Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Same-sex marriage: Methodist Church response

Methodist response to proposals on same-sex marriage

11 December 2012

Statement from the General Secretary of the Methodist Church, the Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, in response to the Government’s proposals on same-sex marriage:

“The Government has announced that it will proceed with a Bill to make provision for the marriage of same-sex couples, including marriage in Churches which “opt in”. This decision raises both issues around the nature of marriage, and also about religious freedom.

“The Methodist response to the consultation on Equal Civil Marriage, drawn up by members of Faith and Order and the Methodist Council, stated that ‘The Methodist Church, in line with scripture and traditional teaching, believes that marriage is a gift of God and that it is God’s intention that a marriage should be a life-long union in body, mind and spirit of one man and one woman.’

“Within the Methodist Church there is a spectrum of belief about sexuality; however the Church has explicitly recognised, affirmed and celebrated the participation and ministry of lesbians and gay men.

“The Government has indicated that Churches which do not wish to marry same-sex couples will have the protection of law. This is important. However, in our response to the consultation we also stated that, while in the future we may or may not choose to affirm same-sex marriage, it would be unwarranted interference for the State to make that decision for us. For the purpose of religious freedom, if the Government allows marriage of same-sex couples in civil venues, then it must allow religious bodies to make the same choice. Whilst we recognise that most Christian Churches will probably choose not to offer same-sex marriages, the principle of religious freedom is an important one as it would it would leave with the Church the ultimate authority and autonomy to chose whether or not to do so.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 7:51am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

The last paragraph is absolute key here.
I have been astonished to see how many of those who loudly reject Parliamentary interference in the Women Bishops debate are delighted that the CoE will be protected by that same Parliament from the option to conduct same sex marriages.

If you do not strongly lobby Parliament against this intrusion, please don't complain about political interference when it doesn't suit.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 8:41am GMT

How encouraging to see the Methodist Church is as dishonest and unsatisfactory as the C of E.

No wonder religion is in decline among our island race- see Census results published yesterday.


Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 12:55pm GMT

The Methodist statement reads clearly and concisely regarding the nature of freedom of religion in a democratic society. The issue should indeed be thrown back on the churches to decide within the framework of their own polity. Such results in the churches being held directly accountable to public opinion for their social policies. This means, of course, that the Methodist Church will have to contend with wider public reactions regarding their view of marriage, as outlined in their statement.

Here in Canada we are closer to the half way point in terms of dioceses ( 11 out of 29) that will bless same sex unions. See link below. More interestingly, in a society where marriage in general is declining, and where same sex marriage is the "law of the land" this incrementalism by the church elicits a big yawn from society.

http://www.anglicanjournal.com/nc/other/news-items/c/sliders/article/quebec-becomes-10th-diocese-to-offer-same-sex-blessings-11351//abp/141.html

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 2:47pm GMT

Re the link to Canada in my earlier post, the Anglican Journal changed the number from 11 to ten (out of 29) so we are at the one third mark. The unions that are being blessed are civil marriages.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 3:35pm GMT

Hey guys. Give the Methodists a break. Erika is right. it is the final paragraph that (is all that) matters, and what it says is absolutely right. It provides a springboard for the Break Open the Fourth Lock campaign which must be about to start. There are strong signs that there will be a Labour amendment to abolish the Fourth Lock

Posted by: Iain McLean on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 3:49pm GMT

Erika, I don't think you're right on this one.

I'm not a canon lawyer, but if the clarifying statement from the C of E this morning is true, then it is precisely because of its established position, and that fact that its canon law is part of the law of the land, that this special clause is necessary to grant the C of E the same 'freedom of religion' as the non-established churches. In other words, the boot is on the other foot; it is 'establishment' that has caused this 'parliamentary interference'.

TA has a link at http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/005818.html.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 4:06pm GMT

Perhaps I need a translator, being an American and us being "two people separated by a common language..." To me, it appears that the Methodists are affirming their current position, marriage being between one man and one woman. But that they want the law to stay out of the way of their ability to decide for themselves whether or not to affirm gay marriage in the future. They state ways in which they support LGBT people. From this, it seems to me that they are expressing that there is a diverse range of opinion within their church.

To me that seems honest. In fact much more honest than CoE that gave a harsh, poorly reasoned pronouncement with no nod to the diverse range of views within their own church.

I'm not understanding the negative responses.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 5:19pm GMT

I predict that atheism will continue to become more prominent and that interest in the church will become the province of the fanatical few. They have brought this on themselves. No sympathy

Posted by: Mike Homfray on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 6:56pm GMT

@ Cynthia, that is my reading of the Methodist statement as well. I think the statement honest, but it leaves open the question of how it will be greeted in the court of public opinion.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 1:11am GMT

I'm sorry but the Methodists are giving an object lesson to the Church of England as to how to behave. They are stating their current position honestly and with modesty and respect. They give a very positive view of Christianity unlike some other denominations.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 7:51am GMT

To me as a gay person 'their current position' so parsimonious just st-nks. I won't ease off - nor will most Brits. We've waited too long.

Even the RSoF has much to answer for on this and other matters.

It must be almost unique in writing to its own membership and expelling them from the Society if they haven't been to Meeting to Worship for some years.

Why are organised forms of religion so authoritarian, and so skillful in disillusioning honest spiritual people. People who need support and encouragement in their lives' ups and downs ?

(No wonder membership figures for Quakers have gone from 20,000 to 16,000 in less than ten years.)

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 12:28pm GMT

So gay couples are just going to (have)to wait and wait for the Methodist Church to patronise them a bit more ?

Is that it ?

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 12:31pm GMT

Does that mean a Methodist minister with a gay son would not marry him. Like we have in East Belfast

Posted by: Now on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 12:34pm GMT

I agree with Craig Nelson: the Methodist position is decent.

Can't follow the logic of 'Mersey Mike': the undoubted homophobia of the C of E hierarchy causes/warrants atheism? Tail wagging dog. The merits of theism vs atheism are not so decided.

Posted by: John on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 8:01pm GMT

A year or two ago, an Anglican clergyman I know refused to marry his daughter, as she was divorced.

Posted by: John Roch on Friday, 14 December 2012 at 8:30am GMT
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