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Saturday, 8 December 2012

Two faced

Who would have thought it? The Prime Minister, David Cameron has been accused of a 'broken promise' as gay couples told they can marry in church". Tut tut; the Archbishops, guardians of our moral values are not at all pleased. But to be fair to them, they are experts in their field. The broken promises over the ordination of women, calls to fix voting procedures when they don't like the result, vilifying the opposition has all become part of New Anglicanism. Too bad they cannot rig Parliament so the bishops will have to live with the consequences of their actions.

My wife and I were reflecting earlier today on the changes we have experienced in a generation. Gone is the calm assurance that the church is just there, standing firm against the whiles of the devil, looking to the moral fibre of the nation and providing  comfort in time of need. Instead we have angst, betrayal and exclusion, often by people 'new to faith' who have no understanding of the word let alone of the theology of the minority they like to criticise as misogynistic bigots, a term now used by enthusiasts for same sex marriage. After every disaster covered by television church doors are opened, nightlight candles appear everywhere, hymns are sung and 'the minister' has some trite comments to make before everyone trots back home forgetting about church until the next rite of passage.

That rite of passage increasingly looks as if it will be same sex couples exercising their right to be 'married' in the Parish Church despite Mr Cameron's protestations. Once the European Court of Human Rights has been visited by activists that will be the end of the matter. One of those shouting loudest to complain from the sidelines is Mrs Thatcher's placement, Abp George Carey. Constantly screaming 'foul', it is he who bears much of the responsibility for the mess we are in. Whatever your views on the ordination of women, it is inescapable that church attendance is dropping at a quickening rate, the authority of the church has diminished and teaching, such as it is, has in many churches more to do with civil rights and relating to society today than with teaching the faith as it has been handed down over the centuries. Instead of guiding the church along the path to unity, the Archbishops and bishops have set the Anglican church apart from the Apostolic church to which we belong. 

Creeping changes in the church represented as small steps at the time have left us mired in controversy. Tolerance has been repaid with vindictiveness in the process of allowing deaconess to become deacon, deacon to be ordained priest and now, priest to bishop. This process has been mirrored in society. Tolerance of minorities in the interests of so-called equal rights has become a hammer to bludgeon anyone who dares to speak their mind. The bishops are reaping what they have sown in their objections to the abhorrent proposal to redefine marriage. They are correct in their objection but they have lost their moral authority. Even if the Government had a mandate, which it does not, it would be contrary to natural law which binds a man and a woman together in the act of procreation without which neither same sex nor complementary sex couples would exist. 

The problems we are experiencing in society first manifested themselves when we turned away from the teaching of the universal church. Consequently we have lost not only the moral authority but the sympathy of those who identify themselves as Anglican for census purposes but who, in the main, have lost any sense of its meaning. This could not be more stark than in The Episcopal Church of the United States (TEC) where the Presiding Bishop is disregarding Canon Law as she punishes bishops and priests for remaining true to the Gospel. The American Anglican Council (AAC) reported 'illegal acts' to the Church of England in February 2010 after the Holy Orders of 152 priests and deacons and 9 bishops had been renounced by TEC but to no avail. The ACC is now appealing to leaders of the Anglican Communion for help but the Church of England is impotent because she is heading in the same direction as TEC.

The House of Bishops meets next week. They MUST apply the brake and take stock of what is happening in the Anglican church and in the society they strive to emulate rather than set an example. They cannot face both ways being liberal on the one hand and conservative on the other. They must face the truth.

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