The CofE seems to have gone back into the Dark Ages (again). The UK Government Equalities Office is holding a Consultation on “Equal Civil Marriage” and the Church of England has sent its official response.
And they’re officially against same-gender marriage.
They’re against it, even though a new report shows that between 80-85% of people in the UK under the age of 50 support extending the legal form of marriage to gay people – and three in five - 60% of people of faith in modern Britain – say gay people should be able to get married.
It’s not surprising. They couldn’t ordain women without bending over backwards to give misogynistic clergy and their parishes “Get Out of Jail Free” cards – pensions if they went to Rome and flying bishops if they stayed behind. And they’ve been wringing their hands about women bishops for the longest time. For whatever reason, the Church of England is chained to the old patriarchy.
This new statement is just more of the same. The Cof E is between a rock and a hard place – on the one hand, they are the connecting point for the Anglican Communion – if they were to say same-gender marriage is OK then they can kiss good-bye to Nigeria, Uganda, Sydney and the Southern Cone – and that’s just for starters. Cynics may say they’re gone anyway, but the CofE will try to keep them in the game for sentimental reasons as well as the bonds of affection.
That’s the rock. The hard place is that if they get out of step with Parliament maybe they’ll have to stop being the state church, and that could bring on a whole new Constitutional crisis. The Queen would no longer be the Supreme Head of the Church.
So the official word is that same-gender marriage threatens to cut the CofE away from its moorings. The Bishop of Leicester says the changes could lead to the “gradual unraveling of the Church of England, which is a very high cost for the stability of society.” Who knew we were so powerful?
The reason for all of the excitement is that the CofE fears that it might be forced to allow same-gender marriages in church. Because there isn’t the same freedom of religion/separation of church and state protections that we have here, that is a more rational concern than it is when banded about here by the anti-gay lobby.
They could have just stopped there. But no, they decided to explain theologically why same-gender marriages are a big no-no. And that is difficult to stomach. If you want to read a critique, check out Tina Beardsley’s blog at our British cousin Changing Attitude’s site.
Of course, an official statement doesn’t come from all the people in the CofE as Giles Fraser points out here. There are thousands of people who will be disgusted by this statement of cowardice. Just as there are thousands of people who will be further alienated from the Church and therefore from God.
I give thanks for the courage of the Episcopal Church to stand up for LGBT people in the face of opposition from our Anglican brethren, and I give thanks for everyone who is working to turn that stand into radical welcome at the parish and diocesan level.
This General Convention is going to be a turning point for LGBT inclusion, and Integrity will be there to help move the SCLM resolutions forward and make same-gender blessings part of our Episcopal liturgy. Please make a donation here to help us prevent the Episcopal Church from slipping backwards into the arms of the CofE.