting experience.

Health and happiness

peterpi
Guest
peterpi

“Where is the outrage from Africa over the first proclamation?” – Cynthia
The proclamation made no mention of homosexuality, therefore the Africans don’t feel the need to respond. After all, straights can be saved, GLBT people cannot. Therefore if you bring straights into the church, you have a chance of saving them by turning them into proper stiff-necked, blindered, narrow-minded stalwarts of moral virtue. GLBT people can’t be saved, so why bother?
… Or something like that. I lost my little red book of ++Chairman Akinola’s sayings.

Keith Kimber
Guest

Last year, well before present media hoo-ha, a couple wanting to be married in our Parish Church said that had a son they wanted to christen. As they were non churchgoers, I asked if they wanted the christening and wedding in one celebration. Definitely not, they both responded. No, we want him to have his big day, and the wedding to be ours – meaning they were prepared to come to church twice in the same year, and for decent reasons which they’d thought about, not least two parties, presents etc. So, is my experience unrepresentative, or is there really… Read more »

Peter Edwards
Guest
Peter Edwards

What bemuses me – though it doesn’t amuse me – is the way the hierarchs try to play catch-up on the marriage of those who already have children, in order to look tolerant. It’s nothing new to join two liturgies together, though I did perform the marriage blessing before I baptised the child. In the same breath there are moves to legitimise a prohibition on the ordination of gay and lesbian clergy, with or without partners or civil partners, which has also been going on for years; and to pretend this is an innovation which will cause havoc in the… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“The marriage vows are some of the most beautiful and telling phrases in modern liturgy: “All that I have I give to you, and all that I am I share with you.” Marriage places the relationship between a couple into the context of a covenant. The sacramental act is not performed by the priest, but by the couple themselves. In that sense, it is a natural sacrament.” – Bp. of Wakefield, (article in Church Times) – So what’s different about the integrity of a same-sex Marriage/Blessing based on these parameters? And why cannot the Church get it’s corporate head around… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“So, is my experience unrepresentative, or is there really a target market for two-for-the-price-of-one sacramental celebrations?”

A member in my own family had planned to get married and then later found herself pregnant. The couple later had a wonderful wedding cum baptism. It was a completely unremarkable event. The baby is now 18 years old.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

At the marriage last year of my nephew and his partner (female) who had been living together for some time, the parish priest commended them and welcomed the fact that they had decided to get married because they now knew each other well enough to know that the union would be permanent. Again, a very pragmatic accommodation of what is actually happening. It won’t necessarily make church goers out of the married couple but it certainly made sure that everyone there knew that the church (or at least that church)is generous and hospitable in its welcome.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

Amnesty International have taken up gay marriage as a human rights cause in Ireland, but the paucity of reasoning behind their stance has rather alienated the public, who think that AI has been hijacked by flaky liberals. I think the glbt cause would benefit from much more careful reasoning and less subscription to puritanical American slogans such as “marriage equality”. Anyone who sees a difference between a male-female couple and a same-sex couple is dismissed by these propagandists, and their strategy is backfiring.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Spirit
The church marries intfertile couples and post menopausal couples. By its own definition, therefore, procreation is not an absolutely integral part of marriage and marriage has important goods beside procreation, such important goods, in fact, that they alone are sufficient to constitute a marriage.

That given, why should anyone see a difference between a male-female couple and a same-sex couple?

This has nothing to do with flaky liberals, whatever they might be.

Bill Moorhead
Guest

Why on earth is there all this fuss about marriages of couples with children (and sometimes including the baptism of their children at the same service)? This was Standard Operating Procedure in the middle ages.

Phil Swain
Guest
Phil Swain

Erika, marriage as an end in itself is what the Church is blessing. A childless marriage is no less a marriage as long as the couple engage in procreative and unitive sexual acts. By engaging in a procreative and unitive act(whether or not that act results in a child)the couple is fulfilling the two-in-one flesh commandment of God. Two-in-one flesh union is marriage. Which is why same-sex persons cannot marry one another.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Amnesty International have taken up gay marriage as a human rights cause in Ireland, but the paucity of reasoning behind their stance has rather alienated the public, … their strategy is backfiring.”

OK, SpVatII, I’ll bite: Citations? Statistics?

[And how the call for marriage equality is “puritanical” is beyond me: explain please?]

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Phil
Sex is (potentially) procreative when it includes the possibility of procreation.
Post menopausal couples can, by definition, not have children. Nor can knowingly infertile couples.
And yet, the church has no problem marrying either.
It really isn’t about babies, and using that as an argument against same sex marriages is never anything other than a smokescreen.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Phil Swain wrote: “Which is why same-sex persons cannot marry one another.”

You mean they don’t engage in two-in-one flesh union? Then, what’s all the fuss???

bob
Guest
bob

This is very silly. Who on earth expects an Anglican couple (ANY Anglican couple) to be continent? Barking up the wrong tree. This is what makes it so bizarre to see “Principled” Anglican clergy, even bishops, solemnly and “courageously” declaring that they will not celebrate any marriage whatever until same sex couples are allowed to marry. As though marriage was actually being *withheld* from some straight couple as a result! What difference would it make; fewer shacked up Anglicans?? Fat chance. Anyone who cared at all about marriage would surely care enough to seek it where it actually has a… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Two-in-one flesh union is marriage. Which is why same-sex persons cannot marry one another.”
– Phil Swain –

What a silly argument we have here. So you would say that people who are unable or unwilling to engage in sexual activity, but want to commit their lives to one another cannot be married?

This sounds a little naive – or at the very least, patronising. I suppose the very thought of the ‘Marriage Feast of the Lamb’ is just biblical waffle, then.

BillyD
Guest

“By engaging in a procreative and unitive act(whether or not that act results in a child)…”

a. If it doesn’t result in a child, it’s not a procreative act.
b. Excluding homosexual acts from the category “unitive” seems like special pleading to me.

Christopher Shell
Guest
Christopher Shell

Hi Erika- All kinds of relationships have the same goods you speak of. Polyamorists would say that their relationships do. Friendships – for sure. Where does it end? So why do people put marriage in a different category? First, because it is so much more popular than any of the above xpt friendship; second because it is also. generally speaking, a closer relationship than friendship. But mainly because mother nature herself puts it in a different category. The male-female bond is the one-flesh bond. Babies – who are quite literally a fusion of the two parents’ contributions from their own… Read more »

Terence Dear
Guest
Terence Dear

“A childless marriage is no less a marriage as long as the couple engage in procreative and unitive sexual acts.”

Phil Swain may not be aware that there were two forms of marriage since the earliest days of the Christian Church – marriage per verba de praesenti and marriage per verba de futuro. The latter did not become absolute until consummated. Marriage by verba de praesenti became absolute immediately – no sexual union was required and it always took precedence over marriage ‘de futuro’. The British Civil Partnership is marriage per verba de praesenti.

BillyD
Guest

“The only one-flesh act that nature has given us. And the root of each of our existence. What could be more important and more fundamental than that?”

I dunno – God? Salvation? Our common humanity?

BillyD
Guest

“The male-female bond is the one-flesh bond. Babies – who are quite literally a fusion of the two parents’ contributions from their own bodies – are the scientific/empirical confirmation that male-female sex is the one and only one-flesh act. Anyone who participates in it is therefore participating in the one-flesh act. The only one-flesh act that nature has given us.”

This would seem to put an act of rape resulting in a child on the same level as a marriage. Sorry, Christopher, but the whole “one flesh” thing has got to mean something other than fertilization.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Christopher
you have made a good case for infertile and post menopausal not to be allowed to marry.

Now if you would like church to continue to support heterosexual marriages that can, by definition, not result in children, then you have to define on what grounds.
And once you have done that, you have to define why those grounds can only apply to heterosexual couples.

But we’re straying from the thread of this topic, which is about having weddings and baptisms in the same ceremony.
Shall we go back to that?

Fr Mark
Guest

Christopher: “The biggest disagreement of all in these discussions – and I would value discussion on this – is between trad Christians who have the highest possible view of sex and revisionists who tend either to say ‘oh, it’s nothing but sex’…”

Careful, here, Christopher: how well do you know the history of Christian Europe? I don’t think many pre-Victorian European Christians had the view you ascribe to them at all.

Nick Lincoln
Guest
Nick Lincoln

First point: Christopher Shell seems to talk about the difference between trad Christians and revisionists. I hope he doesn’t include all gay Christians in the “revisionist” category, because he’ll find that a great many of them are in stable, monogamous and yes, sexually active relationships. Being gay doesn’t automatically make you promiscuous – which some people in the Anglican Communion would do well to remember! Second point: I wish the church would get away from this notion of having a monopoly on marriage. The Bible simply gives us the image of marriage from a very limited cultural perspective. There is… Read more »

pete
Guest
pete

The church should get out of the wedding business. Rather then officiate at the exchange of vows, clergy and the church should only be in the business of blessing existing unions where the witnessing of vows have taken place in a secular setting.

Rev L Roberts
Guest
Rev L Roberts

Wouldn’t oral sex fit the one flesh bill in somewhat fundamentalist fashion ? Of course, if we go beyond the concrete to imagination and spirit then human sexuality and imaginings are of infinite plasticity and joys …

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Babies – who are quite literally a fusion of the two parents’ contributions from their own bodies – are the scientific/empirical confirmation that male-female sex is the one and only one-flesh act.”

Babies = One-flesh,

One-flesh = Babies.

Tautology, Christopher S: try again.

Terence Dear
Guest
Terence Dear

Pete is spot on. We should go back to the pre-modern situation when marriage was a civil matter and the church blessing an add-on. That is still the situation in France. You have your civil marriage and then go off to a faith-based organisation to have the marriage blessed.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Terence That is also the case in Germany. But we need to look carefully at all the components of this. In England, the civil aspect of the marriage happens in the secular part of signing the register, which takes place inside the church and for which the State has empowered the priest to act as registrar. The church still says it marries the couple, and that it merely blesses a divorced couple who remarries. The key is in the different liturgy used for what the church believes to be a valid marriage and a mere blessing of a second one.… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest

Terence: the churches in the Nordic countries, as far as I am aware, tend to have the same system as England, where the priest fills in the register for the state. They are still able to incorporate dealing with same-sex couples rather better than has happened so far in England. The material I’ve posted up here http://viaintegra.wordpress.com/
gives quite a bit of detail on this already, and I will add more.

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

At this moment in the U.S., there is a big silly bro-hah about “rumors” of the President Obama not being “native-born” by the usual whack-job right-wingnuts. The wonderful tag to these types has become “The Birthers”. Now if we could just get beyond making babies a reason to couple and love one another. But that would make sense. Again it comes down to denial of the condition that humanity is in (too many of us on this earth to begin with), against an outdated conception (sorry about the pun) that we’ve got to keep breeding to bring the Second Coming… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Choirboyfromhell

“The wonderful tag to these types has become “The Birthers”

What does it mean?

BillyD
Guest

“The church still says it marries the couple…”

Surely not. The couple are the ministers of the sacrament, and the priest merely there as the Church’s representative and to bless the union, but the Church doesn’t marry them – they marry each other. I have never heard any Western priest argue otherwise (it’s different in Eastern Orthodoxy).

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“trad Christians who have the highest possible view of sex and revisionists who tend either to say ‘oh, it’s nothing but sex’, ‘oh it’s nothing but what goes on in the bedroom’, ‘oh it’s only what people do with their genitals, nothing more’. There is a massive disagreement here. One lot treats as trivial something that is ultimately precious to the other lot.” Christopher, you have been posting here for at least three years. In that time you have read post after post by gay person after gay person telling of their high regard for marriage, that marriage is about… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

BillyD OK, the church accepts that the couple are married and affirms that in what is traditionally called a marriage service. At the same time, the state has given it the power to conclude the civilly binding contract that constitutes marriage. The point I was making is that in some cases the church uses liturgy that comes under the heading of marriage, and at others it uses liturgy that comes under the heading of blessing. Whichever way you want to call it, there are two distinctly different services. And people who point to Europe to say that the state should… Read more »

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“The wonderful tag to these types has become “The Birthers” “What does it mean?” It is not a name they use for themselves, as far as I know, but a shorthand label applied by people who don’t believe this junk. The birthers contend that the birth certificate in Honolulu is a fake [also, I suppose, the two contemoporary birth notices in the local papers]. They say that’s why you can’t take the original of it out of the archives…it would be revealed to be phoney. This is of course nonsense. The ‘birthers’ claim he was born in Kenya and raised… Read more »

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Erika: As I stated in the earlier missive, the term “Birthers” was sarcastically applied to a grassroots political action group that was trying to spread miss-information about the birthplace of President Barack Obama. The President of the U.S., by our constitution, has to be born in the U.S., and cannot be a “naturalized” (born elsewhere, but legally immigrated). The governors of California and Michigan are unable to become president because of this requirement. There is a silly claque of people trying to spread a rumor that Obama was not born in the U.S., and this action earned them the nickname… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“two-in-one flesh commandment of God.” Commandment? How did Jesus’s observation of “the two becoming one flesh” turn into a commandment? And how does this relate to Paul’s obvious and clearly stated attitude that marriage is a part of the Divine ecomonia whereby those heterosexuals who cannot control their physical desires may satisfy those desires with some kind of dignity and decency? Or with Jesus’s clear statement that “in the Kingdom, they neither marry nor are given in marriage”? This isn’t an argument for or against gay marriage, nor am I trying to degrade marriage here, just suggesting that you are… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

The Anglican communion accepted non procreative sex at the Lambeth Conference of 1930.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“The Anglican communion accepted non procreative sex at the Lambeth Conference of 1930.” – R.I.W.

Oh, really? And can you tell us Robert. Has the Roman Catholic Church ever offically affirmed the process of ‘non procreative sex’ ?

What I do know, from press reports on the matter, is that a few months ago, a priest in Southern Italy refused to marry a couple who were disabled and unable to produce children. This did cause a bit of a stir among some Roman Catholics at the time, but we never heard whether the priest was disciplined by the Vatican for this misconception.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“The governors of California and Michigan are unable to become president because of this requirement.”

The UberGov for sure – current gov of MI?

The irony of course is that a few years ago, before California tanked, many conservatives, and I expect a lot of the current birthers, were all for a constitutional amendment letting naturalized citizens be eligible to be president.

That’s faded, and I suspect they realized it could include – GASP! – naturalized Hispanics!!!!

Oh the HORROR!

Almost as bad as a wise Latina on the Supreme Court!

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Billy C critiqued Erika’s statement “The church still says it marries the couple…”

This is the Law in Sweden and from 1915 the only legal Marriage is Adminstrative Law, not church: the Performer as an Agent of the State (which is sole acting Principle under Platonism/Byzantine State Ideology) marries the couple (and yes, there is a Byzantine pre history to Absolutism).

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Ever since the Formula Tridentina “Ego coniugo vos” was introduced in Prussian Law in 1794, there has been an (increasing) confusion in Germany as to the meaning of the church Ceremony.

For the first 3/4 of the 20th century, even, there was a doubling of it; the one ceremony was understood to be State, the second pretended to be “religious”…

;=)