Sunday, 25 June 2006

weekend opinions

Last week I linked an article from Ekklesia about marriage. Nobody here commented at all. So first, here is another item a week old, which is a discussion of that on last week’s BBC Sunday radio programme:


Under draft legislation to be debated by the church of England’s General Synod next month, couples should be able to marry in any church they like if they can show they have a connection with it.

The religious think tank Ekklesia suggests that the Church and society should go further. It suggests serious consideration should be given to the abolition of legal marriage and its replacement by a variety of civil partnerships through which couples could specify the type of legal commitment they wished to make to one another.

The Dean of Wakefield, The Very Reverend George Nairn-Briggs, sat on the working party which drafted the proposals to relax the rules on where couples can marry. He and Jonathan Bartley, director of Ekklesia, discuss these controversial proposals.
Listen (7m 4s)

This week, Geoffrey Rowell writes in The Times: The Church must not sway to the siren voice of postmodern culture

In the Guardian Face to Faith is written from a Quaker perspective by David Bryant.

Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about A helping hand from St John [the Baptist].

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 25 June 2006 at 4:20pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Opinion

1) Were you posting here at 4.20pm instead of watching the match?
2) Have you not posted a link to the Bishop of Rochester's article in the Sunday Telegraph?

Posted by: Mark Hart on Sunday, 25 June 2006 at 6:46pm BST

Simon, I apologise for not commenting at the time. It did not go un-noticed nor was the posting in the church newspaper about ABC's concerns about the losing the importance of marriage. I did not post because the precedent in the US deserved to not be overshadowed by red herrings (the marriage debate in the UK has been going on for some time now). Further, I have been trying to be quieter to give room for others to express their voice.

I have been concerned that the debate on marriage is going backwards. Not that the sanctity of marriage has become less important (more on that later), but that the needs of other vulnerable peoples are the casualities in this discussion. I agree in large part with the Ekklesia article. What has been forgotten in the post-WWII fragmented families society is the care for the vulnerable and defenseless, which used to automatically happen in the extended family structures which rapidly disappeared mid-last century. The people that are forgotten are those who incapable of looking after themselves, the sibling who is intellectually impaired and can never live on their own or earn an independent income; the bereaved aunt suffering from dementia; the celibate homosexual spinster who chose to remain single and lived with her sister all her life. These are the people for whom there has been no legal acknowledgement or provision for their care upon the passing of the signficant other/s who provided for them. That the debate has centred around the inconsistency in application to homosexual couples is a reflection that our society responds to squeaky wheels with money and a voice, and ignore the vulnerable. In trying to win the points against the homosexuals, those who oppose fair inheritance rights based on providing shelter for those within one's household over a lifetime prove their moral bankruptcy for they forget all these others.

In that sense, they are more incompetent than the apostles, who at least had the sense to assign Stephen to care for the widows, and who initially reluctantly tolerated the Apostle Paul (after he came back from seven years being parked in a fishing village) on the condition that providing for the poor be a core component of his ministry.

On the other articles and the importance of marriage, the conservatives like to claim theological insight into this divine wisdom. Yet they have forgotten and shedded core components of Judaic family life. I had reason to write a letter to friend last night and noticed that the reference to the lamp being the light of the body is at Luke 11:33-36, which immediately follows Jesus' reference to a generation that would require repentance not on miracles but on the advice of a woman with Wisdom. For those who know Judaism, this would not be a coincidence, for it is the woman's responsibility to light the family candles the night before the Sabbath with joy that God is blessing the family.

And I have been contemplating this thing that God has that the woman is served a double cup of God's wrath so that their mate can have a clear head to put the family back into order with God. That Old Testamant principle needs to stand, because men can simply overpower women, and it is only the knowledge that eventually they will have to make restitution for the suffering they allow their women to experience that has any hope of breaking some men out of their narcisstic avoidance of responsbility.

None of this is "new age", this is ancient oral tradition of Jesus' ancestry being brought forward for a reminder of what has been forgotten and neglected. And I wonder if anyone will listen to this voice from the wilderness, and if they will not listen to this, then would they even recognise John the Baptist today?

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Sunday, 25 June 2006 at 11:20pm BST

Mark - Simon did. See here:

I can't explain why he wasn't watching the match.

Posted by: Andrewdb on Monday, 26 June 2006 at 3:13am BST

Do the people at Ekklesia ever bother reading the Bible? Or does that get in the way of their promotion of the annihilation of the Chrtistian West?

Posted by: Shawn on Monday, 26 June 2006 at 7:53am BST


Ekklesia appear to me to be looking at a contradictory situation quite effectively - that we have an essentially secular society where there is no actual difference , legally, between civil and religious marriage. Indeed, it is now largely a secular event, yet the church still try and fit it into their boundaries.

Ekklesia's suggestion would clearly delineate the difference between religious marriage and secular partnership and reflect the reality for the vast majority of those who marry - that it has precisely nothing to do with religion. Can you honestly say that non-churchgoing people marry in church because they want anything other than a pretty backdrop to the wedding?

There is a case for using marriage to 'bring people in', but lets be honest about the reality of the society we live in. For the vast majority of people, marriage is not what the Church claims it to be.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 26 June 2006 at 11:24am BST

I wonder how many marriages merseymike has conducted? Or Jonathan Bartley? The fact that the state offers a legal arrangement called marriage does not impact upon what the Church believes about marriage, nor upon the great majority of people who ask for a religious wedding service.

The Church does not have to fit anything into its boundaries: the same wedding service is provided for both churchgoers and non-churchgoers alike, and the event is a moving spiritual experience for both. Even if universal civil registration were to be required as in France, people would still be asking for religious services as well, in order to consecrate their commitment in the sight of God as well as of a registrar.

Why would the Church of England be seeking to relax the requirements for its clergy arranging church weddings, if there were no demand for them? Quite the opposite is true, according to clergy I know, who value the event as a means of grace for all concerned.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Monday, 26 June 2006 at 3:27pm BST

Alan ; to try and attract people to church weddings, of course, the number of which has halved since other venues became available.

I think if you honestly think that non-churchgoing recipients of church weddings do it for anything even remotely connected to religious belief, you are being very naive. Try asking a few of them the reason why.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 26 June 2006 at 4:15pm BST

Face To Faith with David Bryant
Thank you for the link to this article.. It is worded with such expressive, subtlty. It reflects my experience of Quaker worship since the Invasion of Iraq, and why I cannot let a Sunday pass without joining my F/friends for a time of shared silence, peace and more.... personally,I always feel like I've been in the mass.

(former anglican clergyperson)

Posted by: LaurenceRoberts on Monday, 26 June 2006 at 6:09pm BST

The South Africans wrote a very good position paper last year. They distinguished between the laws of the state and the religious vows within a church. We should all be praying for laws of state that fairly and consistently provide for the needs and shelter of all its citizens - including those in dependency relationships with others.

Further, if we want to live in a world where Christians are not murdered in non-Christian countries (and vice versa) then we need to be able to respect and provide room for the religious requirements of each faith (unless they cross over into the satanic-baal violence continuum). Therefore the State needs to allow room for the various faiths to be able to conduct and honor their religious vows.

As the Catholics pointed out in their 23 June news brief, the need for hospitable pluralistic cohabitation will increase with migration

On the question of what kind of vows should be honoured in our churches, that is the current subject of debate, and could well lead to there being two (or more) churches with Anglican origins.

However, what is acceptable in which church should be separated from the obligations of State that are not just for Christians, but also Jews, Hindus, Muslims... If people do not agree with this, then they should be arguing against immigration, pluralism, conversion; and possibly arguing for expulsion of non-Christians and non-conservative Anglicans Christians from the UK's lands or forcing them to convert to Anglicanism, tithing an obligatory 10% of their gross income, and attending all church services unless they have a medical certificate for exemption.

Posted by: Cheryl Clough on Monday, 26 June 2006 at 9:59pm BST

I have, merseymike. Have you?

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Monday, 26 June 2006 at 11:52pm BST

Yes, Alan.

Posted by: Merseymike on Tuesday, 27 June 2006 at 9:54am BST

Ekklesia is wrong. Say it again: wrong. Say it a third time - and again I say: wrong. And this can be fairly simply demonstrated.
In two simple ways:
(1) If the problem lay with marriage itself, then marriage success/failure rates would be similar across different cultures, subcultures, and people groups. It is not - not by any means. Therefore the root of success or failure has to do primarily with the health or otherwise of the culture[s] in question, not with something innate within marriage itself. For example: Our culture was comparatively healthy in the 1950s: so were our marriage rates. Our culture is sick now: so are our divorce rates. That is the big picture statistically.
(2) Can Jonathan Bartley name an alternative that has a better positive track record than marriage?

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Tuesday, 27 June 2006 at 12:51pm BST

BRAVO CHRISTOPHER!!! You are correct in my opinion--Sick culture=sick marriage success rates, at least in this instance--i.e., modern culture is definitely SICK!


Posted by: Steven on Tuesday, 27 June 2006 at 2:11pm BST
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