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Same-Sex Couples Marriage or Blessing

Scottish Episcopal Church Welcomes You

Anglicanism regularly phrases things in such a way that different positions, different opinions, different practices can be held together in the one church.

The Scottish Episcopal Church (Anglicanism in Scotland) has begun the process to allow marriage equality in that church. It has done so by beginning the process to remove “of one man and one woman” from its requirement for marriage. The process is intended to be completed at General Synod 2017 and it currently looks like it has the 2/3 majority required in each of the three Houses to enable this. No person will be required to marry anyone – so those who in conscience cannot marry a same-sex couple will be free to follow their conscience. Those whose believe that marrying a same-sex couple is the right thing to do will also be free to do so.

This is a church following what I have also suggested – numbered 3 under “Further Notes on Blessing Committed Same-Sex Couples” in my post, General Synod 2016 & Liturgy. So this current post is, as it were, a footnote to my suggestion.

Our church already has that

2.11 Any minister shall have full discretion to decline to conduct any marriage service.

I have already pointed out that currently NZ Anglicanism’s doctrine of marriage holds not only that it be between a man and a woman, but that it is life-long. For about half a century our canon (contrary to our doctrine) has appeared to allow clergy the discretion to waive the “life-long” requirement. But the possibility of discipline hangs over our head should we waive the “between a man and a woman” requirement.

I look forward to a formal response to my Open Letter to Anglican Leaders – Is Marriage After Divorce Possible? highlighting this difference. The letter is on the agenda of the July 23 meeting of the General Synod Standing Committee. I will note any response to the letter on this site.

There has also been discussion about my contention (that I highlighted both before and after the meeting of General Synod Te Hinota Whanui 2016) that the change to our Constitution, now in effect, allows bishops to authorise blessing committed same-sex couples at the request of a local community. I await receiving formal response to my contention.

I have expressed concern at the disproportionate energy that is being expended on this. I am conscious of the pain that it causes for LGBTI persons. I am conscious of the image of our church amongst those beyond it. A standard response from those opposed to marriage equality or even against blessings committed same-sex couples is that those in favour should stop pressing for it and then all will be fine. I quickly scanned back through this year’s posts on this site and note that about 7% of the posts here include this topic. 93% of what is discussed here is putting energy into other things as well.

If you want to read further, you can do so here:
Episcopal Cafe – Scottish Episcopal Church votes for marriage equality
The Scottish Episcopal Church – Statement following the passing of Motion 14
The Guardian – Scottish Episcopal church leaps towards allowing gay marriage
What’s in Kelvin’s Head (blog) – Scottish Episcopalians Do It Together and On Being Threatened

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7 Responses to Same-Sex Couples Marriage or Blessing

  1. The positive point is that the Episcopalian Church has embraced the issue fully and not tried to please everyone, an thereby no-one, by pretending to do something in going halfway with a blessing. I do hope that the clergy freedom to chose whether to marry a homosexual couple is real and respected.

    Parishoners at pew level can vote with their feet and wallets as they feel God dictates through scripture and conscience. It will be interesting to look at attendance stats in a couple of years.

    • Thanks, Terry. You must have access to information that I am not aware of if by what you call “the Episcopalian Church” you are referring to TEC (USA etc), rather than the Scottish Episcopal Church. In TEC, as I understand it, marriage equality is only a possibility on a diocese by diocese decision. But you might be right; I might be wrong. Furthermore, I don’t equate numbers with truth. Large and growing movements (for example) are not, for me, a demonstration of being aligned with God’s will. Blessings.

      • You are correct, Bosco. In the Episcopal Church USA, at this point marriage equality varies from diocese to diocese, all depending on the local bishop allowing it or not allowing it.

  2. Dear Bosco, I think the Scottish Episcopal Church (SEC) has refused to resort to obfuscation on this important matter of Church involvement in Same-Sex Blessings, It is not closing one eye to the reality of the Marriage of Same-sex being provided outside of its own agency; instead being prepared to offer whole-hearted support to Same-Sex monogamous couples the actual Marriage rite.

    The suspicion occurs that, if our Church is only prepared to offer a ‘blessing’ of a situation it is not prepared to initiate – Marriage – then what, precisely, is being offered in the Name of God?

    I think SEC is being straight-forward about something that other Churches are double-minded about. There is room, surely, for differences of opinion on this matter – as there has been about remarrying divorcees.

  3. I think that we must move forward on this and as a member of the clergy of the Church of England I look forward to conducting marriages of same sex couples. Indeed I would argue that after Orlando it is a necessary act of witness that stands in solidarity with LGBT people across the world.
    I have just one caution and that is that I I think we must do theological work that extends our understanding of marriage. I think it is an archetypal understanding of marriage that it is a joining together of difference. Heaven and Earth, Christ and the Church, animus and anima, male and female. I don’t think that simply to declare the right of same sex couples to marriage simply sweeps all this away. Indeed I would argue that it would do harm to do so. What is the relationship between “same” and “different” in relation to marriage? And if Carl Jung is right in his understanding that a vital stage in the process of maturing is to develop a relation to the contra-sexual then how do we relate an understanding of marriage that relates to this?
    I write this, not because I want to erect a barrier to same sex marriage but because I think that a new understanding of the theology of marriage will require this kind of thought.

    • Thanks, Stephen.

      I was, of course, conscious that I had prepared this post (in response to the Scottish Episcopal Church news) prior to the Orlando nightclub shooting. Deeply upset by that massacre, I do not want to join those using it to promote particular perspectives.

      In my own experience, I know heterosexual couples who are unbelievably similar – are they expressing diversity in unity? Is the difference solely to be found in genitalia? I know homosexual couples where the partners are incredibly different from each other – where you wonder how they make the relationship work. Are they not expressing diversity in unity simply because their genitalia are akin?

      There’s plenty of literature and thinking out there on rethinking marriage. I’m of the opinion that there’s no major thinking breakthrough going to come; there’s no almighty “Aha!” for us all just around the corner. A few might change opinion one way; a few might change opinion the other way.

      Blessings.

    • The theological ground for marriage, be it between man and woman, man and man or woman and woman, can spring from this very simple but profound dictum: “God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them” (1 John 4:16). Amen.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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