Sorry, your best man is gay

EutychusEutychus Admin
edited February 6 in Hell
Yes, St X the Y of Z diocese, UK, I'm looking at you.

You the diocese that have encouraged two vulnerable individuals to grow in the faith and become a committed part of your parish.

You who welcomed their plans to get married.

And then discovered that their potential best man is gay.

And rapidly tried to back out of having anything to do with the wedding as a result. Summoned them to a meeting in another parish church without notice of the agenda at which you invoked, wrongly, the House of Bishops' Guidance on the issue of remarriage of divorcees (which somehow had never come up before) as a fig-leaf for your evident homophobia and your evident reluctance to go forward.

I mean, I could imagine you having problems with marrying a same-sex couple. I could even imagine you being sensible enough to offer an alternative celebrant to overcome your issues of conscience.

What I couldn't imagine is offering for them to go down the registry office and do their thing there but under no circumstances in the church.

All because a witness whose only moral and legal responsibility is to show up, who commits you in no other way, happens to be gay?

Just how are you "serving the people of" [your parish] here?

[changed thread title because I can and because I'm so mad]
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Comments

  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    Wow. Will this . . . servant . . . be inquiring as to the sexual preferences of potential wedding guests, too?
  • They may well not. The best man is practising celibacy but apparently this additional detail has escaped their attention. Not sure if that's a good thing or not.
  • ZekeZeke Shipmate
    What a disgusting attitude! Time to find another priest for sure.
  • The parish doesn't even seem to have presented that as an option. They want them to slink off to the registry office.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    If the couple have a Qualifying Connection with the parish, then the best man’s sexuality can have no effect on their legal right to marry there. A refusal by the incumbent on that basis could give rise to a complaint under the Clergy Discipline Measure, and possibly against the bishop too if he upholds the incumbent’s refusal on that basis.
  • That's why are invoking previous divorces of the bride-to-be, not the orientation of the best man. But they only started doing so once they realised who the best man (also a member of the parish in good standing) was.

    I haven't mugged up on the House of Bishops' Guidance on marriage of divorcees yet as I only just discovered its existence a few hours ago, but I'm confident it would not apply. But that info is good to know.
  • GalilitGalilit Shipmate
    You never know where it's gonna come at you from, do you ...
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    At the very least, the previous marriage question ought to have been picked up and dealt with at the time the wedding was booked. Failing to enquire about it at the time, and then invoking it some way down the line would be a CDM matter in itself.

    The question of any previous marriage should routinely be raised with a couple at the time of booking.
  • Dear God.

    Could the bozos in question withstand that kind of scrutiny themselves?

    Tempted to suggest someone friendly to the couple get an online ordination (Universal Life Church, etc.) and be the wedding celebrant. (Don't know if that would be legit there, and probably isn't what the couple wants.) ULC's foundation is "Do that which is right". The bozos mentioned above could learn from them.
  • That's revolting.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    In practical terms, and thinking just about Church of England churches, if the couple can find a nearby church which will marry them they could go there. Ideally it would be one where they already have a qualifying connection, but if not (and if time’s not too short) they could get a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate to marry there, with that incumbent’s goodwill,
  • As the priest mentioned in her sermon at the marriage ceremony hubby and I had: "Just what don't they get about 'Love thy neighbor'"?
  • I am so sorry to hear what should be a time of joy has turned into this.
  • Fuck 'em. Go somewhere else.
  • I have very low tolerance for Anglican stupidity. In fact I'm very tempted to set up a chain of chapels where anyone can get married (subject to legal rules, of course) with whatever service style they want. Because this stuff is total bollocks.
  • NiteowlNiteowl Shipmate
    This “church” leaves a bad taste with no hint of Christian love. Hopefully they can find another church.
  • This is completely irrational. Perhaps I'm wrong, not being Anglican, but I can't believe there's any doctrine he could quote to support that action. Even in a conservative church the priest would surely be heading for a disciplinary hearing.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    How did this ever reach the bishop's ears?

    As for the reaction by the bishop - that's why more than 75% of marriages here are conducted by civil celebrants.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Actually, it’s not clear that it has reached the bishop’s ears at all.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    My God. How bloody shameful. I'm getting angrier and angrier just sitting here. How fucking dare they. What a fucking shower the Church is. We are. The Pope's latest confession eclipses this by six, seven orders of magnitude of course, but it's all the fucking same. Reeking hypocrisy. Ah well, how human we are. What a triumph of evolution. At least what we do in the dark comes in to the light.
  • BroJames wrote: »
    In practical terms, and thinking just about Church of England churches, if the couple can find a nearby church which will marry them they could go there. Ideally it would be one where they already have a qualifying connection, but if not (and if time’s not too short) they could get a Superintendent Registrar’s Certificate to marry there, with that incumbent’s goodwill,
    I would certainly be tempted to walk out the door and never come back, but it's not that simple.

    As mentioned, everyone concerned is apparently involved in the parish. The bride-to-be leads some meetings, the husband-to-be has been in the parish since he was 8, etc. They have apparently got some support from the congregation, so this might backfire on the pastoral team.

    What gets me is the dishonesty, the disregard for the couple's standing in the church, the total failure to seek a more honest compromise by offering a replacement celebrant, the spiritual abuse... I could go on.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    that's why more than 75% of marriages here are conducted by civil celebrants.
    This makes me angry for a slightly different reason.

    Anglican priests have a civil office as registrars so far as I can make out. I can understand them being reluctant to do walk-in marriages for complete unknowns, but it seems to me that they have not only a religious but also a civic duty to their parishoners. Preserving the perks of Established Church status whilst also wanting to pick and choose who they exercise the duties of that status for seems profoundly unjust to me, and another argument in favour of disestablishment. (I much prefer all marriages to be civil with a religious ceremony thereafter for those who so wish, which is how we do things in France).

  • Well there is a specific issue about second marriages. But what makes this disgusting is that they were prepared to overlook that until suddenly someone else altogether was deemed a problem and then suddenly it's an issue.

    You couldn't make it up.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited February 6
    Yes and as @BroJames has pointed out, if that specific issue was deemed to be an issue, according to the Guidelines it should have been addressed straight away when the prospect of the wedding came up, which it wasn't; the bride-to-be is a longstanding, active, engaged member of the congregation so there was no way they didn't know. And as such, if they really thought it was an issue and cared about both parties, they should be working through that pastorally instead of telling them to piss off down the registry office and generally washing their hands of the whole thing.
  • Got to love the way this parish models the warm embrace of divine love. Makes me so angry.
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    Yes and as @BroJames has pointed out, if that specific issue was deemed to be an issue, according to the Guidelines it should have been addressed straight away when the prospect of the wedding came up, which it wasn't; the bride-to-be is a longstanding, active, engaged member of the congregation so there was no way they didn't know. And as such, if they really thought it was an issue and cared about both parties, they should be working through that pastorally instead of telling them to piss off down the registry office and generally washing their hands of the whole thing.

    Quite so.

    I just can't get my head around how the fuck the best-man has anything to do with anything.
  • The most charitable explanation I can think of is that there was an administrative error and someone forgot the part about second marriages - and remembered rather late into the process.

    But that doesn't sound much like what you are describing.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    Not being Anglican, perhaps I'm missing something (plus it's been a while since I last attended a wedding), but . . . does the best man actually do anything remotely liturgical in the course of the ceremony?

    All I'm recalling is that he keeps the groom from escaping/fainting, has custody of the ring until the groom puts it on the bride's finger, escorts the maid/matron of honor down the aisle, and gives a mawkish or bawdy speech at the reception after.

    Even if I were a priest who regarded the best man's sexual orientation as deviant, unnatural, and rebellious against God's Holy Word, I fail to grasp why he cannot hang about in a nice suit and a boutonniere while his buddy ties the knot. Because really, isn't that about all he does?

    Is this really just about signing the license as a witness?
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    They may well not. The best man is practising celibacy but apparently this additional detail has escaped their attention. Not sure if that's a good thing or not.
    Would they check straight, single people to see if they are celibate?

  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    @Ohher it is about it - as you describe it. I don't think there even has to be a best man.

    The point on which I'd take issue with the OP, is that if,
    "Actually, it’s not clear that it has reached the bishop’s ears at all.", why is the accusation being framed as,
    "You the diocese ... "?
    There's no link to the original story. So none of us have any basis on which we can evaluate the likely actual facts, rather than the version @Eutychus is incensed about.
  • PigletPiglet All Saints Host, Circus Host
    I wonder how many weddings the priest in question has conducted without knowing the best man was gay?

    And what the actual hell does it matter?
  • I'm a bit confused. Is this a private situation (which I initially thought), or something in the news?

    If news, link, please. Thx.
  • EutychusEutychus Admin
    edited February 7
    Enoch wrote: »
    "You the diocese ... "?
    That's a mistake. I meant "the parish".
    There's no link to the original story.
    That's because it's (so far) a private matter; I know the couple involved.
    So none of us have any basis on which we can evaluate the likely actual facts, rather than the version @Eutychus is incensed about.
    These people are in another country from me, and it may be that there are pertinent facts of which I'm not aware, but I'm confident enough of what I do know to be mad about it.
  • Just noticed that if you change one letter "parish" becomes "pariah." Coincidence?
  • Ohher wrote: »
    Is this really just about signing the license as a witness?
    Apparently, yes.

    I thought the requirement for that was to be a warm body.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    edited February 7
    The witness has to be able to understand what is going on and that’s about it. Here’s what the Church of England’s your church wedding website says
    all that’s required of you is being capable of writing a signature, and understanding what you have signed.
  • I recall another wedding in my extended family not too far from these folk. It was in a full-on inerrantist baptist church. The groom had a best woman rather than a best man, and she certainly didn't give the appearance of being cishet. The church didn't bat an eyelid. What is wrong with this parish?
  • If the powers that be (PTB) at whatever Anglican level think that gay folks are irredeemably bad and dangerous, I could maybe see them forbidding a gay godparent. But if they're worried about having a "sinner" near the clergy or the altar, then fairness would demand they vet everyone entering the building. Certainly everyone receiving the Eucharist...'cause, you know, that's just for good, perfect, stainless people.

    Someone should introduce them to "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" (Metrolyrics). There are various recordings online. Here's a You Tube video by Ray Stevens, the songwriter.
  • BroJames wrote: »
    The witness has to be able to understand what is going on and that’s about it. Here’s what the Church of England’s your church wedding website says
    all that’s required of you is being capable of writing a signature, and understanding what you have signed.

    In Scotland the witnesses have to be over 16; I'd be surprised if that wasn't a requirement in England too. But that's not the issue here, of course.

  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    The best man doesn't have to be a witness.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host
    Yes. It’s not a requirement in England where there’s no legal minimum age. The officiant needs to make a judgment about the prospective witness’s capacity.
  • BroJames wrote: »
    Yes. It’s not a requirement in England where there’s no legal minimum age. The officiant needs to make a judgment about the prospective witness’s capacity.

    I'm reasonably certain that nobody - not even a CofE officiant - can determine a witness is not suitable on the basis of sexuality.
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    The best man doesn't have to be a witness.

    So they have no required civil status at all with respect to the proceedings, in fact? Like the parents of the spouses?
  • Eutychus wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    The best man doesn't have to be a witness.

    So they have no required civil status at all with respect to the proceedings, in fact? Like the parents of the spouses?

    Nope, it's a courtesy title I believe.
  • 'Courtesy' is not a word that springs readily to mind on this occasion.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    This makes no sense to me. Did they formally enquire as to his sexuality (which would be incredibly intrusive, and I simply can’t imagine happening) or is he someone that people happen to know is gay? If the latter, I guess it’s more about how it looks - a keeping up appearances thing - if they know they have influential parishioners who would disapprove? Because the heterosexuality of the best man is not something they could reliably ensure each time there is a wedding - even if they asked (which surely they can’t), the person could lie, or even be in denial, and there is no way to test for someone’s sexual preference. So it sounds more like if someone is known to be gay, there is a worry about potential scandal. Rich homophobic church people withdrawing financial support, maybe?
  • The powers that be in Anglicanism do not think that gays are irredeemably dangerous, not officially. There is an official stance on gay marriage and the blessing of same-sex civil marriage - not allowed and no official service to do this, but your local church will still be there for you and pray for you.

    The CofE has just changed its website since I last went digging there, so I can't find anything, but there is a definite change happening around welcoming LGBT - May 2018 article from Pink News discussing a Lichfield Diocese guidance:
    “As Archbishop Justin has made clear, the perception that the Church is homophobic and transphobic is harming our mission, especially to young people,” it states.

    “We need to challenge this perception by reaching out to LGBT+ people with the good news of God’s love, modelling God’s welcome and care for all people.”

    The rules on marriage of divorced people in the CofE depend on the church. Some churches won't, full stop, others will. But there is a guideline that the CofE cannot marry a couple where one party was involved in the breakdown of the previous relationship (so check divorce certificates and the dates to make sure it's not too recent and if so, ask about the breakdown of that previous marriage). The depends is PCC policy, so that should be checkable to see if the PCC policy is in place.
  • From what I can tell the putative best man and another guy he is attached to but not sexually involved with are both longstanding members of the church too, who have moved away for study reasons and whose orientation emerged thereafter. I suspect that their homosexuality has been the subject of church gossip that's come to the ears of the parish team.

    If their supposed homosexuality/homosexual relationship was an issue for the church, it should have been an issue for the church before now. If it hasn't previously been, it shouldn't be now.

    Besides, to see this as a scandal that somehow affects the church's image is really a stretch.

    It's like Watergate. It's not the scandal, it's the attempts to avoid one...

    Both the prospective bride-to-be and the groom are longstanding members of the church and the bride-to-be's marital history and the reasons for it are undoubtedly well-known to the church. So far as I can tell, they were not raised in initial discussions with the priest in charge about the forthcoming marriage. They have only been invoked once the priest found out who the best man was supposed to be, and things have only turned nasty after they have stood firm on their choice of best man having come under pressure to choose someone else.

  • I'm really struggling to understand a situation where the vicar is asking them about the best man. That's bonkers.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host
    I meant a perceived scandal - not that it is really scandalous, at least not to the general public, but of course there are church people who blow up homosexuality in their minds as something terribly shocking. And often it is the most judgemental people who are the most influential within a church.

    In my experience of evangelical churches in the UK, church people may often be gossipping and disapproving of someone’s lifestyle (such as a hererosexual couple living together, or a divorced person) but won’t confront them directly (a sort of British reserve/fear/none-of-my-business thing) unless that person wants a role in the church. Then they tell them they can’t have the role. And I think it is partly because of how influential members of the church would disapprove and make a big deal of it. And also a power thing in general - the idea of ‘We should love the sinner but not give them any power (because we need to show they are inferior to us).’ So I was wondering if this might be the same sort of thinking. I am not so familiar with Church of England, but I have found certain churchy attitudes seem to seep into all denominations.

    (In case it’s not clear, I am not condoning this attitude in any way. I am trying to make some sort of sense of a decision that seems bizarre to me - to work out what thinking and context might underlie it.)
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