The Church of the Province of South Africa has issued this statement, on Marriage and Same-Sex Relationships in the light of the decision of the Supreme Court of Appeal of South Africa in Bloemfontein, 30 November 2004. It restates the Church’s position on Holy Matrimony as a lifelong and exclusive union partnership between one man and one woman, and goes on to say:
Our Church has repeatedly affirmed that partnership between two persons of the same sex cannot be regarded as a marriage in the eyes of God, and that consequently we do not recognise or bless such liaisons. There is currently a well-known process of discussion and debate about matters of human sexuality in our Church but while this continues, our stance remains unchanged.
It then reassures church members that the decision has no implications for religious freedom in South Africa, as ministers of religion are under no compulsion from the state to approve or perform same-sex marriages.
The Anglican Church of Canada has published the Report of the Primate’s Theological Commission of the Anglican Church of Canada on the Blessing of Same-Sex Unions. The official press release is Theological Commission finds same-sex blessing to be a matter of doctrine.
A summary of the report is here and says:
- The Commission has concluded that the blessing of committed same-sex unions is a matter of doctrine.
- The Commission understands the term ‘committed same-sex unions’ to mean committed, adult, monogamous, intended lifelong, same-sex relationships which include sexual intimacy.
- The Commission is particularly concerned to call the whole church to engage in furthering the discussion of this issue in a sustained, prayerful, respectful and non-polemical manner.
- The Commission recognizes that there is a range of interpretations given to the term ‘doctrine’, and that doctrines develop and change over time. We agree that the blessing of committed same-sex unions is not a matter of what is often referred to as a ‘core’ doctrine, in the sense of being credal doctrine.
- The Commission does not believe that this should be a communion-breaking issue.
- The Commission, recognizes that ‘the holy scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation’ (Book of Alternative Services p. 645). We acknowledge that the interpretation of Scripture is a central and complex matter and that, at times in the Church’s history, ‘faithful’ readings have led to mutually contradictory understandings, requiring ongoing dialogue and prayer towards discernment of the one voice of the gospel.
- The doctrine of the Church has always been definitively expressed in its liturgies; such a liturgy of blessing is no exception since in it the Church declares the activity of God towards the object of the blessing.
- It is the view of the Commission that any proposed blessing of a same-sex relationship would be analogous to a marriage to such a degree as to require the Church to understand it coherently in relation to the doctrine of marriage.
- Culture is the context in which Christians live out their faith and formulate doctrine. The challenge facing the Church is to see our cultural norms through the eyes of Christ and then, out of allegiance to him, to promote those norms that honour him and renounce those that do not.
- Several doctrines are integral to the theological consideration of the blessing of committed same-sex unions: salvation, incarnation, the person and work of the Holy Spirit, theological anthropology, sanctification and holy matrimony.
- We recommend that any doctrinal discussion of the blessing of same-sex unions should seek a broader consensus on the relationship of sexuality to our full humanity in Christ.
- The pastoral importance of this issue deserves a careful consideration of its doctrinal implications in a manner that is deeply respectful of the dignity and integrity of the gay and lesbian members of our church.
The full text of the report is here.
The Anglican Journal reports this as Commission finds that blessings are a matter of doctrine.