Thursday, 15 August 2013

Evangelical Alliance publishes guidance on new Marriage law

Under the title Marriage FAQs, the Evangelical Alliance has published a guidance document:

Earlier this month, the new Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act was introduced. As this legislation has now been passed by parliament, it is important to face the reality that the state’s definition of marriage will now be different from the historical definition. The Alliance has published the following guidance for Christians and churches, answering some of the most frequently-asked questions about the implications of the Act.

The document can be downloaded as a PDF.

The Introduction is copied in full below the fold.

Introduction

The Evangelical Alliance is committed to uniting evangelicals to make a difference in our society. A key element of this is providing an evangelical voice to government and culture, and in doing so we have worked hard to oppose the government’s plans to redefine marriage. A range of statements and resources can be found here:

http://www.eauk.org/current-affairs/politics/marriage-and-family.cfm

As this legislation has now been passed by parliament, it is important to face the reality that the state’s definition of marriage will now be different from the historical and biblical definition.

However, it is also important for Christians to understand that, although we need to acknowledge the new definition of marriage, we do not need to approve of it or accept the premise on which it is based. In this context, it is vital that we are well informed of our rights and the limits of the law, and also that we speak the truth with grace and love.

It is essential for Christians to continue to defend and promote marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman, but this does not mean that they should provoke accusations of homophobia. Indeed, it is worth remembering that many people from the gay community also opposed David Cameron’s plans.

There are many concerns about what the effect of the new law will be for churches and for individual Christians. The Evangelical Alliance offers the following FAQs as guidance for its members following the introduction of the new Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Act 2013 which redefines marriage in England and Wales.

Please note that the FAQs represent advisory guidance and should not be regarded as legal advice. Many aspects of the law relating to the redefinition of marriage are complex, fluid and open to interpretation. Also, government assumptions about the robustness of protections for third parties are likely to be challenged by case law. Although the guidance is as comprehensive as possible, it is not exhaustive and may be supplemented or amended from time to time in the light of experience. Consequently the Evangelical Alliance accepts no legal responsibility for the accuracy or otherwise of the FAQs. In cases of doubt consultation with appropriate legal experts is recommended.

It should also be noted that because of its established status, which includes a public duty to conduct marriages, different rules apply to the Church of England as to nonconformist churches and other religious groups. The new legislation makes it illegal for the Church of England to conduct same-sex marriages. Accordingly, the guidance applies primarily to churches other than the Church of England, though some FAQs will apply also to the Church of England.

July 2013

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 7:36am BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: equality legislation
Comments

Sorry to post another link, but this is interesting too in its reporting that US conservative evangelicals fighting the culture wars against lgbti people are not only getting tired but that they are realising that it isn't working. In this context the advice from EA seems akin to the little Dutch boy with his finger in the dyke (sorry am I allowed to use that simile these days?) They are just going to get swept away by the sea change in public attitudes: Justin Welby's 'revolution'.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/08/the-quiet-gay-rights-revolution-in-americas-churches/278646/

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 9:36am BST

This seems to be a fairly clear and straight forward statement of the legal position. The only strange part is in the Introduction:

"It is essential for Christians to continue to defend and promote marriage as being exclusively between a man and a woman, but this does not mean that they should provoke accusations of homophobia. Indeed, it is worth remembering that many people from the gay community also opposed David Cameron’s plans."

This seems to imply that they should not be homophobic because many gay people opposed gay marriage. Not only is this factually incorrect - a few high profile people did oppose the legislation, but certainly not "many" - it is also a strange reason for Christians to resist homophobia: not because all people are made in God's image, but because some of them "agreed with us"!

Posted by: Iain Baxter on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 10:04am BST

I can't remember when I last read a more reactionary and negative document. Surely, if the "traditional" understanding of marriage is so commendable, one would expect an alliance of evangelists to be wholeheartedly commending it, and responding to FAQs of those who long to do likewise. But there is no news here, good or otherwise, just the same old, old story. For a profound lack of confidence in the Gospel, look no further.

Posted by: ExRevd on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 10:23am BST

Sorry I've seen evangelicals at their worst, particularly in an alliance.

If it is not in the vernacular try this one "social deprivation". This is where the "incrowd" attempt to deny the legitimacy of someone, accuse them of slander/insanity etc. and make it that no one "respectable" will speak to them. They then threaten defamation lawsuits or litigation if anyone tries to expose their game.

Solution? Treat everyone as you would want to be treated. Be fair to everyone in the way you would want to be treated fairly. Treat gays as you would want to be treated.

In reality, in humanity, most murders are committed silently. Humanity as a species recognises and deals with those who murder. Do not be silent on abuse, the abusers are exposed, and humanity collectively finds a solution.

There is a saying that history is shaped by wars. I do not agree. History is shaped by humanity's collective will to avoid wars and bloodshed. That is why we have dams, electricity supplies, food chains, property laws. These are expressions of the collective will to provide a safe environment in which to raise children/grandchildren and beyond.

There might be struggles but it is the commitment that counts.

Posted by: cheryl clough on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 10:40am BST

Use it with a care for spelling where US viewers are concerned, Richard. In those parts, the Little Dutch Boy had his finger in a dike, with an "i". A "y" would convey a totally different meaning.

Posted by: Roger Mortimer/Lapinbizarre on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 1:00pm BST

In my opinion, this EA document is noticeably less negative in tone than earlier ones. See
http://www.eauk.org/current-affairs/politics/new-resources-on-marriage.cfm
and in particular this briefing note issued only a few days earlier than the one linked above
http://www.eauk.org/current-affairs/politics/upload/The-redefinition-of-marriage-Church-briefing.pdf

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 1:21pm BST

Roger, at the risk of provoking the esteemed moderator of this blog, my Chambers dictionary allows both spellings tor either meaning!

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 3:45pm BST

Chambers is a British dictionary, Richard. US usage is as I described above. Moreover, even the most reputable dictionaries can be idiosyncratic. The shorter OED bought when I started university, noted of the verb "masturbate" that it is "intrans".

Posted by: Roger Mortimer/Lapinbizarre on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 4:38pm BST

I think EA have done a considerable public service by producing this factual, accurate and balanced publication. Of course they are catering for people opposed to marriage for same sex couples but they do so in a calm, measured way which I think is helpful. One can see less of the apocalypse in this document than is often the case with EA.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 9:48pm BST

I sometimes think that it would be rather nice to have those 'like' buttons here, as they do on Facebook.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 15 August 2013 at 10:33pm BST

There is the law of a government, which is always changing, and the beliefs of a Church, which should not change. Maybe it shouldn't matter to the Church what the government's current law is, except to recognize it but apply one's own beliefs. I'm not sure why a belief about the meaning of marriage means one is "homophobic" if they disagree with current law. It just means they disagree, without using inflammatory language to paint an inaccurate picture of the person.

Posted by: Brian on Friday, 16 August 2013 at 2:54am BST

Thanks, Brian. With friends like you, our enemy quotient is dead full.

Awesome!

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 16 August 2013 at 8:54am BST

"There is the law of a government, which is always changing, and the beliefs of a Church, which should not change."

Really? Not even when those beliefs contradict proven science? Does the sun revolve around the earth? Are the stars and planets merely points on a succession of spheres surrounding the earth?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 16 August 2013 at 11:33am BST

'It just means they disagree, without using inflammatory language to paint an inaccurate picture of the person.'

You will find, if you care to look, that anti-gay MPs, peers and archbishops both RC and C of E, do indeed employ very intemperate and 'inflammatory language' while they seek to deny those of us who happen to be lgbti a place in both community and in their denominations.

Do not not try to paint them as simple, victimised believers, please.

Posted by: Laurence on Friday, 16 August 2013 at 12:36pm BST

"the beliefs of a Church, which should not change"

So the Catholic Church should be proscribing heliocentric models of the cosmos and asserting that Jews bear the guilt of killing Jesus, in order to remain consistent?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Friday, 16 August 2013 at 4:36pm BST

I think it's a little unkind to denominate Brian as an 'enemy' (I have no idea whether he is or isn't). The point is that the law that has been passed does decide the question of whether same sex marriage should be allowed to couples who wish to marry and also to churches and synagogues who wish to marry them and a mechanism to allow that to happen (a somewhat cumbersome one as it happens but there we are); the law also recognises the bona fides of those who are not on the same page and can, as a result, continue as loyal citizens, respecting their own beliefs in the matter as long as they respect the already in place discrimination laws. There is a certain balance to be struck in these things.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Saturday, 17 August 2013 at 10:33pm BST

Laurence - 'You will find, if you care to look, that anti-gay MPs, peers and archbishops both RC and C of E, do indeed employ very intemperate and 'inflammatory language' while they seek to deny those of us who happen to be lgbti a place in both community and in their denominations.'

Are you really denied a place in their denominations? Just because a homosexual couple cannot be married in one of their churches does this really mean they are denied a place in that community?

Posted by: Steven on Sunday, 18 August 2013 at 11:58pm BST

Today, New Zealand celebrates its first Same-Sex Marriages, with some religious bodies agreeing to perform the ceremonies. In the meantime, the Anglican and Roman Catholic Churches will not be joining in the celebrations. This does not prevent some anglicans and Catholics from joining with our LGBT sisters and brothers in celebrating their committed, faithful, same-sex relationships.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 19 August 2013 at 12:23am BST

You can rest assured there will be some gay marriages in Anglican Churches in Aotearoa/NZ, as the Governmment has no coercive powers over the Church.

Posted by: robert Ian williams on Monday, 19 August 2013 at 5:43pm BST

`from the historical and biblical definition.'

That would be the historical view that held women as property until the last couple of centuries, would it? And the biblical "definition" that somehow ignores Solomon having 700 wives and 300 concubines?

*barf*

Pull the other ones, they have bells on.

Posted by: Tim on Thursday, 22 August 2013 at 10:05pm 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.