Thinking Anglicans

Same Sex Marriage (Church of England)

Ben Bradshaw’s bill to “enable clergy of the Church of England to conduct same sex marriages on Church of England premises in certain circumstances; and for connected purposes” was given a first reading in the House of Commons yesterday under the Ten Minute Rule. The bill was opposed by the Second Church Estates Commissioner (Andrew Selous), although he did not force a division of the House. As with most ten minute rule bills this one has no chance of becoming law.

The Hansard verbatim record of the debate is here, and there is this report in the Church Times.

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Bob
Bob
1 year ago

In his speech Bradshaw states that a “small number of homophobic parishes here have stopped paying their diocesan contributions in protest”. Whole parishes described as homophobic! I can only assume that the MP has met each of the parishioners personally and determined their views before judging them. Their crime: to agree with General Synod that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Bob
1 year ago

If they’re in agreement with general synod then why have they stopped their contributions? If they don’t speak for their parishioners by what right do they stop their contributions? In any case you know fine well that in context Bradshaw is referring to the people making the decision, just as when we talk about the UK taking some action or expressing some view we don’t mean every person in the country agrees with it, but that the government does.

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Jo B
1 year ago

A number of points in reply. I stated that they agreed with General Synod that marriage is between one man and one woman not that they agreed with General Synod. An important point. The PCCs of such parishes do speak for their parishioners as they were elected by all of those on the electoral roll, which is open to all who live in the parish. Finally, if the MP intended to refer to those in leadership rather the total population then he should do so, particularly when passing judgment on them.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Bob
1 year ago

If you honestly believe that 1) those on the electoral roll are truly representative of the parish as a whole–remembering that, by law, the parish consists of all those who live within its geographic borders, whether they attend the CoE or not; and 2) that all those on the electoral roll actually vote in the election for the PCC, then you live in a dream world.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Bob
1 year ago

The parishioners are very probably not homophobic, but decisions are made by small groups of churchgoers who are not representative of the parish as a whole. If there must be a local decision at all, then all parishioners should share in it: Protestant, Atheist, Satanist or Papist alike.

Bob
Bob
Reply to  T Pott
1 year ago

The decision would have been taken by the PCC, who are elected by all on the electoral roll, which open to all who live in the parish. So it would have been a local decision.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Bob
1 year ago

I think the electoral roll is only open to baptised Protestants.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Peter Owen
1 year ago

Thank you Peter.

I surmise (but am not certain) that a Roman Catholic who claimed to be a member of the C of E would cease to be in good standing with the Roman Catholic Church.

However, the requirement is only that the person make one of the three declarations. I do not think there is any requirement for them to be objectively true, or that they might be objected to even if demonstrably false?

Bob
Bob
Reply to  Peter Owen
1 year ago

So baptised/christened as an infant, aged 16, lives in the parish. That could be everyone.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Bob
1 year ago

The Church of England *IS* for everyone, unless they don’t want it to be for them. That’s what a National Church is. Quite a large number of people identify as CofE and they are entitled to. Indeed, if they live in a parish, they have a right to be married in their own parish church, even if they don’t regularly attend it. It is not just for ‘born again’ Christians (like myself), not to mention that infant baptism may be understood to be a sacrament by means of which a person is born again. In a sense MPs may feel… Read more »

Nuno Torre
Nuno Torre
1 year ago

I believe this bill wasn’t intended to make it “Law of the Land”. Either way it’s not customary for democratic Parliaments to get their finger on even the most established and endowed Churches one can imagine. In democratic Europe CofE is the last one of those, as far as I know, if that matters. So this bill was just launched to send a signal, and it is because of those signals that it is so good that one of the largest Christian denominations “mother Church” and the most similar to my own RC in many aspects, remains an established Church!… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
1 year ago

So, if a “Ten Minute Rule” bill has no chance of passing, and if MP Bradshaw knows this, then he must have been trying to send a message or poll the House of Commons.
Is MP Bradshaw a supporter of GLBT rights and is trying to nudge the CofE? Or was he trying to get other MPs on the record regarding heterosexual-only marriage?

Last edited 1 year ago by peterpi - Peter Gross
FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
1 year ago

Ben Bradshaw is in a same-sex Civil Partnership and is the son of an Anglican priest. Perhaps he wants to be married in Church and is nudging Parliament in that direction.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  FrDavid H
1 year ago

Thanks!

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
1 year ago

Ben Bradshaw’s bill is completely logical. The Church of England is an established Church and decisions of the Synod have to be approved by Parliament which has ultimate authority. Bradshaw’s bill didn’t compel conservative parishes to marry single sex couples or for conservative parishes to agree with the marriage of single sex couples. Allowing the marriage of single sex couples in parishes that want it is the bare minimum we should expect from a national church. The nation has decided to allow single sex marriage and our national church should allow it as well. If the Church of England refuses… Read more »

Fr Graeme Buttery
Fr Graeme Buttery
Reply to  David Hawkins
1 year ago

I dislike being in an uncomfortably unique position because of an accident of history, I am increasingly uncomfortable with establishment, despite certain benefits and openings. I would have more time for Mr. Bradshaw’s bill and perhaps his principles, if he included all religious communities in his bill, or is he fine with the views of most Muslims and the official line of the Roman Catholic Church? He may be just nudging us, but it still enters the arena of state interference, established or not, in the right of churches and religions to order their own belief: that is my bugbear,… Read more »

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Fr Graeme Buttery
1 year ago

“…it still enters the arena of state interference, established or not, in the right of churches and religions to order their own belief:…”

By the very fact of being established by law and by accepting that establishment, hasn’t the CoE agreed to having its beliefs ordered by the state?

Fr Graeme Buttery
Fr Graeme Buttery
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 year ago

once perhaps (but did it have a choice in Tudor times? Discuss! and comfortable establishment inertia did the rest down the years. Now? I am not so sure

Graeme

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 year ago

I start by saying I am in favour of the C of E celebrating same sex marriage.
Having said that, there is a whole issue of establishment here.
“Hasn’t the CofE agreed to having its beliefs ordered by the state?”
What if a secular parliament decided by majority that it was being unfair
to the position of other religions that Jesus be affirmed as the Incarnate Son of God?
Would the CofE simply have to amend its doctrine,like it or not?

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Ian
1 year ago

If Parliament so acted, I think, “yes”. As an established church, the CoE is a creature of Parliament.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Pat ONeill
1 year ago

In which case disestablish now!

Tim Chesterton
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Ian
1 year ago

Agreed. In the 21st century, in post-Christendom, for a Christian church to put itself in the situation of allowing a secular parliament to decide how a community of disciples of Jesus should live is a denial of the fundamental call of the church to be the city set on a hill.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
Reply to  Fr Graeme Buttery
1 year ago

Fr Graeme I chose my words carefully. I said “Allowing the marriage of single sex couples in parishes that want it is the bare minimum we should expect from a national church.” It does not apply to the Roman Catholic Church because it is not an established state church. It is not about to crown our head of state and does not send its bishops to our upper House of Parliament. My remarks would apply equally to the Church of Scotland because that is also an established church. It is completely unacceptable for a state institution to be openly homophobic.… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  David Hawkins
1 year ago

The Church of Scotland is *not* established. It is a National Church (per the Articles Declaratory affirmed by statute).

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  David Hawkins
1 year ago

Agree. The better solution as I and others have said elsewhere, is for all marriages to be civil marriages. If the House of Bishops want to make a clear distinction between Holy Matrimony and (the lesser) civil marriage (it is of course tosh), then let churches offer religious rites following a civil marriage, as appropriate, and as couples wish. Given the level of church marriages these days, it will make little difference. It would take the sting out of much of the debate. Trouble is Parliament couldn’t care less, and Andrew Selous knows that and can hide behind the convention… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Anthony Archer
1 year ago

Agreed. The distinction between civil marriage and Holy Matrimony is indeed utter tosh.

Both are two people getting married.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

Unfortunately some people believe that God is seriously myopic. When Jill and I got married in a civil ceremony someone at my then church told me, quite seriously, that we were not getting married in the sight of God because it wasn’t ‘in church’. Rather like the other idea, that God is selectively deaf, and can’t hear prayers from ‘unsaved’ ‘not-yet-Christians

Susannah Clark
1 year ago

I was grateful to Ben for quoting me in his speech in Parliament. He was brave, emotionally open, and moving. I had sent him and others an ‘Appeal to MPs’ which if you like you can read here (or if short of time, there’s a quick-read version here). At this stage it is a warning shot across the bows that Parliament is not happy with the continuing ban on gay and lesbian couples marrying in the National Church. A lot can happen between now and the second reading in November, but in one scenario (if July Synod goes very badly)… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Susannah Clark
1 year ago

What I found interesting about the second commissioner’s response was the repeated references to the ‘convention’ that parliament should not interfere in the workings of synod because the latter has, like parliament, been ‘democratically elected’. This is, of course, an obvious and manipulative appeal to the self-righteous ‘democratic’ vanity of MPs. Leaving aside the fact that one chamber of parliament has no democratic mandate (not even, these days, through accident of birth), whilst another is, to some extent, compromised democratically (most parliamentary candidates being put up by totally unrepresentative constituency selectocracies, many of whom are cranks, hacks and fanatics), or… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Froghole
1 year ago

The right to religious freedom must surely apply to private denominations. As far as the state church is concerned, Parliament is free to determine matters. Parliament, not Synod is the appropriate body.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  T Pott
1 year ago

‘Private denominations.’ Members of the C of E really have no idea how patronising and demeaning such descriptors are, do they? The church I belong to is not a ‘private denomination’, it is a member of the Body of Christ.

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
1 year ago

Private schools and private hospitals are widely regarded as better than state ones, so I can’t see why “private denomination” should be seen as demeaning. This is of course your point, I really do have no idea why it sounds patronising or demeaning. What other word for a non-established church would be preferable?

Tim Chesterton
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  T Pott
1 year ago

‘Free church’?

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  T Pott
1 year ago

Non-established would certainly be preferable. I find the phrase “private denomination “ not so much demeaning as inaccurate and confusing. The comparison with private schools, which those in the sector prefer to refer to as independent schools, doesn’t really work. They are mostly individual institutions, while non-established denominations cover the country. To refer to the Catholic, Methodist or Baptist churches, to name but three, as private denominations would strike me as a bizarre use of language.

Charles Clapham
Charles Clapham
1 year ago

I wonder whether those who support Ben Bradshaw, establishment, and the role of parliament in shaping a church to serve the people of England as a whole are actually the real traditionalists here; and those who are against establishment and who want the Church of England to become an independent self-governing sect should be described as the revisionists??

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