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Monday, 3 June 2013

Gay marriage farce

What has happened to the Church of England? As the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill moves to the Lords there is a report here that "senior officials have personally urged bishops to stay away from this week’s vote"!

Gay marriage is a political stunt. As already witnessed in France, marriage is about love but if love is the only criterion it leads naturally to polygamy and more. If love knows no bounds why should people not marry their close relatives or even their dogs to prove their devotion to animals? David Cameron is fond of saying: "I think marriage is a wonderful institution. It helps people to commit to each other. I think it's such a good institution that it should be available to gay people as well as heterosexuals." Yes, marriage is a wonderful institution. It is far too important to be used as a political football and rushed through parliament with no mandate or proper consultation.

The Lords Spiritual have a duty to be present to vote against this legislation because it is contrary to Christian teaching and natural law. Any bishop who has convinced himself to the contrary should  look to his oath of  fealty as should the Lords Temporal to avoid placing Her Majesty as 'Defender of the Faith and Supreme Governor of the Church of England' in the invidious position of being asked to assent to something with which the church does not agree:

"I (name of Member) swear by Almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors, according to law. So help me God"

- or is that just another meaningless promise?

Postscript [04/06/13]

I was not able to watch the whole debate in the Lords today but I did catch the former Bishop of Oxford, Lord Harries of Pentregarth [@5.15 pm in the text] peddling his usual secularised form of Christianity saying: "I believe in the institution of marriage and I want it to be available to same-sex couples as well as to males and females. No surprise there!

Previously [@ 4.50 pm] I heard the Bishop of Leicester concluding his speech with the words: "...if it is the unusual intention of this House to divide at Second Reading, I shall have no alternative but to abstain." That is a disappointment but was there a clue to that intention in the Archbishop of Canterbury's speech earlier [@4.06 pm] which I have now had an opportunity to read. Most of Archbishop Welby's comments are welcome but he finished with words that have caused others to speculate on what he meant [here and here]:
"This is not a faith issue, although we are deeply grateful for the attention that the Government and the other place have paid to issues of religious freedom. However, it is not at heart a faith issue. It is about the general social good. Therefore, with much regret—but entire conviction—I cannot support the Bill as it stands."

Could this be a cunning plan to allow the bishops (as urged by 'senior officials') to abstain as the Bishop of Leicester has already indicated? By declaring that the issue is about the general social good rather than a faith issue it will be interesting to see if the bishops, other than Lord Harries of course, abstain. If they do so it will be a cop out. The bishops would do well to reflect on an excellent speech by Lord Anderson of Swansea [@5.03 pm] who concluded with these words: "Let the people decide."

PPS [05/06/13]

Voting details here show that nine bishops present voted to kill off the Bill. As previously indicated, Lord Harries of Pentregarth voted in favour of the Bill but that is no surprise as he is from the same camp as the Archbishop of Wales and his mentor the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church whose ideas about Christianity have been stretched to incredulity.


  1. Is the Anglican church even remotely Christian anymore?

  2. I'm gay, I'm a christian and when I read rhetoric masquerading as christian conscience or spiritual insight (such as a large part of stuff on this sight (and this article above)) it saddens me. Why on earth would it bother you if I got married? In what way does that impact upon you, threaten your family, cause you distress, prevent you from sleeping soundly in your bed at night? Where's your charity? Where is your love?

  3. Believe me 'Anonymous' I want you to be happy but not at any cost. Over 661,700 like-minded people have signed the 'Coalition for Marriage' petition in support of the legal definition of marriage which is 'the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others'.
    Charity and love were expressed in the Civil Partnership legislation which I supported gladly. If 'gay marriage' is allowed that will still not be enough for those who press for every want to be satisfied. That is not how I see marriage.

  4. Exactly: ff gay marriage is "allowed" is how you put it and then go on to use the classic "thin end of the wedge" argument as if to suggest that "we gays" would press for "every want to be satisifed" - I suggest that there lies your uncharitableness. All that is being asked for is the extension of the right to enter into a "voluntary union for life, one person to one person to the exlcusion of others" - yes it would be a re-definition of marriage (or an enrichment of what is meant by it)but it's hardly anything to get so so definisive about. If you're not gay then it does not impinge up on you whatsoever, but if you are (as I am) it would signal the end to the last vestige of discrimination/inequality that persists lawfully in the UK. If you want me to be happy then perhaps at some little cost to yourself, I would ask you to be less closed-minded on this issue. On this issue, you write as if you are defending christianity itself when to me it's discrimination you more correctly appear to be championing. I am sure that is is not how you intend to come over. It's the extension of the right to get married to those who are gay, simply that. Nevertheless I do appreciate your printing my protestations - I love a good debate as much as the next person and at the end of the day, I may well be wrong.

    1. 'Anonymous' [why will commentators not use pen-names as requested], the King James Bible has 'And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity'[1 Corinthians 13:13] but most other translations such as the American Standard Version have 'But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love'.

      Christians have different views which are expected to be expressed in love. It doesn't mean that there is a lack of charity/love where views differ. In my view, marriage is marriage and cannot be re-defined. It is as simple as that.

      I did not suggest that gays in particular would press for every want to be satisfied but some might and others, including heterosexuals have already pushed for polyamory.

      I might remind you that at every step, those who would challenge orthodoxy have protested that one step didn't imply another but it has all the way from deacons becoming priests to women bishops, gay and lesbian bishops and same-sex marriage. Meanwhile our churches are emptying, Christianity is on the wane in countries which have adopted what you claim to be charity.

    2. And homsexuals are hung, imprisoned, beaten, vilified in countries which haven't

  5. And another thing .... I have noticed that there are many who now claim to have "supported gladly" civil partnership legislation in the past when actually, if they were honest, they very much against it at the time: it would errode the very fabric of society etc. Isn't it interesting that many now claim to have been in support back then so that they can now say to us gays "you have civil partnership, be satisified with that". I've heard clergy and bishops say such things when I remember them being dead against civil partnerships when legilsation was put forward. It's dishonest. Let's face it - most of society has moved on (and thankfully so) but we in the church only grudigingly catch up with where Christ leads within the secular world. Thank God for the "Christ of Culture" as I think Niebuhr put it.

  6. It was my experience that when the proposal for civil partnerships was debated in 2004 many within the church were largely hostile. That said, even though I suggested that there has been some dishonesty amongst those who, 9 years later, now say that they supported Civil Partnership (but actually didn’t) I am grateful that in your case, even in your opposition to equal marriage, you have expressed your whole-hearted glad support for civil partnerships. I can only assume that if this sincerely is the case then you would have no problem with validating that support by petitioning the Church in Wales towards affirming these relationships liturgically (Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi – ancient Orthodoxy, Ancientbriton!). I seem to remember that the Bishops expressly said they were not going to do this in 2004 – I felt back then that was a bit weak at the time (but it’s a political game I suspect) and I was disappointed that the Bishops on the one hand supported CP’s and on the other hand said they were not going to touch them with a liturgical barge pole.
    Nine years on, I believe that it is no longer helpful to distinguish between same sex civil partnerships and heterosexual marriage. Many of my friends are gay (and many more are not) but the relationships I have witnessed in civil partnerships are indistinguishable ( no better/no worse) than those I see amongst the heterosexual community. I want to thank you for that – because it is the kind of “glad” support for civil partnerships that you have expressed that has afforded us gays the kind of public acceptance we needed for our same-sex relationships; it has given us the very means by which our relationships have been strengthened into the likeness of marriage itself. It is our experience that we can now be more open about or commitments and thereby put our commitments at the disposal of the wellbeing of society (more people invite us to Dinner now than before!!). It’s not that gays are demanding more, I think it’s more the case that the open recognition and public support that has come with civil partnerships has unearthed within such relationships the very qualities of life for which marriage itself is so highly celebrated. I'd call this revelation and I thank God for it. It therefore seems natural and not at all surprising, nine years on, to find ourselves discussing how this all needs some kind of recognition in law. It’s no “farce” as you suggest, no farce at all, more the measure of a mature and honest acceptance that perhaps, for centuries, marriage has been missing somethin - missing us glorious gay folk..

    I don’t therefore believe that the possibility of ‘gay marriage’ detracts from heterosexual marriage and that’s of course because my experience is that homosexuality is not a choice but rather a given identity, all be it given to a minority of people. Speaking from within that minority, I see the development of marriage for same sex couples as a huge endorsement of the institution of marriage itself and I can not tell you how much it would mean to me, and others like me, if the society in which I live (and to which I contribute) opened up that institution to the likes of little, queer old me.

  7. 'Anonymous', I think I have made my views clear. However, to avoid confusion, the subject of this entry was intended to be a comment on the farcical intervention of "senior officials [who] have personally urged bishops to stay away from this week’s vote".

  8. I think you have and I think I rather confounded you in my reasoned and articulate response ... fancy that, "little, queer old me".

  9. Fr Edward Bryant5 June 2013 at 12:04

    whatever one thinks about this development, it is the inevitable consequence of the decriminalisation of homosexual acts.

  10. It is indeed and I can't tell you how pleased I am about that, else I should be "LittleQueerOldCRIMINALme". And anyway, locking me away in a prison of men would hardly have helped me come to terms with my deviancy - isn't marriage how we deal with deviancy when it's time to "settle down" once oats have been sown. Inevitably so.

  11. From 'Anonymous' 4 June, above:
    "Exactly: ff gay marriage is "allowed" is how you put it and then go on to use the classic "thin end of the wedge" argument as if to suggest that "we gays" would press for "every want to be satisifed" - I suggest that there lies your uncharitableness."

    Here is an example 'the wedge' thickening. It may not apply to you but the thin edge of the wedge is a reality:

  12. The article reads: "gender identity” is a catch-all phrase that could be interpreted by activist courts to legitimize “any kind of sexual deviancy” .... news to me, thought gender identity was about the gender you identified as natural to you. The article goes on, "This could include pedophilia, if that’s their deeply felt experience of gender and if that’s their sexual preference.” Since when has pedophilia been a "deeply felt experience of gender". It is what it is - pedophilia.

    What you identify as an example of "the wedge thickening" is simply an alarmist, ill informed and inflammatory article. Why does the author of this site thought it was worthy of drawing our attention to. Why, oh why ....

    1. Why? Because of the genuine concern of mothers in Canada over "gender identity" legislation. You can read about their concerns here

  13. They don't call him 'Dirty Harries' for nothing.