on Saturday, 22 October 2022 at 11.00 am by Peter Owen
categorised as Opinion
Savitri Hensman ViaMedia.News Increasing Inclusion and Respecting Conscience: Learning from Elsewhere
Stephen Parsons Surviving Church ‘The Victim must be believed’. Some reflections on the Henriques (2016) Report
Looking down the wrong end of a Telescope. Further thoughts on PCR2
Jonathan Romain Church Times Standing on common ground
“Jonathan Romain finds clerical parallels in different faith traditions”
Thanks to Savi for a balanced and informative overview. I agree that respect for conscience should be the basis for the Church of England going forward. On that basis, if a church community still wants to leave the Church of England (insisting their own position be imposed on everyone else… to be clear… in most cases, they should not expect to take their church building with them. Most churches in the Church of England are, since the Church is our national Church, the inheritance of the nation, and there for the community around it as part of the national Church.… Read more »
If we are to go for a compromise, then I think there should be two things that need to be on the table. Firstly, as you say, that we “allow” people that want it to go forward to marriage in church. But secondly, and just as important, that such a marriage shall include an expectation that it is open to being a sexual relationship, and that the requirement for ordained priests to be celibate should disappear. But also my concern here is about the remnant churches that choose to keep to the the anti-gay teaching. If, as part of the… Read more »
To allow same sex marriage of people would require a change to the Canons of the Church.
That is not a compromise solution unless it is restricted to a particular jurisdiction.
There is a fallacy which is obstructing constructive discussion which is the notion that recognising the conscience of clergy (and bishops) is somehow a concession. That is simply wrong
Clergy and bishops cannot now be forced to act against their conscience. There is no concession involved in the recognition of what is a current reality
Plenty of CofE clergy are driven by their consciences to offer weddings, or blessings following civil weddings, to same sex couples. They are currently forced to act against their conscience. Likewise clergy in same-sex relationships who believe in conscience that their relationship is sacramental in character and that sexual expression within it is in keeping with God’s design are forced to deny that in order to hold office in the CofE. The status quo is incredibly costly for LGBT clergy.
I think a separate jurisdiction should exist such that people are free to act according to their conscience. This should be true for people on both sides of the divide
Why does it need a separate jurisdiction? Why does one parish opting in to marry same sex couples necessitate another parish breaking away and reporting to a different bishop? Remarriage in church after divorce doesn’t need a separate jurisdiction, the priest just makes their own decision and the world keeps turning. I can see that if you don’t believe that women can be bishops forcing you to report to a woman who is a bishop is a big ask, but wrenching an entire part of the C of E out and putting into a separate jurisdiction because of concerns for… Read more »
I would suggest you might listen to an explanation of the reasons why conservatives are calling for a separate jurisdiction.
The point about a settlement between opposing views is that each side is the judge of what they are willing to accept.
It is quite pointless standing in judgement on what your opponents should or should not accept.
So how would you feel about CofE ministers or bishops refusing to marry mixed race couples or preaching that such couples are living in sin? While that’s not a problem we currently have in the Church of England, there are plenty of Christians in America who feel such marriages are against the Bible. There are presently limits on conscience and, what’s more, most of the Church of England feels that there should be such limits on conscience and that a minister should not be allowed to withhold marriage from a couple because of race, ie they should not be allowed… Read more »
Please do not, even by insinuation, attempt to conflate racism and opposition to the redefinition of marriage.
You are perfectly entitled to hold strong views but you are not entitled to impute reprehensible beliefs to others just because you disagree with them.
It is true that the type of argument being deployed by those in favour of discrimination against gay people are of the same kind as those who supported slavery in the late 18th Century. The tradition of the church has been to support slavery/discrimination against gay people for centuries. Everywhere in the Bible it assumes slavery/discrimination against gay people as the norm, nowhere does it condemn it. Those advocating for change by abolishing slavery/supporting equal marriage are just a modern woke fad jumping on the bandwagon of the shifting sands of cultural opinion. The same arguments, just a few centuries… Read more »
Please provide your primary source historical references to support the claim the Church of England championed slavery in the 18th century
Within the C of E the Legacies of British Slave Ownership database records nearly 100 clergymen profited from slavery. The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel inherited the Codrington plantation 1710, and retained ownership of the plantation until the abolition of slavery in 1833. Over that time they profited from the ownership of thousands of enslaved Africans, some of whom were branded with the word “Society” to show who owned them. Given the high involvement of society in the C of E at that point, and also the number of people profiting from slavery, there will have been an… Read more »
The primary source references you cite do not begin to amount to a clear basis for asserting that the 18th century Church of England was an advocate of slavery.
The claim that 19th century America is somehow similar to 21st century England is unconvincing. The political, geographical, economic and military differences would need a library of books to expound.
You cannot just reach back into history, grab a headline and assert a precedent before which we should all defer.
That is not history. It’s propaganda
It was not only American Baptists that argued that owning slaves was biblically justified and not sinful. In TEC, before the American Civil War, Bishop John Henry Hopkins of the Diocese of Vermont (which is not in American South but borders Canada) also made that argument in a number of lectures, books, and pamphlets. Here’s how the project on slavery, race, and reconciliation at the University of the South (a TEC-affiliated university) summarizes his views: “Although the Episcopal Church never took an official position on slavery, no ecclesiastical leader was more vocal, scholarly, eloquent, or productive in defending slavery against its… Read more »
Peter, the book Two Triangles by Ken Pye purports to show a great deal of evidence that the Church of England, especially but not only, on Merseyside were very strong advocates of slavery and used the Bible to support their case. In part, the fact that the Liverpool City Council were patrons of the city’s churches meant that only pro-slavery clergy were appointed. I cannot myself comment on the accuracy of the book, but if you are interested it could be a useful resource.
I would be interested in primary source evidence. That is actual historical evidence.
Somebody writing a book claiming something is not primary source evidence.
For example, the Book of Common Prayer would meet the standard of being primary source evidence regarding the doctrine of the Church of England.
The various wild assertions to be found on this site would not meet the evidential standard
But racism and opposition to equal marriage bear many similarities. We’ve redefined marriage from women as chattel to women in hetero marriages being equal partners, which only came about in the 1970s to 2000.
For most of history, marriage was a horrific marriage contract erasing women’s agency and identity. It’s a wonder that the church kept calling it a sacrament.
The notion that married women had the status of chattels prior to 1970 is a preposterous characterisation of history.
You are articulating you own strongly held beliefs about marriage. Please do not insult our ancestors, who can no longer defend themselves, with such ridiculous defamations
The common law doctrine of coverture was prevalent until comparatively recently; in establishing this doctrine England was a comparative outlier within Europe: for instance, in the Netherlands and Sweden the apportionment of a couple’s property was 50/50, and in other jurisdictions it was commonly a third to the wife and two thirds to the husband. Until 1882 all of the property of any wife under English law became that of her husband (save unless it was a dowry or a freehold), and most of her legal standing and identity was incorporated into that of her husband. Successive statutes were passed… Read more »
The claim is that women had the status of a chattel. The laws to which you refer did not establish or perpetuate the principle that women were the chattels of their husband. It is a lazy legal argument to conflate categories. There is also a truly bourgeois view of history at work here. The vast majority of our ancestors (men and women) lived short lives characterised by brutal levels of deprivation. Populations were ravaged by disease, war and famine. They lived from month to month, if not from week to week. The notion that property rights and issues of agency… Read more »
“The notion that property rights and issues of agency (oppressive or otherwise) were a feature of their lives is historical illiteracy of the first order.”
For a different view:
https://global.oup.com/academic/product/on-the-parish-9780199560493?cc=us&lang=en&, etc., etc.
You are (deliberately or accidentally) inverting my meaning completely. The Poor Laws were an attempt to address poverty (the clue being in the name). Poverty was the universal experience of the majority of the population throughout most of recorded history and was still commonplace up to the generation born before the Second World War. The claim I am rejecting as historically illiterate is the absurd notion that gender was the principle determinant of disadvantage. Men and women suffered and struggled together in the face of hardship. Economics was and remains the dividing line between the privileged and the exploited. The… Read more »
I apologise for having misunderstood you: I had blundered into thinking you were of the view that it was ‘historically illiterate’ to suppose that the poor had no agency and/or notion of property rights (viz. ‘The notion that property rights and issues of agency (oppressive or otherwise) were a feature of their lives‘). Although the notion of a chattel has been subject to variable interpretation, it has been comparatively rare for women to be treated as if they were moveable goods (as per Jack Goody’s studies of marriage across ancient Eurasia; but contrast with Moses Finlay’s remarks about women in… Read more »
I spent ten years in a professional capacity dealing with public health data on deprivation on both a population basis and a longitudinal basis. The fact today is that the best indicator of your life prospects across all domains is the economic status of your parents. That was also true a hundred years ago. Moreover, it is not a marginal effect. The economic status of your parents is a better indicator than all the other identifiable indicators combined and by a factor of at least two. The indicator extends longitudinally down the generations. The poor stay poor and the rich… Read more »
Then you really ought to know that the standard of living for women experiencing divorce goes down, often dramatically, after the divorce. Because of the vastly unequal situation between men and women in marriage…
Divorce is certainly economically damaging in addition to all the other harms it does.
It is an odd example to pick. Across the population the position historically is the exact opposite of what you describe. Divorce proceedings are generally weighted to favour women in regard to money. That is obviously right and should be the outcome but it is not an example of inequality suffered by women in the UK
It isn’t my bias, it was the law. In law, women couldn’t own property for a long time, I know that they couldn’t have credit and bank accounts in their own names until the 1970s. As a matter of law they couldn’t refuse their husbands, i.e. marital rape wasn’t a crime, the last vestige of that went away in the 1990s in the US. Women lost their names, if they had a profession before marriage, they had to quit, etc. It’s no exaggeration to say that upon marriage women lost agency and their own identity. Women were hard-pressed to leave… Read more »
I am not in denial about anything. You are using terms without knowing their meaning. A chattel is property – you need to look up the meaning, if you wish to tell me I am in denial. The law in this country (England) has no history of treating women as items of property. The problem is that you are as far as I can tell an American. That means you are in a position to know how life is in America. You should qualify your comments by acknowledging what you say is with reference to America. You appear to think… Read more »
Indeed, as far as the UK is concerned, some of those claims are quite wide of the mark. For example, the right of women, married or single, to enter professions was established by the Sex Disqualification (Removal) Act of 1922. Married women were legally able to hold bank accounts after the Married Women’s Property Act 1882. What is, of course, true is that banks were legally entitled to, and many did, discriminate against women in refusing their custom — and others, seeing a business opportunity, positively encouraged it. Of course it is true that women have historically been treated unfavourably… Read more »
I’m talking about world history of women in marriage. Your view that the UK never had such laws is disproven with a simple Google search. In the UK, women had to turn over all of their property to their husbands and then had no means to have her own assets. It is a form of virtual chattel. Marital rape in the UK came into question in 1991 and wasn’t outlawed until the Sexual Offences Act 2003. This makes the UK behind the US by a decade. These laws changed in the EU countries over the course of the 1980s to… Read more »
You are simply making stuff up. You do not understand UK law. Unreliable narrator (above) points out just some of your errors.
Why on earth do you think you are entitled to stand in judgement on a country about which you clearly know so little ? Google does not make you an expert on the world
The Anglican liturgy reads “matrimony is an honourable estate instituted of God”.
I appreciate you will contest the liturgy, but you need to tone down your criticism.
This is a site called thinking Anglicans. People are entitled to believe the Anglican Liturgy on this site
‘THE Anglican liturgy’? Do you mean the Church of England liturgy? I guess it gets to be called ‘THE Anglican liturgy’, while the liturgies of other provinces are on some sort of lower level?
Cynthia is a member of an Anglican church that has an approved liturgy for same-sex marriage. She is not ‘contesting the liturgy’; she is speaking from the context of the liturgical tradition of her own church. You need to tone down your criticism of her.
I have made not one single criticism of any other province. Not one. If you are outside the uk you need to have some sense of discretion about laying into the uk. It’s not good enough to make the kind of ridiculous general allegations against the uk that Cynthia makes and then, as you do, say the rebuttal needs to be toned down.
If you are American or Canadian then accept you are not entitled to be censorious about other countries and sensitive about your own feelings.
‘If you are American or Canadian then accept you are not entitled to be censorious about other countries and sensitive about your own feelings.’ I trust that the African bishops are also getting this email? BTW, my father was a priest in the Church of England. I was born in Leicester, my mother (a clergy widow) lives in Oakham and attends All Saints’ there, my brother lives in Manchester, my children all have UK citizenship and my daughter is on holiday in the UK right now. In the past week, British commentators on Thinking Anglicans have made scathing comments about… Read more »
In just the last few weeks Singapore Airlines has agreed to stop dismissing air hostesses who get pregnant. It’s only 30 years or so since that was also British Airways policy. It’s easy to forget how recent changes to sexual and equality within marriage really are. As Cynthia says, marriage has been greatly redefined, and fairly recently too. And “Denial of these facts does not help in the discussion.”
Culture has certainly changed and some of those changes will be for the good.
We have not redefined marriage. It is not ours to redefine.
Peter, who is “we”?
You think you speak for humanity? There are still places that allow polygamy and don’t consider marital rape actual rape. Look at the women of Iran and their fight for dignity. I’m really questioning how you could speak for the portion of humanity who are female and/or LGBTQ+.
What are you talking about ? We have not redefined marriage because it does not belong to us. It belongs to God.
That is what it says in the marriage liturgy. Please read the liturgy
You have gone of on a rant against me that is a work of your imagination. You are just not listening to what I say and instead ventilating anger against ideas of your own invention.
I don’t know the history of the theology of marriage as a sacrament, but as a sacrament, the issues of free will, consent, and calling become relevant. The world history of women in marriage challenges the whole concept of “traditional” marriage. NT Biblical marriage = men being able to have up to 5 wives where the man could divorce or dismiss the wife, exposing her to horrific abuse. The wives were frequently an economic choice, enriching the man and getting him domestic labor, sex, and offspring. Twenty-first Century marriage in the West doesn’t look like that anymore, with many of… Read more »
NT Biblical marriage = men being able to have up to 5 wives I don’t see where that comes from. I Corinthians 7:2 makes it clear that a husband should have one wife, and a wife one husband. But more generally, there’s a distinction to be made about the nature of marriage as a sacrament, as a personal relationship between two people, as a social phenomenon, and as a legal entity. Of course it’s true that women are treated differently to men in every society, that those differences have usually been to their disadvantage, and that the status of marriage… Read more »
“The Church has compromised with this secular view to an extent which signals a definite shift in the understanding of marriage as a sacrament.” The Church of England may have considered marriage sacred, but it does not treat it as a ‘sacrament’ (Art. XXV). However, there were moves towards promoting the notion of indissolubility in 1597-1603 (viz. Hooker’s ‘Politie’ (1594-97) and Andrewes’ tract of 1601), but these were outliers in the protestant world, including Scotland, where such views had scant traction; indeed, the Bigamy Act 1603 and the canons of 1604-06 were rather more ambiguous, and did not cut off… Read more »
What a tonic to read such a clear and evidence based analysis.
You know Peter, I’ve been a delegate to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women twice. And what I’m saying about marriage is absolutely true, worldwide. The changes in marriage have come about at varying times for each of the Western countries, but the changes are still pretty recent, compared to Biblical marriage (marriage in Biblical times) In the OT, women are listed as property along with children and livestock. In the middle ages and beyond it was about alliances between royalty and families. It was about anything but consensual relationships between relative equals. When did women stop… Read more »
Peter, please read the liturgy yourself:
What point are you making ?
‘What point are you making ?’
You have urged Cynthia to ‘read THE liturgy’ (capitals mine), as if the Church of England’s marriage liturgy is THE liturgy that Cynthia is somehow beholden to. I am simply pointing out that Cynthia’s church has a liturgy that does not say what yours says.
Tim, I have only had time to read some of it, and was struck both by the beauty of the language and its sensitive adaptation of recognisably traditional liturgy in a modern idiom. To me this does reflect the continuity of ‘Anglicanism’, and congratulations to those concerned who have done this so impressively.
Thanks, Rowland. Yes, although TEC is not my church, I quite like what they’ve done here.
I am deeply indebted to those who developed this liturgy, as my wife and I are direct beneficiaries. We got married in our parish in 2015 (and have now been together for 31 years). It was a joyous celebration of a sacrament of our church.
What is odd, as someone who follows my spouse to England for work for long periods, is that our marriage isn’t recognized in CoE. It’s a very, very strange experience and it’s getting increasingly difficult to understand why this is so.
There are I hope very few pregnant women currently working as fork lift truck drivers or brick layers. Employers have a duty to consider the health and safety of their staff.
You cannot just take a single idea – the unequal treatment of women in the workplace – and apply it without thought to every situation.
Kate, you would be very hard-pressed to find Christians in America who still hold the belief that the Bible is against interracial marriage. I haven’t heard it in my adult life, from any denomination or really even from the rank and file. We definitely have white supremacist groups/activists, but they have not been taken seriously as Christians for decades.
I’ve done a fair amount of anti-racism work, and there’s plenty to be done here, but that isn’t one of the issues.
I agree that the argument against interracial marriage in the US is rarely heard today (though I wonder, in light of what’s happened in the US over the last decade or so, whether it’s still lurking underneath the surface). Perhaps my life has been longer than yours. But I certainly remember, as an adult, arguments against interracial marriage, based on the Bible, still being made. The public focus of that argument in the US was connected with Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina, a Christian fundamentalist school. It had limitations of the admissions of Black students (none until the… Read more »
There have always been groups of people who have claimed to be Christian whilst doing and saying strange things – sometimes doing and saying deeply sinister things.
That category is so broad as to be meaningless for comparative purposes. Context has to be the control.
America does not tell you how to understand the rest of the world. It tells you how to understand America.
I was a child in the 1970s. My recollection of Bob Jones U has been the homophobia, I didn’t know about the ban on interracial dating. Yikes! But it really hasn’t been a focus of any of the more common religions for quite a while.
A key point in TEC is that there is still freedom of conscience, no priest is required to marry anyone AND parishes choose their priests. Bishops are required to make a path for LGBTQ+ couples wanting to marry, which can include an alternative oversight if the bishop isn’t supportive. In the urban areas, this isn’t a problem because there are plenty of liberal churches and some conservative ones. The rural areas are more problematic. Folks get blinded by the awful lawsuits in TEC, but the schismatics were driven by: People who insisted on having the power to oppress others —… Read more »
I cannot get to the Via Media article.
All I get is
“This site can’t provide a secure connectionviamedia.news uses an unsupported protocol.ERR_SSL_VERSION_OR_CIPHER_MISMATCH”
It’s working ok for me. Try closing and then reopening your web browser, or clearing the browser cache.
I haven’t been able to open any Via Media article for some months.
This is most strange. Like Simon, I have no problems accessing the site. I don’t know if it is a cache thing or a browser problem. I use Chrome, and I wonder if some other browsers are the problem. The other possibility, if anyone uses programs that block out pornography etc, is that it’s possible that Via Media, as a site which frequently references sexuality, has triggered a block word that gets picked up by some programs. I hope your access is restored as there are many really good articles on the site. Someone probably should flag up this issue… Read more »
I have a desktop Mac and the browser is Safari. It updates software automatically so should be the latest version of the software.
I’m afraid I don’t know what a cache is, except in the context of storing food!
There is usually a place where you can locate your browsing history, and delete old cookies etc. On Windows, you go to Control Panel >> then ‘Internet Options’ > then ‘Delete Browsing History and cookies’.
That may not solve it, and there will be a different access route on a Mac, but it’s one thing to try out.
Otherwise, as two of you appear to have a similar problem, maybe Jayne can be notified, or if she sees this thread.
I hope you sort things, because there’s a good range of contributors as I’m sure you know.
Everything I have so far read by Jonathan Romain has seemed wise. How blessed his congregation must be having his ministry. I can recommend too his book about what makes rabbis angry.
The parish churches across the country do not belong to the bishops and they certainly do not belong to General Synod. How those buildings are used is a legally and morally complex issue.
A very small number of people have responded to LLF. There is no basis for expecting every parish church across 12,500 parishes to become available on terms determined by Synod
This article by Professor Nicholas Orme may have appeared already on TA. It was published by ‘Save the Parish’ earlier this year: https://savetheparish.com/2022/03/04/who-owns-our-churches-and-parishes-prof-nicholas-orme-exeter/ Susannah is correct that this is a complex subject. My understanding has always been that the church building vests in the incumbent with the Churchwardens ‘owning’ the contents and the PCC acting as trustees. I have no idea how that works in a multi-benefice with a priest in charge as distinct from a freehold incumbent. Also there are bound to be exceptions. As well as the 19th century Church Commissioners’ churches, in some places churches were provided… Read more »
Decisions are being taken about millions of pounds worth of assets and people don’t know the details? It may be complex in multi-church benefices but surely someone could take an interest; it is ridiculous to have this amount of obscurity, given that someone somewhere clearly knows enough to arrange and carry out sales of these buildings.
I’m sure they do. I made it quite clear that I am not one of them. I thought it was helpful to add a general comment and link Professor Orme’s article. Of course there are some ‘central’ Church powers, the faculty jurisdiction being just one example.
Please see paragraphs 37-42 here: https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2018-10/gs1593-review%20of%20clergy%20terms%20of%20service%3A%20the%20property%20issues%20revisited.pdf
That a sizeable proportion of people in the Church of England have a more affirming attitude to same-sex relationships and marriage than the current church position is clear, setting aside feedback from Living in Love and Faith. The British Social Attitudes survey 2016 (which used rigorous methods to find representative samples), YouGov poll for the Westminster Faith debates in 2013 and YouGov survey for the Ozanne Foundation in 2022 show this, for instance. The strength of the theological case for change has also become increasingly hard to ignore. There are complex issues around use of parish churches but certainly where… Read more »
The issue is what settlement can be found.
I am no admirer of William Lamb’s perspective but he is at least realistic about the possibilities.
The bishops will bring years of litigation into the church if they seek the kind of solutions that are too often proposed by radicals.
Conservatives want a settlement but it will only happen if those who want change engage with reality
All that is being requested is that the ancient right to be married in one’s parish church is extended to all couples. Nobody can force a particular priest to conduct the service, nor an organist to play or a choir to sing, but requiring couples to play pot-luck with whether they can be married in their parish church is cruel, unnecessary, and goes way beyond accommodation of personal conscience and into treating parishes as personal fiefs of the parish priest or the PCC.
It is not and never has been the case that anybody can simply turn up at the church office of a parish church and tell the vicar that they will be getting married in that church and the vicar needs to do as directed by the couple. That is a travesty of the true position. People must have a genuine association with that congregation. In practice clergy are not obstructive in their dealings with people who want to marry in their church – for obvious reasons – but it a fallacy to then assert that churches are public buildings which… Read more »
There is a legal right to marry in your parish church (by which I mean the church of the parish in which you live) in England, according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England. Now, there are exceptions (remarriage of divorcees, for example), but in general that right does exist. Clearly people don’t turn up and make demands, but that’s a matter of courtesy and common politeness rather than an indication of the legal position. The same applies to bringing babies for baptism.
You have changed your claim. Obviously there is a legal right to marry according to the rites and ceremonies of the Church of England. That is not what you claimed in the post to which I was responding. Your claim is that parish churches should be expected to conduct whatever services might be requested by any couple. That is an entirely different claim. There is not the remotest possibility that the Church of England is going to change its Canons to legislate for Same Sex Marriage across all 12500 parishes. If your claim is based on the fantasy that such… Read more »
I specified a “right to be married in one’s parish church”. I thought that it was a given that this would be according to the rites and ceremonies of the CofE, but I certainly never indicated that parish churches should be freely available for any old service.
The CofE is certainly not going to imminently extend that right to all couples, and I never claimed it was, but I suspect it will happen sooner than you think. A two-tier system will collapse under the weight of its own absurdity (assuming the parish system doesn’t collapse first).
I agree with you to a greater extent than you might imagine. I think we both see that nothing will be solved by the bishops next year. We also agree that an incoherent jumble of a solution will never work. We differ on conclusions. I think you believe that the passage of time will eventually compel the Church of England to change its definition of marriage. I think the best option is for conservatives and radicals (if you dislike those labels, they are just shorthand – I am not trying to be provocative) to find a settlement. People who disagree… Read more »
General Synod legislates for the Church of England, so it has every right to shape the legislative framework that determines their use. Just as Synod currently presides over a legislative framework that denies the use of parish buildings for solemnising same sex marriages, much to the frustration of many, so it could set a framework opening up such buildings for that use. The best solution is to allow local variation, but what the House of Bishops brings to Synod in February, and what Synof thinks of what is put before them is anyone’s guess. But they are responsible for the… Read more »
The Church of England is not a unitary organisation. It consists of thousands of structures, office holders, groups and individuals who all have legally defined duties and powers. (The supreme authority in regard to the Church of England is certainly not General Synod. It is the Sovereign). You are simply wrong as a matter of law in stating that General Synod has totalitarian powers over “The Church of England”. General Synod has no power to extinguish the existing legal rights of other parties. It can of course create the conditions for litigation before the courts. That is a different and… Read more »
Worth mentioning again that a simple Charity Commission search of “Church of England” resulted in more than 116,000 matches.
Sooner or later England is going to have a monarch in a same sex marriage. We will probably have an openly gay Prime Minister long before then – especially if we continue getting through them several times a year. The idea that the Church of England can carry on treating same sex marriage as sinful is fanciful – and that applies nationally, in each diocese, and in every parish. Recognition AND acceptance across the whole of the Church of England is the unavoidable end point. Give those who are already ordained a conscience opt-out but, and I think this is… Read more »
The number of responses to LLF after years of effort was one individual for every two parishes. That is, by any reckoning, a minuscule response.
The notion that the Church of England must now make acceptance of same sex marriage a condition of ordination is based on imagination not reality.
We need to start a real conversation about what happens next and that means inhabiting reality
Then wait, but you are forgetting that the Church of England is the established church. That means that society has a stake in it too, whether or not people attend or are even Christian. The point I was making is that at some point over the next generation or two, society is going to tell the Church of England it HAS to accommodate same sex marriages. If the Church of England waits that long, then you may find the ‘settlement’ much worse than the one available now.
Neither you nor I have the faintest idea as to what the position will be a generation from now.
The job before all of us is reaching a settlement now.
Are you saying the next generation is going to ban and annul same-sex marriage? You must be joking!
Genuine question – not snarky… Why are you so sure?
Historically, I don’t think anyone from a century ago would have predicted our current ethical positions.
Demographically, the communities which are growing fastest are also the most conservative on sexual ethics.
Probably much the sort of thing that people were saying in Weimar Berlin in 1932. But fundamentally it relies on the by now thoroughly discredited fallacy of historical determinism popularised by Marx: the notion that a certain political opinion can be historically inevitable and therefore correct.
We do have a good idea of a generation from now based on trends In the UK – Each demographic by age is more accepting of LGBTQ personhood, rights and relationships – so the younger you are, the more accepting. There is zero evidence to suggest this trend will reverse, and much to suggest it will continue. Each demographic by age is less accepting of / engaged in organised, formal religion – so the younger you are, the less likely you are to belong to any church or other form of religion. If people believe that the Church of England… Read more »
You appear to make no distinction between the world and the church
I’m afraid such a perspective is alien to the New Testament.
You are right. God ‘sent’ His Son to save the world. He doesn’t have much interest in the Church whose petty squabbles are matched only by the Tory Party.
You are being mischievous.
I was, as you obviously know, making the point that the church does not belong in the world
God created the world. Suggesting the Church is not situated on this planet implies some kind of separate moral superiority.. There are many good, worldly people outside the Church.
You know perfectly well that is not what I am saying
I have no idea what you are talking about.
Suggesting the Church is not situated on this planet
Please do the rest of us the courtesy to respond seriously to a serious comment. I’m perfectly sure you understand the difference between “the world” in this context and the planet Earth.
Christ came to save sinners.
“God so loved the world….” I don’t know why it is suggested above He loves and prefers the Church
As the rest of the verse makes clear, Christ came to save people. Just as “the world” has many shades of meaning, which you chose to confuse for rhetorical effect, so does “the church”. One of those meanings, and very clearly the one intended here, is the body of all believers, often regarded as having a mystical union with Christ (as referred to in the marriage service): indeed, the very people referred to in the rest of the sentence you partially quote. It seems implausible that you really have “no idea” about these things, even if you don’t agree with… Read more »
Kate, I’m with you in supporting same-sex marriage, but don’t you think it’s a little problematic for a Christian church to be letting the non-Christian world tell it what its moral standards ought to be? If it was a different issue, would you be okay with that? If that’s the price of being the established church, I’d say the price is too high.
That’s already the position though. With the links to the establishment there is no chance that the Church of England could support either pacifism or republicanism. The influence is not particularly noticeable because services of remembrance and links with the armed forces are part of the status quo, as are coronations and royal weddings. Being the established church does mean that the secular world tells the Church of England what some of its moral values are. We have seen it on immigration too. The church was told not to interfere on immigration policy. As to whether that’s a good thing… Read more »
Surely it is not that you have “society” on one corner and “the church” in the other corner, slugging it out in ethical combat. It’s more a case that members of the church, both lay and ordained, are themselves full and active members of that society. So if society changes its views on a moral issue, then many members of the church are likely to change their views at the same time, and hence be motivated to create a change in church teaching from the inside, led by church members. Let us not forget that such change is common. The… Read more »
And from 1930 the gradual acceptance of contraception which after all affects a far larger number of the population despite the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church and Orthodox
Simon, I’m not talking about a conversation. The language Kate used was about the state *forcing* the church to change its moral teaching. I think acceptance of that situation is a dangerous road for a community of disciples of Jesus to walk.
I am torn on this one Tim. On the one hand I can support the argument for freedom of religion and conscience as far as possible. But the freedom cannot be total.
I would support Kate in saying that if it can be shown that a religious activity causes harm to others, then the state may have a duty to intervene. Where that threshold of causing harm lies is probably quite contentious.
I must say, Peter, that the responses to your comments do inhabit the reality that most people in the UK share; they live in our parishes, and have the right to be married in their parish church. They also inhabit the reality, and share this reality with many many Christian people, that most of the population now regard equal marriage as a given, and are usually astonished to discover that the Church of England still has nothing to offer same-sex couples. To imagine that we are going to go back to the beginning of this and start a “real conversation”,… Read more »
I entirely agree with you that the present situation is unsustainable and that something has to give. Jeremy, that is my point. I give you my word I have not the slightest interest in scoring points or winning an argument. We need a settlement. That means people such as you and I need to sit at a table and agree a way out of this mess The Bishops are not going to hand “victory” to anybody. They will come up with a muddle that settles absolutely nothing. Like you I have been an Anglican for decades. Bishops are not the… Read more »
Peter, for about forty years or so, I have been involved in conversations with people with non-affirming views, at local, diocesan and national level. There has been extensive engagement across difference, in informal and formal ways. The possibility of compromise reflected in the CEEC film of which I wrote to some extent emerges from that lengthy, arduous process, in which some non-affirming Anglicans have also taken part. Likewise any proposals the bishops come up with, and how people respond, will be influenced by that history (which started well before I got involved), in addition to the shifts in thinking among… Read more »
It is good that you are involved in conversation and discussion. The general tone of your article seemed to be based on a belief that it is now dawning on conservatives that – to use your language – a “winner takes all” solution is not available. There is therefore now a developing willingness to compromise. That analysis of the conservative position is mistaken. It is obvious a settlement is needed. That is all. You do not assist the process by guessing why you think conservatives have reached that view. In a settlement negotiation all you do is work out what… Read more »
Savitri’s article gives us Anglicans in other jurisdiction a good idea of how the LLF situation is proceeding within the bulwarks of Mother Church in England. This paragraph gives hope to those us in the provinces, who are journeying at our own pace with the problems of institutional sexism and homophobia in our own backyards. This paragraph gives me, personally, a degree of light in the darkness: “At the end of October, the College of Bishops will begin considering proposals to put to General Synod in early 2023. Though surveys indicate that opinion has changed radically among laypeople and numerous… Read more »
(Continued: -) Contrarily; in certain, non-Western, societies (mostly those found in the eclectic mix of the GAFCON Provincial Churches), homosexuality is still viewed with the paternalistic understanding of male supremacy, in which anything less than a ‘macho’ heterosexual outlook on matters of relationship between the sexes is treated as ‘unnatural’ and, therefore, ‘corban’. This provides the background for the continuing existence of homophobia and sexism, in both the religious and secular spheres of authoritative government. The fact that, in many of the GAFCON Provinces, women are considered to be second-class citizens, and gay people are still subject to persecution and… Read more »
The Church of England approach to the ordination of women is that individual bishops can decide whether it is right or wrong. It means that the Church of England has forgone its ability to witness to other provinces on the issue. If the sort of compromise some here advocate for same sex marriage is adopted, enshrining, individual conscience, then that becomes another issue on which the Church of England cannot witness. The Church of England will become institutionally unable to witness against homophobia because it will have elevated individual conscience to the default position. That has hugely negative ramifications internationally,… Read more »
Kate, believing that the Bible authors were not okay with man-man sex… is NOT homophobia. I believe the Bible authors were not okay with man-man sex. I am hardly homophobic, considering I am married to my wife, and argue vociferously for gay and lesbian marriage to be allowed in the Church. But I simply don’t believe you can equate religious conviction with homophobia. Some who oppose gay sex may be homophobic, but not all. For many, they are driven not by hatred of gay people, but by sense of obligation to obey the Bible, which they believe – as I… Read more »
It is homophobia to single out passages relating to same sex marriage and apply them literally and absolutely but not do the same with all other passages about marriage.
No it is not!
I’m not clear it is gay marriage which the Bible is addressing! That would have been unthinkable to the authors and the religious communities they belonged for. It is men having sex with men which I don’t think the Bible authors were okay with. Sexuality is pretty fundamental as an issue – it’s not like the kind of fibres a person should wear etc – and I believe where the NT leaves us, man-man sex is not affirmed, and condemnation of the same in no way repudiated. The only references to man-man sex continue the negative tone. I think the… Read more »
That isn’t what Susannah did. Whether or not you agree with them, it’s clear what the attitude of the OT writers was to male-male sexual acts, as well as to other matters like mixing wool and linen. I often think the most telling phrases from the NT on marriage are For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept (Mark 10:5) and in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage (Matt 22:30) Hard though these are, I think they tell us that all earthly-made laws around marriage are imperfect and reflect our own imperfections: and… Read more »
The most modern view of marriage described by the Bible in terms of the OT and the Epistles is a first century patriarchal view: women obeying their husbands (in the full sense of the word) and not speaking in church. The prohibition of male-male sex fits into that patriarchal view: equality between the sexes was obviously seen as disordered. Marriage is lifelong and remarriage after divorce forbidden. The purpose of marriage is procreation so contraceptives work against that purpose unless there are health implications. The alternative is to read the Gospels and recognise that marriage is a relief for those… Read more »
If we followed all the rules in Leviticus, I coud not have a prawn cocktail befor my roast pork Sunday dinner! Let’s get real to the core of scripture which witnesses to the love of God in Christ Jesus. Matthew 7:1 comes into my mind.
the decriminalisation of homosexuals in the United Kingdom
Not quite. The Sexual Offences Act 1967 decriminalised male-male sexual acts (in England and Wales). Being homosexual in the sense of having a sexual attraction to people of the same sex, was not criminal. The failure to distinguish these different notions rather diminishes the utility of the discussions in these columns.
I wanted to comment on a general point from Savitri’s article, from a conservative perspective.
Respect for conscience is not a concession by those who seek change and which therefore offers a possible way forward.
The present position is that clergy (and bishops) cannot be asked to act against their conscience.
It is obviously helpful for everybody to acknowledge that, but nobody is making a concession by doing so.