Friday, 26 April 2013

Church Times: Selling marriage short

The Church Times has ignored its own advice and published a second leader further criticising the CofE marriage report: Selling marriage short.

…By taking its cue from the same-sex-marriage debate, and being drawn into tendentious pronouncements about men and women, the report wastes an opportunity to say something positive about marriage in relation to what would once have been termed “living in sin”. The authors elevate marriage above other forms of relationship without ever defining it: are couples deemed to be married if they have not passed through what the report calls “the regulation of formalities”, for example? It argues that the Church’s permitting marriage after divorce has not materially changed its teaching. Yet the prevalence of divorce has done more damage than any other factor to the concept of marital fidelity. Finally, the lack of attention given to relationships before marriage means that the report fails to address the source of the greatest pressure on young people: the severance of sex and commitment.

It is generally unfair to criticise a work for not being something else. We have not dwelt on the sins of commission - the obscure language, the unsupported pronouncements - but in this instance, the sins of omission have created the greatest disappointment. Marriage is a precious element in our society, and it needs a more robust defence.

There is also an excellent article by Jane Shaw titled Men, women, and difference which discusses the complementarity of the sexes as a a comparatively new invention. Sadly this is subscriber-only but for those who can read it the link is here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 26 April 2013 at 7:00am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

On previous threads we have seen Oliver O'Donovan identified as the author of this report, once by cseitz and also by Graham Kings, both told us what a great piece of scholarship it was ........

Perhaps this faux pas will have positive consequences. The other members of the Commission will have considerable difficulty owning this work and might now feel an urgent need to contribute to the debate. It would be ironic if this discussion paper actually did initiate the very debate we have been eagerly hoping for!

If one of the reasons for this paper's early publication was to strengthen the arm of the bishops as they fought against the Equal Marriage Bill in the Lords, then it has been a political gaff of extraordinary proportions. The ridicule it has engendered in the Church Times would be enough to sink it, and maybe even sink those bishops who had looked to it for support.

I am hoping that the liberal academy will recognise they have a real opportunity to influence the debate when the Bill reaches the Lords. Essays like those from Jane Shaw and Charlotte Methuen will give aid to those peers who want to show that faith communities are not all opposed to the Bill's purpose. There is a need for more!

I am told that Cardinal Keith O'Brien's sad demise has taken the heart out of the religious opposition to this Bill, I do not believe it. We need to be even more vigilant and even better prepared.

So please nag all your favourite theologians, academics etc to be proactive.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 26 April 2013 at 9:58am BST

There is another side to high rates of divorce, a corresponding drop in rates of domestic violence.

Posted by: FD Blanchard on Friday, 26 April 2013 at 2:03pm BST
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