Category : –Civil Unions & Partnerships
The Appellate Tribunal of the Anglican Church of Australia releases its ruling on the matter of proposed services to bless same-sex unions.
The Church of England’s Living in Love and Faith teaching and learning resources, exploring questions of human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage, have been published today.
The extensive resources draw together the bible, theology, science and history with real-life stories. They were commissioned by the House of Bishops and include a book, a series of films and podcasts and a course following three years’ work by a group of more than 40 people from across the Church.
They are intended to initiate a process of whole Church learning and engagement in 2021, within a clear timeframe, that will contribute to the Bishops’ discernment of a way forward in relation to questions of human identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage.
Read it all (and yes you have to look through it all; the book is 480 pages (!)).
In What Is Marriage, we opposed a “consent-based” view of marriage that saw marriage as being primarily about companionship, establishing a companionate relationship with what one scholar called “your number one person.” We argued that a faulty understanding of marriage actually makes it harder for people to find happiness, both inside and outside of marriage. That a vision of marriage that sees it as just about whatever ordinary friendships and relationships have, but taken to the nth degree—that marriage is simply the best, most important of whatever makes human sociality good to begin with—gets marriage wrong in ways that can harm both married and unmarried people.
For married people it can make them presume that their marriage is to be their primary means of fulfillment in all the areas of their life, that they should be able to say of their spouse “you fulfill me.” But no one human being and relationship totally fulfills any of us. And no one should seek total fulfillment from their spouses or their marriage.
For unmarried people, it can make them feel—and the rest of society view them—as not only lacking one aspect of fulfillment, marriage itself, but as lacking the pinnacle of human fulfillment, and thus as not flourishing at all. A vision of marriage that sees the relationship between spouses as the peak of human sociality in turn renders the unmarried as second-class flourishers.
Instead, we should view marriage correctly, as a distinctive good with a distinctive nature: a conjugal union of husband and wife ordered to, and thus normatively shaped by its unique aptness for, the bearing and rearing of children. Doing so not only allows us to see family as involving much more than just the spouses themselves—to include extended family and friends grafted into the family—but also allows us to appreciate the unique and irreducible goodness of non-marital forms of human sociality.
A sound vision of marriage thus offers wide vistas of human fulfillment to people who may never marry, for whatever reason. It offers hope of meaningful non-sexual relationships to people who experience same-sex attraction in a way that makes forming a truly marital partnership impossible.
More deeply understanding the truth about marriage and human sexuality will help all of us flourish. And that, of course, is what a pastor like Pope Francis desires. We can understand—indeed we share—the frustration of our fellow Catholics with the ways in which the Holy Father conducts interviews and the ways in which the media distorts them, but we must not do anything to undermine the truth that sets us free.
Pope Francis has consistently taught the truth about marriage: it is and can only be between one man and one woman. The deceptively edited remarks that recently made waves must be viewed within the whole of the Catholic Church's tradition. https://t.co/yiYc0t2cpK
— Public Discourse (@PublicDiscourse) October 28, 2020
In a documentary that premiered Wednesday in Rome, Pope Francis called for the passage of civil union laws for same-sex couples, departing from the position of the Vatican’s doctrinal office and the pope’s predecessors on the issue.
The remarks came amid a portion of the documentary that reflected on pastoral care for those who identify as LGBT.
“Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it,” Pope Francis said in the film, of his approach to pastoral care.
After those remarks, and in comments likely to spark controversy among Catholics, Pope Francis weighed in directly on the issue of civil unions for same-sex couples.
“What we have to create is a civil union law. That way they are legally covered,” the pope said. “I stood up for that.”
To be on the LLF Co-ordinating Group at the moment feels weird. We review and revise and re-edit the resources, on the basis of feedback from a wide range of people – more or less equally balanced between progressives and conservatives. We are working in the heat of the moment, and yet, because all is not yet ready for publication, we are working away from the public eye.
I think that what is emerging is something which just might do what Jeremy hopes it might. Films which tell real people’s stories, offered to us with vulnerability and trust, from across the spectrum. A book which opens up the variety of human relationships and understandings of sexuality and gender, recognising that we are, as a Church, in an unprecedented situation where there is a strong desire for unity but also deep questions about whether that must also require uniformity.
But I am so close to the process that I fear I may have lost my sense of perspective. And I know that the hinterland to which I am closest, the LBGTI+ community, is tired of waiting, tired of scraps from the table, tired of being fobbed off. LLF is a process; it will involve more talking, more listening, with a clear timetable for some decisions, but the timetable is not quick and any decisions to be made are far from being considered, let alone recommended. Meanwhile, opinion continues to change and more and more Christians accept the possibility of equal marriage.
Many people have said to me – ‘why can’t the Church just change? Why’s it all taking so long?’ To which my reply is that if we were a different Church, we could indeed have just changed a long time ago. If we were a Church made up only of progressive Christians, of people who are relaxed about the diversity of ways in which God created humans, then it would be easy to change. But we aren’t: we are a Church which includes many more conservative Christians, and many of us, including me, were brought to faith within those more conservative churches… and the eye cannot say to the hand, I do not need you.
I could go on, but the point is clear – the poll does not represent what the press release claims it does. It is not a reflection of Church of England members in the pews, it does not show any change in support for same-sex marriage in the past four years and it uses terms with little or no qualification in a manner that misleads the reader as to the meaning of the poll. That most of these issues have been pointed out on a previous occasion but have been ignored by the authors demonstrates a deliberate choice to perpetuate these errors for the sake of a political cause.
I close with a challenge to Jayne Ozanne and her self-referential Foundation. As described above, one very easy way to correct these errors would be to ask at least one extra question around church attendance. If Jayne Ozanne were to repeat the exercise, I will happily fund the asking of this extra question, the wording of which would be determined by a neutral third party to the agreement of both parties. My hypothesis is that by looking at church attendance statistics you would see that (a) the majority of these “Anglicans” are not active church members at all and (b) the active church members would hold statistically significantly different views on the subject to the non-church-attending respondents. In fact, this kind of work has been done before, by Mark Regnerus in the States. What he found was that nominal, non-church-attending respondents were indistinguishable from the general population, not only on this issue but on sexual morality more broadly, whilst it was active, church-attending members who held views on all these issues quite out of step with the wider culture. Were the Ozanne Foundation poll to make this kind of enquiry, and find something similar, then it would be significant—but rather awkward.
Proper academic inquiry, including in the area of quantitative study, is open to further information and to clarification and stratification in this manner. It adds to the body of human knowledge, it helps to deepen our understanding of sociological issues. There is no good reason why the Ozanne Foundation should refuse such an offer unless they were afraid that the results such an extra question would generate would undermine their position, but in the area of academic research that is not a good enough reason not to explore a subject in greater detail.
The challenge is clearly there – the issues with the poll have been on numerous occasions and now a cost free option exists to correct them.
Quite important for reporting on this survey of ‘Anglicans’: the definition is so loose that you cannot statistically differentiate it from the general population. So it appears to demonstrate nothing. @GabriellaSwerl @harrietsherwood @SCFGallagher https://t.co/n4LV2M2IOa
— Dr Ian Paul (@Psephizo) March 4, 2020
Last week’s College of Bishops meeting was described by one unnamed evangelical bishop as a ‘bruising experience’. Out of it emerged a statement from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York apologising for the House of Bishops’ statement on civil partnerships in which it had set out the orthodox position of the Church of England.
The Archbishops wrote: “We… apologise and take responsibility for releasing a statement … which we acknowledge has jeopardised trust. We are very sorry and recognise the division and hurt this has caused.”
Predictably, of course, this apology has done far more damage than the original statement. Liberals took it as a pseudo-apology along the lines of ‘sorry for offending you’, or ‘sorry for being caught out’. Many others took it as an apology for the actual statement and therefore a rejection of the Church of England’s teaching on marriage. Others took it as a clever bit of spin in which the Archbishops could head off liberal outrage, while still maintaining faith with evangelicals and traditionalists. That latter interpretation does the Archbishops no favours at all because it portrays them in similar terms to Iannucci’s Thick of It as spin doctors desperately and incompetently triangulating to win their nihilistic game of power politics.
The Bishop of Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Martin Seeley, is the latest Diocesan Bishop to break ranks with the Bishops’ pastoral statement on civil partnerships. He revealed that he and other colleagues had asked that the document be withdrawn but a majority of bishops decided against this course of action. From this insight, it is clear that we are beginning at last to see a bit of an honest open ‘fight’ in the House of Bishops. This is about time too. And I also hope that this division is openly revealed in the General Synod as it meets this week.
If we have this aim of achieving ‘good disagreement’ let us at least be open about it rather than hide it behind closed doors. It cannot be ‘good disagreement’ if it is hidden behind the superficial smiles representing faux Anglican ‘niceness’.At the moment suspicions are festering and we in the Church of England are in that anxious and fretting place – the calm before the storm.
The problem with processes such as Living in Love and Faith is that most of the debate and discussion takes place behind closed doors in a process that many of us simply don’t trust. I have always believed that this process is in place simply to kick the can down the road rather than leading to a place where a decision can be made about the future direction of the Church of England. I am much more likely to be convinced if this was an open discussion in the Church of England.
It would be much more honest to recognise the profound differences we have over human sexuality and decide how the two sides in this debate are going to co-exist – if they ever can – in the same Church.Does the future now lie in some kind of formal distancing of relationships from which different networks and forms of oversight can emerge?
–This column appeared in the Church of England Newspaper, February 7, 2020, edition (subscriptions are encrouaged)
Andrew Symes on the Oxford Ad Clerum–Bishop offers orthodox Anglicans hope of retaining protected minority status as Diocese takes reappraising route
….there are several clues in the letter that the Bishop does not see his office as a guardian of the apostolic faith, or even as a neutral referee between those with opposing views, but rather as gatekeeper of a new era, ushering in a new default position of revisionist theology while continuing for the moment to tolerate those with traditional views.
Bishop Colin begins by referring first not to the Bishops’ pastoral statement itself, but to the Archbishops’ apology for it following the media furore. He then makes an excuse for the publication of this official episcopal statement, apologises for it himself, and goes further,calling it “wrong-headed and pastorally inept”. Although he acknowledges that some people were in favour of the statement, seeing it as a clear expression of the church’s historic teaching, he makes it clear that he, and by extension the Oxford Diocesan leadership, stand with those who oppose the statement – in fact he specifically quotes further criticisms of the statement from the Bishops of Oxford and Reading.
This criticism is not just about tone and timing, but also content. Outlining why the Bishops’ Pastoral Statement was needed in the first place, Bishop Colin explains it as a response to Civil Partnerships becoming available for heterosexual couples, which was simply a matter of “justice”, and only raised “technical questions” for the church. This dismisses the concerns that many faithful Christians have had about the Civil Partnership legislation: how it undermines marriage, and creates obvious issues about sexual ethics that the Bishops’ Statement was trying to answer.
The Ad Clerum goes on to quote with approval highly critical articles about the Bishops’ pastoral statement in The Times and in the Via Media blog. It is surely significant that these pieces which fiercely attack and even deride historic Christian teaching about sexual ethics and the Church of England’s attempts to navigate the issue, are commended by a Bishop, writing in a position of spiritual authority to his flock. He then makes clear his agreement with the view that, just as the church over the years has changed its understanding on the celibacy of clergy, use of contraception and permitting marriage of divorcees, so there is nothing “static and immovable” in Christian teaching. This, together with a marked absence in the letter of any reference to Scripture or even to God (except at the end – “God bless you”) will surely cause alarm as it appears to illustrate a complete loss of confidence in the idea, basic to Christianity, that faith is based on things that are unchanging!
A letter genuinely trying to balance the different views would offer resources from the two sides, as Living in Love and Faith is likely to do. Bishop Colin does not do this.
But are you listening to other voices?
The responses of the bishops and many others have disturbed some people. We have had clergy in this Diocese, who are loved, respected and valued, write to say that they affirmed the pastoral statement. They are concerned to know that we will continue to honour and pastor to those who uphold the historic teaching of the Church of England on marriage.
We continue to listen carefully to voices from across the Church about these matters. As we stated in our December 2018 letter to members of ODEF, neither I nor my fellow bishops have any intention or desire to exclude in any way those who hold to the traditional teaching of the Church and our marriage discipline. As bishops, these are things we uphold. We do not permit uncanonical blessings, though we do seek to encourage priests who, in good conscience, want to pray for and with people at significant points of their lives in a spirit of generous hospitality. As bishops, we are always happy to advise clergy on these matters as issues arise.
Living in Love and Faith
As well as the pastoral insensitivity of the statement, the timing of it was problematic. The Church is now coming towards the end of a two-year national programme of listening, prayer and discernment led by the bishops.
Living in Love and Faith will help the Church to learn and explore questions of human identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality. Study guides and resources will be published following the July General Synod. We hope and pray that parishes and deaneries will fully engage with those resources when they are published.
For some, the resources will break new ground. For others, they won’t go far enough. But we must hold firm to that timetable and await what comes next while trusting and praying for the those most closely involved in the process. Do take time to explore the LLF website.
(Christian Today) Living in Love and Faith process is a ‘call to action’ for Church of England – bishop
Later in the session, the floor was opened up for questions, with Ian Paul, editor at evangelical publisher Grove Books, expressing his desire to see the Church of England use the LLF process “give us a renewed commitment to the apostolic inheritance of the teaching of the New Testament”.
“I’ve been struck by the commitment to listening and the commitment to one another, but what seems to have been slightly more muted in the discussion so far is the commitment to re-engage with the teaching of Jesus,” he said.
“I think we need to be honest and say both within the Anglican tradition and within this room there is a pulling away from whether Jesus really is a good pastor and whether His teaching is what we need to hear – that teaching which I believe is also echoed in the teaching of Paul.”
Jayne Ozanne, a lesbian and campaigner for LGBT equality in the Church of England, said that she did not want to see the Church of England “just keep kicking this can down the road for more discussions”.
“The truth is, it’s not been a safe space for many involved with the LLF,” she said.
“It is a call to engage with difference, to step out of the comfort zones of our like-minded church communities, to meet those who understand things differently from us.” https://t.co/TiBab7ZFcI
— Christian Today (@ChristianToday) February 11, 2020
(Christian Today) Ben Bradshaw MP warns Church of England its established status is at threat over civil partnerships stance
Labour MP Ben Bradshaw today told the House of Commons that “serious questions” will be asked about the Church of England’s established status if it stands by its position on opposite-sex civil partnerships.
In the Commons on Thursday, Mr Bradshaw grilled Andrew Selous, the Second Church Estates Commissioner, on the guidance….
“It is bad enough that the Church still treats its LGBT+ members as second-class Christians, but to say to the child of a heterosexual couple in a civil partnership that they should not exist because their parents should not have had or be having sex is so hurtful,” he said.
“Will he tell the bishops that unless this nonsense stops serious questions will be asked in this place about the legitimacy of the established status of the Church of England?”
Ben Bradshaw MP warns Church of England its established status is at threat over civil partnerships stance https://t.co/6GiuyAlRcM
— Christian Today (@ChristianToday) February 6, 2020
Australia’s most senior Anglican, Melbourne Archbishop Dr Philip Freier, referred that decision to the church’s internal appellate tribunal in September.
The tribunal was asked to consider whether the regulation was consistent under the church’s national constitution and valid under canon law.
The tribunal then called for submissions on the matter.
A second referral – to be considered concurrently – asked the tribunal to decide more generally if blessing services other than for heterosexual unions should be allowed.
In her address to the Wangaratta synod in August, which forms part of the diocese’s submissions to the tribunal, Reverend Dorothy Lee argued the blessing of same-sex Christian couples “seems a small thing to ask”.
“There are no theological grounds for refusing to bless civil unions,” Rev Lee said.
“On the contrary, faithful and loving Christian couples, whatever their sexual orientation, gender, race or class, should be able to ask for and receive the church’s blessing.”
However, of the 33 other submissions to the tribunal, just four support blessing same-sex marriages.
On my return to parish ministry in Wolverhampton a new chapter in engagement with LGBT+ people and the church began as through a member of our congregation Kenny Rogers(who was gay) a growing ministry to sanctuary communities developed. This included a small number of people, particularly — but not exclusively — from African contexts fleeing persecution because of their sexuality. Sadly, Kenny died suddenly but on the night of his death we opened the church for nearly a hundred people, mainly from sanctuary communities to come and light candles and mourn together. At his funeral I shared his story and his journey that he had written for the process he was undergoing to become an authorised lay minister in the church. From this a growing ministry to refugees generally and a small number of LGBT+ refugees has developed and with the help of the Inclusive church ambassador for our area the support group for LGBT+ refugees Emmaus was established. This group now meets at our church and draws people from across our region to support and encourage one another through the hostile asylum process. For some of these people our church has also become their spiritual home. They come from contexts where anti-homosexual legislation introduced in the 19th century by European colonisers is defended by the church and in some cases the church argues for greater prohibition and penalties for LGBT+ people. We often hear about the Bishops of African churches and their negative views on LGBT+ inclusion in the church. At Emmaus we hear from the LGBT+ African Christians their faithfulness in the face of Christian persecution, their love for Jesus and their courage often rooted in a profound knowledge and love of God. Some of these folks rejected the church at home and have (re) embraced the faith here. Its been my experience here and in my previous incumbency that inclusivity (which I prefer to see as true catholicity) leads to growth numerically and spiritually.
I have yet to be asked if I would marry or bless a lesbian or gay relationship at St Chad and St Mark. The guidelines of the church issued in 2014 closed off any ambiguity that some of us felt gave us wiggle room in the noughties to offer blessings. Ironically following the rejection at Synod of ‘The Marriage and same sex relationships’ report in 2017 the bishops claimed they were working towards a ‘radically inclusive church for LGBT+ people’, this latest unnecessary statement shows this not to be the case. And as one non Christian friend commented ‘What’s so radical about NOT discriminating!’
Some of us at the grassroots have been seeking to develop ‘inclusivity’ for years hampered by the pronouncements of the House of Bishops. Perhaps we need to get more radical in our approach and directly and openly flout the guidelines from 2014 and 2020 misdescribed as ‘pastoral’ and make visible the reality of those struggling and in small ways succeeding in creating truly ‘radically inclusive spaces’ at the grassroots — perhaps it’s the only way change will come!
(Fulcrum) Transcript of BBC Radio 5 Sunday Programme, A Discussion on the Bishop’s Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships with Ian Paul and Bp Alan Wilson
Crawley Alan, you clearly do believe there’s something new here.
Wilson Well, there’s a rather weird bit of theology going on here, and that’s the idea that you’re only married if you’ve had vows said between you. I mean that is part of the medieval, Western understanding of marriage, but most marriages in Britain don’t have to have vows in them at all, because they’re contracted in a registry office by registrars. They can have vows if they want. And of course the Orthodox Church doesn’t have vows in marriage, they don’t understand it in that way, they never have. So the idea that vows are the things that you are turning your back on if you down-trade your marriage for a civil partnership (which by the way you can’t do anyway, it’s an impossibility, but we’ve still got a rule for you even if you are doing this impossible thing), is a little bit theologically bizarre.
Crawley So Ian Paul, not only new but weird and bizarre in the language of the Bishop there. Civil partnerships involve a commitment as well as marriage. What’s the difference in theological terms?
Paul The two differences are 1) that the vows which are received in our tradition of the Church of England, signal that this isn’t just something private, that the conjugal relationship involved in marriage isn’t something which is a personal contract, it is something which is part of community, is part of building community. Just yesterday somebody told me that a friend of theirs did not want to get married but wanted to have a civil partnership because they didn’t like doing things in public, they wanted to do it privately. And in Christian theology, our understanding of marriage is that it’s part of a building block for community, it’s where children are raised, and that’s really significant. The other significant thing, which Alan hasn’t mentioned, is the fact that there are in civil partnerships no grounds in sexual relating for the relationship to come to an end. It’s a no-fault termination and again that’s a significant departure in the historic position, both in law, as well as in the Church’s understanding.
Crawley Ian, can I just break in. Can I ask, given that this has been an issue this week, does this statement mean that any sexual intimacy, any sexual activity, that takes place within a civil partnership, is illicit in Christian terms?
Paul Well, the position of the Church of England and many Christian Churches has been that the right place for sexual relating is within a marriage relationship. And the reason for that-
Crawley So does that mean that sex within a civil partnership is a sin?
Paul It means that, along with all sort of other forms of sexual relationship outside of commitment….
A message from Bishop of Gloucester regarding the release of the House of Bishops statement re civil partnerships
It brought me deep joy yesterday morning to be with a group of clergy and laity on the final day of a two-year programme called THRIVE as they continued to reflect together on what it means to be the Church in their different contexts. At the heart of it is the generous love of God, and as we gathered in a room with a roaring fire, I reflected on continuing to fan into flame the gift of God within us as we live and share the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ.
The bishops of the Church of England are also coming towards the end of a two-year programme. ‘Living in Love and Faith‘ is a project which will result in the production of ‘resources that will help the Church to learn how questions about human identity, relationships, marriage and sexuality fit within the bigger picture of what it means to embody a Christian vision of living holy lives in love and faith in our culture’. It is led by the bishops and therefore I was deeply frustrated and saddened in the way that the House of Bishops statement re civil partnerships was published on Thursday. I recognise that it has fanned into flame unnecessary pain and distress and I wish to acknowledge my part in that.
I cannot deny seeing the content of the statement at the meeting of the House of Bishops in December and in terms of factual content the statement is reiterating that in the light of the recent change in law allowing civil partnerships to be extended to opposite-sex couples, nothing has changed regarding the legal and doctrinal position of the Church of England. There should have been no surprises for anyone in that. However, I am complicit in making wrong assumptions in December and not asking questions about how this statement was to be used. For me, the publication of the statement in cold isolation from anything else, on a seemingly random day and lacking any pastoral ‘surround’ or mention of the Living in Love and Faith’ process, has been perplexing and upsetting. This is even more so as it has been released just days before the College of Bishops convene once more to focus on ‘Living in Love and Faith’ as we stand in the present looking to both the past and the future.
(Belfast Telegraph) Largest Northern Ireland churches insist same-sex weddings won’t be held in places of worship
None of the largest Churches in Northern Ireland have said they are prepared to carry out same-sex marriages.
The Church of Ireland, Methodist Church of Ireland and Presbyterian Church in Ireland all stated that they will only celebrate marriages between a man and a woman.
The Catholic Church expressed its concerns at the “redefinition” of marriage, but did not comment directly on whether it would hold same-sex wedding ceremonies on its properties.
The Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster did not reply when approached for comment, although it has previously expressed its opposition to same-sex marriage.
However, All Souls Church, a non-subscribing Presbyterian Church based in south Belfast, confirmed it will provide the opportunity for same-sex couples to have their marriage solemnised.
The Board of Gafcon Australia expresses its dismay over the decision of Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta to make provision for the blessing of same-sex marriages. We believe this has torn the fabric of our communion within the Anglican Church of Australia.
This decision is contrary to the teaching of Scripture about the nature of human sexuality and marriage. It is also contrary to the doctrinal position of the Anglican Church of Australia.
General Synod has repeatedly affirmed that marriage is a lifelong exclusive union between a man and a woman. The Bible does not allow the blessing of any sexual relationship which is not marriage between a man and a woman.
Contrary to the views expressed by Bishop Parkes, the Anglican Church of Australia has always been a church that confesses its faith. Every deacon, priest and bishop has declared their faith and pledged their commitment to our doctrine at their ordination. This confession includes adherence to the Holy Scriptures, the Creeds, the Book of Common Prayer and the 39 Articles of Religion. Bishops are required to “correct and set aside teaching that is contrary to the mind of Christ”.
The resolution in Wangaratta is emblematic of a move in the Anglican Church of Australia away from our doctrine.
“The Board of Gafcon Australia expresses its dismay over the decision of Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta to make provision for the blessing of same-sex marriages. This decision is contrary to the teaching of Scripture…” https://t.co/DxZmXXB91z @gafconaustralia
— GAFCON (@gafconference) September 9, 2019
The Archbishop of Sydney, Dr Glenn Davies, has issued a statement in response to a vote by the Synod of the Diocese of Wangaratta to authorise a service to bless civil marriages. The Bishop of Wangaratta has claimed this service would allow for a blessing of same-sex unions and that he personally intends to use it for that purpose.
Archbishop Davies said “It is highly regrettable that clergy and lay people in the Diocese of Wangaratta have chosen to follow their Bishop rather than the clear words of Scripture concerning God’s design for human sexuality (Matt 19:4-12).
The doctrine of our Church is not determined by 67 members of a regional synod in Victoria nor is it changed by what they may purport to authorise.
Time and time again, the General Synod has affirmed the biblical view of marriage as the doctrine of our Church. To bless that which is contrary to Scripture cannot, therefore, be permissible under our church law.
The circumstances of this event are reminiscent of the actions of the Diocese of New Westminster in Canada in 2003. It is now universally acknowledged that those events were the beginning of the ‘tear in the fabric of the Anglican Communion’.
Moreover, to claim the authority of our Church to carry out a service of blessing contrary to the biblical view of marriage and the doctrine of our Church will certainly fracture the Anglican Church of Australia.”
— David Ould ن (@davidould) October 9, 2017
The Diocese of Wangaratta has passed their motion calling for the blessing of individuals who have taken part in a same-sex wedding. The voting, reported by prominent supporter of the motion Ven. John Davis (Archdeacon Emeritus of the Diocese), was that 67 for, 18 against and one abstention.
Davis has published his speech in support of the motion….
— David Ould ن (@davidould) August 31, 2019
Those are the first words in a tweet thread from Becket attorney Lori Windham, and she’s right. This week Becket filed a cert petition in Sharonell Fulton v. City of Philadelphia. Fulton is appealing from a Third Circuit Court of Appeals opinion holding that Philadelphia did not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment when it took punitive actions against Catholic Social Services because, in the words of the cert petition, “as a Catholic agency, CSS cannot provide written endorsements for same-sex couples which contradict its religious teachings on marriage.” Philadelphia took this action in spite of the fact that “CSS’s beliefs about marriage haven’t prevented anyone from fostering. ” As Becket explains:
Philadelphia has a diverse array of foster agencies, and not a single same-sex couple approached CSS about becoming a foster parent between its opening in 1917 and the start of this case in 2018. Despite this history, after learning through a newspaper article that CSS wouldn’t perform home studies for same-sex couples if asked, the City stopped allowing foster children to be placed with any family endorsed by CSS. This means that even though no same-sex couples had asked to work with the Catholic Church, the foster families that actually chose to work with the Church cannot welcome new children into their homes at a time when Philadelphia has an admittedly “urgent” need for more foster parents.
As is the case with multiple modern religious liberty cases, the issue isn’t whether LGBT individuals are excluded from the relevant market, industry, or program but whether the state may use its power to enforce ideological and religious conformity. Just as a ruling for Jack Phillips in Masterpiece Cakeshop meant that customers could still get their cakes, and Christians could still retain their rights of conscience, a ruling for CSS here would mean that LGBT families could still foster, and Catholics would be able to uphold church teaching.
Moreover, the facts of the case demonstrate that Philadelphia’s intolerance doesn’t just harm the Catholic Church, it harms the very people the foster program is designed to help.
A ruling for Catholic Social Services would mean that LGBT families could still foster, and Catholics would still be able to uphold church teaching. Rule against them, and the court drives CSS from fostering kids: https://t.co/bKF3Vm87fU
— David French (@DavidAFrench) July 26, 2019
(Law & Religion UK) Russell Sandberg–Religion and Civil Partnerships: The Next Steps in a Turbulent Saga
The third and fourth proposed changes therefore smack of overkill, especially since the role of religious groups in civil partnerships is different from that in relation to marriage. Indeed, paragraph 40 of the ‘Next Steps’ paper states that ‘as there is no Canon law of the Church of England or Church in Wales that would be affected by the civil partnership changes, there is no need for any protections relating to that law’. This misses the point a little. It is not a question of there not being any religious law on the matter or indeed any religious law which is part of the law of the land on the matter. The issue is that it is not a commonly recognised legal right to have civil partnerships solemnised in these two churches (as it is for marriages). On the surface, this creates the seemingly odd situation where there is a legal prohibition of the solemnisation of same sex marriage in these two Anglican churches but no such prohibition on civil partnerships. However, this anomaly is explained by the assumed legal duty upon these churches to solemnise marriages. This does mean that the Anglican churches may find themselves lobbied to conduct civil partnerships.
This all means that the protections proposed will afford religious organisations similar protection for conducting civil partnerships as they have for religious marriage, except in the case of the Anglican churches which will have no special treatment in relation to civil partnerships. The intention is clearly for these provisions to apply to opposite and same sex civil partnerships. That means that the religious protections concerning same sex civil partnerships will increase. Yet, no suggestion is made, let alone no evidence given, to suggest that the current protections in the Civil Partnership Act 2004 are inadequate. Rather, the cause of the change seems to be a lack of clarity about the different roles that religious groups play in relation to civil partnerships rather than marriage. This means that a familiar but an overly cautious ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ approach is yet again being taken.
The ‘Religious Protections’ chapter concludes by recognising the judgment in Ladele v London Borough of Islington  EWCA (Civ) 1357 stating that ‘these protections will not apply to civil partnership registrars. They perform a secular function’ (para 41). It further clarifies that ‘a handful of religious ministers are also designated as civil partnership registrars, and when they are performing this secular function they will not be able to refuse on faith or belief grounds’. This perpetuates a distinction between a religious ceremony and a civil legal act of registration. It may well be time to refashion outmoded marriage laws in order to insist upon such a neat distinction there.
Indeed, although there is nothing fundamentally unsound in the ‘Religious Protections’ section, it does include a number of confusions and inconsistencies that will be perpetuated if these next steps are taken. There seems to be a lack of clarity as to the role that religious groups have in civil partnerships rather than marriage. This has meant that the same sex marriage provisions are now being replicated rather than the same sex civil partnership provisions without any explanation or justification. Harmonisation of the laws on adult relationships is badly needed. The current law on marriage distinguishes between different religions and indeed gives special treatment to places of religious worship. Calls for humanist ceremonies to be legally recognised and concerns about unregistered Islamic marriages show that the current law is not fit for purpose. As Sharon Thompson and I argue, there is a pressing need for comprehensive reform of adult relationships, particularly the formalities required and cohabitation rights. As I have noted elsewhere, the recent announcement of a review of the Law Commission into weddings law is welcome but the varied and various piecemeal reforms underscore the need for a comprehensive harmonisation and reform programme.
CoE General Synod Q&A — if my spouse has a sex change, are we still married in the eyes of the Church?
The Bishop of Newcastle to reply on behalf of the Chair of the House of Bishops:
A. The Pastoral Advisory Group considered this question in the context of one specific case and I cannot comment here on the personal circumstances involved or draw a general theological principle from a single instance. However, we noted two important points. When a couple marry in church they promise before God to be faithful to each other for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health – come what may, although we preach compassion if they find this too much to bear.
Secondly, never in the history of the church has divorce been actively recommended as the way to resolve a problem. We have always prioritised fidelity, reconciliation and forgiveness, with divorce as a concession when staying together proves humanl unbearable. In the light of those two points, if a couple wish to remain married after one partner has transitioned, who are we to put them asunder?
Read it all. Please note that there is also a [London] Times article (requires subscription) on this which appeared yesterday with the headline ‘Church accepts marriage between people of the same gender — with a catch’ which begins as follows:
The Church of England has given its blessing to marriage between two people of the same gender . . . but only if they were man and wife when they originally took their vows.
The church’s teachings state that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, but bishops have now been asked to resolve a thorny question over the church’s position on opposite-sex married couples who remain married after one transitions to a new gender, thereby creating a same-gender couple of two men or two women.
A member of General Synod, Prudence Dailey, asked bishops: “Given that the Church of England’s teaching about marriage is that it is a lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman, if one person in a couple undergoes gender transition, has consideration been given as to whether they are still married according to the teaching of the Church of England?”
The Church of England has given its blessing to marriage between two people of the same gender…
…but only if they were man and wife when they originally took their vows.https://t.co/XBO8hz3ECM
— Kaya Burgess (@kayaburgess) July 4, 2019
The Synod of the Anglican Diocese of Grafton, meeting this weekend 21-23 June, is to debate a motion asking the General Synod to implement same-sex marriage.
The full text of the motion, proposed by Dean Greg Jenks, is
24. That this Synod encourage the 2020 General Synod to adopt optional provisions for the blessing of civil marriages as well as an optional liturgy for the solemnization of Holy Matrimony where the parties to the marriage are of the same gender.
Moved: The Very Reverend Greg Jenks
Seconded: Canon Lee Archinal
— David Ould ن (@davidould) June 18, 2019
Through all these ill-defined arguments and slogans we began to see something else emerge – the shouting down of those who disagreed. For many who were campaigning it was outrageous that anybody could even consider voting “no”. It wasn’t seen as a matter of conscience but as a moral failing to think that heterosexual and homosexual relationships were somehow different, even if those who voted “no” didn’t want to make statements about morality themselves, they just didn’t think that these two types of relationship were exactly the same. But the “yes” campaign was always a campaign about morality; the rhetoric of “second class citizens” and the reliable “love is love” were moral claims and the change in the Marriage act was really about having the State itself make a moral claim. It was, ultimately, about achieving state-enforced moral equivalence.
And it was achieved, by changing the law governing the most fundamental social building block we have. Once the law was changed then it was only going to be a matter of time before the progressive activists took this to be a mandate to look for the same enforcement of sexual morality in other areas of our common life.
And so we arrive at today’s decision. What is remarkable about the position that Folau finds himself in is that it was entirely because others wanted to make the morality of sex an issue. Last year when Folau first upset people it was because he was asked a direct question about homosexuals. He didn’t raise the issue but it was forced upon.
This year’s incident is just the same. Consider the dynamic of what actually happened. Folau posted a “warning” that a variety of different “sinful” behaviours would land someone in hell. Yes he referred to homosexuals but he also listed out a whole heap of other behaviours and positions as well. But Rugby Australia didn’t pick him up on any of those. He didn’t discriminate against one particular group (you might even say that he was broadly inclusive in the scope of those included in the “warning”). Instead it was Rugby Australia who made sexual morality the issue. Of all the possible choices presented to them by Folau’s post they picked that one. Much of the media have fallen into line too. I can’t count the number of times this past week that I’ve heard or read about Folau’s “homophobic tweet” but no mention of his “kleptophobia” or the like.
A prominent employer decided to make moral disapproval of homosexuality something punishable. Just as we had warned would happen back during the marriage debate.
— David Ould ن (@davidould) May 17, 2019
Taiwan’s parliament legalised same-sex marriage on Friday in a landmark first for Asia as the government survived a last-minute attempt by conservatives to pass watered-down legislation.
Lawmakers comfortably passed a bill allowing same-sex couples to form “exclusive permanent unions” and another clause that would let them apply for a “marriage registration” with government agencies.
The vote — which took place on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia — is a major victory for the island’s LGBT community and it places the island at the vanguard of Asia’s burgeoning gay rights movement.
Thousands of gay rights supporters gathered outside parliament despite heavy downpours, waving rainbow flags, flashing victory signs and breaking into cheers as the news filtered out.
Methodists have recommended that gay couples be allowed to marry in their churches for the first time in a groundbreaking report.
In a document published on Tuesday ahead of the Methodist Church’s Conference this summer, a task force called for a series of recommendations in a bid to modernise the Methodist Church.
The report was drawn up amid changes in society regarding same-sex relationships, cohabition and the delicining marriage rate, the legalisation of civil partnerships and same-sex marriage.
It also comes following the Government’s revelation last year that civil partnerships would be rolled out to heterosexual couples and the proposal has been welcomed by the LGBT community.
The recommendation to change the rules to allow same-sex weddings in its chapels was revealed in the publication entitled ‘God in Love Unites Us’, and was drawn up by the Methodist Church’s Marriage and Relationships Task Group.
“In the past decade or so, I have seen and spoken to lots of young people who are trying to reconcile their sexuality and their faith, who end up self-harming, attempting suicide or who suffer with depression and mental illness,” says Foreshew-Cain. “Because if you believe God is condemning you for your essential being and that you have got to be something other than you are, where does that leave you?” He pauses. “Lizzie wasn’t the only one, and she won’t be the last.”
Statements from the most senior figures in the C of E have done little to ease his concerns. Welby, who recently announced that same-sex partners would not be invited to the Lambeth conference in 2020, while heterosexual spouses would, said he was pained by his decision and regretted the conflicts racking the church.
“Honestly, a lot of us in the queer community are very fed up with straight, white, cisgendered men talking about their suffering when they are inflicting it on other people,” says Foreshew-Cain. “It’s a bit like an abusive partner hitting you and saying: ‘This hurts me more than it hurts you.’”
The picture he paints is one of disorder, barely held together by a carefully cultivated ambiguity among the church’s top brass: bishops who quietly voice support for same-sex marriage behind closed doors vote against any liberalisation towards gay and lesbian clergy in the synod, he claims. Parishioners, tired of the endless debates, are abandoning a church at odds with itself. And young Anglicans, hoping to find acceptance and often succeeding in local parishes, are finding institutional debates about their place the source of intense pain.
Foreshew-Cain is sceptical that much will change – at least not until the conclusion of the next Lambeth conference in 2020. But a reckoning will come, and it seems the point of compromise is long past. “These campaigns are not going to go away. Gay people in the church are not going to go away. And the moral question mark over the integrity of the church is not going to go away. It’s only going to become more intense.”
The rebel priest: ‘Gay people in the church are not going to go away’ https://t.co/F88r3hZojC
— The Guardian (@guardian) May 7, 2019
([London] Times) Archbp Justin Welby says ban of bishops spouses in same-sex marriages from the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020 was ‘painful’ but necessary
The American, Canadian and Scottish churches in the Anglican communion have backed same-sex marriage. Most Anglican churches, including from countries such as Uganda, remain firmly opposed.
Every Anglican bishop has been invited and they can all invite their spouses, with the exception of married gay bishops. It has prompted criticism from MPs, the Most Rev Michael Curry, the American bishop who preached at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, and the University of Kent, the conference host.
Speaking on a tour of the diocese of Peterborough, the archbishop said that he had met university bosses to discuss their concerns. He told The Times: “Well over 90 per cent of the Anglican communion are conservative on issues of sexuality. I’ve invited all the bishops, including those in same-sex marriages. And I had to consider . . . getting as many people as possible there and excluding as few as possible. It’s a lose-lose situation.”
He added: “I had to take what is a really difficult and painful decision to say, in order for the conference to be as representative as possible and get all the bishops there and not have the risk of some provinces not coming because they felt I was pushing the envelope too far, that I couldn’t ask all the spouses.”
Read it all (requires subscription).
([London] Times) Archbp Justin Welby says ban of bishops spouses in same-sex marriages from the partial Lambeth Conference of 2020 was ‘painful’ but necessary https://t.co/4BmuQodWg0 #anglican #ethics #sexuality #marriage #holyscripture #globalisation #uk #anthropology
— Kendall Harmon (@KendallHarmon6) April 15, 2019
At Bishop Peter’s own invitation we have asked him the following question:
You write that “the Bishop together with the Synod and Diocesan Council is responsible for the good order and government of this Diocese” and “I have some confidence that together we might be able to find a ‘Newcastle Way’ which will incorporate living with strong difference in an open and Godly way”,
1. Does the Diocese have the right and authority to act unilaterally in legislating for liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships or same-sex marriage even when such a position has repeatedly been rejected by the General Synod?
2. Are you willing to give your assent to such motions or legislation so that the “Newcastle Way” effectively means accomodating in “a loving way to express our shared life” such a move and the tensions it will bring?
Bishop Peter’s reply is as follows:
Q: Does the Diocese have the right and authority to act unilaterally in legislating for liturgy for the blessing of same-sex relationships or same-sex marriage even when such a position has repeatedly been rejected by the General Synod?
A: The legal situation in the Australian Church around liturgy and order is not clear. The Archbishop and Diocese of Sydney have set a significant precedent for unilateral action by authorising liturgies additional to the Book of Common Prayer, An Australian Prayer Book and A Prayer Book for Australia. Those liturgies not being authorised by the General Synod. They have also set significant precedent with the Archbishop unilaterally authorising Diaconal Administration of the Holy Communion. The latter not being authorised by the General Synod.
In this church, a resolution about doctrine by the General Synod is not determinative. Ultimately if doctrine is contested, the disagreement must be resolved by the Appellate Tribunal. That was the situation with the marriage of persons who have been previously married while their former spouse is still alive, the ordination of women and the order of the administration of the Holy Communion.
There were no proposals before the Newcastle Synod in 2018 of this kind. The Synod has shown a cautious but genuine desire to listen very attentively in the spirit of Lambeth 1:10.
Q: Are you willing to give your assent to such motions or legislation so that the “Newcastle Way” effectively means accomodating in “a loving way to express our shared life” such a move and the tensions (“strong difference”) it will bring?
A: In the Province of New South Wales the Bishop is not a member of the Synod meaning that a motion is an expression of the House of Clergy and the House of Laity as assembled at that time. The Bishop has no role in assenting to motions and motions do not bind the Bishop, unless moved in accordance with an Ordinance that has established such power.
In relation to legislation, the question significantly preempts any conversation or deliberation in which the Synod may engage. The Synod has heard my desire that the Diocese of Newcastle will be an expression of comprehensive Anglicanism. The next step for the Synod will include exploring how Christians who have theological differences live together. The work of the General Synod Doctrine Commission and the Diocesan Faith and Order Commission will be important parts of ensuring that the Synod and the Diocese continues to give prayerful, biblical and theological reflection to the life of the Diocese.
In relation to legislation, the role of the Diocesan Bishop is to listen to the Synod, the National Church and the Anglican Communion in exercising his or her mind around assent.
— Nick Bielby (@nickbielby) December 7, 2017
Noting the decision of the General Synod of lgreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil, the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) on 2nd June 2018 to change its doctrine of marriage and to recognise same-sex marriages and further to amend its Canons to allow for the rite of blessing of same-sex marriages, which is a contravention of Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998; and
Recalling that as a consequence of the then Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) proceeding with the consecration of Gene Robinson as a Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003, in contravention of Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998, the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia declared in 2003 that it was in a state of impaired communion with ECUSA (now known as The Episcopal Church); and
Further consequent to the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church on 8th June 2017 to change its doctrine of marriage and to recognise same-sex marriages and further to amend its Canons to allow for the rite of blessing of same-sex marriages, which is a contravention of Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998, the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia declared on 31st January 2018 that it was in a state of impaired communion with the Scottish Episcopal Church.
Now it is hereby resolved,
That the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia declares that it considers itself to be in a state of impaired communion with the lgreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil, the Anglican Episcopal Church of Brazil (IEAB) with immediate effect.