Not Again !

Just when you thought there might be a possibility of the CofE's bishops finally getting the message that they need to pause and reflect (really, not just lip service) before coming out with something guaranteed to alienate they come up with this.

Whether or not you agree with them, the people who fought long and hard for the right of heterosexual couples to be able to have a civil partnership did so because they desperately wanted some means of showing to the world that they were in a committed relationship without the patriarchal overtones of marriage. All good, you would have thought: the Church says it wants to encourage committed (covenanted even) relationships, at least among heterosexuals, and this is another way of people registering their committment to each other.

The response from the Church of England is to choose to alienate yet another group of people by declaring that civil partners should be celibate: you couldn't make it up. :rage:
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Comments

  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    It's so sweet that the bishops imagine the laity care what they think about sex.
  • I think a lot of the laity have reached the logical conclusion that bishops are obsessed with sex :naughty:
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    Probably!

    To expand a bit on my one-liner: their whole statement is predicated on the idea that there is such a thing as the Church's teaching on sex. But what does 'the Church's teaching' even mean, given that the Church of England has no concept of a Magisterium? Even people who take the conservative line on sexual issues do so because the Bible (in their view) says so, not because the House of Bishops says so.
  • BoogieBoogie Shipmate
    Dinosaurs
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited January 24
    Ricardus wrote: »
    It's so sweet that the bishops imagine the laity care what they think about sex.

    I rather think the majority of Anglican laity (and that's a very small proportion of the population of the country) don't care what the bishops think about anything...

    But yes - this constant obsession with Secks and Philth is tiresome, to say the least.
    :angry:

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    What a grammatico-historical farce.
  • Do you mean the bishops, or the Church of England as a holewhole?
  • When I first saw this story online, I thought it was a spoof. To argue that people in a civil partnership should be celibate seems unreal. How many people will obey this?
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited January 24
    And how will They know if the folk concerned are not celibate?

    As @TheOrganist says, you couldn't make it up. Fruitcakes in pointy hats (and I bet some of them are gay, and NOT celibate)!

    As for pastoral sensitivity, they're on a par with bed-bugs.
  • The idea that you can't bless a partnership is absurd to me. What bit of being committed to someone else is unworthy of God's blessing?
  • Just so. Bed-bugs would bite both of you, showing no favours...
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    Is there a link to this?
  • Yes, it's in the OP - an article in The Guardian.
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    Is there a link to this?

    It's in the OP and it's all true. Sometimes the church really is beyond parody. No doubt the meeting that signed this policy off then went onto discuss why the people think the church is irrelevant and what they could do to tackle that ... :angry:
  • Boogie wrote: »
    Dinosaurs
    So right. I wonder how the CofE leaders can look at themselves in the mirror and not realise they should be more considerate and caring of so many of their adherents.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Tubbs wrote: »
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Is there a link to this?

    It's in the OP and it's all true. Sometimes the church really is beyond parody. No doubt the meeting that signed this policy off then went onto discuss why the people think the church is irrelevant and what they could do to tackle that ... :angry:

    But how can they abandon grammatico-historical legalism?
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Rather than rely on a hearsay and presumptively hostile a/c of the guidance, it would have been be both more prudent and better practice to read the guidance itself rather than what it suits a journalist's desire for a story to misreport it as saying. It doesn't bear much resemblance to the report.

    Bearing in mind how slanted the Guardian report is, one should also definitely check the original before the Mail or the Telegraph get their hands on it.
  • What do you consider to be misreported in the Guardian piece?
  • What do you consider to be misreported in the Guardian piece?

    Having skim read the actual policy document, the Guardian article seems to be an accurate reflection of what they've announced. Unless I missed something glaringly obvious.
  • The full Pastoral Statement can be found here.

    AFAIAC there is no ambiguity in the piece in The Grauniad: the bishops are indeed saying civil partnership = no sex.

    Yes, you can plough through the whole thing and try to come to a conclusion that their lordship's aren't really saying that but you're onto a loser. And just in case you're in any doubt, here is paragraph 35, the Conclusion of the PS:
    With opposite sex civil partnerships, and with those for same sex couples, the Church’s teaching on sexual ethics remains unchanged. For Christians, marriage–that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows –remains the proper context for sexual activity. In its approach to civil partnerships the Church seeks to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently.

    Sure, they try to sweeten the pill with the usual guff about ministering sensitively and pastorally (how else can clergy minister but pastorally?) but we all know what that means: the more empathetic will, IMHO rightly, ignore the guidance, the MOTR will be embarassed by it and try to explain it away with a wry smile, and the tub-thumping Hotline-to-God brigade will see it as another opportunity to condemn perfectly decent people.

    Far from wondering why our churches are so empty, we should wonder that anyone comes at all.
  • As for pastoral sensitivity, they're on a par with bed-bugs.
    This has been added to the Ship Quotes File!
    :lol:

  • The full Pastoral Statement can be found here.

    AFAIAC there is no ambiguity in the piece in The Grauniad: the bishops are indeed saying civil partnership = no sex
    .

    I think they are actually saying sex = marriage only, which is not quite the same thing.

  • Or, marriage = lots of arguments and no sex.
  • I know a pair of same sex friends who have been together for years. One has an incurable condition; they undertook a civil partnership to make care easier. Why can that sacrificial commitment not be blessed?
  • Because it's Against God's Laws™!

    So I was told by our former p-in-c, Father Fu*kwit.
    :rage:
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    If I understand the C of E correctly, there is a difference between a.) "no authorised liturgy of blessing exists for X", and b.) "clergy must not bless X". AIUI the clergy do not actually need an authorised liturgy of blessing in order to bless something - that is, if a priest comes round to our house to bless it, they aren't rifling through the back pages of Common Worship in order to find the appropriate liturgy.

    So by saying that clergy must not bless civil partnerships, the Bishops are not just saying that the church does not recognise civil partnerships - they are saying that civil partnerships are wicked and immoral, and as such unworthy of blessing.
  • Schroedingers CatSchroedingers Cat Shipmate, Waving not Drowning Host
    I am so glad that I left the CofE.

    Quakers accept any sort of relationship. And, TBF, we don't really care whether you have sex or not. We are more concerned that you are in a happy, committed relationship.

    Because we are not obsessed with sex, controlling people, or what goes on between consenting adults.

    Because with the world on the brink of climate breakdown, warmongering, selfish, shitty piles of foetid sewage in charge of the US and the UK, plastic threatening to engulf the planet - there are far more important things to focus on.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    The full Pastoral Statement can be found here.

    AFAIAC there is no ambiguity in the piece in The Grauniad: the bishops are indeed saying civil partnership = no sex
    .

    I think they are actually saying sex = marriage only, which is not quite the same thing.

    I think the underlying logic is sound on its axioms - that is, if it is immoral for an unmarried person to have sex, and civil partnership is quite explicitly not a marriage, then it is immoral to have sex within a civil partnership.

    The problems I think are:

    a. It's not clear that it is in any meaningful sense the teaching of the church that unmarried people should not have sex.

    b. I'm not sure the Church of England has a coherent idea of what constitutes 'marriage' any more. If you define it socially - i.e., marriage is what society considers to be marriage - then gay marriage is marriage; if you define it as a set of relationships that fulfil certain criteria (fidelity, exclusivity, commitment, etc), then many civil partnerships will fulfil those criteria too.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    I know a pair of same sex friends who have been together for years. One has an incurable condition; they undertook a civil partnership to make care easier. Why can that sacrificial commitment not be blessed?
    I think there’s ample room within the provisions of Canon B5 for a minister, in conversation with couples wishing to mark their civil partnerships, (being “occasions for which no provision is made in The Book of Common Prayer or by the General Synod under Canon B 2 or by the Convocations, archbishops, or Ordinary under Canon B 4”) to devise and “use forms of service considered suitable by him for those occasions” and to “permit another minister to use the said forms of service“.

    There’s no reason why such a form should be anything other than “reverent and seemly” or why it should be either “contrary to, [or] indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter“.

    The fact that the HoB isn’t going to produce a generally authorised public liturgy doesn’t prevent anyone else from producing something suitable.
  • I am so glad that I left the CofE.

    Quakers accept any sort of relationship. And, TBF, we don't really care whether you have sex or not. We are more concerned that you are in a happy, committed relationship.

    Because we are not obsessed with sex, controlling people, or what goes on between consenting adults.

    Because with the world on the brink of climate breakdown, warmongering, selfish, shitty piles of foetid sewage in charge of the US and the UK, plastic threatening to engulf the planet - there are far more important things to focus on.

    Just so - but getting the House of Bed-BugsBishops to think along these sensible, and pragmatic, lines is probably an impossible task.

  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited January 24
    Is there a link to this?
    Yes, it's in the OP - an article in The Guardian.

    Unfortunately, I am color blind and could not see the link.
  • Gramps49 wrote: »
    Is there a link to this?
    Yes, it's in the OP - an article in The Guardian.

    Unfortunately, I am color blind and could not see the link.

    O! Sorry - I didn't know...but I wonder how many other Shipmates might miss a link if it isn't quoted in full, as per BroJames' post?

  • Aside from the name, are there any legal differences between a civil partnership and a marriage? Does it legally entail any lighter commitments, responsibilities, duties, etc., either to the other partner or to any children the partners might have, than marriage?

    Can any couples who are not legally able to get married (close blood relatives, for example) obtain a civil partnership?
  • PendragonPendragon Shipmate
    edited January 24
    No, the relationship rules apply.

    The official table of differences is here: https://gov.uk/government/publications/marriage-and-civil-partnership-in-england-and-wales

    The most noticeable difference is that adultery only applies as a grounds for divorce in a marriage.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Gramps49 wrote: »
    Is there a link to this?
    Yes, it's in the OP - an article in The Guardian.

    Unfortunately, I am color blind and could not see the link.

    O! Sorry - I didn't know...but I wonder how many other Shipmates might miss a link if it isn't quoted in full, as per BroJames' post?

    I don’t know, and I wouldn’t have thought of it because I see the links as red and text as black, and I’m not familiar with that kind of colour-blindness.

    Some (many ?) browsers allow you to set the colour (and possibly other attributes) of links to overcome that issue. There’s a how-to guide on the BBC website:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/accessibility/guides/change_colours/browser/win/
  • Ricardus wrote: »
    I'm not sure the Church of England has a coherent idea of what constitutes 'marriage' any more. If you define it socially - i.e., marriage is what society considers to be marriage - then gay marriage is marriage; if you define it as a set of relationships that fulfil certain criteria (fidelity, exclusivity, commitment, etc), then many civil partnerships will fulfil those criteria too.

    I think this is the non-technical problem. The CoE appears to have a sacramental, not a secular view of marriage. (back to blast radii of wedding blessings...) Not for the first time, I like the French solution of marriage being thoroughly a civil affair and anything religious being a blessing of that for those that so choose. Disestablishment would solve this in a stroke.

    Here's an interesting graph I just found on same-sex and opposite-sex (civil) marriage and civil partnerships in France over the past 20 years or so.
  • HuiaHuia Shipmate
    I know a pair of same sex friends who have been together for years. One has an incurable condition; they undertook a civil partnership to make care easier. Why can that sacrificial commitment not be blessed?

    I think that kind of commitment is blessed in the love and care that they have for each other. The fact that the Church doesn't recognise that is a monumental failure in understanding on their part.
  • john holdingjohn holding Ecclesiantics Host, Mystery Worshipper Host
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Not for the first time, I like the French solution of marriage being thoroughly a civil affair and anything religious being a blessing of that for those that so choose. Disestablishment would solve this in a stroke.

    I don't see how you conclude that disestablishment would solve this problem -- there is no established church in Canada, for example, and yet no approach to the (admirable) French solution of marriage being civil and anything religious being other. And the same would go for countries liek the US...indeed, marriage as a civil event only is not found in many many countries which do not have an established church.
  • Anglican BratAnglican Brat Shipmate
    edited January 25
    The debate over the theology of marriage between conservatives or liberals can be understood to ascertain this question:

    1) Is marriage primarily a sacrament/ritual that legitimizes appropriate sexual activity
    (OR)
    2) Is marriage primarily a sacrament/ritual that recognizes the love between two people

    Because frankly for most of church history since Augustine, it has been more akin to (1) than to (2), I suspect because it is a hangover from the ascetics, who probably saw sexual relations as a threat to the call for humanity to love God.

    The CofE is still stuck at (1) whereas most people today, are (2).
  • Its the old story that sex is viewed as somehow "not nice", certainly not as something pleasurable. As my clergyman Godfather told his daughter on her wedding day "Sex should only be approached (!) after prayer, and just because you can enjoy it doesn't mean you must". My Godsister managed to contain her mirth... :lol:
  • Amy Frykholm in her book "See Me Naked" has a convincing argument where she says that pleasure and delight are not sinful. She says that she enjoys listening to good music, having a warm bath, and yes, sexual relations with her husband. They all bring delight and pleasure to her, and in her view, they are gifts from God who desires his children to enjoy life.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    The whole notion that a marriage is any different to a civil partnership is a legal, linguistic and cultural minefield that needs a hell of a lot of unpacking.

    As has already been observed, the whole notion that the church has anything at all to do with marriage status is something that the English-speaking world has clung to far more than most of the rest of the planet.

    IMHO, countries that have allowed civil partnership as some kind of placation of the supposed defenders of marriage have done the logic of the law a massive disservice. And they also did a massive disservice for a long time (and still do in some places) to homosexual couples when they said they could have civil partnership but not marriage. All that did was allow the bigots to think "but you're not really married".

    And it enables that thinking against heterosexual couples as well.

    Just have one system of legal recognition of sexual partnerships. Call it marriage. Tell the churches they can perform whatever rituals they like and have whatever rules they like (such as the Catholic one about divorcees) but the State decides what partnerships it will recognise. The end.
  • The Church has changed its mind on many, many issues. Didn't the Church of England once consider Roman Catholicism heresy and idolatry? Well now, the Archbishop of Canterbury has warm conversations with the Pope.

  • I think maybe there should also be a legal, relatively simple way for people to cobble together their own kind of family. E.g., a group of close friends who've become a "family", would like to make that official, and would like the legal perks (e.g., hospital visiting privileges) that go with being biological or married kin.

    I'm not talking about anything sexual, though those relationships might exist within the group.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Golden Key wrote: »
    I think maybe there should also be a legal, relatively simple way for people to cobble together their own kind of family. E.g., a group of close friends who've become a "family", would like to make that official, and would like the legal perks (e.g., hospital visiting privileges) that go with being biological or married kin.

    I'm not talking about anything sexual, though those relationships might exist within the group.

    I'm not sure that hospital visiting privileges is even a legal perk, as opposed to hospitals having policies about these things.

    As for the genuinely legal stuff, anything that is on a 'group' basis rather than a 'couple' one has the potential to create rather novel issues that might take quite some time to figure out. We pretty much treat a family as a couple plus dependants.

    I'm sure it's possible for us to move beyond that, but my point was more about how we've ended up inventing "civil partnership" to cover exactly the same couples territory that was already covered. That involved introducing complexity for no logical reason, ie it was done purely for the politics of it.
  • OhherOhher Shipmate
    Clearly, these folks believe the parishioner must be made for the church. The church cannot be made for the parishioner.

    The squeaminess of crafting rules about who may do what in which beds--all strictly on the honor system, mind you--just boggles the mind.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Ricardus wrote: »
    I'm not sure the Church of England has a coherent idea of what constitutes 'marriage' any more. If you define it socially - i.e., marriage is what society considers to be marriage - then gay marriage is marriage; if you define it as a set of relationships that fulfil certain criteria (fidelity, exclusivity, commitment, etc), then many civil partnerships will fulfil those criteria too.

    I think this is the non-technical problem. The CoE appears to have a sacramental, not a secular view of marriage.

    Which is ironic, given that Article XXV denies that marriage is a sacrament ...
    (back to blast radii of wedding blessings...) Not for the first time, I like the French solution of marriage being thoroughly a civil affair and anything religious being a blessing of that for those that so choose. Disestablishment would solve this in a stroke.

    I think the problem is that for most of the Church of England's history, canon law has been able to define the civil requirements for a marriage, and so the Church of England has never properly explored what happens when the civil concept of a marriage deviates noticeably from the Church's (official) view.

    It would be nice to think that disestablishment would force the lords bishops to consider this problem. On current form, though, they seem to think that any attempt by the state to deviate from the Church of England's view is a gross betrayal - hence the Archbishop of York claiming that Mr Cameron was 'behaving like a dictator' in 'redefining marriage'. I'm not sure if they are capable of the necessary degree of reflection ...
  • I don't see how you conclude that disestablishment would solve this problem -- there is no established church in Canada, for example, and yet no approach to the (admirable) French solution of marriage being civil and anything religious being other.

    You're probably right that disestablishment wouldn't solve this, but it might stop the CoE assuming it somehow spoke with the authority of a state. The UK practice of a religious ceremony being in very many cases co-mingled with the civil one, with ministers of religion entitled to perform a ceremony with civil value, makes a French head explode.

    @orfeo I don't think civil partnerships cover exactly the same ground as marriage. At least here, they are easier to get out of - a significant difference in a world with far fewer very long-term relationships - much less public, and seem often to serve as a first step before a civil marriage. I think tax and who counts as next of kin and parent are also different, though I'm not very up to date on this.

    It also seems to me that some same-sex couples very explicitly wanted a status that afforded similar protections that wasn't marriage, with its opposite-sex and religious connotations, while others have militated for marriage out of a desire to obtain exactly the same rights, exactly the same recognition, and some kind of an end to the conservative religious connotations.
  • orfeoorfeo Shipmate
    Most people in England didn't get married in a church until the law forced them to (in 1753 apparently). Only rich people with lots of property bothered to go through the formalities so everyone knew which children got to inherit.

    For centuries, ordinary people just started living together as husband and wife.

    The whole notion that the church wants you to have the right piece of paper is a relatively recent idea in the scheme of things.

    And it was 1836 when people started being allowed to have non-church formal marriages.

    So this whole "most of the Church of England's history" notion? It covers a period of 83 years.
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