THINKING ANGLICANS

Civil partnerships in churches: Archbishop speaks

Updated

Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports in the Sunday Telegraph that Archbishop says the Church will resist Government moves on gay marriage.

…Dr Rowan Williams has refused to be drawn on the issue publicly, but has broken his silence to tell MPs he is not prepared for the Coalition to tell the Church how to behave.

He told a private meeting of influential politicians that the Church of England would not bow to public pressure to allow its buildings to be used to conduct same-sex civil partnerships…

And in more detail:

…Challenged by Simon Kirby, the Tory MP for Brighton Kempton, to explain what he would say to a same-sex couple wanting a church union, he said that the Church is welcoming to homosexuals and permits its clergy to enter civil partnerships.

However, he stressed that it would not countenance weakening its teaching on marriage and said that it would not be dictated to by the Government.

But Mr Kirby said that the Dr Williams’s comments threaten to alienate homosexual churchgoers and would give rise to accusations that the Church out of touch with society.

“I hoped he might be more measured in his response and reflect on the cases for both sides of the argument more evenly, but he was very one sided,” he said.

“Public opinion is moving faster than the Church on this issue and it is increasingly in danger of getting left behind.

“Obviously it is a difficult issue for the Church, but it has many gay men and women who want to be treated the same way as everyone else.”

Doug Chaplin has written a detailed analysis of this story on his blog, see A politician’s PR, or, stitching up the Archbishop. And I have commented there.

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RonWilson
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RonWilson

How long do we have to put up with this archbishop. He has done a complete about face from his position prior to his appointment. Does he really believe that anyone will accept that the church is welcoming and inclusive when we deny to gays the same rights we offer to non gays.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“However, he stressed that it would not countenance weakening its teaching on marriage and said that it would not be dictated to by the Government.”

He actually said that? Someone as complex as Rowan William spoke of “weakening” the teaching on marriage rather than “changing” or “altering” or “adapting” it?
And he really had not understood that the Government would “allow” churches to be used for gay partnership celebrations but would not “dictate”?

Can someone confirm that this has been reported correctly?

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Bit of anti-gay backbone in the Archbishop? And so soon after Nicholas Okoh came a-calling? Some coincidence.

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

I think it is important to allow the Church to lag behind the State on this. It always has – I think the Church of England has opposed the majority of reforms of the law on homosexuality (section 28 repeal, equal age of consent) and only gave the most luke warm support to goods and services and employment protection and indeed civil partnerships. This is therefore unlikely to change and because of the Communion – the Cof E can hardly make unilateral decision making when criticising other provinces for doing so. To be fair other churches have tended to lag… Read more »

Drew_Mac
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Drew_Mac

I’m not at all sure that left to a desire to act together the CofE will EVER catch up. On women priests and women bishops the reactionaries have not, and will not change. They have dug their heels in and want their tail to continue to wag the dog. I don’t see the issue of gay marriage going any other way. If the Archbishop insists that the CofE will not change its mind on this one it will be the liberal conscience of the church that is silenced – and our GBLT brothers and sisters who will continue to suffer.… Read more »

Priscilla Cardinale
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Priscilla Cardinale

Mr. Nelson, I find it interesting that you stand ready to ask many, many people to sacrifice their equality and dignity in service of your (and Rowan Williams’ and, apparently, GAFCON’s). How does one come to the place where he feels confident in asking or telling others to sacrifice for another “10 to 20 years”?

sjh
Guest
sjh

A Lambeth spokesman said: “The Church of England is opposed to all forms of homophobia and would want to defend the civil liberties of homosexual people, and to welcome them into our churches.” I do wish the church could at least be honest about itself – in what ways has the church opposed all forms of homophobia? It has struggled hard to ensure its legal exemptions from equality legislation so that it can discriminate against LGBT people in all employment forms, not just clergy, it has opposed in Parliament most improvements in the civil liberties of LGBT people and calling… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Perhaps, being on the other side of the pond, I am not properly informed, but I was of the belief that the proposed act would merely permit those denominations who wished to to perform same-sex marriages in their houses of worship…that it does not force any religious group to do so.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

“Public opinion is moving faster than the Church on this issue and it is increasingly in danger of getting left behind”. Actually the Church has been left behind and is now in a position where it is dangerously disconnected from the people whom it aspires to serve. But the Archbishop should know better than to say never. It is a dangerous position to get yourself into. The Church will change its mind on this as it has done on many other things which once seemed to threaten its integrity and teachings. Its only a few years ago that initially a… Read more »

Lapinbizarre
Guest
Lapinbizarre

Just wait for all hell to break loose when they try to discipline a priest who conducts a church service – which will not be long coming?

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Here’s the event to which reference is made in the original news article
http://www.tonybaldry.co.uk/2011/02/16/tony-baldry-hosts-lunch-and-q-a-session-with-archbishop-of-canterbury/

Craig Nelson
Guest
Craig Nelson

In response to an earlier direct question I would simply state that I’m not asking anyone to delay and if the option was open I would prefer the action of the church of Sweden which as I understand it has full marriage equality. The C of E has got itself into a position where forward movement is unlikely in the current time frame. Personally I blame the collective leadership of the C of E and indeed the communion that have led us to this point. I still think it is important to press on towards civil marriage equality. I think… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Richard Ashby says: ‘Actually the Church has been left behind and is now in a position where it is dangerously disconnected from the people whom it aspires to serve.’

‘Dangerously disconnected’? I’m not entirely clear that it’s a priority to Jesus that his Church be completely in step with the moral and ethical positions of society at large.

Pluralist
Guest

Once the Covenant is approved, assuming the House of Clergy doesn’t stop it, then the Church of England will have a special role in not carrying out same sex blessings and not having equality in ministry because of the need to police the Covenant via its head person, the Archbishop of Canterbury. So it won’t be about 10 or 20 years, but the speed of Uganda. We Unitarians want to start offering our services now, and what is done can no longer be anything to do with the Church of England. If it wants to freeze up, that’s its business,… Read more »

David Keen
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David Keen

Given the track record of the current government in foisting half-baked policies on the nation at large, any individual or institution which lags behind government policy is probably doing the right thing.

Without a verbatim quote from the famously nuanced Rowan Williams, it’s hard to comment on this with any accuracy. Most of the ‘detail’ is Mr Kirbys comments, rather than Rowans actual remarks.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

The Church of England has NOT spoken on this matter. Rowan Williams may have. (Unclear)

Since when have archbishops of Canterbury ‘been’ the Church of England ?

The parishes and PCCs and ministers will not wish to be dictated to.

Shall those of the equality integrity be given our own flying bishops -who afterall may be short of work soon, when the Anglo-Papalist integrity leaves for the Ordinariate.

No wonder church attendance is dwindling when so many of us are so unwelcome or uncattered for on so many occasions.

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Rowan Williams is someday going to make a fascinating subject for a biography. The smartest, most spiritual and perhaps the most liberal man to be enthroned in Canterbury, he has been forced by what he sees as his obligation to preserve the church universal into a conservative, removed from the social consensus of the people of England, willing to turn Lambeth and the Communion into a faux-curia run by bishops. I hope he has been granting ongoing private interviews to a suitable biographer. It is unlikely that someone without access to his thinking during these years is going to be… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

I echo Pat and Lapin’s questions.

I can’t help feeling that the ABC is addressing what is NOT happening (that the government will “force” the CofE, even by-law-established, to perform CPs), in order to DISTRACT from what IS happening (CofE throwing around its Established Power, inc. in the House of Lords, to deny OTHER faith communities from performing CPs).

As ever: the BULLY plays “VICTIM”. Good Lord deliver us!

JCF
Guest
JCF

“‘Dangerously disconnected’? I’m not entirely clear that it’s a priority to Jesus that his Church be completely in step with the moral and ethical positions of society at large.”

If the “moral and ethical positions of society at large” ARE “moral and ethical” (i.e., GOOD), I’d say it’s *mortally* dangerous, Tim!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

What saddens me, is that the Archbishop seems to be saying that same-sex relationships – within the community of the Church – cannot even receive the ‘Blessing’ of the Church; which seems to beg the question of how he can see such relationships as viable, while at the same time denying them the Church’s Blessing.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

” I’m not entirely clear that it’s a priority to Jesus that his Church be completely in step with the moral and ethical positions of society at large.” – Tim Chesterton –

Jesus did though castigate the Pharisees for the religious obfuscation which dictated preeminence of Law when what was needed was Love. They hated that so much they wanted him crucified.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

To Ron and JCF: I’m not making any comment on the current controversy, I’m just saying that it is not automatically a bad (or ‘dangerous’) thing for the Church of Jesus Christ to be out of step with the mores of society at large. In fact given the metaphors of salt and light that Jesus uses, it might be a good thing. Salt is only useful to meat when tastes different. If it loses its saltiness it gets thrown away (I heard that a couple of weeks ago…).

Gerry Lynch
Guest

“I’m not entirely clear that it’s a priority to Jesus that his Church be completely in step with the moral and ethical positions of society at large.” Yes, but it’s surely a priority to Jesus that His Church acts morally and ethically from a position of justice? Keeping up with the times is a bad reason for gay equality. That’s right. But being just as we understand justice by the moral and ethical precepts of our time is a priority. And not abusing St. Paul’s words by deliberately underplaying the bits that remind us that following no legal code can… Read more »

CP36
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CP36

Millions of Anglicans all over the world would agree with and support the Archbishop of Canterbury on this. As for what will happen in 10 or 20 years time, nobody can forecast, not if there is a God who rules and reigns over the nations here and now.

Randal Oulton
Guest
Randal Oulton

@ Tim Chesterton: “‘Dangerously disconnected’? I’m not entirely clear that it’s a priority to Jesus that his Church be completely in step with the moral and ethical positions of society at large.”

Oh? That didn’t seem to be a problem in the Middle Ages.

Kahu Aloha
Guest
Kahu Aloha

The ABC stated “he would not countenance the weakening of the Church’s teaching on marriage and it would not be dictated to by the Government” ?? Excuse me, but I believe it is still the teaching of the CofE that divorced people with living spouses should not be remarried. I recall a number of years ago this same ABC presided at a “blessing of a civil marriage” (immediately after a visit to the registrar’s office to be civilly married)that had such semblance to a “wedding” that it was widely reported as such in the press. The groom was the Prince… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

Simon, I’m surprised. Not a single dissent of liberal consensus? Oh well, there’s always the Guardian’s CIF.

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

Yes – and he’ll be involved in the marriage of two people who have been living together for some time – but see, they’re ROYALS, not the hoi poloi like you and me.

Cheryl Va.
Guest

I think certain players have watched one too many “Yes Minister” episodes and developed the art of saying complex sentences which in and of themselves have no meaning.

To Love or not to Love, that is the question.

Not who to love, or how to love, or when to love, or why to love, or what at price.

Let GLBTs have loving nurturing relationships. It does no harm to others who also love. Love in one relationship does not take away from love in another relationship. In actual fact, those who love create “virtuous circles” that inspire love in others.

JPM
Guest
JPM

The CoE lost its right to speak of “weakening” marriage when George Carey and many of the other so-called “orthodox” decided to treat adultery as a mere faux pas.

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Gerry said, ‘But it’s OK. Your Evangelical grandchildren will attend my lesbian great-grandneices’ Catholic church wedding.’

Gerry, those who know me will know that I have myself attended the lesbian wedding of a family member a lot closer to me than your great-grandneice – and spoken at the reception as well.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“Millions of Anglicans all over the world would agree with and support the Archbishop of Canterbury on this.”

And you know this how? Can you cite a statistically viable survey of Anglicans worldwide to back it up? Or are you merely taking at face value the statements of unelected primates from certain provinces?

All of which simply ignores, of course, the fallacy that numbers indicate righteousness.

Geoff
Guest

“I’m just saying that it is not automatically a bad (or ‘dangerous’) thing for the Church of Jesus Christ to be out of step with the mores of society at large.” Tim, this is something conservatives are right to remind us. Unfortunately, on this issue, we’ve missed the boat as far as *leading* society – history will remember the United Church in a more courageous light than us – and now the best we can do is play catch up. As someone for whom the counter-cultural nature of the Summary of the Law is at the heart of Christianity’s appeal,… Read more »

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

Let’s not forget that relationship that Williams and Carey blessed took place at the same time they were both condemning Gene Robinson.

DAvid Wilson
Guest
DAvid Wilson

Father Ron Of course it wasn’t just the pharisees that hated Jesus. Mark 13.13 Everyone will hate you because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Jesus love to the people – and the Pharisees – was to tell them that they were all fallen sinners and needed a saviour – not in condemnation – but in calling them to repentance and bring them into fellowship with God – and on the cross, actually paying the penalty. Most of the people hated Jesus because he called them all sinners. The biblical view of… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Millions of Anglicans all over the world would agree with and support the Archbishop of Canterbury on this.”

And you know this HOW, CP36? Because their unelected Purple Primates say so?

Spiritually-healthy Christians (inc. Anglicans), wherever they are, look to live their OWN marriages faithfully—they don’t obsess over someone else’s!

Robert ian williams
Guest
Robert ian williams

If parliament no longer can dictate to the Church of England ..its time to disestablish this minority church, which no longer baptizes even a fifth of the babies of England.

CP36
Guest
CP36

>>And you know this how? Can you cite a statistically viable survey of Anglicans worldwide to back it up? By Anglicans, I mean the ordinary people who are memebers of the Anglican Communion. I base my estimation on the fact that the majority of Anglicans worldwide are Low Anglicans or Evangelicals. Primates don’t necessarily know what is going on at ground level. My question is, if God is really in the Church, what does he think about same sex marriage? Unless one can be sure that God thinks it is okay, it is not worth the trouble fighting for the… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

David Wilson,

You’re still presenting *your* truth as God’s Truth.

Jesus spoke of words issuing from God’s mouth long before there was a New Testament, therefore, long before there was a Bible as you would recognize it. The words from God’s mouth are living words that require discernment.

You are welcome to your views, but you will have to accept that they are not absolute truth.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“I have myself attended the lesbian wedding of a family member a lot closer to me than your great-grandneice – and spoken at the reception as well.” Maybe you even paid for the honeymoon: sending one bride to Paris, and one bride to Tahiti! O_o [I kid, I kid, Tim: Mazel Tov to your family member’s wedding. :-)] ***** “So what matters is God’s truth on same-sex activities – I do not mean same-sex friendship – even very close and personal friendship. Isn’t truth also part of love? 1 John 3:18. So why seek the world’s opinion on God’s morality… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

” Most of the people hated Jesus because he called them all sinners.”
– David Wilson on Monday –

It was only the Scribes and Pharisees in this instance;

Jesus – speaking to the woman caught in adultery:

“Where are your accusers (Pharisees) now, do they condemn you? Woman, No! Jesus: “Neither do I!”

– hardly a condemnation! I do wish you’d use ALL of the Bible when you champion its legalism.

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

I’m convinced that the holy homophobia the Archbishop protects under his skirts is dying. The younger generations (including young evangelicals) have no interest in pursuing this campaign any further. It will probably die out with a generation that still clings to it. More likely, homophobia will be laughed off the stage with the hypocrisy and foolishness of so many of its champions.

Another champion of the Plain Meaning of Scripture gets caught with his pants down in New Orleans:

http://www.fox8live.com/news/local/story/Controversial-Rev-Grant-Storms-arrested-on/etD-dlb0MEm6gsQyWVmVnA.cspx

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

Agreed, Ron.

Of course, I did not initiate this comparison with the sin of adulteress, but what does ‘Go and sin no more'(John 8:11), in His next breath, mean? That she went back to finishing off what the Pharisees had so rudely interrupted (John 8:4)?

With those words, Jesus may have lifted her sentence, but He did not declare her illicit relationship innocent. On the cross, her amnesty (and ours) was secured at great cost to Him.

Amnesty is not affirmation.

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

“With those words, Jesus may have lifted her sentence, but He did not declare her illicit relationship innocent. On the cross, her amnesty (and ours) was secured at great cost to Him. Amnesty is not affirmation.” I remember a very vivid lesson in the “plain meaning” of Scripture from my childhood. Many very earnest Bible believing Christians quoted to me the story of Ham from Genesis as proof that the separation of the races was ordained by God and proven in Scripture. Indeed, they had a point. Also, the defenders of slavery had ample ammunition in proof texts when they… Read more »

david wilson
Guest
david wilson

You have talked about this being a justice issue. But surely there can be no justice if there is no love for God. And love for God is following His ways, rather than the flesh – though it is a battle between the flesh and the Spirit. The Christian Life involves being born again into New Life and actually godly living and not following the instincts of the flesh. Do the activities of a same-sex couple in the bedroom actually constitute Godly living? The same obligation apply to an opposite sex couple. Please give me a scripture that shows that… Read more »

Counterlight
Guest
Counterlight

“Please give me a scripture that shows that God actually blesses same-sex sex coupling – where does he show that it is His Godly way. Jesus asks us each to live Him, dying for own self, as He did, and living for others. You need to live.”

Quod Est Demonstratum

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

David W: please do not be so presumptuous as to judge what other people do in their bedrooms. It’s really not your business to be so concerned about it, if I might put it bluntly.

And this “please give me a Scripture that says…” request is rather bizarre. Do you refuse to go and vote in elections because no-one can “give you a Scripture” commending democracy (though the NT does enjoin obedience to Caesar, i.e. autocracy!)?

dr.primrose
Guest
dr.primrose

“He said to them, ‘Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.'” Mark 10:11-12.

“If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.” Leviticus 20:10.

So under the plain meaning of scripture, shouldn’t we be stoning the divorced and remarried?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“The Christian Life involves being born again into New Life and actually godly living and not following the instincts of the flesh. Do the activities of a same-sex couple in the bedroom actually constitute Godly living? The same obligation apply to an opposite sex couple” – David Wilson, on Tuesday – Well, David, congratulations1 You may be the only living Christian who is able to trumpet the fact that he is sinless. Don’t forget, though, that Jesus said this: “I did not come to call the Righteous, but Sinners” – of which most people living are a part. If you… Read more »

David Shepherd
Guest
David Shepherd

Well, we’ve all been here before with the 30-odd year re-marriage debate. The indissolubility of marriage in the Anglican Church was overturned by the moral consensus approach to theology, but only after the emphatic statements of Christ against divorce were re-interpreted as out of character and equivocal. Paul had to wrestle with the post-conversion validity of heathen marriages: an issue that Jesus did not address directly in His answers to Jews on divorce. The apostle was no conservative: quite happy to dispense with the most fundamental Jewish initiation rite for his new converts. Yet, he was hindered by Christ from… Read more »