Seeing that it looks like almost every blogger who has an interest in the Church of England has written about today’s official C of E response to the Government Equalities Office Consultation on the introduction of same-sex marriage, I feel that I ought to as well even though I feel I have very little to say that I’ve not talked about already.
The amount of tweets on it this morning has been overwhelming with those on both sides of the argument once again frantically picking holes in the other’s analysis of the C of E’s thirteen page statement, which you can read in full here. If you’re short on time, the much briefer official summary is here.
Given that ever since the Government first decided that it was going to introduce same-sex marriage, the Church of England has been officially opposed to it, it’s no great surprise that their statement continues in this vein. For once we’re left in no doubt as to which side of the fence the C of E is on, which makes a change from the indecisiveness that often plagues it. They are sticking to the orthodox church view of marriage completely and are not backing down in any area, which will have upset plenty of liberals, but will have pleased many from a wide range of church backgrounds too.
The report is surprisingly easy to read and it’s easy to see where the concerns lie. Whatever reassurances the Government is giving to churches that they won’t be forced to conduct same-sex marriages, if it all goes through it will cause some major headaches and potentially more legal problems further down the line. You can’t just change a fundamental institution and expect everything to fall in line without much in the way of fuss or difficulty.
Here are three thoughts to leave you with:
- The statement quite rightly identifies that the government consultation paper wrongly implies that there are two categories of marriage, “civil” and “religious”. As it stands marriage is marriage irrespective of where you get married. The Government wants to homogenise marriage to cover both heterosexuals and homosexuals whilst at the same time introducing two classes of marriage. So we go from marriage and civil partnerships to religious marriage and civil marriage. If this happens we’re no better off. There is still a division, just along different lines.
- The “Greatest threat to the church in 500 years” headline that is being used to accuse the Church of England of ridiculous over-reaction is, as far as I can see, not mentioned in the C of E statement, but rather has been created by today’s Independent headline writer giving their interpretation of the consequences of introducing same-sex marriage. We need to make sure we check our facts before we make accusations.
- When I found out last night what the headlines were going to be I predicted on Twitter that Jesus wouldn’t get a mention. I almost got it right. Giles Fraser in his Guardian article today does refer to him. I can’t say I agree with much that Giles Fraser says on this subject, but at least he’s mentioned that Jesus said an awful lot more on other issues and once again church and sex make the papers despite there being so much more that the Church is doing that deserves to get media exposure.
If you want to read more on this, here are a few blog and online articles that I’ve found today: