Thinking Anglicans

Statement on marriage from CofE Evangelical Council

The Church of England Evangelical Council has issued this St Matthias Day Statement (PDF).

The CEEC has several FAQ pages on its website including answers to: What is CEEC? and Who does CEEC actually represent? and How big is the Council?

An actual list of members can be found here.

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Alastair Newman
9 years ago

The statement provides no basis, biblical or otherwise, for a prohibition of sex outside of (their definition of) marriage. Sloppy!

Craig Nelson
Craig Nelson
9 years ago

I would struggle to call this ‘irenic’

Feria
Feria
9 years ago

A couple of assertions in this document caught my attention straight away. Firstly, paragraph 1b describes marriage as a “god-given form of relationship”. Secondly, paragraph 3b states as axiomatic that “marriage is instituted by God”. Both of these claims stand in direct contradiction to article 25 of the Thirty-Nine Articles. Therefore, whatever else this document from CEEC might be, it is _not_ “a clear statement of the traditional and orthodox Anglican position”.

Stephen Bates
Stephen Bates
9 years ago

This strikes me as just conservative evangelical Anglicans talking to themselves, not addressing the outside world in any meaningful way at all: it is certainly not likely to convert them, as evangelicals might hope to do. For all its talk of being sympathetic and understanding, it still calls for repentence, as if gays in committed relationships are doing something sinful and wrong. And, interestingly, for all its talk of permanent and lifelong relationships in marriage it does not have a word to say about divorce and remarriage for heterosexuals. Surely that is against God’s plan too, but is that too… Read more »

dr.primrose
dr.primrose
9 years ago

“Marriage as created by God is an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman that is entered into for life …. Because marriage is instituted by God, neither the Church nor the state is authorised to re-define it.” But this is simply not true for two reasons: First, marriage in the Old Testament is almost entirely polygamous. It was not between one man and one woman for life. Saying that God exclusively created monogamy is not Biblical. (That being said, I think that monogamy is vastly perferable to polygamy for the purposes of social stability and a lot of… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Bill Dilworth
9 years ago

Feria, I think you’re misreading the Article in question, if you think that it maintains that God did not institute marriage. The issue in the Article isn’t whether marriage is of divine institution, but whether or not the specific manner of performing it is. “Those five commonly called Sacraments,” including Matrimony “have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, *for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.*” The form and matter of the “Gospel Sacraments,” Baptism and the Eucharist, are specified in the Gospels: water and the Trinitarian formula for the… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
9 years ago

For a good counter to this Statement try George Monbiot in today’s Guardian

“http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/14/family-life-best-for-1000-years?INTCMP=SRCH”

Simon

Suem
9 years ago

In spite of all the flannel about love, this is pretty nasty stuff.

Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
9 years ago

Any organisation which still has the discredited Wallace Benn as president isn’t living in the real world and it’s views are of no account.

Simon Morden
9 years ago

Stephen – I noticed that too. My question to the writers would have been “do you not have any remarried divorcees in your churches?”

Robert ian Williams
Robert ian Williams
9 years ago

Of course as Evangelicals, they do not believe Christ turned marriage inton a sacrament for the baptized, abolishing polygamy and divorce.

Notice how they dare not tackle the issue of divorce and re-marriage as they are split as to the meaning of Scripture.

Sex is only for marriage, but they can only define it in vague terms.

Scott
Scott
9 years ago

The statement assumes that Christian Tradition has the right and ability to determine the legal definition of marriage for the state – which seems more than quite a leap. There are, at least in the US, more than a thousand legal rights attached to marriage – from inheriting property, to medical decision making, to ownership of pensions, to tax status, and on and on. This is why civil marriage is a question of equal rights, not of moral judgement. So what the authors of this document are really arguing (at least in the USA) is that large chunks of the… Read more »

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
9 years ago

RIW has a good point – these people do not consider marriage a sacrament.

Feria
Feria
9 years ago

Bill,

You may well be right to suggest that _something_ to do with marriage was instituted by God. However, I’d suggest that this document, and the current debate more generally, are all about “the specific manner of performing it”, i.e. about who does and doesn’t get access to the visible, outward ceremonies. By article 25, those details are not believed in Anglicanism to have been instituted by God.

Father Ron Smith
9 years ago

“5b. Redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships or affirming or blessing sexual activity outside marriage is contrary to God’s word.” – Evangelical Council Statement – Where, precisely, is this stated in Scripture? ______________________________________________ “Sex is only for marriage” – Robert I Williams Dear Robert, your conversion from Evangelicalism to Roman Catholicism bespeaks a misunderstanding of the fact that most human beings are wired for sexual expression. This is a known problem with your new ecclesial community. The most loving expression of our common human sexuality is now being debated in a much wider forum than you may be used to.… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
9 years ago

“The statement provides no basis, biblical or otherwise, for a prohibition of sex outside of (their definition of) marriage. Sloppy!” Sloppy, or finally acknowledging that the church has married cohabitating couples for years and years, often with their joint children as bridesmaids and page boys? Or are we still making statements that deliberately push these people away? Do we still seriously believe that anyone, apart from an absolutely tiny minority, marries as a virgin? Do we still seriously believe that it matters one jot? I SO long for the day we get over our obsession with sex and focus on… Read more »

Alastair Newman
9 years ago

Erika, indeed! My comment was mainly a reaction to the description of the statement as an “irenic, finely argued, biblically articulate monograph”.

Not SO biblically articulate, eh?!

JeremyP
JeremyP
9 years ago

Self-congratulatory tripe. I think those outside the charmed circle are the ones to tell us if they find this production irenic – this reader does not. It is shallow (no look at the history or sociology of marriage globally – which would show a kaleidoscope of different forms, may of which this lot would find very uncomfortable), dishonest (exegetically feeble and entirely satisfied with the usual formulaic assumptions from this stable – no consideration of the diversity of marriage within the Bible nor the question of divorce and remarriage over which a lot of evangelicals get themselves into knots), naive… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
9 years ago

Jeremy, I think it’s time these people realised that we don’t actually believe ourselves to be immoral sinners but that we know God loves and affirms us as we are and that we consider our partners to be the greatest loving gift we could have received from him. This call to “repentance” really misses the point. You can repent of something you know you’ve done wrong, you cannot repent of accepting God’s greatest gifts and of living your life and faith to the full. This misses reality to such an extent that you really do wonder what strange enclaves these… Read more »

karen macqueen+_
9 years ago

“Other times, genuinely compassionate and inclusive attitudes have been weakened by a lack of biblical rigour, and a consequent misreading of the revealed mind of God.” Any paper that has in its preamble the suggestion that its authors correctly read “the revealed mind of God” is wading into deep matter from the outset. And this is nothing but the usual complaint that those who stand for inclusion advance arguments “weakened by a lack of biblical rigour.” It seems not to perturb these writers that the majority of credible scripture scholars do not accept the selective hermeneutic of the evangelicals nor… Read more »

JeremyP
JeremyP
9 years ago

Well, quite, Erika! Experience tells me that they probably offer the “pastoral care and a call to repentance” to confused and ashamed people. Those of us who are out and proud are the kind of folk they avoid like the plague as that kind of approach would get a very dusty response! But just because we are not hung up over our sexuality doesn’t mean that we don’t at times need pastoral care as we travel along the way – and do we get it? On the occasions I could have appreciated it, it totally failed to materialise – because… Read more »

JeremyP
JeremyP
9 years ago

There is one other feature of this thing that I find odd/objectionable. It is the list of commendations at the end. First, there are nine and a half men and two and a half women – no surprises there, then. Secondly, are they so uncertain of the merits of the thing that we have to be told, both in the ghastly introduction and then by all these big cheeses at the end, how marvellous this thing is? Some of those names are pretty underwhelming – and you would only know them if you are in that particular ghetto anyway. Lastly,… Read more »

Erika Baker
Erika Baker
9 years ago

Jeremy,
my experience has been different to yours. Whenever I have needed pastoral support I have had plenty of it from priests who were completely comfortable with me talking about my life and who looked at relationship and not the dry remote theology Karen McQueen rightly despairs of. In all my years as an “out” Christian I have never personally come across anything but compassionate, theologically literate and accepting priests – and that in small village churches.

The enclave is even smaller than they think!

Iain McLean
Iain McLean
9 years ago

Three serving bishops are among the commenders. None is currently a member of Parliament but any of them could become a member of the House of Lords, even under the reform proposals now on the table. Therefore this is particularly troubling: “3b. Because marriage is instituted by God, neither the Church nor the state is authorised to re-define it. 3c. A relationship between two men or two women cannot therefore be a marriage and neither the state nor the Church should describe it as such”. This is no less than a claim to theocracy. According to this document, an elected… Read more »

Jane N
Jane N
9 years ago

2b. The Church is not free to use certain parts of the Bible, such as the commandment to love our neighbours, as a justification for setting aside teaching contained in other parts of the Bible, such as the rejection of same-sex sexual activity. Do I understand this correctly? So, we are called to love our neighbours and invite them to our churches but we are also called to (vocally) reject their same-sex sexual activity? So, when is this, please, Revd Lawson? After their first visit….or when they’ve been coming for a month or two ….or when they’ve joined a housegroup?… Read more »

Conrad Henley-Calvert
9 years ago

Around half of the endorsements come from people who are members of the council.

Jonathan MacG
Jonathan MacG
9 years ago

It’s signed by my diocesan bishop, by the principal of the local theological college and by someone I had thought to be a highly intelligent member of the teaching staff there. This civilly-partnered Area Dean in Southwell & Nottingham diocese – where mission is supposedly in our DNA – is very confused (and trying not to become depressed…).

Pete Broadbent
Pete Broadbent
9 years ago

@Iain McLean – I’ll try to elucidate. Marriage is a gift of God in creation (a creation ordinance, if you like). Like the imago dei, our understanding of work and leisure, our responsibility for the stewardship of creation, the doctrine of marriage is inherent in our createdness. It’s given to us (as Jesus reiterates) for the good of all in society. Because the UK doesn’t have two versions of marriage – the law doesn’t know of “civil” and “religious” marriage (these are fond inventions in the Government consultation paper), we are talking about a single construct. It’s just “marriage”. It… Read more »

JeremyP
JeremyP
9 years ago

Jonathan –
I understand one of the new Diocesan buzzphrases to be “Seeking Justice”.

That makes it even more depressing that they can all sign up to this stuff, and campaign to enshrine bigotry and discrimination.

Father Ron Smith
9 years ago

I’m sad that the term ‘Evangelical’ has been so debased by the actions of certain bishops and clergy of the Church – for whom the ‘Good News’ they purport to represent has become little more than a re-presentation of Pharisaical shibboleths.

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