Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Church of England rejects same sex "marriage"

George Conger at Anglican Ink reports on what appears to be a strong affirmation of traditional marriage coming from the Church of England's Faith and Order Commission.
The Church of England has reaffirmed its rejection of gay marriage stating the public blessing of marriage can only take place within the context of a lifelong, monogamous, male-female relationship. Marriage is a gift from God, not a right granted by the state nor cultural construct a paper released today by the church’s Faith and Order Commission entitled “Men and Women in Marriage”

“In calling it a gift of God, we mean that it is not simply a cultural development (though it has undergone much cultural development) nor simply a political or economic institution (though often embedded in political and economic arrangements). It is an expression of the human nature which God has willed for us and which we share. And although marriage may fall short of God’s purposes in many ways and be the scene of many human weaknesses, it receives the blessing of God and is included in his judgment that creation is ‘very good’ (Genesis 1.31). In calling it a gift of God in creation, we view marriage within its wider life-context: as an aspect of human society and as a structure of life that helps us shape our journey from birth to death.”

The report recognizes the existence of same-sex relationships as "forms of human relationships which fall short of marriage in the form God has given us."

Marriage on the other hand is the "faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, central to the stability and health of human society," the report stated.

The Church of England has taught “historically and more recently,” that the “sexual differentiation of men and women is a gift of God, who ‘created humankind in his image… male and female he created them’. It is on male and female that God gives his blessing, which is to be seen not only in procreation but in human culture, too (Genesis 1.27-8).”

In a note accompanying the release of the report, Dr. Christopher Cocksworth, the Bishop of Coventry, also reaffirmed the church's commitment to provide "care, prayer and compassion" to those who cannot marry -- but this pastoral care could not be extended to the blessing of same-sex unions.

"Whilst it is right that priests and church communities continue to seek to provide and devise pastoral care accommodation for those in such situations, the document is clear that public forms of blessing belong to marriage alone," he said.

He also stated that plans by the government of Prime Minister David Cameron to introduce gay marriage will harm society.

"The church has a long track record in conducting and supporting marriage, drawing from the deep wells of wisdom which inform centuries of shared religious and cultural understandings of marriage," he said, noting there was “a danger in the current debate of picking apart the institution of marriage which is part of the social fabric of human society.”

Marriage “like most important undertakings in life, can be lived more successfully or less successfully,” the report said.

“Mistakes are made, by couples, by their friends and relatives, and sometime by pastors and institutions of the church… Lack of clear understanding of marriage can only multiply disappointments and frustrations. Public discussion at this juncture needs a clear view of why Christians believe and act in relation to marriage as they do and this document is offered as a resource for that.”
Read the whole report here.