Friday, March 11, 2011

Church weddings in the CoE?

As you may know, some of the latest kerfuffle from the UK is whether legal same sex marriages should be able to be performed in churches. As it stands, the all-but-the-word civil unions that same sex couples are eligible for, cannot be performed or blessed in church. (Which seems a real violation of religious liberty to my small American mind). As the UK Government (a CONSERVATIVE coalition government, one might add) moves towards normalizing civil partnerships as marriage, where will they be performed?

From the Revd Giles Fraser.I'm afraid I couldn't resist quoting a large part of it.
THE Government has made it abundantly clear that it will not force religious organisations to conduct same-sex blessings in places of worship, if it is not their agreed policy to do so ... Rather, the Government simply wishes to make it possible for them to do so, if they wish. That seems eminently sensible. If the Re­form Synagogues, for in­stance, de­cide that that is their policy, then who are the Church of England to try to stop them?

One familiar argument is that making it possible for same-sex blessings to take place in churches or synagogues represents some sort of threat to the institution of marriage. I find this peculiar. How is the desire for a gay couple to have their union blessed before God any sort of threat to the marriage of straight couples who wish to do the same?

Is it that, as the Revd Dr Judith Maltby asked last weekend (The Guardian, 26 February), some people do not believe there is “enough of God to go around”? Or is it that they just don’t want to admit undesirables into the club; that gay couples some­how devalue the marriage brand?

I am sorry to be asking so many questions. Although I disagree, I understand why some people may be opposed to blessing same-sex couples on theological or scriptural grounds. But the argument that it “devalues marriage” makes no sense to me. Marriage is under threat from many things, but the idea that the divorce rate is rising because gay couples want the Church to pronounce God’s blessing on their union is absurd. And you would have to be spec­tacularly homophobic not to want to get married because gay people might also do the same.

This issue will not go away. If the Church thinks that it can ride out the storm and look forward to more tranquil times in the future, it is mistaken. Over the past few years, the Church has been making enemies in large parts of society — and not just the gay community — because it has failed to recognise that the love two members of the same sex can have for each other is legitimate or genuine.

It is the job of the Church to search out love and to plant its flag where it finds it. Sometimes new dis­coveries are made. And the Church ought to have the humility to recog­nise that other people are often capable of making these discoveries long before it does. After all, there is enough scriptural emphasis for the blindness of religious authorities.


Ann said...

And for more on marriages - how about these items?

JCF said...

as the Revd Dr Judith Maltby asked last weekend (The Guardian, 26 February), some people do not believe there is “enough of God to go around”?

This. Bingo!

JCF said...

Off-topic---sort of.

There's a controversy brewing, re reporters Lisa Ling's recent doc. for the Oprah Winfrey Network "Pray Away the Gay?" (truthfully, I haven't watched it yet).

Some Christian LGBTs found it a respectful, helpful contribution to dialogue.

Others, mainly anti-theist LGBTs, have EXCORIATED Ling---mainly, I think, for even addressing it as a question (even though I understand that Ling clearly believes the answer is "No").

At any rate, here follows the type of response the controversy is generating. But more than that, it's also a response that's becoming typical among LGBTs [Thank you, phobic Christianists, for killing the message of the Gospel among more and more (sarcasm/Off)]:

I read the story [favorable review of PATG, by a Christian lesbian], and it is from the perspective of a Christian who was able to resolve the conflict between bible and gay. I never was, and feel that it is impossible for a well-informed person to do it either. With all due respect to the article's author, I found it to be sorely lacking in objectivity, being written by someone who has been deeply entrenched in the what appears to be charismatic Christianity.

One of my complaints about the Ling piece is that it does not talk about the inherent contradictions in the bible and other religious texts that make it impossible to resolve the conflict of Christianity (really, all of the Abrahamic religions and then some) and being gay.

Here, "AfterElton".

JCF said...

Aw, damn. There went my post again (I HATE you, Blogger!)

FOJ mods, please fish my post out of the Spam file...

JCF said...

Thank you! :-)