Wednesday, 10 April 2013

CofE publishes “Men and Women in Marriage”

Updated to include Notes

Church of England press release

“Men and Women in Marriage” – new document from Faith and Order Commission

The Church of England’s view of the long-established meaning of marriage has been outlined in a new report - “Men and Women in Marriage” - published this week by the Church’s Faith and Order Commission.

The publication (attached) includes a foreword from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York which commends the document for study. The report sets out the continued importance and rationale for the Church’s understanding of marriage as reflected in the 1,000 marriage services conducted by the Church of England every week.

The document also seeks to provide “a more positive background on how Christians have understood and valued marriage” arguing that marriage “continues to provide the best context for the raising of children”.

The report takes as its starting point the Church’s basic premise that “marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and means of His grace”. The document also seeks to enlarge the understanding of marriage defined as “a faithful, com mitted, permanent and legally sanctioned relations hip between a man and a woman, central to the stability and health of human society.”

Recognising the ongoing debate around marriage in society the report acknowledges that marriage “like most important undertakings in life, can be lived more successfully or less successfully. Mistakes are made, by couples, by their friends and relatives, and sometime by pastors and institutions of the church… Lack of clear understanding of marriage can only multiply disappointments and frustrations. Public discussion at this juncture needs a clear view of why Christians believe and act in relation to marriage as they do and this document is offered as a resource for that.”

The Bishop of Coventry Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Chair of the Commission said: “The Church has a long track record in conducting and supporting marriage, drawing from the deep wells of wisdom which inform centuries of shared religious and cultural understandings of marriage. There is a danger in the current debate of picking apart the institution of marriage which is part of the social fabric of human society.

“This report seeks to celebrate all that is good about marriage in its ability to bring together biological difference and the generative power of marriage to bring forth life. It also recognises that there are forms of human relationships which fall short of marriage in the form the God has given us.

“This report also underlines the role of the Church in seeking to provide care, prayer and compassion for those who for whatever reason are unable to receive the gift of marriage in the form that the Church has understood it and continues to uphold. Whilst it is right that priests and church communities continue to seek to provide and devise pastoral care accommodation for those in such situations, the document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone.”

A PDF copy of the report which is numbered as GS Misc 1046 is available here.

Notes

The Faith and Order Commission (FOAC) advises the House of Bishops, the General Synod and the Council for Christian Unity on ecclesiological and ecumenical matters and acts as a theological resource for the Church of England as a whole. More information can be found at http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/work-other-churches/ccu/faith-and-order-commission.aspx

Members of the Commission

Bishops
The Right Revd Dr Christopher Cocksworth, Bishop of Coventry (Chairman)
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
The Right Revd Dr Brian Castle, Bishop of Tonbridge
The Right Revd Dr Tim Dakin, Bishop of Winchester
The Right Revd Dr John Inge, Bishop of Worcester.

Clergy
The Revd Canon Professor Loveday Alexander
The Revd Dr Cally (Carolyn) Hammond
The Revd Dr David Hilborn
The Revd Canon Dr Charlotte Methuen
The Revd Dr Jeremy Morris
The Revd Dr John Muddiman
The Revd Professor Oliver O’Donovan
The Revd Thomas Seville CR

Laity
Dr Mike Higton
Dr Cathy Ross

Secretary of the Commission
Dr Martin Davie

A draft report from the Commission was considered by the House of Bishops of the Church of England in December 2012 who authorised the Standing committee of the House to approve the final text and authorise publication. The Standing Committee approved the report in March 2013.

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Comments

So discouraging! I have been so uifted by the rapidity of the changes in overall opinion here in the US, where I am used to much o the church being onboard with marriage equality. To see the mother church so out of touch with what seems to me to be such backwards thinking is sad.

Posted by: Doug Spurlin on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 1:55am BST

If the CofE wants to sign its death warrant, the Episcopal Church will carry on, following the Holy Spirit. (Just so y'all know)

Kyrie eleison!

[I commend this blunt-speaking blog post: http://dannikanash.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/an-open-letter-to-the-church-from-my-generation/ ]

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 4:41am BST

Another total loser from the CoE. What an offensive document!

One example. It says that heterosexual couples remain the best context for raising children. The American Society of Pediatricians just looked at about 40 studies that conclude that children in same sex relationships do as well as those in heterosexual settings. The one or two studies that had different conclusions were sponsored by, you guess it, conservative organizations.

When they invent claptrap like this in the face of science and anecdotal evidence to the contrary, they completely undermine their arguments. This document is their uninformed opinion. It is amateurish, indulgent, nonsense.

They offend gay parents who are raising their children in difficult circumstances (thanks to the church), as well as straight couple who are childless...

By the way, not one of their Biblical references is clearly anti gay marriage. Not one. It is their myopic interpretation.

This top-down polity by old guys who are selected more on politics than rigorous theology and unanswerable to anyone is not a winning strategy. There is no incentive for them to LISTEN to real people, to challenge their bizarre stereotypes and assumptions, nor to let the Spirit in!!!

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 5:19am BST

'We believe that marriage is grace so grace is marriage', seems to me to reflect the reasoning in this document. I also thought that Christianity concerns the following of Jesus and his teaching that we should love one another as God loves us. There seems to be little of this in the document.

Posted by: clairejxx on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 6:55am BST

Susan Russell, All Saints' Pasadena, writes on Facebook: 'Proving once again that the tea in Boston Harbor was the best move we ever made ...' Can't say I disagree.

Posted by: Scot Peterson on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 8:02am BST

The most objectionable paragraphs are 2 and 44. Para 2, as Cynthia notes, claims without evidence that opposite-sex marriage "continues to provide the best context for the raising of children", The source for the claim is an earlier church document. That is not evidence. The findings of (social) scientists are evidence. See American Society of Pediatricians; also the findings of fact in the US Federal District Court in Perry v. Schwarzenegger August 2010 at https://ecf.cand.uscourts.gov/cand/09cv2292/files/09cv2292-ORDER.pdf

Para 44 is worse. "Not all who marry are Christians. The Church guards a common traditional understanding of marriage as a human, not only a
religious act". This is no less than a claim to tell the rest of us what to believe. Guys, the Test Act was repealed in 1828. Quakers and Jews have had the right to marry in their own manner since 1753, The statement is deeply offensive to those, both Christian and other, who have thought about the matter and come to a different conclusion.

In the name of science, the authors should be asked to withdraw para 2 (think Galileo). In the name of ecumenism and common sense they should be urgently asked to withdraw para 44. And if any bishop attempts to use that argument when the current same-sex marriage bill reaches the Lords, he will be laughed out of the House. Which may be a blessing in disguise.

Posted by: Iain McLean on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 8:40am BST

Perhaps someone who understands the way things work in the CofE, can explain how this fits into the Pilling group's present task.
It is a document one might expect following on such a report. This document for discussion would seem to be directing the outcome of the report.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 8:48am BST

"This report also underlines the role of the Church in seeking to provide care, prayer and compassion for those who for whatever reason are unable to receive the gift of marriage in the form that the Church has understood it and continues to uphold."

As in: "We feel so compassionate for you that you cannot be treated as equal because we will not allow you to be treated as equal."

This seems to be the new face of kindness - we no longer demonise you but we still firmly love you in such a way that you end up having to conform to our prejudices.

Don't kid yourselves, good people of the CoE, it will not work. It will be clearly seen for the patronising continuation of pure prejudice that it is.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:09am BST

What a complete and utter cop out. The CofE had a great opportunity to do the right thing and be a shinning example of how to live out the 2nd great example of loving your neighbour. Instead it has proved that it lives in the past which such comments as " drawing from the deep wells of wisdom which inform centuries of shared religious and cultural understandings of marriage. There is a danger in the current debate of picking apart the institution of marriage which is part of the social fabric of human society" the danger is NOT picking apart the institution of marriage because by NOT doing so the CofE shows Christianity as a dead religion that is stuck in a 2000 year old book and not the viberant alive relevant faith that they should be show casing. Because of this less people with have a relationship with God and if for no other reason it is WRONG

Posted by: Ian Whitley on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:12am BST

Susan and Scott: Here once the embattled farmer stood and fired the shot heard round the world. Or Loving vs Virginia; Or Brown vs Topeka Kansas, etc. etc. I'm with you.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 10:14am BST

I do not live in England. If I did, I doubt whether I ever would have returned to faith as an adult (after my know-it-all atheist phase ages 15 to 25). The CoE, at least in those pronouncements that seem to claim to speak for the Church as a whole, appears to have lost any shred of reason or theological coherence. (Hint to the Faith and Order commission: Casual reasoning based on made-up premises is not good theology.)

It is terribly disappointing to see this kind of thing present itself as the Mind of the Church.

Posted by: Halford Dace on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 10:56am BST

As a cradle Episcopalian who has lived and served in the Church of England for over 30 years (twenty of those in orders), would my fellow Americans tone down the triumphalism a teeny bit? – and perhaps recall that the Church of England had laywomen fully incorporated in its synodical processes decades before the Episcopal Church. It doesn’t help and is hurtful to the many, many Anglicans here who actually agree with you! A little expressed solidarity wouldn’t go amiss, sisters and brothers. One of the most intellectually dishonest things about the report is the lack of engagement with the fact that there is a diversity of views, based on theological conviction, around issues of sexuality and marriage equality within the Church of England – all by ‘loyal Anglicans’. It is a ghastly report which needs to be responded to theologically and with moral anger as the Bishop of Buckingham has done. But let’s all be careful of the 8th Deadly Sin – Smugness.

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 11:29am BST

Not smugness, Judith, you're right there of course and I too am in C-of-E orders, BUT it's the NEW SPEAK which comes out so often in official pronouncements, and not just this one. It's as though by fudging over the Queen's English (as Herself never does, I might add), the church can 'do and not do' 'be in favor of and also against' or 'maybe no one will notice' etc etc.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 12:15pm BST

I guess the dear old Church of England has existed so long with the duplicity that is represented in this document, that it may seem to its promoters that the wool can still be pulled over the eyes of the traditional 'faithful' of the Church - no matter what the more inquisitive 'worldly' may make of it.

It seems that justice in the Church always has to be enforced from outside influences. Until the prospect of Same-Sex Marriage entered the arena, Church of England Bishops were concentrating on the 'moral problems' of Civil Partnerships - electing not to encourage them.

However, in the light of recent developments on 'Gay Marriage', the ecclesiastical fudge machine gets into gear with the possibility of a 'vestry prayer' for intentionally monogamous same-sex partners - stopping short, of course, of open recognition by the Church of such relationships. Sad indeed!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 12:24pm BST

What an impressive set of academic credentials on the Commission. Before everyone piles on, I am simply noting how there is still an effort to bring in strong academic figures with excellent biblical and theological training. I fear that is now a lost horizon in NA. The TEC committee charged with a similar task produced a good report, admitting that sides did not agree, even within their own ranks, and so said no recommendation was possible. It was a useless exercise since whetever it said would just be ignored anyway.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 3:19pm BST

Judith, it isn't triumphalism to point out the awfulness of that report. I spend time in the UK also, and I love my sisters and brothers there.

The problem is that Rowan treated us, TEC, our PB, and our Bishop +Gene very shabbily. So naturally, when CoE leadership put out a document this boneheaded, we are going to call them on it. If Justin goes down the same path as Rowan as regards TEC, now we can all see the stupidity, ignorance, and hate, as the basis of his actions, and we can have a liturgical tea party.

Rowan fired the first "shot" and actually exercised power to isolate us. We're just using words.

I'm sorry if it's causing you real problems. I have had nothing but loving experiences worshipping in the UK. My experience is that of a lot of mutual support and fellowship. And a lot of liberal thinkers. It seems clear that upper management is pretty disconnected from their rank and file.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 3:40pm BST

A reprehensible document: confused, lacking in any engagement with scientific evidence, pastoral experience, or willingness to understand how things really are; a garbled, weak, theology and warped anthropology, and a veritable apologia for prejudice. As a person and as a priest, I am deeply ashamed to be associated with the Church of England in this matter.

Posted by: James on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 3:48pm BST

No Judith. I find the American contributions to be a breath of fresh air and far from smug.

(Forgive me if I don't go into my own antecedents etc).

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 4:07pm BST

"What an impressive set of academic credentials on the Commission" cseitz

Well, congratulations to them all on their lovely doctorates. A bit of commonsense and kindness to those outside their self-righteous bubble wouldn't have gone amiss though.

I also notice some crossover between the membership of the Commission and the membership of the Pilling Review Group. I think we can see where that's heading.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 4:48pm BST

Would it be good to turn to the substance of the report (and so far the best thing I’ve seen is by the Bishop of Buckingham) for those us who will have to challenge it over here in church structures and elsewhere?

One observation is that this report is in fact as much about gender as it is about sexuality with its use as its primary argument of ‘sexual difference’. Men and women are even described as in some sort of ‘polarity’ (fn 2) which I am still trying to figure out what the heck that could possibly mean ... it doesn’t sound a very healthy way to think about human relating. It is a small skip and a jump from the report’s pretty unsophisticated treatment of ‘sexual difference’ to the gender determined roles of ‘complementarianism’ which were used by a number of speakers against the women bishops measure in the synod debate last November.

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 6:47pm BST

The report itself is extremely well done. It reflects the ethical and cultural insights of Professor O'Donovan et al as refracted through scripture and tradition. That people reject it out of hand and in hysterical terms only shows how even basic theological discourse is now impossible. There is one position: alter the word marriage so that it conforms to the end desired. Anything else is imbecilic rambling and not worth the effort. End of story.

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 7:34pm BST

The commission is working with an uncritical assumption that gender and sexual preference map directly on to biological sex. They seem not to be concerned for people for whom that is not the case. The assertion in paragraph 26 about partners receiving 'what only the opposite sex can bring to their own' shows a lack of understanding and of sensitivity. I find no convincing intellectual basis for the notion of 'complementarity' on which they rely in paragraph 35. They ought to do better than this.

Posted by: Flora Alexander on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 8:32pm BST

I'm afraid I don't have time to digest the report just now, but with respect to the press release's description of marriage as "a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship..." I have just one question: what is the theological import of "legally sanctioned"?

Posted by: Alan T Perry on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 8:40pm BST

Cseitz: if you think I am wrong about paras 2 and 44 I would be glad to get into a discussion.

Quakers don't use titles but if you want to you are welcome to use mine.

Posted by: Iain McLean on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:31pm BST

"As a person and as a priest, I am deeply ashamed to be associated with the Church of England in this matter."

I am in the same position as James and agree 100% with his comment. This is an awful report that just increases the sense of isolation separating the House of Bishops from the real world.

I am ashamed and appalled. I am not - however - surprised. And that's probably the most saddening thing about the whole nonsense - its utter predictability.

Posted by: Despondent of Surrey on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:51pm BST

If "marriage is a gift of God in creation", the report would do better to consider what it means to receive that gift rather than to define it. As a gift "in creation" it is not something which needs to be redeemed in the same way as fallen humanity - this is an assertion that the gift was given "before the fall" and therefore contrasts with the gifts we are given in baptism and redemption. But it is a gift imperfectly received by fallen humanity - it is our reception of the gift which demands attention.

"In creation" also means not confined to or owned by the church - there is no separate "christian marriage". "of God" means not defined principally by society or the Church, and owned by neither.

We should also remember that Jesus said that the resurrection would bring no marriage or giving in marriage - so marriage as an ultimate paradigm of relationship falls short of biblical teaching.

The distortions here are enormous, and feed layered misunderstandings which hinder the church in its task.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 10:01pm BST

The story, cseitz, is when the learned members of the commission invent facts to suit their bigotry. Do you know anything about research? It doesn't mean invent your own facts. Honest research demands that the writer acknowledge the range of views on a subject, as well as be clear about opinion vs. hypothesis vs. fact.

This document is horrifically wrong - see the notes about the findings of the American Society of Pediatricians. It does not acknowledge a range of theological views, nor the differing views within their own church. It is not humble in presenting their personal bigotries.

The theology is ludicrous. All debunked here in the US decades ago.

Sorry to see you refer to powerful legitimate criticism as "imbecilic rambling." I definitely have higher standards for what constitutes research and solid theology.

Have you been to an academic conference? Can you imagine how academics would rip them apart for producing something this lame and presenting it with a straight face? Which does get us to the problem that CoE bishops are selected by politics and aren't accountable to anyone. It disconnects them from reality.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 10:13pm BST

"Have you been to an academic conference?"

Now there's a question!

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 11:20pm BST

Cynthia,

I think you may be referring to the American Academy (rather than Society) of Pediatricians.

I took a look at the technical study that undergirded the AAP policy statement in support of gay marriage: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/131/4/e1374.full.pdf .

In particular, I note that, in respect of the Regnerus-led research, the AAP study reports as a key criticism: 'The great variability in the form and characteristics of both samegender and heterosexual relationships, combined with the small number of those relationships, even in a large data set like this one, makes it impossible to sort out true evidence of causality.'

Well, this is true of all the studies cited in the paper, not just Regnerus. If the findings of the Regnerus study are undermined on this basis, it must impair the credibility of the other studies that were used to assert that 'children and adolescents who grow up with gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual'.

The AAP Technical Report endorses the criticism that identifying causality in such studies is impossible. It must hold this to be true for all such studies: that they all yield inconclusive results. In which case, inconclusive evidence cannot negate the position that "Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman...continues to provide the best context for the raising of children.".

The onus of proof is not borne by the current legal framework of marriage that has historically privileged the heterosexual context of two opposite-sex biological parents as the best for the raising of children. It is borne by those who, lacking proven causality, are unable to provide conclusive evidence to support the case for changing the current framework.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 12:58am BST

"Have you been to an academic conference?"

cseitz: Now there's a question!

I recall you saying that you teach at a seminary somewhere. I wanted to draw you out to actually engage with the material here.
Surely you can tell that the logic is awful, that none of the arguments would hold up to any scrutiny whatsoever, and that it is offensive to single parents, and childless couples, in addition to LGBT persons. The quasi "natural law" stuff was of the Middle Ages!!!

You just like the report because it supports your conservative beliefs, right? Honest answer? And you referred to the remarks of some very intelligent people here as imbecilic not because they picked up on the clear flaws in the report, but because you disagree with us. Right?

Have you researched the suicide rate amongst gay teens in the US? There have been epidemics in some of the "God hates fags" school districts (where they refuse to include LGBT teens in their anti-bullying policies). I strongly recommend that you do some research on that, professor. And factor it into any theology of exclusion and hate. And then go look the mothers and fathers in the eye.

That is when theology gets real.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 3:16am BST

I seem to remember that a number of folk (including at least one person who has commented unfavourably above to the report) were pressing for +Cocksworth to become Archbishop of Canterbury. Of course it remains to be seen if ++Welby turns out any better, but I do give thanks that the Anglican Communion has been spared having as an "Instrument of Union" someone who is capable of producing this sort of old tosh.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 3:18am BST

I note that there are 12 men and 3 women on the FAOC. Does it make a difference? Maybe it shouldn't, but maybe it does. Are any of the members in civil partnerships? Does it make a difference?

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 6:23am BST

The report is of course insulting to gay people. But it even fails to say anything inspiring or valuable about heterosexual marriage. As for the string of non sequiturs in its conclusion words fail me. You wonder about the state of the committee's marriages.

Posted by: Helen on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 8:34am BST

I see that the draft of this report was studied by the House of Bishops and the final published version authorised by the HoB's Standing Committee. I hope this gives us all renewed faith in the spiritual leadership of the .Church of England.

Posted by: Helen on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 9:00am BST

It is not only pastorally and theologically inept but scientific nonsense.
Take the sentence that "people are no asexual, they are either male or female".
Asexuality has nothing to do with gender,it has to do with sexuality and is on the spectrum that includes gay, straight, bisexual and asexual and all shades in between.

When they say that people are either male or female,they mean that there is no such thing as an intersex person - which is also patent biological nonsense.

And we are expected to take their conclusions on sexuality seriously? Really?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 9:46am BST

Here is a report which is about men and women in marriage. It does not discuss gay relationships/civil partnership at all. And it will be responsible for an increase in gay suicide rates? Perhaps I’m not a ‘thinking Anglican’ but this seems far-fetched. And yes, to state the obvious, I have attended academic conferences – maybe too many. That is how one gets tenure at Yale, St Andrews and the University of Toronto, along with publishing fifty refereed journal articles, 20 books, and so forth. Just as is true of the academics on this commission. Oliver O’Donovan—to name but one on the commission—is a Fellow of the British Academy and former Regius Professor of Divinity at Oxford. Of course one may disagree with them, but to say they are not up to it intellectually is silly.

Posted by: cseitz on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 9:35pm BST

Cynthia to cseitz: "I recall you saying that you teach at a seminary somewhere ... "

A seminary of a kind, but I wouldn't look to it for any scholastic leadership on The Issue. The m.o. of cseitz and his colleagues is to mine the tradition for every tidbit which ostensibly supports their pre-determined belief in the superiority of heterosexuality, while ignoring the less comfortable ramifications of those arguments for their ordained female colleagues, infertile couples, and others who escape the condemnation they would logically have to share with same-sex couples because they do not evoke the same measure of revulsion. Heterosexism is antithetical to scholarship, and so cseitz' praise for the academic qualifications of the team must be read bearing in mind the topsy-turvy way in which he uses the term.

The readiness to move to an explicitly Pagan language of gender "polarity" demonstrates the extent of the reliance of the antigays on a non-Christian anthropology of gender, one in which the Incarnation and the full reflection of God's image in men and women both jointly and severally has no place. While "conservatives" accuse gay people of "revisionism" for neutralizing the gendered criteria for entering marriage, they themselves are willing to throw the entire theological apparatus under the bus! Forget mutual comfort: marriage is a kind of fertility cult in which the sacred phallus and yoni combine to make good feng shui.

Posted by: Geoff on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 10:13pm BST

cseitz - you still aren't engaging in the material. Though I appreciate that you toned your criticism down to "silly," that's not as bad.

I have very fancy degrees in my field. It looks to me like Geoff has it right. Even with fancy degrees and fancy tenure (and I'm all for those!!!), we are human. It is hard to see beyond our personal filters.

The connection between bullying and teen suicide is well established. In the case of the LGBT teens, in particular districts, local "Christians" forced the school boards to remove LGBT as a protected class from bullying. Then they intimated that teachers could lose their jobs if they were found protecting LGBT kids from bullying. I'm not making this up. Bullying went way up, and a virtual epidemic of suicides followed. This has been particularly documented in Michelle Bachmann's district, because of her high profile running for POTUS.

Your calling the connection "far fetched" shows me that you are disconnected to the reality of the suffering inflicted by the church - or at least these "God Hates Fags" so-called Christians. Similarly, women in Africa have referenced the church as part of the reason for their inequality, inequality that leaves them vulnerable in awful ways.

Discrimination, bigotry, and hate, inflict real suffering. And neither your degrees nor your tenure at any school, ivy covered or otherwise, can remove the pain of these very real people. Until...

Do you get out of the ivory tower and do ministry to homeless women? Run away teens (many LGBT's kicked out of home)? Have you listened to the stories? Or do you mine the theological writings to suit your personal beliefs?

Theology isn't real until it lifts people up. Until then, it is merely words, whether they are elegant and truthful, imbecilic or silly, they are only words until it touches the souls and lives of real people.

Good night.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 4:44am BST

Geoff,

Wikipedia: 'Ad hominem circumstantial points out that someone is in circumstances such that they are disposed to take a particular position. Ad hominem circumstantial constitutes an attack on the bias of a source. This is fallacious because a disposition to make a certain argument does not make the argument false'.

Casting aspersions on 'the m.o. of cseitz and his colleagues' and decrying his academic credentials does not make his argument false.

'while ignoring the less comfortable ramifications of those arguments for their ordained female colleagues, infertile couples, and others who escape the condemnation'.

The law of marriage assigns to a couple fundamental contingent shared rights over potential offspring. At first sight, a registrar cannot distinguish the fertile from the infertile. The law can distinguish those for whom, at first sight, the assignment of shared rights over potential offspring would be absolutely meaningless.

In the case of infertle couples, you've resorted to the converse accident fallacy: using a strictly qualified exception to justify an unqualified revision of the general rule. One might also claim that a person can also contract a perfectly valid marriage under duress, as long as at first sight, there are no demonstrable signs of coercion or mental impairment.

It is left to that person, if sufficiently aggrieved, to demonstrate coercion and seek an annulment. The validity of such a marriage, until annulment, does not mean that the government should intend a blanket encouragement for forced marriages, no more than it should INTEND childless marriages.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 5:03am BST

"Casting aspersions on 'the m.o. of cseitz and his colleagues' and decrying his academic credentials does not make his argument false."

Quite right, it is the circularity of his argument which undermines his academic credibility.

"In the case of infertle couples, you've resorted to the converse accident fallacy: using a strictly qualified exception to justify an unqualified revision of the general rule."

... and here we see it in action. The infertile couple is an "exception" but gays are too ... exceptional to be an exception, because marriage is about one man and one woman with functioning reproductive organs, except when it isn't. Round, round we go.

In other words, exceptions can be accommodated as long as they're not too far out of my comfort zone. But if I dress it up in theological language and hang a few degrees on it I can make it sound like I considered the question critically. Cynthia is right: no theology is worth its salt that does not have a word of salvation to speak to queer families. If those campaigning against marriage equality in the church are not indifferent to our souls, then why are they opposing the church blessing non-marital relationships? Surely if the Church of England believes marriage to be a distinctively heterosexual charism, it should be among the most vocal proponents of blessings of civil partnership for those who desire its graces but do not qualify. Unless the tacit message is really that we should all just go away.

Posted by: Geoff on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 8:59am BST

Coming to it from reading Anna Karenina it seems awfully up in the air. It ends very, very oddly.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 9:52am BST

I am not quite sure what you intend to say David Shepherd, but I find your linking of infertile marriages with forced marriages offensive. There appears to be an implication that infertile marriages (whether "infertile" by intention or otherwise), are somehow not quite the thing. Your sentence "At first sight, a registrar cannot distinguish the fertile from the infertile" adds to this impression. Perhaps you could elucidate in plain English.

Posted by: Helen on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 11:33am BST

Of course I'm engaging the material. I agree with it. I've written on the topic. I think O'Donovan's work in this and other areas (Desire of the Nations) is impeccable. I only know Muddiman from a stint at Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton and his Ephesians commentary, but am glad to see his name on this work. And--though it is surely unnecessary to have to say it--I live in the same liberal world as we all do. You might find time in central Toronto enlightening.

Posted by: cseitz on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 1:56pm BST

'Quite right, it is the circularity of his argument which undermines his academic credibility.' So, you should have reasoned in that direction, rather than impugning his credentials first.

You identify circularity as the key fallacy in the argument against same-sex marriage, suggesting that same-sex marriage opponents have identified a quality that is contrived to exclude same-sex couples. Instead, we simply look at the fundamental rights that marriage assigns and ask whether they are equally valid when applied to same-sex couples.

The exception that allows childless couples to marry is simply because we can never rule out the assignment of shared biological rights over their potential offspring. The law focuses on prima facie evidence of whether the marriage is void.

In the case of same-sex couples, the sharing of biological rights over offspring (upon which shared kinship, i.e. family relationship is predicated) is meaningless.

You are either implying 1) that all exceptions are valid, or 2) that same-sex marriage is predicated upon the same basis as childless marriage, which it isn't.

Marriage is the starting point for assigning legal framework of biological kinship rights and imposes a duty on the State for support, equivalence and validation. If the assignment of these shared biological kinship rights is meaningless, it is not a marriage. Adoption remains subsidiary to biological kinship (where it is relinquished, or has failed).

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 3:04pm BST

David Shepherd: are you saying that any marriage where the woman is over child-bearing age is "not a marriage"??

Posted by: Amanda Goody on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 5:43pm BST

Goodness, DavidShepherd, for all this legal talk of "kinship rights" and "state duties," one would scarcely know we were talking about Christian families!

"You identify circularity as the key fallacy in the argument against same-sex marriage, suggesting that same-sex marriage opponents have identified a quality that is contrived to exclude same-sex couples."

Now you're getting it! It _is_ contrived, because in no other way do we behave like a church that believes what SSM opponents want us to say we do about gender or marriage. We permit the use of contraception. We administer the sacrament of orders (two out of three, in England) after a "unisex" fashion, we permit second marriages, we do not annul marriages at the onset of menopause, we do not require plural wives to be abandoned as a precursor to baptism, and we celebrate celibate vocations. Even our marriage liturgies define the goods of marriage in terms equally applicable to same-gender couples. So Anglicans who oppose SSM either have to make the demonstrably false claim that gays and lesbians are incapable of mutual comfort and/or Christian nurture of children and/or "delight and tenderness" in one another - or they have to rewrite the entire "tradition" which they fault gays for "revising"!

It's no use declaring the exceptions are "predicated" on a different "basis" without showing how. The fact is, it is gays and lesbians who are the exceptions, because for them alone does the church profess to (suddenly) believe that Christian discipleship can only be sought in the context of man + woman + “natural” children. No matter in what the "offence" of the homosexual is claimed to subsist (and critics are notoriously promiscuous about moving their answer to that around), there is a heterosexual counterpart which the church has reconciled itself to.

That is the very definition of contrivance, and bare contradiction does not make it less so. Any scholar knows that. Why not cseitz?

If the opponent of equal marriage is wrong, he has only to adjust his ideas about one criterion for capacity to marry. If he is "right" about that one criterion, he has to reverse the entire direction of Anglican development on these issues for the last century. Which is more of a "rupture"?

Posted by: Geoff on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 6:06pm BST

Amanda,

'David Shepherd: are you saying that any marriage where the woman is over child-bearing age is "not a marriage"??'

The shared biological rights that are assigned to spouses in marriage is expressed in two legal principles: the presumption of paternity and the possibility of issue. As William Blackstone, father of the common law, expressed of the marriage state: 'A possibility of issue is always supposed to exist in law, unless extinguished by the death of the parties'. These two key marriage principles are meaningless presumptions to same-sex couples. Sarah might have been considered 'past child-bearing age', but neither the law nor God affirms the view that the possibility of issue (Isaac) was extinct before death.

Geoff,

Regardless of your disdain for 'kinship rights' and 'state duties', any change to marriage law entails these considerations. In fact, a recent memorandum of a TA commenter to the Public Bill Committee in support of same-sex marriage urged them to amend the Bill to remove any disparity in the automatic marital presumption of parental rights.

'It's no use declaring the exceptions are "predicated" on a different "basis" without showing how.'

I have shown that the sharing of biological rights over potential offspring, which is automatically assigned through marriage, is meaningless in a same-sex context.

I have also now presented a common law principle that only death can extinguish the contingent rights over potential offspring.

Yet, these principles are meaningless to same-sex couples. They cannot share biological rights over potential offspring. It is not contrived. It is simply based on the congruence of marriage and family law.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 8:06pm BST

@David Shepherd.

Whatever.

The law will change and I will marry my partner. And all 7 of our surviving children will be there.

It will not affect you one little bit.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 10:47pm BST

Laurence,

Presumably, you realise that same-sex marriage as defined in the Bill will not afford your partner the presumption of paternity of your biological children.

It's hardly confers the same rights as heterosexual marriage, so, it's more a CP hybrid. Enjoy.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 11:33pm BST

"Yet, these principles are meaningless to same-sex couples. They cannot share biological rights over potential offspring. It is not contrived. It is simply based on the congruence of marriage and family law."

And if such were the sine qua non of marriage, you might be onto something. As it is, it all sounds very much like a non sequitur. What on earth do legal machinations about "biological rights" (whatever those may be - and asserting them is _not_ the same as "demonstrating") have to do with the Church of England's response to gay and lesbian families?

The report - and this thread - are not about the "convergence of marriage and family law." In the civil sphere, those laws - as Laurence notes - are being amended as we speak, without being thereby rendered "meaningless" any more than they have in other jurisdictions with marriage equality. Rather, the Faith & Order statement is about the church's response to such marriages after they have been contracted. "Biological rights" _might_ (again, depending on what the heck they are) be an argument against registering same-sex civil marriages in the first place, but they're certainly irrelevant to the church's blessing after the fact, which is an act of prayer, not a grant of rights.

Posted by: Geoff on Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 12:35am BST

'What on earth do legal machinations about "biological rights" (whatever those may be - and asserting them is _not_ the same as "demonstrating") have to do with the Church of England's response to gay and lesbian families?'

I merely responded to your claim of selective bias against same-sex marriage. It was YOU who asserted that those who oppose it were 'ignoring the less comfortable ramifications of those arguments for their ordained female colleagues, infertile couples, and others who escape the condemnation they would logically have to share with same-sex couples'.

I have tackled the presumed bias by identifying the presumption of paternity and of the possibility of issue as uncontrived principles conferred through the institution of marriage. They are meaningless to same-sex couples. The Genesis narrative sets marriage within a context of descent group and affinity. That's kinship. 'A man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined unto his wife'.

You suggest that, by referring to these principles that assign automatic parental rights through marriage, I am merely asserting that they exist. It would be easy to determine whether this is the law and prove the contrary, but you haven't.

'In the civil sphere, those laws - as Laurence notes - are being amended as we speak, without being thereby rendered "meaningless" any more than they have in other jurisdictions with marriage equality.' Actually, you're wrong. In other jurisdictions, such as Canada, same-sex marriage uniformly confers parental rights: intention overrides the biological rights of those involved in informal assisted reproduction.

The current bill before Parliament does not. Not asserting. It states: 'Section 11 does not extend the common law presumption that a child born to a woman during her marriage is also the child of her husband.'

The church is under no obligation to affirm uncritically any form of sexual partnership that the State endeavours, with complete disregard of Canon law, to establish as marriage. In this case, blessing is not just an act of prayer, but the overarching motive behind such blessing is for the representative affirmation of same-sex relationships as approved by God and by the church. To pretend it to be otherwise would be completely disingenuous.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 8:33am BST

"Presumably, you realise that same-sex marriage as defined in the Bill will not afford your partner the presumption of paternity of your biological children.

It's hardly confers the same rights as heterosexual marriage, so, it's more a CP hybrid. Enjoy."

Of course I realise that. If I were to marry a woman, my second wife would not be afforded the presumption of maternity of my biological children. She would be their step-mother. My husband will be their step-father.

Does this mean that second heterosexual marriages are "hybrid" marriages? You may think they are - fair enough, there's plenty in the Bible to support that view - but the Church of England has already accepted the idea of divorce and remarriage of heterosexual people.

On a personal note, I found your sneering use of the word 'Enjoy' most offensive. But I assume that's what you intended.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 12:07pm BST

Well. There's academic theology and street theology.

I do street theology. That's where the rubber hits the road. And it's more rewarding than using circular reasoning, cherry picking and "interpreting" Scripture, to hurt people.

BTW - I love Toronto.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 6:17pm BST

"Presumably, you realise that same-sex marriage as defined in the Bill will not afford your partner the presumption of paternity of your biological children.

It's hardly confers the same rights as heterosexual marriage, so, it's more a CP hybrid. Enjoy."

All that means is that couples who have children together will have to make their own legal arrangements to protect those children should one of them die.

And of course it won't be long before a child from one of those marriages will challenge this in court if she finds she has fewer family rights than children of straight couples. All it means is that the courts will have to be involved and that legal equality will be maybe another decade or two off.
And let's be clear - we're talking about the legal equality of the straight children arising from those marriages. This is not about the parents, it's about the state declaring some children as less equal than others.
Do you really think that can stand for any length of time?

And the legal situation surrounding children will say nothing about the validity of the marriage. The couple will know they are married and that their love and relationship is recognised in society like any other marriage.

What's not to enjoy?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 13 April 2013 at 8:48pm BST

What's not to enjoy? For you, as you mentioned in your memo to the Public Bill Committee: 'I would urge you to ensure that the legal situation of our children is exactly like that for any other child.

That includes in particular that if they are born into a same sex household by whatever means or adopted by one, both their parents are considered in law as their true parents with equal parenting rights.'

Of course, if the same-sex couple resorted to informal assisted reproductive techniques and made an oral agreement for the surrogate or donor to have access and involvement in the child's life, the presumption of parenthood via same-sex marriage could completely undermine the rights of that committed biological parent with a prima facie impossibility. The current presumption of paternity is not a prima facie impossibility. The relative onus of proving paternity is based on biological probability. 'We've changed our minds. We now consider your involvement in this child's life to be intrusive. We have the legal right to exclude you'. If the US legal innovations are anything to go by, three-parent families will be heralded as the 'solution': http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/florida-judge-oks-3-parent-family-two-lesbians-and-a-homosexual/

'And let's be clear - we're talking about the legal equality of the straight children arising from those marriages.'

Let's be clear, for informal ART, we're talking about the ability of an unrelated partner to supplant the child's right to the involvement of a formative component of it's origin and identity.

That intention should have the power to exclude an unrelinquished biological relationship is unconscionable. The encouragement to separate the sexual impetus from responsibility and authority over the potential offspring is equally reprehensible.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 8:42am BST

David,
apart from you I have never come across anyone who is the slightest bit interested in biological kinship.
What we are interested in is legal rights - the right to care for a child when the other parent dies, the right for the child to inherit when a parent dies intestate - that kind of stuff.

Either the law sorts that out now or the courts will have to sort it out later, or, hopefully, responsible parents will sort it out from the outset.

That really is all there is to it.

It has absolutely nothing to do with the marriage of the 2 partners.

So, I say again, what's not to enjoy?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 1:28pm BST

Yet, the memo shows that you urged legislators to ensure that the law is framed to ensure that by marriage a same-sex partner's claims over the other's biological children could not be overridden by anyone, including the other biological parent who doesn't want to be excluded.

You may ignore this reality that the judge in Florida did not enjoy trying to unravel. Ignorance is more than enjoyable. It's bliss.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 7:34pm BST

I'm not particularly interested in US law, I am interested in UK law.
And as I said, for me, this is about safeguarding the interest of the children.
And I have no doubt at all that it will all be sorted out in good time. Whatever your biological kinship idea might mean, it would be legally untenable if it meant that a child missed out on an inheritance, for example. Can you imagine the fuss if people were discriminated against on the basis of who their parents are? Even if the current legislation should, indeed, result in that anomaly (and I'm not at all sure that it actually does) it would not survive long.

And when those safeguards are in place - now or in some years' time, then all that biological kinship stuff is irrelevant. It might serve to allow people like you to continue to feel superior, which is clearly something that seems to matter to you. But it will not impact on anyone else who isn't obsessed with biology.

And none of that changes the fact that gay people will be married exactly as straights.
Me, I won't have more children, nor will my wife. We will be as married as the next couple who share grown up children and grandchildren.
Others who are childless will be as married as the next childless couple.

And that is all there is to it.


Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 8:06pm BST

'Me, I won't have more children, nor will my wife. We will be as married as the next couple who share grown up children and grandchildren.'

This is a site for intelligent debate. I'm no more particularly interested in your personal life than you are in US law (which actually impacts our jurisprudence).

That's all there is to it.

Posted by: David Shepherd on Sunday, 14 April 2013 at 11:13pm BST

In that case, David, I must have misunderstood your very personal comment to Laurence that started this conversation in which you said:

"Presumably, you realise that same-sex marriage as defined in the Bill will not afford your partner the presumption of paternity of your biological children.

It's hardly confers the same rights as heterosexual marriage, so, it's more a CP hybrid. Enjoy"

Which actually was nothing more than a snide remark to assert the supposed superiority of straight people.

Let's see what the actual legal situation will be in about 20 years' time when all this has had time to bed in.

But again, let's be clear that if this needs to be battled out for a while, it will be battled out on the platform of according all children the same rights regardless of what kind of marriage their parents have. To treat children unequally will not be sustainable in the long term.

It will have absolutely nothing to do with the 100% validity of the parents' marriage on exactly the same terms as a straight marriage.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 15 April 2013 at 9:16am BST

"Intelligent debate" about the theology of justice and marriage equality obviously has to happen in a vacuum devoid of personal context. Interesting thought, David.

Heaven forbid that the reality of people's personal lives, on a topic as personal as marriage, should actually be a factor in a document about the theology of marriage, or discussion of said document.

I believe the worst part of that awful document, is precisely that it was written in a vacuum, completely disconnected from the lives of real people.

CoE has plenty of people who like to parse the legal language. I think the time has come for real flesh and blood people to Witness. It is like sunshine, and when you focus light on the hate, it withers.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 15 April 2013 at 5:32pm BST

You can ignore Laurence's dismissive 'whatever', yet highlight the response 'enjoy' as snide.

You can express patent disregard for the lived experience of a lesbian couple seeking legal means to exclude the biological father (who just happens to be gay) against his wishes...because you're not particularly interested.

I countered that I lacked interest in further discussion of your personal life and Cynthia highlights it as a ''vacuum devoid of personal context'

In a nutshell, when you play the music of sexual liberation, I should dance and when you sing a dirge, I should mourn. Christ said something similar of his censorious critics. (Matt. 11:17)

Posted by: David Shepherd on Monday, 15 April 2013 at 9:05pm BST

Alternatively, you could engage with the actual points I made. Because just who Christ was talking to in that bible verse will remain open until we both get to meet him.

If, and it's an if, children of same sex couples will be treated different than children of straight couples, then this is an anomaly that will not survive the first major outcry and subsequent legal proceedings against discrimination by one of the children who are punished for who their parents are.

And in any case, this has to do with the legal parent-child relationship and absolutely nothing with the marriage of the parents.
The parents will be married on the same terms any other couple will be married.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 16 April 2013 at 8:41am BST

Never mind David; if you're now comparing your situation to Christ's, you amour-propre is clearly not in danger. There is, however, a certain arrogance and judgementalism in many of your comments which might not be thought particularly Christlike.

Posted by: Helen on Wednesday, 17 April 2013 at 10:52pm BST

David,
this has nothing to do with you agreeing with my relationship, goodness, we are all quite persuaded that you don't!
But you said to Laurence that his marriage would not be a real marriage but more of a CP hybrid and you cited a difference to how biological children of one parent born into the marriage are treated in law after marriage equality has been introduced.

This was a factual claim and this I have disputed.
It would be entirely possible to engage with the actual arguments I made to show me that I am wrong.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 18 April 2013 at 7:43am BST

""Have you been to an academic conference?"

Now there's a question!

Posted by: cseitz on Wednesday
____________________________________________

Well, presumably there's an answer?

For those who are not aware of it, the A.C.I. - Anglican Communion Institute - of which Dr. Seitz is a member - considers itself a centre of the academic study of what it really means to be an Anglican in North America.

Small though it is in membership, this self-named 'Anglican Institute' is keen to promote its basic opposition to The Episcopal Church (TEC) in North America's polity of acceptance of the LGBT community in that Church.

As may be imagined, ACI has its work cut out to bring any meaningful contribution to its arguments about the complexity of gender and sexuality - even though it insists that it represents the 'orthodoxy' of Anglicans in North America.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 2:25am BST

Simon, did my comments here and on a later thread disappear in your spam folder or have you had enough of me arguing with David? I couldn't blame you!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 19 April 2013 at 6:48am BST
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