Wednesday, 13 June 2012

more coverage of CofE statement on equal civil marriage

There has been a deluge of coverage in the media since yesterday morning.

On Channel 4 News last night, The Bishop of Leicester and The Revd Dr Malcolm Brown, Director of Mission and Public Affairs for the Archbishops’ Council, were among those interviewed. The several reports are all linked from this page.

This morning the Telegraph reports Ministers signal gay marriage could take place in church.

And the Independent reports We do… MPs to give strong show of support to same-sex marriage.

The Daily Mail has Cameron CANNOT protect Church against gay marriage laws (says his own Justice minister)

The Guardian has this editorial today: Gay marriage: progress v the pulpit

The Independent has this leading article: Nothing but hyperbole on same-sex marriage

Yesterday the Guardian reported Church of England accused of scaremongering over gay marriage.

Simon Jenkins wrote The marriage of church and state is anything but gay.

Adam Wagner wrote Gay marriage: the Church of England’s argument dissected.

Giles Fraser wrote The Church of England says it is against gay marriage. Not in my name.

In the Telegraph George Carey wrote Gay marriage is a threat to the bonds of Church and state.

Steve Doughty wrote in Mail Online Is it any wonder that the Church doesn’t trust the Government on gay marriage?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 7:35am BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England

From Channel 4 - 'The Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, said the Church of England had been supportive of civil partnerships when the legislation was introduced eight years ago.'

The Church is re-writing history. At every stage the Bishops and the vociferous have opposed all movement towards greater equality for GLTB people either on the spurious grouds of the 'protection' of the young (men of course nothing said about women) or the nonsense of the diminution of marriage.

"We continue to be supportive of the gay community and want to see that inclusion in our society increased and developed," he said.

I for one am getting increasingly fed up with the condescedning 'support' of Bishops, who, however personally sympathetic, continue to spout the party line. It's patronising and essentially dishonest.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 8:10am BST

I thought Malcom Brown looked extremely awkward when required to defend the party line on Channel 4 - I simply don't believe he believed what he was having to defend.

Posted by: JeremyP on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 1:58pm BST

Sadly, the damage of this frothy letter from the CofE bishops is not limited to Britain: The NY Times has the following headline: "Churches Challenge Britain Over Same-Sex Marriage"

And the article continues: "Just two days before a deadline for public responses to Prime Minister David Cameron’s plan, both the Church of England and Roman Catholic bishops insisted in public statements that marriage was the union of a man and a woman."

In this way the CofE is helping to un-church a younger generation of folks in the US and all over the world - since people under a certain age tend to overwhelmingly accept equal marriage and tend to lump institutions together into large, untrusted categories.

Congratulations to the bishops... well done good and faithful servants... Perhaps next they can join hands with "young earth creationists" or with those who insist that the earth is not round and that the sun revolves around the earth...

Posted by: Scot on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 3:23pm BST

you may find this

summary of the press release and the fuller submission useful

Posted by: useful in parts on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 3:40pm BST

"George Carey wrote Gay marriage is a threat to the bonds of Church and state."

No, George, *your stance* on equal marriage is a threat to the bonds of Church and state.

Posted by: Dan BD on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 3:59pm BST

Yes, I agree with the poster Richard Ashby. "condescending support" of the hierarchy for the glbt community is something we do not need. It is insulting. In many cases it is homophobic and shows great ignorance. The Church is trying its' best to re-write history. Thank you to Richard for his insightful comments in this thread.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 5:00pm BST

A different bishop voice:

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 5:46pm BST

Lord Carey: "Christians being barred from wearing crosses at work".
** sigh **
That chestnut again. I think employers who bar jewelry, for safety or other considerations, aren't malevolently attacking Christians. I think they're instead trying to protect said Christians from electrocution, strangulation, laceration, mangling, or other injury, or false readings on clients’ medical tests that could lead to misdiagnosis.
Lord Carey then ominously warns,
"To press ahead with these proposals could undermine the establishment of the Church of England, let alone the monarchy."
To quote Winnie the Pooh, “Oh, bother!”
How does same-sex civil marriage threaten Her Majesty? She and Prince Philip -- may he fully recover -- seem quite happily married together. I can't think why two male or female Brits obtaining a civil marriage would cause HM and HRH to throw away 65 years of marriage.
If Lord Carey is concerned for The Very Survival of the Monarchy Itself, that institution has survived various civil wars, various treasons, the Spanish Armada, the full wrath of the Roman Catholic Church’s 1500s papacy, beheadings, abolishment, rebellious and uppity Americans -- “Your Majesty, the colonists are revolting!” “You don’t have to tell me, the nerve of those people!” -- and several less-than-fully-competent rulers. If the monarchy can survive all that, but not the publicly formal committed love of two men or two women towards each other, I can't imagine why the British people would want to continue to rely on such a house of cards, such a facade, such a Potemkin village.
Nope, I think Her Majesty, Prince Charles, Prince William, and all future successors are made of sterner stuff, and would carry on admirably.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 7:02pm BST

Jeremy, Malcolm very much believes what he's defending. He's very clear that opening up the definition would, as he said in the interview "hollow out" marriage; and marriage as it currently stands is the one institution, he says, which entails and prioritises (my words, not his) biological parenthood above all others. He thinks there are no other institutions which specifically support biological parenthood and society would be diminished if the definition is changed. I don't get it, but he and others genuinely seem to hold that view.

Posted by: Giles Goddard on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 7:03pm BST

Pluralist - Thank you for that link to the Bishop of Grantham's strong views on the recent statement from the Bishop of Leicester on the Government's proposals re. same sex marriage.
Unfortunately the Bishop of Grantham bats for the Second Eleven, as it were, in that he is not a member of the House of Bishops and therefore does not have a vote in the General Synod. Discounting the Bishop of Dover - only four of his fellow Southern Province Suffragans have that honour as members of the House of Bishops - namely:- Dorchester, Dudley, Grimsby and Willesden.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 7:22pm BST

At present, if I understand the position correctly, the decision to carry out in Church a marriage ceremony where one or both of the couple are divorced is left to the indvidual choice of the parish priest.

Can a similar arrangement not be made for Gay marriage? Clearly, some parish priests would say no, but I suspect that a majority would be happy.

Posted by: Richard Ballam on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 8:31pm BST

The only reason the government is making the distinction between civil marriage and Matrimony is that the State Church has consistently refused to bless the marriages of same sex couples, or their civil unions.

1. The House of Bishops, which demands its "right" to discriminate against LGBTI persons and couples, now proclaims itself the victim.

2. The House of Bishops, having wasted decades in failing to develop a coherent theology of committed loving relationships, now complains that the government is acting in haste.

3. The House of Bishops, which could see this issue coming for years, exercised no leadership in addressing the problems that would arise. The Synod could make changes to the Church's canons that prevent the rupture that the House complains of. What is bothering the bishops is the threatened loss of power as the government gives up on them as moral leaders.

5. The House of Bishops has been assiduous in refusing to consider the possibility that the Spirit is moving among the people to ensure the dignity of God’s people, having been shut out of the bishops' drawing rooms.

6. The House of Bishops has demonstrated by its lack of action over many years that its majority has no intention of acting to support LGBTI couples and their families. Their pious statements to the contrary are not borne out in actions. Where are the diocesan programs to support the journeys of same sex couples and their families, gay clergy, gay bishops, and programs to support LGBTI children who are at increased risk of being victimized by their peers? The lack of moral leadership and competence belongs to the bishops,

7. The rest of the bishops' argument lacks spiritual value. They stand on the notion of "biological complementarity". One reason to have women represented as equals in the House of Bishops is that it may put an end to the bishops' high-school boys' locker room view of sexuality and marriage. Ever preoccupied with fitting "the parts" together and the fixed roles of the sexes, the bishops betray the immaturity of their thinking. The bishops, who are called to speak on behalf of the God who is Love, cannot get "above the waistline" in their theology. Gentlemen, the heart is in the chest, regardless of one's gender, and for most of us, it trumps other realities as the organ of love. Marriage is first about love and self-sacrificing commitment. When the bishops' moral position paper says nothing about the Great Commandment of love or about how our Lord wants his disciples to be identified, they are abdicating their responsibility as teachers of our faith.

I look to General Synod to demand an accounting of the bishops.

Posted by: karen macqueen+_ on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 9:12pm BST

It is difficult to express just how appalling this document is. This is the Sentamu Church in its full horror.

I do not criticise the Church of England for not agreeing to same sex marriage (even though there is no where near anything that might be described as consensus on the matter, with many Anglicans open or supportive of equal marriage).

I criticise the C of E for making itself look ridiculous; for its exaggerations, lies, scaremongering, for obsessing about obscure privilege as the established church.

I think this reveals a naked hatred of LGBT people and the patent lack of integrity in the document really does close a period in the C of E's life. No longer a church for the people of England, no longer moderate and cautious but willing to lie big in order to spin the wheel for a few headlines in the Daily Mail.

It's a truly miserable and despicable point to come to. I think this is a day of history that we will look back on - that was the day the CofE became an extreme right wing sect.

The biggest lie is of course feigning support for LGBT issues. Either a lie or a testimony to the power of self delusion on a grand scale. Apart from the lack of support for Civil Partnerships which endures to this day the CofE opposed the equal age of consent and the repeal of Section 28 as far as I recall.

There is by the way one area where I do agree with the CofE. I don't see the need for two types of marriage, civil and religious. Marriage per se should be open to same sex couples and each religious organisation should be able to decide as it sees fit whether they wish to marry same sex couples. On that point I do hope the government listen to the CofE's representations.

On a final point the idea that priests and denominations can be obliged to marry against their wishes is a point of unrestrained daftness. The religious protections in the ECHR are particularly robust, as is well known; notably at least Denmark, Sweden - doubtless others as well - allow but do not compel religions to marry same sex couples. I think really the point is quite clear - only the CofE aspires to bring confusion where previously there was clarity.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Wednesday, 13 June 2012 at 10:42pm BST

Giles - I stand corrected! Nevertheless, I am sure that there has to be some perhaps half-conscious cognitive dissonance that he and those of his ilk - +Tim Leicester for instance - must feel when they at one and the same time try to big up C of E support for serious committed gay relationships, and at the same time indulge in the patronising and demeaning "hollowing out" language.

One, the bigging up of the C of E support is both laughable and also a lie. But it is a very interesting feature of the whole business. What is it that makes them so desperately keen to be seen as being pro-gay, when in fact, they have been officially grudging and mean-spirited at best, and hostile and reactionary at worst?

Secondly, the 'hollowing out' talk is self-evidently demeaning. All the fine words they erect about the quality of gay relationships come crashing to earth when it is clear from their argumentation that they think that those kinds of relationships are in some way deficient, or threatening (how?).

Time, I think, to remind them that the point of equality is just that - to remember that (as with women and race) that we are Good As You - and deserve to be treated so.

Posted by: JeremyP on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at 12:14am BST

".... opening up the definition would ..... "hollow out" marriage; and marriage as it currently stands is the one institution ...... which entails and prioritises ..... biological parenthood above all others. He thinks there are no other institutions which specifically support biological parenthood and society would be diminished if the definition is changed." - Giles Goddard summarising Malcolm Brown's views on the sanctity of heterosexual marriage.

"The proposals will undermine the primacy of the genetic kinship rights that are mutually surrendered through sexual union and thenceforth shared by spouses in marriage. Non-genetic demands for parental recognition will displace genetic parental rights." David Shepherd apparently saying, so far as I can penetrate his prose, much the same thing on a nearby TA blog.

And in the Church Times, Lady Oppenheimer (who she?) writes “To suppose that backing same-gender unions redefines marriage is like supposing that backing adoption redefines parenthood.”

This line of "thought" seems to be surfacing all over the place.

Think it's going to be a rough ride if York moves to Canterbury.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at 1:55am BST

"This is the Sentamu Church in its full horror"
"Think it's going to be a rough ride if York moves to
Reading most of the above comments I am left wondering if the House of Bishops (the Archbishop of York, in particular) is currently the most persecuted minority in England? I've never known such opprobrium to be poured upon their Lordships heads following the publication of the two amendments and their response to the Government's consultation on same sex marriage.

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at 7:59am BST


'And in the Church Times, Lady Oppenheimer (who she?) writes “To suppose that backing same-gender unions redefines marriage is like supposing that backing adoption redefines parenthood.”'

Adoptive relations are established to fulfil the role vacated by biological parents. A court order or the consent of the biological parent is needed. Hence, the primacy of biological relationship is not undermined by adoption.

In contrast, same-sex marriage is not proposed to fulfil the role in a homosexuals life that was vacated by a heterosexual partner. It is not proposed as secondary to biological kinship and therefore it re-defines the institution.

PS, please excuse the impenetrable prose. It's a symptom of reading too much Rowan ;-)

Posted by: David Shepherd on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at 9:42am BST

Now, let's just see if there is any other definition of the word 'Marriage' in the Bible!

Oh Yes! 'The Marriage of the Lamb' - that doesn't seem to fit the unilateral understanding of some commenters here. It is not anything to do with a heterosexual connubial relationship.

Who first defined exactly what marriage entails? Were such forms of relationship not around before the Bible was written?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at 12:27pm BST

GS Misc 910:

'3.26 The Archbishops’ Council’s responsibilities are different in kind. Its status as an incorporated trustee body requires it to take decisions of a financial and practical nature, and in these decisions the lay voice will be strong.

From time to time it will need to issue statements outlining the Church of England’s position on various subjects, but these should reflect the decisions of the General Synod and the guidance of the House of Bishops.

Ecclesiologically speaking, such statements do not have the inherent authority that statements of the House of Bishops or of the General Synod enjoy.'

So, the Archbishops' Council holds delegated, rather than inherent authority. If the response did more than reflect the decisions of the General Synod and the guidance of the House of Bishops, it was acting ultra vires. If they were inferred from Acts of Synod, Resolutions, Pastoral statements and the like, the Council did not exceed its authority.

The House of Laity is significant enough to impose a diverse view on General Synod resolutions. If it hasn't, it may be because their electors, Deanery Synod, hold fairly homogenised conservative views. Yet, why were so many unafraid to vote against the Covenant.

If parishioners feel aggrieved enough by this response, they can organise and need to gain a majority of support in Deanery and through to General Synod. Until then, the response does represent the mind of the church.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at 3:13pm BST

What authority in fact does this statement have in the Church of England? Who prepared it? Who authorized it? Who, if anyone, signed it? Did the bishops of the C. of E. approve it? Do the two archbishops? Obviously General Synod did not. Is this response merely the wishful thinking of a few "curial" types at Church House? I think it is important to clarify this matter of authority and for someone or someones to take responsibility for the statement. Can anyone provide more information about this?

Posted by: james lodwick on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at 3:42pm BST

Lady Oppenheimer is a very distinguished Anglican, see

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at 4:28pm BST

I know, Simon. I was just being naughty. But thank you. This birth parenting stuff is just so nonsensically irrelevant, not to mention just a wee bit scary. Sort of thing one supposed might be of interest to - maybe even understood by - two, maybe three, RC canon lawyers.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at 5:16pm BST

"In contrast, same-sex marriage is not proposed to fulfil the role in a homosexuals life that was vacated by a heterosexual partner."

No, it's proposed to fulfill the role in a gay person's life that's analogous to a heterosexual person's life w/ a heterosexual partner.

This isn't rocket science, DavidS. Reading Rowan or not, why are you complicating a simple adjustment the law, which does so much good and NO harm?

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 14 June 2012 at 9:28pm BST
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.