Thinking Anglicans

Civil Partnerships: CofE statement

Updated Friday 10 June
According to the Church of England Newspaper a spokesman for the CofE said this week:

“The Church of England’s position on same-sex relationships has not changed and is not about to change in the light of the Civil Partnerships (sic) Act, that comes into effect in December. It is set out in the General Synod motion of 1987 and the House of Bishops’ statement, Issues in Human Sexuality.

“The Church’s approach to civil partnerships will reflect the fact that they will not be marriages, nor based on the presumption of sexual relations between the two people making the legal agreement.

“A working party of the House of Bishops has been drafting a Pastoral Statement in response to the Act. This was discussed at the House of Bishops meetings in January and May. The House has agreed its broad approach and the statement is being amended to take account of those discussions. It will be published in the course of the summer.”

The report is headlined Bishops decide clergy can register gay partnerships
(Graham James is the bishop of Norwich not Norfolk).

The Norwich Evening News carries this further report: Bishop’s role in new gay guidelines

The Living Church carries a version of this story at Civil Partnerships for British Clergy Clarified

Update The Church Times carried Same same-sex policy

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Merseymike
Merseymike
16 years ago

Thats about the most ostrich-like comment I have ever heard, even from the CEN.
Wake up, Bishops! Civil partnership is same sex marriage. Get used to it. In a few years time it will be commonly referred to as marriage, and eventually thats exactly what it will be called, legally.
And no doubt the church will still be wringing its hands on the sidelines, as it gasps its dying breath and dreams of premodern Africa and how much better it would be without critical thinking….

Sean
16 years ago

“Civil partnership is same sex marriage.”
Ah, Humpty-Dumpty theology: “I can make words mean anything I like.”

Merseymike
Merseymike
16 years ago

I’m afraid , from your point of view, that its true, Sean. Taks a look at the legal framework- its the same as civil marriage (and thats the primary sort of marriage people have these days, unless they want that pretty white wedding in a ‘nice’ church! How many of those who marry in church actually share, say, the view of marriage of the average conservative evangelical?) Of course, some conservatives recognised that this was the case, that the civil partnership act introduced same sex marriage and called it civil partnership, and thats why they were so furious when so… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
16 years ago

“The Church’s approach to civil partnerships will reflect the fact that they will not be marriages, nor based on the presumption of sexual relations between the two people making the legal agreement.” Does this mean that, in the case of an (opposite-sex . . . in this case!) MARRIAGE the Church *automatically presumes* “sexual relations”? Because in my queer little mind, invading *heterosexual* bedrooms is no more the business of the Church, than invading same-sex bedrooms is. From my (ECUSA, 1979) BCP, the Marital raison d’etre: “The union [of two persons] in heart, body, and mind is intended by God… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
16 years ago

Oh, I think the Church’s ability to partake in ‘doublethink’ is like no other…

Dave
Dave
16 years ago

When Clergy in “Civil Partnerships” tell the media that they ARE having homosexual sex, I wonder what the local Bishop will do ? 1a. Say the church’s legal position is unclear and push it upstairs to the HOB. 1b. Say the church’s legal position is unclear and push it upstairs saying General Synod should resolve church law (risky!). 2. Appeal for the clergy to respect the “current” position of the church and do nothing except get shirty with conservatives for not respecting their Bishop’s authority. 3. Call for repentence and instigate a church court process to defrock them (assuming there… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
16 years ago

I very much doubt whether any clergy will do that, Dave. I don’t blame them, either. Given that the Church’s position is, im my view, morally indefensible, I think it quite acceptable for those involved not to incriminate themselves.
At the same time, I don’t know why any gay man would wish to give their lives to such an institution, unless it is to work for change. Too many sit on their hands and fail to speak out.

Dave
Dave
16 years ago

Merseymike wrote: “I don’t know why any gay man would wish to give their lives to such an institution, unless it is to work for change.” Mike, I think that most people on both sides of this debate would agree that it is a dishonest and unsustainable position to take. Either homosexuality is fundamentally disordered and, like all other sinful desires, the church should (whatever law the government makes) clearly call upon everyone to repent of it and rejected it in themselves (the Christian view up ’til recently) OR homosexuality has no moral connatations, it is a “God-given” inversion of… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
16 years ago

There’s one thing that can’t be sustained in Merseymike’s position, and that is his ‘Wake up and smell the roses’. His implication is that traditional Christians have no idea what is going on in society. But he must know this is not the case. They know very well what is going on in society – otherwise why would they spend time denouncing some of it (not to mention affirming other parts of it)? The fact that something is going on in society does not make that thing right. That would be to make the confusion between morals and mores that… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
16 years ago

Dave: I think many liberals do not believe the same as you. Thats because they are theologically liberal. It does not however, mean they have ceased being christian, simply that they are not conservative. I find that most conservatives do not view liberal Christianity as Christian within their terms, but frankly, that is their problem. The difficulty is that the Church of England contains people of such widely differing theologies that the organisation is simply unsustainable and thus enters into these sort of compromises which really don;t please anyone. Thats why I think a civilised split may make the most… Read more »

J. C. Fisher
16 years ago

“Either homosexuality is fundamentally disordered and, like all other sinful desires, the church should (whatever law the government makes) clearly call upon everyone to repent of it and rejected it in themselves (the Christian view up ’til recently) OR homosexuality has no moral connatations, it is a “God-given” inversion of the usual sexual orientation, and the church should bless it, whatever scripture and tradition might say.” I actually find your above summation quite helpful Dave . . . EXCEPT for “whatever scripture . . . might say” (clearly implying that scripture condemns homosexuality—which as *everybody* around here should know by… Read more »

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
16 years ago

Hi Mike You write ‘most conservatives do not view liberal Christianity as Christian within their terms, but frankly, that is their problem’. A lot of issues are raised here: (1) Is the church really just like politics, with lefties and righties? My view is that the church is not just like politics, and if it were then it would cease to have a raison d’etre. (It was so inappropriate, for example, when people expressed surprise at the election of a ‘conservative’ pope – as though there were any other options. The whole bang shoot of them are bound to be… Read more »

Sean Doherty
16 years ago

Mike – the legal framework is irrelevant. The fact of the matter is that marriage is between a man and a woman. You can caterwaul about that all you like but you can’t change reality. Therefore a civil partnership will not be a same-sex marriage, because there is no such thing.

Merseymike
Merseymike
16 years ago

No, Sean, full marriage already exists between same sex partners in at least three European countries. The legal provisions for civil partnerships are essentially the same as for civil marriage, which is what I am concerned about. Whether you define it as marriage or not is totally irrelevant. The fact is that the legal framework of the country will undoubtedly affect attitudes and expectations, and the church will either come to terms with these or become an irrelevant frings sect. Then those left can bleat about being persecuted and quote from their bible about how all these terrible things are… Read more »

Alan Harrison
Alan Harrison
16 years ago

JC Fisher writes:
“Does this mean that, in the case of an (opposite-sex . . . in this case!) MARRIAGE the Church *automatically presumes* “sexual relations”?
Because in my queer little mind, invading *heterosexual* bedrooms is no more the business of the Church, than invading same-sex bedrooms is.”

Sexual relations must be presumed as a part of marriage, since non-consummation invalidates the marriage in both civil and ecllesiastical law. So, I suppose that if one partner claims non-consummation, some sort of “invasion” might be necessary as part of the case for annulment.

J. C. Fisher
16 years ago

“Non-consummation”, Alan?!

Gack: brings to mind images of people holding up a *bloody sheet*! (Saw *recent* TV footage of a Roma [nee “Gypsy”] procession, doing exactly that {cringe})

OK, for once (;-p) let me be blunt:

the concept of “consummation” of a marriage is BARBARIC, and should be (if it hasn’t already) be *dropped* ASAP!!!!

[I shudder to think that such concept-ions of marriage ARE what shapes the “One Man/One Woman” argument: “You can’t have a marriage, without a bloody sheet!”]

Christopher Shell
Christopher Shell
16 years ago

Hi Mike- Surely your interpretation of the NT is as irrelevant as my interpretation of car mechanics. This is an area where there are experts, so all we need to do (or: the best we can do) is turn to them. Many people have devoted years of their life to writing commentaries on Romans or 1 Corinthians. To my knowledge, none of them would see your position as a serious option. Saying that there must be various different points of view worthy of respect – and possibly (Im not sure) also implying that all these points of view are to… Read more »

Alan Harrison
Alan Harrison
16 years ago

JC Fisher wrote:
“the concept of “consummation” of a marriage is BARBARIC, and should be (if it hasn’t already) be *dropped* ASAP!”

Barbaric or not, it is a basic ground for annulment in just about every legal system I can think of, including English common law and Roman Catholic canon law.

Sean Doherty
16 years ago

Mike, I’m sorry you feel you have to share a denomination with people like me. I’m not aware that anyone is forcing you to be an Anglican though. If at any time being in a church with people who are actually dumb enough to believe in historic Christianity becomes too inconvenient and irksome for you, feel free to stop being in it. Equally, feel free to ‘marry’ your partner – I wouldn’t try to stop you even if I could. Just as long as you don’t pretend you are doing anything other than making up your own morality to suit… Read more »

Merseymike
Merseymike
16 years ago

Oh, whilst we remain in the saim denomination, Sean,which no doubt we will do unless you are planning to walk or I get thrown out, I can cope with it. But stamping your foot and wishing that the CofE consisted entirely of conservatives won’t do you any good. Historic beliefs need to change to take account of new konowledge and understanding. Otherwise you have an ossified, rigid, set of superstitions, not a living faith. If you want to believe in that,feel free, but I won’tbe joining you. Sometimes ‘society’ gets things right before the church. Shame, but true none the… Read more »

Sean Doherty
16 years ago

“Historic beliefs need to change to take account of new konowledge and understanding.”

1) Why?

2) which knowledge and understanding? The scientific consensus which doesn’t exist (and even if it did exist would be totally unable to pronounce on moral questions)? The hegemony of experience which simply becomes its own absolutised fundamentalism? Or just the opinions of Merseymike?

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