Committed same-sex couples will once again be a topic of conversation and debate at the meeting of General Synod Te Hinota Whanui (GSTHW) of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia May 10-15, Copthorne Hotel, Waitangi. Many await the making public of motions, bills, etc. in this internet age, but meanwhile Taonga has published the long-awaited report of the Ma Whea? Commission as well as the in-depth work of the the Commission on Doctrine and Theological Questions.
Let me summarise for you. The Ma Whea? Commission concludes by presenting the church (GSTHW) with ten options, everything from tightening present regulations to dismembering the church. Oh – and for a church which has now for years poured much of its time, energy, and money into this discussion – one of the options provided, of course, is to keep doing that, just more intensely. [One friend’s reaction to the conclusion being ten options: “A few of us down the pub could have come up with the potential options…”]
As for the conclusion of the Commission on Doctrine and Theological Questions, these experts couldn’t even agree whether a change would require a change to our Church Constitution (something needing unspecified “due process”). I have been pointing out for years now that our church has got to the point where we are totally unclear about what is required, what is allowed, and what is forbidden. It gives me no pleasure whatsoever to have this “I told you so” moment.
If you want to debate the issue, there are other good sites to do that. Anglican Down Under and Kiwianglo regularly keep people informed in the NZ context around this (and of course at the Taonga links I provided above). Those interested can also follow TEC’s Taskforce on the Study of Marriage.
Meanwhile, most Kiwis would be absolutely astonished to hear about the huis, and meetings, and debates, and papers, and acrimony, and… that our church focuses on just this one, single issue. Rachel Held Evans said last week, “The gospel is threatened, not by gay people getting married, but by Christians saying support or opposition to gay marriage is an essential part of the gospel when it’s not.”