Thinking Anglicans

Scottish Episcopalians consider equal marriage

While the [presbyterian] Church of Scotland is due to vote today on whether to allow its ministers to be in same-sex marriages, Harriet Sherwood also reports in the Guardian: Scottish churches push forward on gay rights that:

…The Scottish Episcopal Church is expected to take the first step in a two-stage process at its synod next month towards changing church law to allow same-sex weddings in church. If passed, a second vote would be required next year.

Such a move would invite de facto sanctions by the international Anglican Communion similar to the measures imposed on the US Episcopal Church earlier this year after it permitted clergy to perform same-sex weddings.

David Chillingworth, the primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church, said: “The canonical change would make it possible for our clergy to conduct same-sex marriages and to be in same-sex marriages – that’s the direction in which we’re moving.”

However, he added, “there is also a significant group of people who regard it as wrong, contrary to scripture and the fundamental teachings of the church”. He said his job was “to preserve the unity of the church”.

If the change to church law passed next year, he said, “we’re aware we will probably find ourselves in the same position as the US Episcopal Church. These are difficult issues; we are all in transition.”

ACNS has a more detailed report on this by Gavin Drake: Scottish Episcopal Church to debate changes to marriage canon.

…The current Canon, C31, begins by defining marriage by stating: “The Doctrine of this Church is that Marriage is a physical, spiritual and mystical union of one man and one woman created by their mutual consent of heart, mind and will thereto, and is a holy and lifelong estate instituted of God.”

The proposed amendment to Canon C31 would replace that wording with a new clause which says: “In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. . .”

The full text of the report by the Doctrine Committee on the Theology of Marriage which has led to this debate can be found here.

This page contains links to all the documents for the June meeting of the Scottish General Synod.

Fulcrum has published a lengthy critique of the doctrine committee’s proposals by Oliver O’Donovan available here, but also more conveniently as a PDF here.

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Susannah Clark
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The Scottish Episcopal Church is divided on the subject of lesbian and gay marriage, just as the Church of England is. In England this division down the middle on grounds of sincere faith and conscience is ‘resolved’ by one group dominating the other group and sanctioning them if they do not live submit to the imposed uniformity. Now let’s look at Scotland: ““In the light of the fact that there are differing understandings of the nature of marriage in this Church, no cleric of this Church shall be obliged to conduct any marriage against their conscience. . .” Respect for… Read more »

James Byron
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James Byron

Well said, Susannah: and for some reason, despite all indications otherwise, I can see this passing.

Logically, if the “consequences” stopped equal marriage passing in the Canadian church, it shouldn’t pass anywhere. Thankfully, and with all due apologies to Mr. Spock, we’re not governed by logic alone.

Tobias Haller
Guest

O’Dpnpvan’s essay is weak in its critique of form over substance. He continues to hammer away on what he regards as the real theology of marriage confected by “Barth and the Nouvelle Theologie” which desperately seeks to ground the sex-difference in dogmatic terms, and downplaying the “goods” or “ends” approach as if it were a mere convenience lit upon by Cranmer. In this, of course, he is the one rejecting the tradition, since strained efforts to invest the sex-difference with dogmatic weight crumble on canonical-scriptural grounds (Jesus and Paul having a good deal to say to the contrary) — while… Read more »

Daniel Berry
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Daniel Berry

However, (the Primus) added, “there is also a significant group of people who regard it as wrong, contrary to scripture and the fundamental teachings of the church”. He said his job was “to preserve the unity of the church”.

Yes, His job is to preserve the institutionalized, judgmental hatred for gay people in the church.

Nathaniel Brown
Guest
Nathaniel Brown

“I’m from the church, and I’m here to preserve the unity of the church.” The most chilling words in the language.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Just to report the *Church of Scotland* did approve the proposal before it today that was mentioned in the earlier Guardian article.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/may/21/church-of-scotland-ministers-same-sex-marriages

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ James Byron, “…if the ‘consequences’ stopped equal marriage passing in the Canadian church..” James that has not happened yet although I think that will very likely be the outcome in July. My money is still on the use of parliamentary procedure to kick the can down the road, followed by hearty hymn singing. “Consequences” have likely made an impact on the Canadian House of Bishops, but it is difficult to know how significant a factor that is relative to other issues given that about one third of the Canadian bishops are in the conservative column.In fairness the fear of… Read more »

Jeremy
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Jeremy

First the Church of Scotland.

Then the Scottish Episcopal Church in June.

Does the Church of England have a sense of shame? Is it embarrassable?

Edward Prebble
Guest
Edward Prebble

I do hope and pray that our Scottish sisters and brothers prove more successful in their efforts to bring about change than we in Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia have been. TA readers may not be aware that at our General Synod just over a week ago, they were unable to come to an agreement, and have shelved the matter for two more years. After a major commission leading up to the 2014 session of General Synod, a commitment at that synod to finding a way forward, and another commission working hard over the past 2 years, the Synod was… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

What Edward has not mentioned here, and I believe to be a factor in our ACANZP GS2016 deferral of any decision on this matter to the next G.S in 2018; is that a few days before the GS Meeting, there appeared – in Christchurch and Auckland – hurriedly convened meeting of the Australian-sourced FoCA (Fellowship of confessing Anglicans). Led by overseas speakers, this new sodality – now known as FOCANZ – was formed, one can only suspect, with the direct intention of focussing opposition to the ‘Way Forward’ process that would have allowed for the Blessing of S/S Civil Marriage… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

*O’Dpnpvan’s essay is weak in its critique of form over substance* “Essay” is giving it ideas above its station, and if the writer has students, I hope they don’t take this as a model. It is a rambling blog-post, which has pre-conceived outcomes which are unsurprisingly found to have support. Setting up a straw-man caricature of your opponents’ arguments isn’t made any less dishonest by claiming to be doing it “not too unfairly” (p. 6). If you immediately characterise your opponents’ conclusions as “remarkable” you are asserting that they are wrong before even troubling yourself or your reader with why,… Read more »

William (Bill) Paul III
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William (Bill) Paul III

O’Donovan’s argument hardly is form without reference to material claims and issues. Even a cursory reading of it shows the opposite. He mentions the selective hermeneutical base, as the committee leaves out John, deuteron-Pauline writings, and specific teachings of Jesus. He points out the material problem in the committee’s dead wrong understanding of biblical and early church affirmation of the unitive aspect of marriage. [“They even venture to write, “It was not imagined either in biblical times or in subsequent church teaching that sexual acts were morally legitimate only when spouses intended procreation” (¶44), apparently unaware of the huge weight… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

Those us who are lgbti know all about ‘consequences’.

We have lived with them all lives.

Tobias Haller
Guest

One problem with O’Donovan is his adoption of the assertion that the unitive aspect has some value in itself, as part of the nouvelle theologie’s virtual adoption of a hieros gamos model in which the union of the sexes is in and of itself significant. This takes no account of one of the few Scriptural reflections on the subject, 1 Cor 6:16, which demonstrates that being “one flesh” is not the substance of marriage (since a man who sleeps with a harlot becomes “one flesh” with her; and harlotry is explicitly not marriage. In fact, Paul teaches the opposite: that… Read more »

Daniel Berry, NYC
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Daniel Berry, NYC

When I saw that O’Donovan had used the phrase, “the repository of the saving words and deeds of God,” to describe the scriptures, well,

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

Mr Wm Paul. I also thought of responding but have begun to wonder if this is time well spent.

Professor O’Donovan is FBA. Senior Chairs at Oxford and Edinburgh.

But without any blog hesitation his arguments are not engaged. He is dismissed with reference to Barth and nouvelle theologie, as if these too were unitary phenomena.

For my part the most damning reference in passing is to the total lack of knowledge of primary sources in the early church.

One suspects that the desired conclusions are now all that matters, and history is accidents of that final substance.

robert ian williams
Guest
robert ian williams

Whatever the result..don’t resort to the hypocrisy of the Church in Wales…no blessings of ssm but affirmation statement prayers which are de facto blessings!Satisfying no one on either side.

Let your no be a no or yes a yes.

Just like the Govt Referendum leaflet I received ..vote yes for the EU and at the same time boasted semi-detached membership of it.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Essentially the church still doesn’t recognise same civil sex marriages so there’s no problem if a clergyman/woman is in one. It makes a sort of sense.

But it doesn’t. Are we really saying that someone who marries in a civil ceremony belongs in holy orders? It sends totally the wrong message about Christian marriage.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Just for the record, it was O’Donovan who referred to the “convergence” of Barth and the nouvelle theologie on the notion cited. As to history and “the early church” — if depends on what one means by that: is this the writings and opinions of individual fathers, or the decisions of the conciliar church? On both counts, one can put together a florilegium of citations that failed to pass muster in a later era, for much of what both individuals and councils in “the early church” said about marriage has long since been overturned or amended. That being said, a… Read more »

Christopher Seitz
Guest
Christopher Seitz

Well, perhaps a “full-blown fisking” of Martin Davies’ response to O’Donovan is in order, then. His views are not “settled for a decade” — whatever that might mean in this particular case of the SEC. Davies represents the broad swath of the evangelical-catholic segment of the CofE.

The early church views referred to by O’Donovan are all mainstream views — his point was that they seem to be completely unknown by the authors of the material he is evaluating.

Kate
Guest
Kate

The big problem with the O’Donovan piece is that it is a critique. He argues by selectively attacking lines of reasoning made by his own so that we are left with what passes through his sieve. His conclusions are thus hard to challenge because he has advanced no reasoning to support them. Intellectually and theologically his piece is thin gruel indeed. For example, he critiques various views on the estate of marriage but fails to set out his own understanding of marriage. The rest of his piece then critiques various arguments in relation to same sex marriage but, because he… Read more »

William (Bill) Paul
Guest
William (Bill) Paul

Interested Observer, I note, did not critique, he simply dismissed O’Donovan. What single claim did IO lay out, patiently explicate and then judge? Indeed, note the patience of O’Donovan in laying out principles, bases, and assumptions in play. This is called ‘rambling’ by IO. Of course, O’Donovan can be disagreed with. And he is not starting from the ground up, as if marriage has to be founded afresh, which means he thinks the burden is on the revisionists. But while IO may have texted withering words, there simply is not material engagement.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

The Oliver O’Donovan article requires a reading as careful the one that went into writing it. There are a number of theoretical aspects of his piece that invite rejoinder. Just one follows here not having had time to study Donovan’s piece as closely as I would like (nor am I conversant with the question as it has been percolating through SEC polity). Note his opinion from the section, Tradition, Catholic Doctrine and the Good of Marriage (pdf p.2). “When we face new questions requiring new answers, we must seek to locate them within the horizon of questions that have been… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Thank you, Rod Gillis, for highlighting one of the underlying assumptions of the O’Donovan response. When it comes to marriage, the questions and answers asked, from the Hebrew Scriptures on — including in “the early church” — have not resulted in a monolithic or unchanging “doctrine of marriage.” Even today the Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox doctrines and disciplines of marriage differ widely on important grounds. Any conclusion that a further change in Scotland somehow dissolves a consensus is unsustainable, for such a consensus hasn’t existed for centuries, if it ever did. Marriage is one of those realities of… Read more »

Interested Observer
Guest
Interested Observer

*Indeed, note the patience of O’Donovan in laying out principles, bases, and assumptions in play.* You might call it that. I would call it the lengthy and tendentious construction of well-dressed, indeed elegantly tailored, straw men. Page 6 is intellectually dishonest. What it does is make a set of assertions, with no evidence, about the documents under examination. In then moves rapidly from there to a claim that these are deliberate dishonesty on the part of the authors, and accuses them of not merely error, but bad faith and deliberate dishonesty. “It is not so much a hermeneutic strategy as… Read more »

cseitz
Guest
cseitz

O’Donovan correctly points out how very odd it is that Matthew 22:23-33 has emerged out of its shadows to serve now as a key text for LGBT advocates. The NT does not say that we are angels in the resurrected life–Jesus’s Risen body is not that of an angel–nor that we are without gender in heaven, whatever that might mean. The Matthew text shows Jesus defeating the Sadducees from the constraints of their own narrow canon (“you know not the Scriptures nor the power of God”) where they have sought to trap him in a political squabble with the Pharisees,… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“If the change to church law passed next year, he said, “we’re aware we will probably find ourselves in the same position as the US Episcopal Church.”

There are worse things than the position of sleeping soundly, conscience-at-rest!