At the day and time appointed for solemnization of Matrimony, the persons to be married shall come into the body of the Church with their friends and neighbours: and there standing together, the Man on the right hand, and the Woman on the left, the Priest shall say,
DEARLY beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God, and in the face of this congregation, to join together this Man and this Woman in holy Matrimony; which is an honourable estate, instituted of God in the time of man's innocency, signifying unto us the mystical union that is betwixt Christ and his Church; which holy estate Christ adorned and beautified with his presence, and first miracle that he wrought, in Cana of Galilee; and is commended of Saint Paul to be honourable among all men: and therefore is not by any to be enterprised, nor taken in hand, unadvisedly, lightly, or wantonly, to satisfy men's carnal lusts and appetites, like brute beasts that have no understanding; but reverently, discreetly, advisedly, soberly, and in the fear of God; duly considering the causes for which Matrimony was ordained.
First, It was ordained for the procreation of children, to be brought up in the fear and nurture of the Lord, and to the praise of his holy Name.
Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body.
Thirdly, It was ordained for the mutual society, help, and comfort, that the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity. Into which holy estate these two persons present come now to be joined. Therefore if any man can shew any just cause, why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak, or else hereafter for ever hold his peace.
Government assertions that churches will not be forced into conducting same-sex unions have already been dismissed. There is a cautionary warning from Canada here.
The Rt Rev Tim Stevens, Bishop of Leicester, summed up the position in this piece in the Guardian: the CofE had been supportive of civil partnerships when the legislation was introduced eight years ago. But he added: "I think the difficulty we have here is the substitution of equality for uniformity, that is to say that there can be no distinction at all between men and women. The government is seeking to meet what it perceives to be the needs of the gay community. I would say that the Church of England is sympathetic to those needs, we want to see a society in which gay people are fully included and their needs are fully provided for.""But this does not amount to a basis for introducing a complete redefinition of the concept of marriage based on a consultation process which is at the very least rapid
"From a standing start within three months to arrive at a fully considered, weighed and articulated redefinition of a fundamental social institution which has been thought about in one particular way for centuries and which is broadly accepted as a social institution in the same way internationally - to change all that on the basis of a consultation like this seems to be at the very least unwise and ill considered."
What I find remarkable about this debate (which seems to have arrived from nowhere and has become such a divisive issue when there has been no mandate for change) is the supposed drive for justice for a tiny minority view which confuses equality with uniformity. Why is it that those in the Church of England who now see themselves in the majority do not have the same regard for those of us who, through synodical procedure, find ourselves in a minority as we seek to uphold our traditional belief in the priesthood in common with the wider Apostolic church? The Church of England at last sees the writing on the wall with the threat of exclusion. Many of us already know what that means!