Thinking Anglicans

First Same Sex weddings to happen from 29 March 2014

Yesterday, the Government made this announcement: First Same Sex weddings to happen from 29 March 2014.

Women and Equalities Minister Maria Miller has announced that the first same sex weddings in England and Wales will be able to take place from Saturday 29 March 2014.

Following the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 successfully completing its journey through Parliament in July 2013, the government has been working hard to ensure that all the arrangements are in place to enable same sex couples to marry as soon as possible.

As a result of this work, the first same sex weddings can now happen several months earlier than anticipated, subject to Parliament’s approval of various statutory instruments, to be laid in the new year.

David Pocklington reports today on the details of this, and notes the various further steps required, in Same-Sex Marriage from 29th March 2014?

He then adds the following Comment in relation to the Church of England:

On 9-10 December, the House of Bishops met for two days in York to discuss a wide range of business, including the Pilling Report. The Minister’s announcement that the first same-sex weddings are likely to happen several months earlier than anticipated brings a new urgency to their deliberations on the approach of the Church of England to human sexuality. As noted in the Report, [at paras. 382, 383],

382 […] Moreover, some form of celebration of civil partnerships in a church context is widely seen as a practice that would give a clear signal that gay and lesbian people are welcome in church.

383. This is a question on which our group is not of one mind – not least since a willingness to offer public recognition and prayer for a committed same-sex relationship in an act of public worship would, in practice, be hard to implement now for civil partnerships without also doing so for same-sex marriage (which, like civil partnerships, makes no assumption, in law, about sexual activity).

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Gary Paul GilbertInterested ObserverJCFJames ByronErika Baker Recent comment authors
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stephen Morgan
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stephen Morgan

So, come March 29th, 2014, what will the C of E be able to offer committed Christian same-sex couples who wish to be married? Er…

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Meanwhile, the church in denial as always, will have its head in the sands, hoping that the reality of the world will go away. This undignified position leaves its posterior just right for a good kicking. Amply deserved.

Craig Nelson
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Craig Nelson

29 March will be a day of great rejoicing. The picture given by the CofE will one of absence, prejudices, churches shut up to prevent happy people going in to them to ask God’s blessings on their lives as if people asking God’s blessing and celebrating in the presence of God is a terrible thing that must at costs be prevented. How this squares with the gospel as a meaningful message is best left to others to answer.

JCF
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JCF

Mazel Tov! 🙂

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

29th March: same-sex marriages being celebrated by the state, including by registrars who are women.

29th March: Church of England refuses to bless, never mind celebrate same-sex marriages having erected a massive legislative set of barriers, and is grudgingly considering allowing women in senior roles, having voted against it last year.

Of course, the CofE prides itself on being counter-cultural, so is presumably proud of this difference.

James Byron
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James Byron

Craig Nelson: It doesn’t, of course. The CofE’s refusal to marry same-sex couples is grounded in realpolitik, not theology. A substantial and powerful subset of its membership wouldn’t accept it. And that’s not getting started on the wider communion.

Thankfully, realpolitik will also force change. Gender-neutral marriage will swiftly become the norm, and the church’s position will become untenable. Once change is advocated by some heavy-hitters in open evangelicalism, things will really get moving.

Change won’t, of course, happen by itself. Those who affirm gay relationships will need to offer practical suggestions to manage schism and make up the funding shortfall.

Andrew Watson
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Andrew Watson

Could I be forgiven for thinking that a male-dominated Church has hijacked God to dole him (not her) out according to its own foibles and prejudices?

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

On a collateral, non-substantive note, I’m intrigued by the British idiom used in the headline “First Same Sex weddings to happen from 29 March 2014.” I don’t think I’ve ever seen that phraseology used in U.S. English. The standard way of saying that in U.S. English, I think, would be “First Same Sex weddings to happen starting on 29 March 2014” or more simply “First Same Sex weddings to happen on 29 March 2014” or perhaps “First Same Sex weddings start on 29 March 2014.” I don’t think the preposition “from” would be used in this context in the usual… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

*Those who affirm gay relationships will need to offer practical suggestions to manage schism* Why? It’s the Church of England’s problem, not wider society’s. Society at large now affirms gay relationships: they’ve been legal for approaching fifty years, and the state has recognised relationships with rights and responsibilities for a decade. LGBT people are our MPs and our doctors and our TV personalities and our Olympic champions. Civil partnerships are referred to by most people as marriages, and the figleaf of nomenclature which Labour introduced to avoid a confrontation with the CofE fools almost no-one who is not actively asking… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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It now seems almost inevitable that the Church of England, having rather clumsily avoided the chance of affirming the Civil Partnership of Same-Sex Couples, may simply be left behind by couples who might see more social benefits in contracting into a state-legislated Same Sex Marriage – rather than wait for the possibility of a ‘behind the scenes’ Same-sex Blessing.

Sadly, the Church may have missed out on a wonderful opportunity to reject its inherent homophobia, by being generous to Same-Sex Couples.

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

I await with interest how the CofE will word their exclusion of gay people on their website page which currently reads:

“You can marry in a church! You’re welcome to marry in the Church of England whatever your beliefs, whether or not you are christened and regardless of whether you go to church or not. It’s your church, and we welcome you!”

http://www.yourchurchwedding.org/youre-welcome/you-can-marry-in-a-church.aspx

iain mclean
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iain mclean

Interested Observer: Christian same-sex couples in England & Wales will have the option to marry in Unitarian chapels, and (if they are in unity with Quaker testimonies) in Friends’ Meeting Houses. The Friends’ process of discernment with the couple will take some time, though, so couples should be aware of that.

James Byron
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James Byron

Interested Observer: As shown by the role the churches played in opposing LGBT rights for all, Christian homophobia is everyone’s problem. The CofE doesn’t exist in a hermetically sealed bubble, and if it did, its members deserve justice as much as anyone.

Affirming people need to offer solutions because no one else will. They shouldn’t have to, but it’s necessary to move forward.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

James, I’m afraid time moves on. In the past, the CofE could raise itself up to its full height, mitre and all, stamp its crozier and shout “¡ No pasarán!”. Politicians listened. Blair and/or Brown didn’t take on the CofE over civil partnership, because they thought the time wasn’t right and wanted to keep their political powder dry. What the CofE thought about moral matters mattered, or at least was thought to matter. Some people listened, and it could swing votes by its influence. It might have been a fleet in being rather than a fleet at sea, in that… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Interested Observer
“Christian homophobia is now a problem for Christians, no-one else. They need to fix it.”

Yes, but on this forum most of us are a part of this “they” and we do try what we can to help fix it.
For us, this isn’t a “them and us” problem we can ignore, this is an internal problem. And we can either stand back and watch, like you seem to want to do, or can try to do something about it.

I suspect many on Thinking Anglicans are desperately trying to do something about.

James Byron
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James Byron

Interested Observer: As Erika says, some people are trying to do something about it. It’s those people I was referring to.

I agree that the CofE has marginalized itself. The question now is how to go about changing its policy, and begin to repair the damage. It won’t help anyone to have an established church turn into a fundamentalist ghetto.

JCF
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JCF

I share your interest, LaurenceC, about that “You Can Marry!” site. [I supposed they’ll just add another asterisk, ala divorced people “…just like Jesus would have done.” :-/]

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

*It won’t help anyone to have an established church turn into a fundamentalist ghetto.* That’s right. Britain needs the established church (or something very like established) as, apart from anything else, a moral counterweight to the increasing dominance of the market as the sole interest of the major political parties. Having Bishops in the House of Lords is, in general terms, a good thing, certainly for as long as the upper chamber is not elected. But that’s going to involve Justin Welby telling GAFCON and their like to either accept difference or leave. They are irreconcilable: they are never going… Read more »

Gary Paul Gilbert
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Gary Paul Gilbert

The demand for church weddings is less than impressive. I have read that only one fourth of different-sex couples marry in the Church of England. And some of those choose the church more for aesthetic reasons. Who knows? The numbers increased by four percent this year probably because of a relaxation of rules allowing couples to choose from more parishes, but I wouldn’t take too much comfort in people choosing pretty settings rather than congregations with which they want to affiliate. Same-sex couples are excluded by definition, especially with the quadruple lock. Not even old-fashioned civil partnerships are blessed by… Read more »