Comments: same-sex marriage in churches: more responses

I do not know of any 'non-bigoted' arguments against equal marriage, and I have been listening for years.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 9:12am GMT

First, the government has changed its mind on the plans for marriage (allowing same sex marriages in churches for those who want and agree to them) in response to the consultation where (I am assuming) everyone was against - certainly the C of E was. I think they also felt that they'd lose on the issue in the Commons and they couldn't exclude a human rights challenge. It was clearly a mistake to even go down that path but I understand the reasons for them doing so. It was absurd to say it was a promise - the government has merely consulted on its plans and listened.

Second, and for reasons given above, this has nothing to do with women bishops - if the refusal of weddings in church was supported (e.g. by churches) then it might be a goer but it actually had the opposite effect. I don't really see the women bishops debacle playing a role apart from tearing the Church's credibility to shreds. The credibility mainly existed in their own heads anyway. Pulling on levers that don't work any more - they're not connected to anything.

Posted by Craig Nelson at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 9:53am GMT

Fascinating as Mr Townsend's argument is, he's starting from a false premise, and reading into things what he wants to read into them. The decision has got nothing to do with the vote on women bishops, and everything to do with the judgment of the European court in relation to voting rights for prisoners -ie, after much legal opinion and drafting and redrafting, it is the opinion of counsel that no blanket ban would be lawful so they've had to adjust their position in order to try and head off successful legal challenge down the line.....

Seriously, no one's denying the situation with reference to women bishops is a mess, but I'm starting to feel there's a CofE bubble every bit as detached from reality as the Westminster one - and both would do well to understand each other better (as well as the rest of the world). The effect on Parliament and lawmaking of the synod vote is far too early to call at this stage, and I would still expect it in the long run to be zero.

We can choose to solve the problem, or not to solve it, but I'm pretty certain it will be us that does or doesn't do it, not the government, whatever some of the hotter heads bot here and there seem to think.

Posted by PrimroseleagueMajwheeldon at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 10:17am GMT

Andrea Minichiello Williams, director of the Christian Legal Centre, said: "We have seen countless cases where Christians have been forced out of their jobs for their refusal to condone and promote homosexual practice".

Countless cases? Oh come off it. Where is the evidence? A few people have lost legal cases sponsored by the so called 'Christian' Legal Centre because they broke the law or refused to do the job they were paid for. Where are all the other countless cases? Exaggeration (or is it a barefaced lie?) does nothing to make their case.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 10:27am GMT

It seems to me there is an assumption that whilst the Quakers etc will opt in to same sex weddings in church, the the CofE will not. But why is this the case?

When it comes to women bishops the conservative amongst us present an argument for Richard Hooker's "harmonious dissimilitude". We in the Church should be allowed to disagree whilst still remaining in the same church. The majority should not impose their view on the minority. So whilst the majority of parishes want women bishops, individual parishes should, if they wish to, be able to opt out of this and be provided with male bishops of an appropriate pedigree.

Whilst I am not sure about the theology of this, I am prepared to go along with it for the sake of Christian harmony.

All I ask is that those same conservatives in the CofE act consistently. Whilst the majority of parishes in the CofE may not yet be ready to support Christian gay marriage, a significant minority will want to go down that path.

So to maintain consistency we should all be supporting legislation in Synod allowing individual parishes to opt-in to gay marriage, just as individual parishes can opt-out of women bishops.

Simon

Posted by Simon Dawson at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 11:28am GMT

"Letters to constituents passed to The Daily Telegraph suggest that at least 130 Tory MPs are preparing to vote against the plans."

Which presumably means that around 170 Tory MPs are preparing to vote for the plans. As will perhaps 50 Lib Dems. And the overwhelming preponderance of Labour.

All in all, if the DT's number is to be credited, the vote would be around 450 to 200, or better, for same-sex marriage.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 2:26pm GMT

For the record, in my diocese, Colorado, USA, the bishop lets each parish decide whether or not to do same-sex blessings (marriage not being on the table yet, unfortunately). It is an imperfect solution, but people do have the freedom to decide where to worship, and most LGBT people are going to worship in the welcoming churches, of which there are many (majority, I think). The overall policy of TEC is now to allow same-sex blessings and a new Rite has just come out. So the overall policy is generally welcoming (when legal marriage becomes possible in more places in the US, that may challenge TEC to provide the Sacrament of Marriage, with gay bishops, it would be hard to argue against).

My main point is, that it's possible for the national church to have non discriminatory policies, and allow the parishes to move at the rate that is pastoral for them. This is highly generational, I know no one under 50 in TEC who has a problem with gay marriage. And once the older crowd finds out that the sky doesn't fall and their marriages don't change because others have happiness, equality will be established.

Given that it's generational, discriminatory attitudes toward women and LGBT people is a formula for repelling the next generation.

It's a tough nut. Martin Luther King noted that you can legislate equality but you can't legislate a change in people's hearts. Having generous, loving, equitable laws and policies are crucial, however, and CoE is not embracing that ideal.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 5:51pm GMT

This is absolutely right.

'So to maintain consistency we should all be supporting legislation in Synod allowing individual parishes to opt-in to gay marriage, just as individual parishes can opt-out of women bishops.'

Simon

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Saturday, 8 December 2012 at 11:28am GMT

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Sunday, 9 December 2012 at 8:06pm GMT

Simon Dawson said: This is absolutely right. 'So to maintain consistency we should all be supporting legislation in Synod allowing individual parishes to opt-in to gay marriage, just as individual parishes can opt-out of women bishops.'

Actually, no. It's really important for the policy of the larger church to be non-discriminatory. I.e. to acknowledge that all people are created in the image of God and the church must not exclude anyone as a matter of policy. The opt-outs would be a pastoral response from the local bishops. The pastoral response is basically saying - and this is my take on our policy here in Colorado - that not everyone is ready to accept all others as created in the image of God, so they are getting more time.

Over time, the vast majority will come to see that LGBT marriages have no negative impact on straight marriages, and they will wonder what the fuss was all about. Especially as this is generational. The exclusive churches will shrink, and right now, our liberal ones are growing.

A pastoral opt out for some parishes is way different from a discriminatory policy in the national church. If the church adopts discriminatory policies, in the face of strong theology and public opinion, then it forfeits its credibility on a wide range of social justice issues and renders itself completely irrelevant and unable to spread the Good News.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 1:09am GMT

It is said that the census figures to be published soon will show the percentage self identifying as Christian has fallen from 72% ish to 45%ish. This is bound to affect how much attention is paid to the views of religious bodies.

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 10 December 2012 at 4:22pm GMT

Simon: 'It seems to me there is an assumption that whilst the Quakers etc will opt in to same sex weddings in church, the the CofE will not. But why is this the case?'

If fact, we don't even know yet which CofE body (or individual) will be responsible for the decision as to whether to opt in. With the legislation for the registration of civil partnerships on religious premises, the choice of which body, in each denomination, would decide whether to opt in, was left for the Home Secretary to make after the main legislation was passed. On that occasion, the Home Secretary chose General Synod as the responsible body for the CofE - but after the events of the last few weeks, I find it hard to imagine any Home Secretary entrusting General Synod with important new powers.

Posted by Feria at Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 11:29am GMT

Perry: 'It is said that the census figures to be published soon will show the percentage self identifying as Christian has fallen from 72% ish to 45%ish.'

The figures were released this morning, and weren't nearly that bad. The percentage self identifying as Christian in 2011 had indeed fallen from the 2001 value of 72%, but was still 59% - thanks be to God, still a clear majority.

Posted by Feria at Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 11:37am GMT
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