Thinking Anglicans

Australian Primate writes about same-sex marriage

Australian Associated Press reports Anglicans ‘can accept gay marriage vote’

Melbourne Archbishop Philip Freier has written to the country’s Anglican bishops insisting the church can preserve its view on “holy matrimony” while accepting the will of the people.

“Should the vote be in favour of same-sex marriage, as suggested by opinion polls, the church must accept that this is now part of the landscape,” the Australian primate states.

Dr Freier’s letter notes that the doctrine of the Book of Common Prayer – that marriage is between a man and a woman “under God” – would remain unchanged.

“I do not believe the Anglican Church in Australia is likely to revise its doctrine of marriage,” he writes.

“But … the church also understands the desire of two people to express their commitment of love and self-sacrifice and Christians have not always shown the respect or perspective they should.”

Guardian Anglican church says it will accept results of marriage equality plebiscite

The head of the Anglican church in Australia has said it “must accept” a change in the civil definition of marriage if the plebiscite approves marriage equality, but it is unlikely the church’s doctrine will change.

In a letter to the nation’s Anglican bishops, the Melbourne archbishop Philip Freier also threw his weight behind a plebiscite, saying the government had a mandate for the policy and it would make the social reform easier to accept.

On Friday, Freier wrote that he personally “welcomes the plebiscite, though with strong reservations that we must guard the tenor of the debate, and keep it positive”.

The full text of the letter written by Archbishop Philip Freier of Melbourne to his fellow Australian bishops is published here: Conscience rules on marriage.

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Father Ron Smith
Guest

Australian Archbishop Philip Freier is at least curtailing the possibility of dioceses like Sydney doing its own thing – by campaigning against the Equal Marriage possibility for Australia.

The only fears the LGBTI community might have about the possibility of a Plebiscite is that this might open up further avenues for hate campaigns against them by noisy homophobes in the community.

It’s a pity the Australian government does not, instead, have an open debate in Parliament, where the majority public opinion on Equal Marriage – generally favourable – might allow for necessary legislation. But there’s politics for you!

Victoriana
Guest
Victoriana

Philip Freier is Archbishop of Melbourne, not Brisbane.

RPNewark
Guest
RPNewark

“The full text of the letter written by Archbishop Philip Freier of Brisbane to his fellow Australian bishops is published here:”

I think you mean Melbourne rather than Brisbane. Brisbane is +Philip’s birthplace

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Looks as though Archbishop Freier is on the defensive. First, he’s worried that Christian conservatives are fighting equal marriage in ways that will damage the conservative position, over the long term. He doesn’t want the Anglican Church in Australia to be a shrinking group of extremists. Second, he knows that either a free vote or a plebiscite will result in a change in law. So he is trying to prepare his church to maintain an increasingly minority position–one that will soon prove untenable. None of what the Archbishop is saying will work, over the long term. But his current task… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

An interesting thing happened on the way to the Basilica. The ethical preaching of a first century rabbi, which as far as I can see was developed largely in opposition to the Herod family compact, evolved into a religion preoccupied with sex and power; so much so that some of its modern day adherents have an almost sectarian preoccupation with policing other people’s sexual behavior.

john (not mccain)
Guest
john (not mccain)

I look forward to the day when churches who would not change their doctrine on same sex marriage are as numerous as those who would not change their doctrine on interracial marriage. Tick tick tick…

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Sorry error now fixed.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“An interesting thing happened on the way to the Basilica. The ethical preaching of a first century rabbi, which as far as I can see was developed largely in opposition to the Herod family compact, evolved into a religion preoccupied with sex and power; so much so that some of its modern day adherents have an almost sectarian preoccupation with policing other people’s sexual behavior.” Actually I think very few members of the Church of England wish to police sexual conduct. A substantial number, however, wish the teaching and doctrine of the Church to reflect Scripture (as they understand it)… Read more »

FrDavidH
Guest
FrDavidH

One of the world’s most gay-friendly cities is positioned in a diocese run by unbelievably bigoted Calvinsts whose influence extends beyond Australian shores. Sydney Diocese will undo any good Archbishop Freier hopes will come from a secular vote, and will ensure the Anglican Church remains a refuge for homophobes.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

@Kate, “Actually I think very few members of the Church of England wish to police sexual conduct.”

My comment pertained to Christianity in general. The church, The Communion leadership, is possessed by this issue. As for the C of E, I suspect that institution might win the prize for hypocrisy and political gymnastics on the matter.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Sydney’s not had Jensen’s mob imposed on it: Australia has a democratic church structure. Sydney’s chosen to keep electing them and funding them.

Metropolitan Sydney undoubtedly has a strong LGBT subculture, but like many states, there’s also a strong conservative current in NSW. If there wasn’t, the diocese wouldn’t be ground zero for much Anglican homophobia.

Sydney will be genuinely gay-friendly when it shows the ultra-Calvinists the door.

John Bunyan
Guest
John Bunyan

As a priest of Sydney Diocese, I am sad that it is becoming almost monochrome in some respects but wild generalisations about it are not true. A small number of moderate and anglo-catholic parishes remain though it is increasingly difficult for them to find rectors. (Single clergy or clergy without substantial knowledge of Greek will not get in.) So too, in this vast diocese,it is very hard for many people to find an Anglican church where they can attend. Many churches now have fewer Eucharists and celebration by deacons and lay-people is not uncommon. (The nearest church I feel I… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“it “must accept” a change in the civil definition of marriage if the plebiscite approves marriage equality, but it is unlikely the church’s doctrine will change”

What does “acceptance” mean, in this context, if there is no concommittant revision to permit/bless these marriages? Dietrich Bonhoeffer spoke of “cheap grace”—this sounds, to me, like cheap “acceptance”.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Grammatically (bear with me please) it is quite an odd letter. It starts in the first person singular – “I”. Then it moves to the plural “we” involving the recipients with the Archbishop in a collective “we” , but then we get this paragraph: “We understand that this is not a theoretical issue for many people, but one that directly impinges on their lives. We understand that sometimes gays, lesbians and others have felt judged and rejected, even ostracised, inside the Church and that we have to be much more pastorally sensitive in future.” It is totally unclear who “we”… Read more »

Fr.Laurence Roberts
Guest
Fr.Laurence Roberts

I note ‘John Bunyan’ wishes us to accept that he he is not homophobic , simply against MARRIAGE EQUALITY. In any case, he clearly states that the the well-being and thriving of gay people is a low priority for him, as ‘far more serious matters that confront us’. He also calls for greater courtesy to be shown to those who oppose civil rights of lgbt., such as himself. As I have said before lbgt people have shown great restraint towards those who oppose us. The use of terms like ‘homophobic’ and ‘anti-gay’ strike me as moderate, as well as imho.,… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

“it “must accept” a change in the civil definition of marriage if the plebiscite approves marriage equality, but it is unlikely the church’s doctrine will change”

Anglicanism seems unclear about the doctrine of Christianity, and the sacramental life of the Church — except when it comes to marriage equality, when it becomes amazingly conservative, inflexible, and incapable of being of assistance to millions of lesbian and gay people generally, and to untold couples.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

John Bunyan, drop your opposition to *civil* marriage equality (in which theology has no place) and the debate can and will move on to other matters.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“A substantial number, however, wish the teaching and doctrine of the Church to reflect Scripture (as they understand it) and expect ministers and especially bishops to conduct their lives in accordance…”

Let’s get real: you mean “impose their [proof-texted] opinion”, don’t you, Kate?

This isn’t about fidelity to Scripture. It’s about Power-Over.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Let’s get real: you mean “impose their [proof-texted] opinion”, don’t you, Kate?”

Yes, let get real. Both sides want to impose their opinion on church teaching. That is the argument and why “good disagreement” cannot work because it is impossible for the church to teach that marriage is between one man and one woman and that same sex sex is sinful while simultaneously blessing same sex couples (or marry them) and teaching that they can consummate their relationship. In terms of teaching it IS an either/or situation.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Kate, how about this: church doesn’t take a position; a gender-neutral marriage service is available for use in parishes, depending on the consent of their rector and congregation?

JCF
Guest
JCF

Same-sex couples don’t want a “teaching”, Kate. They want to get married. As long as you don’t ***exert the Power-Over of standing in their way*** those couples don’t care what you believe (or if you, being ordained, won’t personally lead the marriage liturgy—there are plenty of priests who will).

Please STOP w/ the false equivalency, Kate: only ONE side here is imposing itself!

Brian Ralph
Guest
Brian Ralph

It is no surprise to read today that the current Archbishop of Sydney, Glenn Davies has not taken much notice of the Primate of Australia and is complaining at suggestions that the Government may not provide $10 million each to both the YES and NO advocates. This is one idea put forward by the Labor Party to reduce the ridiculous cost if they are to agree to the holding of the Plebiscite. The government does not seem to have the numbers otherwise, but the fear is that if it is not allowed to hold the plebiscite it can still block… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Dear John Bunyan. Good to hear that you are liberal enough to accept the prospect of Same-Sex Blessings and Civil Unions. However, I suspect that both of these would be totally unacceptable for the Sydney conservative A.C. hierarchy. It is not just S/S Marriage they disagree with – it is the fact that LGBTI people have no other way of being.

Daniel Berry NYC
Guest
Daniel Berry NYC

To Mr John Bunyan: would you like me to show more “courtesy” to the African bishops who have amply demonstrated their willingness to see civil and criminal law put in place that severely penalizes gay people for being gay–and even calls for their execution–for being gay?

How much courtesy do you require, Mr Bunyan? How much courtesy is one entitled to when he’s willing to see me beaten or burned alive?

Kate
Guest
Kate

No JCF, BOTH sides are seeking to impose themselves. The effect of that imposition disproportionately affects LGBTI+ people and that can and should be pointed out, but that doesn’t change the fact that BOTH sides are equally trying to impose their understanding of Christianity on the other in terms of the teaching and doctrine of the Church.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Kate, how about this: church doesn’t take a position; a gender-neutral marriage service is available for use in parishes, depending on the consent of their rector and congregation?” That is the worst possible outcome. When the church authorises a rite it changes its teaching that marriage is between one man and one woman against the consciences of conservatives yet fails to ensure that in practice LGBTI+ people won’t suffer discrimination and prejudice in their parish if their parish won’t use the rite anyway. We need the exact opposite. We require each parish to be required to offer gender-neutral services which… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

“If the centre authorises a gender-neutral rite, that will precipitate a split. “

Which has, in fact, happened.

James Byron
Guest
James Byron

Kate, various provinces have fudged the remarriage of divorcees, without endorsing divorce. I see nothing that makes marriage between persons of the same sex different. This allows discrimination, yes, and I don’t like it, but it’s been accepted as the price for a broad church. Personally, I’d also like to see equal marriage available in all parishes, but not at the price of overriding the consciences of those who sincerely believe that it’s against God’s will, however wrong I believe them to be. Schism or dominance may well see the traditionalists triumph, or the Anglican tradition torn apart like frayed… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

JCF: “Kate, how about this: church doesn’t take a position; a gender-neutral marriage service is available for use in parishes, depending on the consent of their rector and congregation?” Kate: “That is the worst possible outcome. When the church authorises a rite it changes its teaching…” Cynthia: Jesus’ most harsh words were for the Pharisees for misusing the Law to exclude and demean people. Jesus did not require “a church teaching.” Jesus requires compassion, love, justice, including the poor, etc. Jesus calls for us to “love one another as I have loved you.” He doesn’t call us to have rigid… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Let’s face it folks; the main benefit of heterosexual marriage is the ability to procreate. HOWEVER, there are other goods in marriage that are available to those who cannot procreate. One of them is fellowship – not unlike that which is prefigured in Scripture as “The Marriage of The Lamb” – to which all are invited – not only the majority that is heterosexual. If ALL are welcomed into that ‘perfect’ Marriage; surely other relationships – akin to marriage, where faithfulness and mutual respect are evident – ought to be welcomed by the Church? This is different from casual sexual… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Guest

The wonderful Father Ron: “Let’s face it folks; the main benefit of heterosexual marriage is the ability to procreate.” Let’s face it folks; one of the main benefits of marriage for many people is (quite rightly) SEX. And sex within a committed and devoted, caring relationship is an amazing, wonderful thing. It’s that quality of relationship – it seems to me – that Jesus upheld. And let us not ignore the fact that God is probably very sexual as well. Not reproductively sexual, but sex as expression of love and desire. God desires, and God is sensual and sexual, in… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I don’t often disagree with Susannah, but I do now. Most people, including Christians, have sex outside marriage, sometimes casually, frequently in committed relationships.
They get married for all kinds of reasons, but sex is rarely one of them, far less one of the the main ones!

Susannah Clark
Guest

Erika, your disagreement is very welcome: prompting me to reflect, think further, and maybe gain added nuance.

What a broad and sharing church should be about. If we all agreed on everything, we might ossify in our uniformity.

But I think faith is process, and part of our living faith is opening to grace through one another, interacting with one another, sparking ideas, sharing, discovering the person.

On which point, it is maybe a shame I have never met you, and various others here at Thinking Anglicans (admittedly as a global forum that might be difficult!).

But for your disagreement, thank you.

Kate
Guest
Kate

Cynthia I stand by what I said. The main priority is that nobody is turned away in their own parish church but JCF’s suggestion doesn’t ensure this. The second priority is to preserve the integrity of the eucharistic community and JCF’s proposal doesn’t do that because that community would be split. So these two alternative courses would be better than JCF’s solution because each at least meets one objective instead of neither a) make adoption of a new gender-neutral rite mandatory for all ministers and parishes, or b) do nothing You categorise conservatives as excluders while advocating a course of… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Kate, how about this: church doesn’t take a position; a gender-neutral marriage service is available for use in parishes, depending on the consent of their rector and congregation?”

NB: this proposal is by James Byron, not myself. [Am not taking a position on it]

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I’m confused, Kate, you advocate that the church allow Christians to decide for themselves how and whom to marry. Yes. That’s what JCF and I are saying. The excluders need to stop using power to keep us from marrying. However, JCF and I are both allowing for conservatives to exclude in their local contexts. That is not perfect, and we Americans need a stronger understanding of how problematic that is for an “established church.” But CoE has done this with women (went way too far in my opinion). CoE should let SSM go forward in the places that want it.… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Cynthia, there isn’t a parallel with the ordination of women – although one is often made. Giving dioceses an opt out causes no individual woman to be disadvantaged, nor does any individual woman suffer rejection. In contrast, there is a problem is any parish or any parish minister is allowed to reject a couple because they are the same sex. The opt out for the ordination of women has no individual impact; an opt out for marriage of blessings would impact individuals.

John Sandeman
Guest
John Sandeman

Two points of view: Cynthia “we have had no schism over SSM”
Mark Brunson, up thread, discussing a split “which has, in fact, happened”.
Both are discussing the U S experience (I think). Who is right?

JCF
Guest
JCF

Just my guess, but I think MarkBrunson is more observing the CofE’s current status (schism-ing).

Cynthia “we have had no schism over SSM”: I agree, re TEC.

To the extent that TEC has experienced a schism (noting that many conservative “Anglicans” in North America were never in TEC to begin with), it was far more to do w/ (chronologically) 1. 1970s BCP revision, 2. Women’s ordination, and 3. LGBT ordination. By the time SSM was approved at the 2015 General Convention, basically everyone who was going to leave TEC re LGBT issues already had.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Mr. Sandeman,

The refusal to accept that the split has happened is part of the insistence by many overly optimistic TEC members that we can “all get along,” and the refusal to accept that the conservative religion is different from our own Christianity.

The fact is, while we have not relinquished our duty to protect our own in even the most inimical places, like South Carolina, those conservatives there are no longer of us in any sense other than the most ridiculously theoretical.

Tobias Haller
Guest

John Sandeman, Cynthia is correct on this, if the reference is to the Episcopal Church. There does appear to be the makings of a schism in the Anglican Communion, if that is what Mark is referring to; a de facto if not de jure state of division exists in the Communion.

So, depending on context, both are right.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“We aren’t being dishonest. We simply have the experience of a church that is doing SSM but giving clergy and congregations freedom of conscience, including a conservative conscience. We have had no schism over SSM” Once the central church has decided that same sex marriage is Scripturally sound – as TEC has done – then allowing congregations and parish ministers freedom to discriminate against LGBTI people is detestable and cowardly. Worse, is boasting about the policy as somehow enlightened. It isn’t. The analogy is the USA deciding at a federal level that racial segregation is immoral but then saying to… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“The refusal to accept that the split has happened is part of the insistence by many overly optimistic TEC members that we can “all get along,” and the refusal to accept that the conservative religion is different from our own Christianity. The fact is, while we have not relinquished our duty to protect our own in even the most inimical places, like South Carolina, those conservatives there are no longer of us in any sense other than the most ridiculously theoretical.” Mark, I agree with you but it’s more than that. Many LGBTI people who live in the parishes which… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Kate, three things, briefly: 1) TEC is engaged in a process; we are in the first stage of trial use. At this point the liturgies that can be used for same-sex couples are available, but not mandatory. The requirement is that bishops see to it that the rite is available, but they have discretion to determine the nature of that availability. That will change when (and if) the rites are finally ratified. That may more time than some would like; but it is in process. 2) Marriage is not an absolute right. (I know some disagree with me on this,… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

Tobias, that of course doesn’t translate to the unique situation of the Church of England as an established church. But anyway, there’s an enormous difference between differentiating between people based on their past or supposed future conduct and discriminating against them because of their nature – their race, sexual orientation or their gender presentation. And if TEC don’t address that in the short term I think public opinion in liberal states is likely to move against TEC. I only follow things vicariously from across the Pond, but I think the attitude of conservative evangelicals in promoting bathroom bills is hardening… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

The abhorrent policy of the TEC has been to allow parishes to do as they wish – if you are not willing to go with GC’s decisions, then find another church. “Take up your pension and walk,” would be what we should have told Duncan, Lawrence et. al. some 15 years ago (or more) but were worrying if a series of dreadful ABofC’s would be think we weren’t playing nice. You’re right, Kate, about what they’ve done – these “conservatives” neither enter the Kingdom nor allow others in, and we should have pointed them to the door some time ago.

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

Tobias,

Sorry, but there has been a schism in TEC for a great while – we like to pretend there isn’t, because we don’t like to accept that there are things we can’t do, but it has happened. How can there be parishes or dioceses where some are welcomed and others rejected, both holding the welcoming or the rejecting as essential to the Faith, and we have the temerity to speak of there being no split?

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Mark, there were schisms over WO and +Gene, no one is saying that there weren’t. We are noting that there have been no schisms since SSM was affirmed in June, 2015. Kate, I admire the uniformity of justice that you seek. But Tobias has explained (and he is quite expert) that TEC is in a process. We aren’t all arriving at the Promised Land at the same time. Seven dioceses out of 99 are not in sync with SSM. That will likely change with the next bishop, or General Convention. I feel for my LGBT sisters and brothers in those… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest
MarkBrunson

The fact that there is the need to provide for priests who will not welcome the decision by GS means that there is a split, but no one is willing to admit that there are two different religions – one the majority of TEC and the other the pseudo-loyal “traditionalists,” particularly those busily undermining that GS, as in South Carolina.

That’s the reality, and it is ongoing, *because* we won’t acknowledge it. We’re not “holding together” because there is no “together” in such a situation.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Mark, you and I have a very different understanding of schism. I understand it to mean a complete separation dividing the church, not mere disagreement by some against others. While it is true that a small number of bishops, priests and parishioners have departed TEC, there has been no formal division of the church.

The same may not hold for the Anglican Communion.

The provision for clergy to decline to officiate at a marriage goes back to the middle of the last century. It was not invented for those opposed to SSM.