Sunday, 22 April 2012

Bishop of Salisbury on equal marriage

Nick Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, spoke in support of equal marriage at yesterday’s Cutting Edge Consortium conference. CEC have published the text of the bishop’s talk as a Google document, and we have made it available as a more convenient webpage.

Posted by Peter Owen on Sunday, 22 April 2012 at 4:40pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Thank goodness for the sanity and openness of at least one of the Church of England Bishops! Nick Holtam here enunicates what many of us in the Church are now thinking: That Gay Marriage is no threat to the institution of Heterosexual Marriage.

Perhaps the biggest threat to any marriage, gay or straight, is the spectre of unfaithfulness and the culture of 'Changing Partners.

As Saint Paul reminds us: "It is better to marry than burn!" Why then should intrinsically Gay persons not be actively encouraged to commit themselves to a monogamous, faithful, partnership for life? Surely Gay Marriage will not threaten the more common heterosexual variety. In fact, the very stability of a good Same-Sex Marriage, might be an encouragement to their straight friends to remain faithful to their heterosexual Marriages.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 23 April 2012 at 12:04am BST

Once upon a time the Church used to take a lead in moral issues - now all it seems to do is follow the secular tend like a naughty dog with its tail between its legs.
I am scratching my head trying to remember the last time an increasingly irrelevant Established Church lead the way - was it really as far back as Runcie's "Faith in the City"?
There's much talk nowadays about our omnishambles Government - how long will it be before critics and observers apply the same word to the once great Church of England

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 23 April 2012 at 5:50am BST

It is so refreshing to read something that is so sensible and full of commonsense. I think we may be turning a bit of a corner and people are beginning to break rank a little more. Once the crumble starts there will be no going with the Covenant.

Posted by: Robert Ellis on Monday, 23 April 2012 at 6:34am BST

The Holy Spirit is thankfully alive in some parts of the Anglican communion. Nick has become Bishop of Salisbury, in spite of Rowan. Now we have his positive talk on same sex marriage. Just let us thank God.

Posted by: Fr John Harris-White on Monday, 23 April 2012 at 8:17am BST

Thank God for some sensible comments by Nick Holtam. All Churches, including the RC Church permit poersons past the age of childbearing to marry in church despite the fact that pregnancy is impossible. Marriage is more than creating children. It is a covenantal relationship with grace from God.

I do not like the idea of religious marriage being different from secular marriage.

Posted by: Una Kroll on Monday, 23 April 2012 at 8:18am BST

First Civil Partnerships and now gay mnarriage has caught the Church as ever on the back foot, thrashing around in ignorance and prejudice trying to discover what it ought to be doing. Just saying NO is no longer good enough. Bishops Nick and Alan Wilson are leading the way to an affirming church which sees good in permanent faithful and stable relationships of what ever sexuality and which encourages them as a model for society as a whole. We should be particularly thankful that Bishop Nick clearly hasn't caved into Graham Kings et al and is prepared to continue to be a prophetic witness to what is right, true and honest.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 23 April 2012 at 9:19am BST

I must say I do agree with Una. If procreation is excluded by virtue of use of contraception, being of post child bearing age, having had sterilisation or engaging in non-reproductive sex acts then all such sex is presumably all equally reprehensible (Humanae Vitae at least has a degree of internal logic to it). I may have missed it but I cannot recall the C of E restricting marriage to the fertile and intending to reproduce, or indeed of teaching the faithful to make sure they stay celibate if unable or unwilling to procreate. This moral law applies in its full rigour against same sex couples but heterosexuals have (on the whole) progressively relaxed such burdens on themselves. Opposite couples are allowed to remarry, whereas same sex couples aren't allowed to marry once.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Monday, 23 April 2012 at 1:24pm BST

Concerning the Coalition for Marriage petition of over 450,000 signatures, Nick Holtam states: 'It is a very large number, but still only a quarter of the 1.8 million who signed the petition opposing road tolls in 2007, and the equivalent of about 12% of those who are regular church attenders in this country.'

By that comparison, he endeavours to undermine the relevance of the petition, only to highlight the views of two unrepresentative samples as more relevant.

According to Bishop Holtam, the informal responses of local sixth-formers and over 60s at a Salisbury Deanery Synod meeting need not be qualified in the same way. Perhaps, he considers them to be more relevant than the outcome of the British Social Attitudes Survey 2008. The latter clearly showed that while our population was largely in favour of Civil Partnerships, the vast majority of those over 30 remain either unconvinced by or firmly opposed to a re-definition of marriage.

He trots out the usual erroneous comparisons with genetic discrimination and confounds liberty rights (free speech, freedom of association) with claim rights (demands that the State treat some, but not all non-organic unions as equivalent to marriage).

Then again, his rhetoric here patently demands nothing more than a sympathetic hearing.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Monday, 23 April 2012 at 6:30pm BST

No Craig, you've got it long as the couple do nothing to thwart the will of God, they are in good faith..they are still open to a miracle.

Posted by: Robert ian willliams on Monday, 23 April 2012 at 7:18pm BST

Well, if you need to rely on miracles to keep gay people out of your concept of marriage, then you're limiting God by saying he can only perform miracles for straight couples.
Who's to say he couldn't do it for a gay couple too?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 23 April 2012 at 10:29pm BST

'the outcome of the British Social Attitudes Survey 2008. The latter clearly showed that .. the population was largely in favour of Civil Partnerships'

What wonderful news ! I had no idea.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 at 12:42am BST

David, fidelity and lifelong commitment used to be Christian values - until lesbian and gay couples asked to be part of the same formula of seeking blessing of God and recognition of their sincere love from the Church.

That is basically what he is advocating, along with respect for people's love, regardless of gender or orientation.

I think he is a good man.

Marriage is harmed by breakdown of heterosexual relationships, not by other people wanting to embrace its devotion, care and commitment.

The Church should be encouraging, affirming, and embracing this fidelity and commitment - and love - and welcoming people in, not driving them away.

Wjhy do we even *try* to control who other people love, who they marry, who they care for through sickness and infirmity?

Nick Holtham has it right.

Posted by: Susannah on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 at 1:48am BST

The institution of marriage is harmed by reducing its foundation to nothing more than an intense emotional connection. While emotions are important, the marriage is open to legal annulment (as if it didn't happen) by either party when consummation does not result. This is understood by the law to be the normal expectation of marriage.

It may surprise you that consummation does not result from an affectionate hug shared with no other, nor a special handshake extended to one's spouse alone.

Instead, it's consenting organic bodily union that signals that both parties intend a conjugal relationship and the full responsibility that the State understands may result from it. Conjugal affinity is the basis of society's family expectations. It is into this type of relationship that State delivers support for the private arrangements between the spouses and by way of them, to any offspring that may result.

BTW, I'm actually in favour of equal civil partnership, or is that a solely gay institution?

Posted by: David Shepherd on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 at 9:05am BST

Susannah has it right.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Tuesday, 24 April 2012 at 1:13pm BST
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