Thinking Anglicans

Some comments on the marriage bill debate and religion

Before the voting yesterday Andrew Brown had written at Cif belief The rump church opposition to gay marriage is naked patriarchy with the strapline:

It’s not the bill but evangelical opposition to it that weakens the status of the church and diminishes Christianity’s role in society

Andrew concludes this way:

…The fiasco over gay marriage is part of a general defeat for conservative Christians right now. The other wing, often involving the same people, is the collapse of resistance to women bishops in the Church of England. When I read that Conservative evangelicals are outraged at the prospect of admitting that women are lawfully bishops and their superiors and feel that they will have to lie or leave the church, as a recent press release stated, I want to break out the world’s smallest violin and play a jig on it.

All of their arguments have broken down into naked patriarchy, and that really isn’t an attractive sight, as the story of Noah makes clear.

There will always be conservative Christians, of course; and there will always be silly liberal policies which they are right to resist. But for the foreseeable future there won’t be any credible conservative Christian organisations to voice their fears.

And Paul Johnson had written on his ECHR Sexual Orientation Blog about UK Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill and the ECHR:

…At the heart of legal arguments made by religious opponents of the Bill is the now regularly expressed fear that the rights of religious organizations are being trampled on by homosexuals in Strasbourg. Yet the reality is the opposite of this and the Court has repeatedly held that, in the sphere of relationship rights, it is for the member state to determine its own legal landscape. In this respect it is worth recalling the opinion of David Thór Björgvinsson (judge for Iceland, a member state that permits same-sex marriage) in Burden v the United Kingdom which, in reflecting on the development of civil partnership legislation in the UK, stated:

…it is important to have in mind that each and every step taken in this direction, positive as it may seem to be from the point of view of equal rights, potentially has important and far reaching consequences for the social structure of society, as well as legal consequences […] It is precisely for this reason that it is not the role of this Court to take the initiative in this matter and impose upon the Member States a duty further to extend the applicability of these rules with no clear view of the consequences that it may have in the different Member States. In my view it must fall within the margin of appreciation of the respondent State to decide when and to what extent this will be done.

After the vote, there were some positive religious responses;

Some other comment articles:

Savi Hensman at Ekklesia has written Christians divided as Lords back equal marriage Bill.

Damian Thompson wrote at the Telegraph Gay marriage is not a faith issue, says Archbishop of Canterbury. That sounds like a pretty big concession to me.

Stephen Hough writes in the Telegraph Equal marriage: could Justin Welby’s support save the Church of England?

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Linda Woodhead
Linda Woodhead
10 years ago

Justin Welby told the Lords: “In general the majority of faith groups remain very strongly against the Bill.”

On the contrary, the only evidence on this point which I know of is the well-publicised Westminster Faith Debates which I carried out with YouGov. It showed that adherents of most religions and denominations in the UK, with the exception of Baptists and Muslims, favour SSM by a small margin.

Perhaps he meant the majority of “faith leaders” but that is NOT what he said.

10 years ago

“Perhaps he meant the majority of “faith leaders” but that is NOT what he said.”

It’s dishonest. Same when he claims to represent the “80 million Anglicans,” as a reason he has to be on the wrong side of human rights, and the wrong side of God’s own Creation, which includes LGBT persons.

The drivel, ignorance, and bigotry on parade will not soon be forgotten.

10 years ago

I’m so grateful for the posting of the Ekklesia article. The words in support of equal marriage were beautiful, truthful, loving, and spoke of the living and loving God in our lives.

Alas, it made the ABC and the other anti bishops look even worse. At least people got to hear a range of Christian and Jewish voices in support.

10 years ago

Very good point Linda Woodhead. Welby clearly thinks that he and the bishops are the only show in town. I wish that Welby and others who claim to be in the spirit of religion and godliness could be humble enough to listen and learn. ‘ “We look forward to engaging in ongoing discussions with other faith groups on our interpretation of marriage in the spirit of ongoing learning” When the English and RC bishops and Black led churches can join in such an ongoing process, things will be looking up. Until then expect the continued decline of church-going. The Church… Read more »

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