Not Again !

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  • BroJames wrote: »
    In English law adultery is a ground for divorce in any marriage (same sex or opposite sex). It is the corollary of an expectation of sexual faithfulness within marriage and it implies that sexual relations are part of the expectation of a marriage.

    In civil partnerships there is no concept of adultery and while some people may enter civil partnerships as ‘marriage without the cultural baggage’, others may enter for quite different reasons. Civil partnerships have no inbuilt expectations about either sex or sexual fidelity.

    Even if the Church of England changes its view about gender and marriage, I would be surprised if it changed its view about sexual fidelity within marriage, or indeed its view that sex belongs within a lifelong commitment to one another in faithfulness

    I think it will remain the case that the Church will be unwilling to bless a relationship where there is an expectation that the partners will be sexually active with each other unless there is also a promise of fidelity.

    Balanced again @BroJames.
  • DoublethinkDoublethink Purgatory Host
    Blahblah wrote: »
    Blahblah wrote: »
    I think it is very wrong and should not be encouraged by any civil authority and should be condemned with at least the passion wasted currently on homosexual relationships by church figures.

    Why ?

    It almost always involves enslavement of women. To the extent that it should never be encouraged.

    That’s why I stated about consent, polyamory is a thing.
  • It certainly is.

    But in my opinion, there are things that the state should encourage and things that it should legislate against.

    There are very good reasons for the state to not encourage polyamory whilst also agreeing that there is often little reason to legislate against it.

    Polygamy goes a significant step beyond polyamory and as such it can, and should, be actively discouraged.
  • In other words; if someone wants to live with multiple partners, that is not in the normal way of things any business of the state. Knock yourself out.

    If a person wants to get the state to recognise his multiple partners in a legal marriage contract, I think there is an abundance of evidence why that is a very bad idea.
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Blahblah wrote: »
    Wait, so people in civil partnerships are declaring that they want to be promiscuous?

    I never knew that. Shows how much I know..
    No. They’re just not declaring that they intend to be sexually faithful, and civil partnership is not a form of relationship which has a presumption of sexual faithfulness - unlike marriage.
  • Blahblah wrote: »
    In other words; if someone wants to live with multiple partners, that is not in the normal way of things any business of the state. Knock yourself out.

    If a person wants to get the state to recognise his multiple partners in a legal marriage contract, I think there is an abundance of evidence why that is a very bad idea.

    You'll be able to provide some of it then?
  • la vie en rougela vie en rouge Circus Host, 8th Day Host
    Whether polygamy is a good thing is a subject which I am rather agnostic about. I know I personally wouldn’t enjoy being in a polygamous marriage (I’m much too jealous) but that’s about it.

    Nonetheless, legislating for polygamy would be much more complicated than legislating for civil partnerships or same sex marriage. It throws up some very complex questions around inheritance which I don’t think many politicians have any appetite for dealing with.
  • I think a look at the Pastoral Introduction to the wedding service of the CofE may shine light on the issue:
    Marriage is intended by God to be a creative relationship, as his blessing enables husband and wife to love and support each other in good times and in bad, and to share in the care and upbringing of children. For Christians, marriage is also an invitation to share life together in the spirit of Jesus Christ. It is based upon a solemn, public and life-long covenant between a man and a woman, declared and celebrated in the presence of God and before witnesses.

    The criteria to be met are laid out quite clearly. Strip out the bit about what it means for Christians and taking place "in the presence of God" (and why do the archbishops seem to assume that God won't be present in a Register Office?) and I can see absolutely nothing that a civil partnership, entered into in good faith, doen't fulfil. Or are the archbishops suggesting that people entering into a CP have no wish to support each other, care for each other and nurture any children?

    Indeed, a typical "script" for a CP ceremony contains these words or variants thereof:
    Today you will exchange vows which will unite you as civil partners. This ceremony isa formal and public pledge of your love, and a promise of life long dedication to each other. The purpose of your partnership is that you will always love, care for and support one another through both the difficulties and the joys that life may bring, and that your love will foster a relationship of permanent and continuing commitment.

    As ever, the archbishops seem to have bulldozed ahead without bothering to find out precisely what it is that they're condemning.
  • I could be totally mistaken, but it seems more like it's an admin balls-up rather than the Archbishops suddenly deciding that the nation needs their opinion of sex within civil partnerships.

    1) The Law changes. Civil Partnerships open up to hetrosexual partners
    2) The CofE puts together a statement incredibly similar, obviously based on their advice when Civil Partnerships were originally introduced.

    I'd say it's a combination of a cack handed effort not to be hypocritical about "letting" priests (because let's be honest, it's about the clergy really not the laity) have sex within opposite sex CP's while banning priests in same-sex CP's, and putting a shot across the bows of priests who were thinking of getting married and considering a CP not to.

    As far as the Pointy Hat hand-wringing, I do think they're being a little hypocritical. I understood that all Bishops (at least Diocesan) saw, or ignored, the wording and had the chance to try and amend it, and that Christopher Cocksworth did have a minor point amended. So why didn't any of them try and change the tone at the very least, or object at the time (Dec I think)?
  • BroJamesBroJames Purgatory Host, 8th Day Host
    Certainly the Pastoral Introduction is expressed in general terms which with adaptation might fit a number of committed relationships.

    The actual service which it is an introduction to is quite clear in its expectation that marriage includes both sexual relations and sexual fidelity.

    From the Common Worship introduction:
    The gift of marriage brings husband and wife together in the delight and tenderness of sexual union and joyful commitment to the end of their lives.
    or from theASB:
    a holy mystery in which man and woman become one flesh
    and at the giving and receiving of ring(s)
    With my body I honour you

    The Order 1 and BCP services are no less specific.

    Putting aside the gender/sexuality question, I imagine it would be hard to frame a fully cogent objection to a blessing of a Civil Partnership where the couple promised sexual fidelity to each other (except perhaps that breach of the promise ought to permit the possibility of divorce, which it would not do per se in a Civil Partnership).
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    Last year I took a wedding for a heterosexual couple. They asked if I could change the words of the introduction from "man and woman" to "two individuals", so as not to exclude their LGBTQ friends. I was happy to do so, and I doubt anyone else noticed.
  • Looks like the Bishop of Gloucester isn't too happy with it, and she's not the only one. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/jan/28/church-of-england-sex-guidance-unnecessary-pain-bishops
  • And now that she's stuck her head above the parapet another 10 have said they support her view.

    Any chance the archbishops may withdraw their statement?
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    The clergy round here have already had a missive from our Bishops, regretting the tone of all this. A lot of good, helpful, stuff has been done in this Diocese, but you wouldn't guess it from what that ABs have said.
  • EliabEliab Shipmate
    I think I disagree with the consensus here. I think this is an issue that requires guidance, and that the conclusion as regards opposite-sex CPs is basically right (although I think the reasoning to get there is almost entirely wrong).

    The CoE's formal position is (and should remain) that sex is for marriage, and marriage should be exclusive and life-long - while recognising that real life is somewhat messier and more complicated than that. While there are certainly many, many members of the CoE in good standing who disagree with that position (as they are, and should remain, entitled to do) there are some who accept it.

    It is then a reasonable question for people to ask, especially if they want to consider or try to live by the church's guidance, whether a CP is essentially marriage by another name, and therefore equivalent to marriage for the purpose of ethical sexual behaviour, or whether only marriage will do "as a remedy against sin and to avoid fornication".

    Asking whether, and in what ways, CP as an institution differs from marriage isn't a bad start in considering that.

    Where I think they go wrong is to identify (1) the absence of vows, (2) the expectation that the relationship will (by default) be sexual, and (3) the obligation of sexual fidelity as the key differences. I think that there are two serious objections to that.

    Firstly, while CP as an institution may not necessitate these, in practice, most people making a CP will exchange promises of the same sort that civilly married people do, and go on to have a sexual relationship intended to be exclusive. That's going to be the reason why the overwhelming majority of CPs are contracted at all. The few outliers who will use the legislation for other purposes do not, in any credible sense, undermine what it is that the majority are doing. The fact that a minority of marriages are contracted without the intention of being either sexual or exclusive does not affect the validity of all other marriages - and the same applies to CPs.

    Secondly, I don't think it's right that vows and sexual activity are of the essence of Christian marriage. The Orthodox Church marries people without vows, and accepts marriages intended to be entirely chaste as full marriages. Unless the CoE is intending to say that about a quarter of the Christian church doesn't have valid marriages (and I very much doubt that we would say that), at least two of the three differences aren't essential to marriage, and therefore don't imply that CPs are not marriage-equivalent.

    I think a stronger case could be made that when applying conservative sexual ethics, marriage means marriage, and not a CP, would be that someone contracting a CP when marriage is available to them is necessarily making a decision not to marry, and therefore may be signalling that however similar the institutions might be, they see a difference, and have chosen the non-marriage alternative. Therefore it is potentially the case that they do not intend to do whatever it is that the church understands that married people do, and if that is right, then the church should not assure them that their CP counts as marriage in the eyes of God, because it might not. If they care about the church's teaching that sex is for marriage, and marriage is a possibility, then the church should tell them to marry. God might be OK with CPs, but it's fine for the church not to purport to know that to the same level of conviction that we think he instituted and approves marriage, and so it's fine for the church to approve sex within marriage, and be unconvinced of the ethics of sex within a CP.

  • It has occurred to me, following this thread, that if a couple intending to enter aCivil Partnership were to ask a priest to bless teir relationship, it would be charitable for the priest to understand their intention to be that the partnership should be lifelong and exclusive, in other would, 'marriage in all but name'. He or she might well ask them if that is the case, and, one hopes, expect the answer to be truthful and accept it, without asking them to sign a written statement to that effect to guard his or her backside.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    edited January 2020
    It looks now as though the bishops are backtracking on this, which conveys an even more unsatisfactory message.

    I realise that apart from @Eliab, I disagree with most of what people have said on this thread. So my take on this will probably jar many of you. Nevertheless, going back to the original statement what do people really expect a whole lot of bishops to say? They're Christian bishops. They see themselves as standing in the traditions of the Apostles. They aren't going to and shouldn't go back on the historic position which is some version of marriage being
    'a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman making a public commitment to each other'
    , or as per Lord Penzance in Hyde v Hyde in 1866,
    ""I conceive that marriage, as understood in Christendom, may for this purpose be defined as the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman, to the exclusion of all others".
    Bishops aren't there to give cuddly encouragement to every permutation of lesser standards that people who either aren't Christian or sit very lightly on any sort of Christianity might seek episcopal endorsement for. Their calling isn't to make the twenty-first century zeitgeist feel happy with itself. Nor is that a constituency they should be seeking to placate.

    Hitherto, the issue has been whether Christianity can or can't come to terms with and accommodate in some way permanent relationships between people who are both of the same sex.

    However, that isn't what the pastoral statement is about. Although partially framed in the light of recent dilemmas about same sex relationships, this is really about opposite sex ones, what should be the Christian take on those who could be married heterosexually but who choose not to be. It would have been better if the bishops had explicitly left out all reference to same sex relationships from this statement so that there was no scope for same sex couples to take umbrage with it.


    I hope we're not going to see the bishops saying,
    'we've changed our minds. Christianity no longer expects people to be chaste outside marriage. We know lots of people aren't chaste. So in future casual bonking with all and sundry is OK until you're married and only then does it become adultery and you mustn't do it'.

    Beyond that, is there really much else the bishops can say other than?
    a. If you are in a long term faithful cohabiting relationship, then the CofE view remains that we think you should get married and we'd be happy to marry you.

    b. If you are thinking of entering a heterosexual civil partnership, the CofE view is that that is what marriage has always been for. There's no obvious good reason why a Christian shouldn't get married properly. As you could get married, don't expect us to do anything that you might interpret as our encouraging you to do anything else.

    c. If there is any plausible justification for a Christian to enter into a heterosexual civil partnership, it has to be that in some way the desired relationship involves permanence but not what marriage is normally about. That will include no sex.

    d. It is incompatible for a clergy person, whose role includes marrying people, to enter into a heterosexual civil partnership.

    e. Although this doesn't arise yet, we're saying in advance of any change in the law, that if you are married now, there can be no valid justification for converting your marriage into a civil partnership, and particularly not if you are ordained.

    f. One of the reasons for this is that marriage is a socially recognised relationship. Whatever your actual intentions, it's difficult for the community not to interpret such an action as anything other than an attempt to evade all or some of your vows.

    g. There is an additional reason why that would be a nonsense, which is that although in the wedding ceremony each of your commit yourself personally to the vows, our take is that these don't represent an optional extra. They express the commitment that marriage is about. People should regard themselves as just as committed to them, even if they get married before a registrar without any express vows.


    I do think, though, that if I'd been asked to write the pastoral statement (unlikely, obviously), I'd have been much briefer and much less mealy mouthed about it.
  • Are there seriously people married (in an Anglican church?!) who want to 'convert' their marriage to a civil partnership?

    That seems highly unlikely to me. Hence I struggle to believe that is the root of this furore.
  • What are "lesser standards"? Love?
  • Blahblah wrote: »
    Are there seriously people married (in an Anglican church?!) who want to 'convert' their marriage to a civil partnership?

    That seems highly unlikely to me. Hence I struggle to believe that is the root of this furore.

    Not only unlikely but almost impossible, I would think. You can convert a civil partnership to a marriage but I'm unaware of any provision to go the other way.

    I think this pastoral statement should have either:
    1) not been published at all. This is one of those times it's best to just shut up.
    2) said something along the lines of "civil partnerships are and will be sought by people who want to show their love and commitment but for a variety of reasons feel uncomfortable with marriage. As a church we welcome and celebrate such commitments but would encourage couples to do so within the covenant of marriage. Ministers of the Church of England should be willing to bless those declarations made through a civil partnership whilst sensitively encouraging such couples to marry and address any concerns they may have. In line with this we will be seeking a change in the law to allow the Church of England the freedom to solemnise the marriage of any couple that the presiding minister is satisfied intends to keep the vows being made."
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    For hundreds of years people assumed that marriage was between a man and a woman, without giving it any thought. Now that we have thought about it, is there anything in Scripture, Tradition or Reason that says this is the way it has to be?

    And would it have been possible for the Bishops to say that commitment is the key part of marriage? That Christians, of whatever alignment, who want to get married are expected to be faithful to their chosen partner?
  • AravisAravis Shipmate
    A friend of mine has lived with her (opposite sex) partner for around 20 years. They have never seriously considered marriage, but are considering civil partnership as they want to make a legal commitment to one another. It’s nothing to do with the possibility of having other relationships; she really doesn’t want to be a wife, as it will subtly alter the expectations of her partner’s very traditional Catholic mother.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Blahblah wrote: »
    Are there seriously people married (in an Anglican church?!) who want to 'convert' their marriage to a civil partnership?

    That seems highly unlikely to me. Hence I struggle to believe that is the root of this furore.
    It seems unlikely to me. I can't see any valid moral reason why a couple should do so. But there are four paragraphs in the statement that addresses this, apparently because it's expected that sometime later this year, legislation will be brought in to enable people to do this .

  • Enoch wrote
    b. If you are thinking of entering a heterosexual civil partnership, the CofE view is that that is what marriage has always been for. There's no obvious good reason why a Christian shouldn't get married properly. As you could get married, don't expect us to do anything that you might interpret as our encouraging you to do anything else.

    Here I'd submit the CofE view is essentially an 'established church' view. In a properly organised plural society Christians would enter into a civil partnership for purposes of secular law, and also enter into a Christian marriage. There would not be a church specially privileged to do 'marriage' as a thing distinct from and legally equivalent to an impliedly second best secular civil partnership. It might of course be convenient to have church ministers or other officers who can in effect act as 'registrars' legally empowered to conduct the legal civil partnership at the same time as the Christian marriage. The distinctively Christian parts of the situation would constitute a private contract between the parties and their fellow Christians, affecting things in the church context but mostly not affecting the secular position.

    Robert Armin wrote
    For hundreds of years people assumed that marriage was between a man and a woman, without giving it any thought. Now that we have thought about it, is there anything in Scripture, Tradition or Reason that says this is the way it has to be?

    I think most traditional Christians would reckon that Mark 10, which in Christian terms is God incarnate (Jesus) commenting on his own OT words, amounts to a rather emphatic statement of sex and marriage being a matter of male and female. And if so then male with male and female with female can't truly do 'sex' and it will always be unfitting for them to try.
  • Fun, though.
  • EliabEliab Shipmate
    In a properly organised plural society Christians would enter into a civil partnership for purposes of secular law, and also enter into a Christian marriage.

    And in that society, there would be a legitimate moral question whether a Christian couple who contracted a civil partnership (especially if it was not called, and was viewed by society as something distinct from, "marriage") but had not had a formal celebration of Christian marriage, ought to be having sex. Similarly, there would be a question as to whether the formal legal partnership was necessary, or if the Christian marriage alone was sufficient for sexual relations. If, that is, you think that sex is for marriage.

    As soon as there are multiple ways of celebrating and ratifying a relationship, the question of what counts as a marriage from the point of view of Christian ethics becomes significant. It's got nothing to do with whether the church is established.

  • orfeoorfeo Suspended
    edited February 2020
    Eliab wrote: »
    I think I disagree with the consensus here. I think this is an issue that requires guidance, and that the conclusion as regards opposite-sex CPs is basically right (although I think the reasoning to get there is almost entirely wrong).

    The CoE's formal position is (and should remain) that sex is for marriage, and marriage should be exclusive and life-long - while recognising that real life is somewhat messier and more complicated than that. While there are certainly many, many members of the CoE in good standing who disagree with that position (as they are, and should remain, entitled to do) there are some who accept it.

    It is then a reasonable question for people to ask, especially if they want to consider or try to live by the church's guidance, whether a CP is essentially marriage by another name, and therefore equivalent to marriage for the purpose of ethical sexual behaviour, or whether only marriage will do "as a remedy against sin and to avoid fornication".

    Asking whether, and in what ways, CP as an institution differs from marriage isn't a bad start in considering that.

    Where I think they go wrong is to identify (1) the absence of vows, (2) the expectation that the relationship will (by default) be sexual, and (3) the obligation of sexual fidelity as the key differences. I think that there are two serious objections to that.

    Firstly, while CP as an institution may not necessitate these, in practice, most people making a CP will exchange promises of the same sort that civilly married people do, and go on to have a sexual relationship intended to be exclusive. That's going to be the reason why the overwhelming majority of CPs are contracted at all. The few outliers who will use the legislation for other purposes do not, in any credible sense, undermine what it is that the majority are doing. The fact that a minority of marriages are contracted without the intention of being either sexual or exclusive does not affect the validity of all other marriages - and the same applies to CPs.

    Secondly, I don't think it's right that vows and sexual activity are of the essence of Christian marriage. The Orthodox Church marries people without vows, and accepts marriages intended to be entirely chaste as full marriages. Unless the CoE is intending to say that about a quarter of the Christian church doesn't have valid marriages (and I very much doubt that we would say that), at least two of the three differences aren't essential to marriage, and therefore don't imply that CPs are not marriage-equivalent.

    I think a stronger case could be made that when applying conservative sexual ethics, marriage means marriage, and not a CP, would be that someone contracting a CP when marriage is available to them is necessarily making a decision not to marry, and therefore may be signalling that however similar the institutions might be, they see a difference, and have chosen the non-marriage alternative. Therefore it is potentially the case that they do not intend to do whatever it is that the church understands that married people do, and if that is right, then the church should not assure them that their CP counts as marriage in the eyes of God, because it might not. If they care about the church's teaching that sex is for marriage, and marriage is a possibility, then the church should tell them to marry. God might be OK with CPs, but it's fine for the church not to purport to know that to the same level of conviction that we think he instituted and approves marriage, and so it's fine for the church to approve sex within marriage, and be unconvinced of the ethics of sex within a CP.

    This all makes sense.

    The thing regarding the last paragraph, though, is that it seems one of the principal reasons that people want a CP rather than a marriage is (ironically in this context) not to have any church association or involvement. That is the difference that a lot of people see. Not anything about commitment or any of the things the church thinks marriage is about, the concern is purely with not wanting to have some of the formal associations... with the very body that thinks it gets to make pronouncements about marriage.

    I've already expressed the view that I'd prefer there was no such thing as 'civil partnerships' and it was all just marriage. But that view is based on an underlying opinion that is the exact opposite to the one many people hold, including people who are opting for civil partnerships.

    Rather than the prevailing notion that somehow religious people own the word "marriage" and so those who aren't within the religiously accepted boundaries (such as same-sex couples) or wish to avoid religious associations need to have some other term to cover them, my view is that the State owns the term "marriage" and that if religious people want to have some other kind of different and distinctive relationship (one they believe is specially blessed by God in the way a State-registered marriage is not) then they ought to come up with their own term for it.

    Maybe that's because I'm used to seeing marriage as a subject of legislative power in the Australian Constitution. I'm not sure. But I certainly know there's a Marriage Act and that this is what actually dictates what a marriage looks like in this country. Not some archbishop's opinion.

    If churches want to have "religious partnerships" then I say that's fine, though the State might have to decide whether they're legally equal to marriages. The State might end up asking why these people aren't going through with marriages, and what that says about the relationship.
  • Eliab wrote: »
    And in that society, there would be a legitimate moral question whether a Christian couple who contracted a civil partnership (especially if it was not called, and was viewed by society as something distinct from, "marriage") but had not had a formal celebration of Christian marriage, ought to be having sex. Similarly, there would be a question as to whether the formal legal partnership was necessary, or if the Christian marriage alone was sufficient for sexual relations. If, that is, you think that sex is for marriage.
    This is thought-provoking. But isn't it a bit like the Sabbath? From a Christian point of view, I think marriage is made for sex, rather than sex being made for marriage.

  • Whatever the statement "should" have said is irrelevant now. It said what it said.

    The bigger issue - given the backtracking - is whether we can now believe anything which is said/issued/proclaimed by the CofE? And which statement is the real one - the first, the apology or the apology for the apology?

    It all looks pretty seedy given the very quick intervention of the Bishop of Gloucester and others who reacted as soon as the heat was on. Breaking ranks like that suggests either that they didn't agree in the first place (in which case they should have said so publicly then and there) or hoped that it would just slip into acceptance without any fuss.
  • I think "slip into being ignored" without any fuss is closer to the mark as far as the hopes of the bishops is concerned. I'm leaning towards agreeing with those who think this was vice-signalling to GAFCON ahead of the Lambeth Conference.
  • RicardusRicardus Shipmate
    edited February 2020
    Eliab wrote: »
    The CoE's formal position is (and should remain) that sex is for marriage,

    Assuming you mean "exclusively for marriage", I agree the rest of your post follows admirably from this premise, but, as I've said upthread, absent an Anglican magisterium, ISTM this is just the opinion of the bishops, rather than a point of Anglican doctrine - however much one thinks it ought to be doctrine.

    It's not in the Thirty Nine Articles. It's not in the liturgy, and therefore doesn't pass the test of lex oranda, lex credenda*. It's certainly common to interpret the Bible that way, but the C of E doesn't mandate any specific interpretation of the Bible beyond what is consistent with its liturgy. It's certainly what most people have traditionally believed, but quod semper, quod ubique, quod ab omnibus creditum est** isn't formally an Anglican principle either - and even if it was, it would be relevant to ask if the development of reliable contraceptive made a difference.

    * What we pray is what we believe
    ** What everyone everywhere has always believed
  • Robert ArminRobert Armin Shipmate, Glory
    Enoch wrote
    b. If you are thinking of entering a heterosexual civil partnership, the CofE view is that that is what marriage has always been for. There's no obvious good reason why a Christian shouldn't get married properly. As you could get married, don't expect us to do anything that you might interpret as our encouraging you to do anything else.

    Here I'd submit the CofE view is essentially an 'established church' view. In a properly organised plural society Christians would enter into a civil partnership for purposes of secular law, and also enter into a Christian marriage. There would not be a church specially privileged to do 'marriage' as a thing distinct from and legally equivalent to an impliedly second best secular civil partnership. It might of course be convenient to have church ministers or other officers who can in effect act as 'registrars' legally empowered to conduct the legal civil partnership at the same time as the Christian marriage. The distinctively Christian parts of the situation would constitute a private contract between the parties and their fellow Christians, affecting things in the church context but mostly not affecting the secular position.

    Robert Armin wrote
    For hundreds of years people assumed that marriage was between a man and a woman, without giving it any thought. Now that we have thought about it, is there anything in Scripture, Tradition or Reason that says this is the way it has to be?

    I think most traditional Christians would reckon that Mark 10, which in Christian terms is God incarnate (Jesus) commenting on his own OT words, amounts to a rather emphatic statement of sex and marriage being a matter of male and female. And if so then male with male and female with female can't truly do 'sex' and it will always be unfitting for them to try.

    It was only after a long conversation with a conservative priest that I grasped that he was reading Mark 10 in a prescriptive fashion, as you describe. I'd always taken that bit as descriptive, long before there was any fuss, and genuinely couldn't see the point he was making.
  • EliabEliab Shipmate
    edited February 2020
    orfeo wrote: »
    The thing regarding the last paragraph, though, is that it seems one of the principal reasons that people want a CP rather than a marriage is (ironically in this context) not to have any church association or involvement.

    Sure, but those people are obviously not the intended audience for the guidance we're talking about.

    I'm sure that lots of people in CPs intend to do what I intended to do when I got married and are simply avoiding a word that has unwelcome associations for them, but not for me. Those CPs may well be marriages by another name, but that doesn't mean that all CPs are in that category (or that they will continue to be, in the future, especially if the social significance and use of CPs evolves).
    Rather than the prevailing notion that somehow religious people own the word "marriage" and so those who aren't within the religiously accepted boundaries (such as same-sex couples) or wish to avoid religious associations need to have some other term to cover them, my view is that the State owns the term "marriage" and that if religious people want to have some other kind of different and distinctive relationship (one they believe is specially blessed by God in the way a State-registered marriage is not) then they ought to come up with their own term for it.

    I don't think any institution gets to define language outside its own specific context. The state gets to say which partnerships get to be called marriage in a legal context, not in everyday speech. Lots of people referred to same-sex civilly partnered couples as "married" before UK law accepted marriage equality. They committed no offence against the English language by using the word in that way. Same with churches in their particular religious contexts.
    If churches want to have "religious partnerships" then I say that's fine, though the State might have to decide whether they're legally equal to marriages. The State might end up asking why these people aren't going through with marriages, and what that says about the relationship.

    I agree (although I have no problem with those groups all calling their different definitions "marriage" since in any situation where it matters whether a marriage is legally or religiously valid, it will usually be obvious from context which definition is being used).

    There is a genuine question whether a committed partnership that was deliberately formalised in a way that the law does not recognise ought to be treated as equivalent to marriage in law, since the couple could have chosen to opt in to the legal regulation of their relationship, and the fact that they did not do they may well indicate that they intentionally chose not to be legally regulated. The counter-argument, of course, is that the protection of the potentially vulnerable that justice and the public good make part of the proper role of the state may require regulation of committed partnerships that are not legally formalised.

    There is no corresponding counter-argument that obliges a church to treat people as if they had married according to that church's understanding, in circumstances where it appears the choice not to do so was intended.
  • EliabEliab Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    From a Christian point of view, I think marriage is made for sex, rather than sex being made for marriage.

    If you endorse the view that sex is an appropriate activity only for marriage, or that marriage is the only appropriate context for sex, and neither "sex" nor "marriage" has a single unambiguous meaning, then asking what counts as "sex", and what counts as "marriage", in the particular ethical context you are signed up to, is a reasonable undertaking. That applies whether sex or marriage is considered primary.


  • EliabEliab Shipmate
    Ricardus wrote: »
    It's not in the liturgy, and therefore doesn't pass the test of lex oranda, lex credenda*.

    It is, and it does.

    "Secondly, It was ordained for a remedy against sin, and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry, and keep themselves undefiled members of Christ's body."

  • I don't really understand a number of the points being made here. I agree entirely with Enoch and his points, including that the bishops' statement was not of the best.

    However ,I don't think that anyone in England is obliged to marry (assuming that is what they want to do) in a CofE service.
    If they do marry in a CofE service is that a marriage which is considered as legal, if the state requirements have not been fulfilled ?
    In normal circumstances would the CofE consider marrying a couple without the necessary state intervention being carried out in an orderly fashion ?

    Undoubtedly the state has competence to determine what the state considers as marriage,but does the state have competence to determine what various religious organisations ( including the state recognised CofE) determine marriage to mean for those who are part of their community. ?

    If we realise that we live in a pluralistic society, we have to recognise that not everyone will have the same views. It does not help to classify those who may disagree with us on certain points as ignorant bigots living far behind the times.

  • I think most traditional Christians would reckon that Mark 10, which in Christian terms is God incarnate (Jesus) commenting on his own OT words, amounts to a rather emphatic statement of sex and marriage being a matter of male and female. And if so then male with male and female with female can't truly do 'sex' and it will always be unfitting for them to try.

    I think any religious group that wants to subdivide and define marriage in specific ways should do so. Knock yourseof out.

    But what really annoys me is when groups seem to think that they (and in fact a minority of thar group) think they have some moral authority or special dibs on how other people use terms.

    We don't expect you to like it. We do expect you to respect the law which has been designed to protect people doing things, which in this instance includes things you don't agree with.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    ... Here I'd submit the CofE view is essentially an 'established church' view. In a properly organised plural society Christians would enter into a civil partnership for purposes of secular law, and also enter into a Christian marriage. There would not be a church specially privileged to do 'marriage' as a thing distinct from and legally equivalent to an impliedly second best secular civil partnership. It might of course be convenient to have church ministers or other officers who can in effect act as 'registrars' legally empowered to conduct the legal civil partnership at the same time as the Christian marriage. The distinctively Christian parts of the situation would constitute a private contract between the parties and their fellow Christians, affecting things in the church context but mostly not affecting the secular position. ...
    @Steve Langton I can see where you're coming from, which would be a fairly extreme anabaptist take on this, but I think historically you're completely wrong.

    Marriage was not invented by Christianity. Nor was it brought into being by the church. This can't be proved but it seems to exist and have existed, always, as one of the human universals that people like Simon Pinker talk about. In one form or another, and with a lot of variation as to its attributes, it just seems always and everywhere to be there, part of how the human species is, just as, by contrast, bull seals collect harems on the beach.

    So Christians in the early centuries were not introducing something new. All they were doing was developing 'marriage as we see it, rather than they do'. Different societies and different states have their own rules as to how marriages are created, when they are recognised and how or if they can be dissolved other than by death. But that doesn't constitute what marriage is. The laws of marriage in England and Scotland are different, but that doesn't mean 'married' means something different in Gretna from what it means in Carlisle.

    Saying that the CofE view is
    "essentially an 'established church' view"
    is nonsense. It's coloured by your, and other peoples' residual resentment that between 1754 and 1836 the CofE did have a monopoly of weddings, though the reason was largely government determination to prevent the uncertainties produced by clandestine weddings.

    So
    "In a properly organised plural society Christians would enter into a civil partnership for purposes of secular law, and also enter into a Christian marriage. There would not be a church specially privileged to do 'marriage' as a thing distinct from and legally equivalent to an impliedly second best secular civil partnership."
    is also a nonsense because that is already the position in those countries where all marriages have to take place in the town hall, with a church wedding if desired, separately.

    The UK has not gone down that road. It's not that unusual in this. It's really a French peculiarity with their obsession with secularity to be so insistent about this. In England, marriages are conducted by clergy of the established church or authorised registrars, many of whom are clergy of other denominations, but the legal consequences of both forms of marriage are identical. In Scotland, the rules are slightly different but broadly the same. Blacksmiths can no longer marry people over their anvils.

    There are denominations that take the line that those who are married by registrars aren't really married at all, are living in legalised sin, but the Cof E is not one of them.


    @orfeo for the reasons I've given, the churches do not own the word 'marriage'. Nor, though, unless one takes an extreme positivist position, which I don't, does the state. Because a major part of the state's job is to provide the structural framework for a well functioning civil society, it has a proper and legitimate duty to ensure it is clear who is married to who, and who isn't. It may do that well or badly. It may be too far ahead of or behind prevailing social assumptions to carry public acceptance. That's a different question.

    It's also quite right and proper that as marriage is a major part of how people live, churches should have the freedom to say how they think Christian spouses should behave towards one another. So, for example, the marriage liturgy, the preface, the vows, express how churches believe a marriage is best lived out, what a couple should be committed to, the standards to which Christians should try to live.

    This is bound to include at times saying, 'the law may let you get away with things which we don't think you should do'. Churches have to allowed to speak for what they believe God thinks, even if you don't agree with their interpretation of his mind.

  • EutychusEutychus Shipmate
    edited February 2020
    Eliab wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    From a Christian point of view, I think marriage is made for sex, rather than sex being made for marriage.

    If you endorse the view that sex is an appropriate activity only for marriage, or that marriage is the only appropriate context for sex, and neither "sex" nor "marriage" has a single unambiguous meaning, then asking what counts as "sex", and what counts as "marriage", in the particular ethical context you are signed up to, is a reasonable undertaking. That applies whether sex or marriage is considered primary.


    Yes, but the question behind my comparison was to do with why that might be a reasonable undertaking. Doing so to define something to be aspired to is a very different undertaking to doing so to try and enforce one's definintions (which is how the archbishops' statement comes across to me, further complicated by the civil/religious marriage confusion).

    That, it seems to me, is what Jesus was getting at with his man/Sabbath comments. And I decided long ago that attempting to police everything that goes on entre les draps et minuit* serves no practical purpose whatsoever and does more harm than good. And would be impossible anyway.

    ==
    *literally "between the sheets and midnight". Perhaps the nearest French dynamic equivalent to @orfeo's "bit of heavy breathing round the back of the bike shed"...
  • But who is saying that churches should not be allowed to frame how they perceive and define marriage? Nobody that I can see.

    This debate appears to me to be solely caused by leaders stating something that other members of their own church publicly disagree with.

    And it seems a reasonable response to the confusion that causes to say "maybe sort out properly a position that a majority in your own church can live with before making general arm-flappy statements that sound pretty offensive and old-fashioned to everyone else."
  • Enoch wrote: »
    The UK has not gone down that road. It's not that unusual in this. It's really a French peculiarity with their obsession with secularity to be so insistent about this.

    In my experience it's a CoE particularity, not to say idiosyncrasy, that officiants of weddings conflate their civil and religious roles, confuse their religious understanding of marriage and related obligations and the legal status of marriage and its related obligations, and do nothing to distinguish the two.
  • How many state churches retain the ability to legally validate marriages? Can even Scandinavian state churches still do that?
  • Certainly in most countries of Europe , not only France. the civil authorities determine what their idea of marriage is. Just as in the UK the only legally recognised marriage is that which is conducted by the state ,either in the form of a registrar or a clergy person duly authorised to act as registrar. Generally speaking religious groups will only either 'marry' or 'bless the already existing marriage' of those who are already married in the eyes of the state. That in no way stops one of the largest Christian bodies declaring that those who claim to be members of that body ( and no one else !) are not 'married' in the eyes of God unless they have been married according to the rules of that religious body.
  • Forthview wrote: »
    That in no way stops one of the largest Christian bodies declaring that those who claim to be members of that body ( and no one else !) are not 'married' in the eyes of God unless they have been married according to the rules of that religious body.
    That's not all they declared. They could have simply made assertions about what qualified for marriage in the eyes of God and stopped there. But they added value judgements about the status of those married or partnered according to other rules.
  • I thought that some people in civil partnerships object to the patriarchal nature of marriage, whereby I suppose women were exchanged almost as currency or barter, (described by Levi-Strauss). This seems a long way from contemporary marriage, but I get the objection. Presumably, religious marriages are subject to the same critique.
  • EnochEnoch Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    ... In my experience it's a CoE particularity, not to say idiosyncrasy, that officiants of weddings conflate their civil and religious roles, confuse their religious understanding of marriage and related obligations and the legal status of marriage and its related obligations, and do nothing to distinguish the two.
    I don't think that's correct, and I think you're letting your view be coloured by your French experience.

    Would I be correct in suspecting that the preferred view in France is that it is the state's function, and only the state's function, to marry people, that marrying people is a right and proper manifestation of the state's power, something the Republique Française confers on people and something that should be exclusive to the state? i.e. to put it another way, this is a positivist understanding of how marriages are created.

    As far as I've always understood it, not even the RCC goes that far. Certainly, it's the CofE understanding that it's the couple who marry each other, and the church that provides the way they do so. So far as civil registrars think about these things, I'd be surprised if their view is any different. They are providing a way in which people can validly marry each other with evidence that they have done so. They are not bestowing marriage on people.

    That was certainly the impression I got from what the registrar said when I was part of the support crew to a marriage many years ago in a denomination which as a matter of principle has no clergy. So, though their building was registered, and a close friend of the couple conducted the ceremony, the registrar had to be present to hear the couple say they were marrying each other. Interesting, he didn't have to be in the same room. What was crucial was that he was within earshot and that they said the key bits loudly enough.

    As for non-CofE clergy who are deputy registrars, I doubt they see their roles as conceptually different from how CofE clergy do.
  • @Enoch the French position is, AIUI, the outworking of a struggle for control of the official birth, marriage, and death records in the country. As ever, this was less about belief than about power - on both sides. Since the Council of Trent, as in most other European countries, these records were kept by the Roman Catholic Church, and non-Catholics were often excluded from them, thus effectively making them stateless persons.

    In France this was resolved, not without conflict, by a 1792 decree, following which BMD records were confiscated from the clergy by the State. There can be no doubt that this was motivated in part by a desire for more state control and the ability to tax and conscript. Nevertheless, it also marked an important milestone in facilitating religious pluralism. This and the separation of Church and state is fully in line with my convictions and, in France, is in my interest as a protestant.

    As mentioned before on this thread, in my experience at an institutional level the RCC has never got over the confiscation of its registers and continues to maintain a vast, independent bureaucracy devoted to keeping records of this nature for all those baptised as Catholics. It behaves exactly like a parallel state, a bit like the governments in exile of the Baltic states during the Soviet era, waiting for things to get back to "normal".

    Nevertheless, in practical terms, the RCC knows better than to mix up its religious understanding of marriage, notably its sacramental significance, with the civil ceremony, and in no circumstances would it perform a religious ceremony prior to the civil one - doing so is against the law.

    So far as I can tell, this kind of subtlety is completely lost on the CoE in its uncomfortable and anachronistic role as an established territorial church. Its declarations rely on its historical and constitutional role, but they are utterly alienating and out of synch with its actual sphere of influence, and thus unhelpful.

    All too often, I think CoE vicars invoke religous reasons not to perform what I see as their civil duty and obligation. And this is based not on any French experience, but on CoE experience. As you may recall.
  • BlahblahBlahblah Suspended
    edited February 2020
    A Church of England priest, as I understand it, is validated by the state to register marriages. Almost* no other religious leader in England has that right, so any church other weddings must be conducted with a state official present.

    I am pretty sure this state of affairs does not happen in Norway. I'm less sure, but I don't think it happens elsewhere in Scandinavia.

    I don't believe it is actually very common anywhere.

    * I think some rules are different for Jews and Quakers
  • Blahblah wrote: »

    I think most traditional Christians would reckon that Mark 10, which in Christian terms is God incarnate (Jesus) commenting on his own OT words, amounts to a rather emphatic statement of sex and marriage being a matter of male and female. And if so then male with male and female with female can't truly do 'sex' and it will always be unfitting for them to try.

    I think any religious group that wants to subdivide and define marriage in specific ways should do so. Knock yourseof out.

    But what really annoys me is when groups seem to think that they (and in fact a minority of thar group) think they have some moral authority or special dibs on how other people use terms.

    We don't expect you to like it. We do expect you to respect the law which has been designed to protect people doing things, which in this instance includes things you don't agree with.

    I perhaps should have written "And if so then in Christian terms male with male and female with female can't truly do 'sex' and it will always be unfitting for them to try".

    And as far as I'm concerned non-Christian marriages are still marriages even if called 'civil partnerships'. In this case I'm not so much prescribing use of terms as trying to negotiate as clearly as I can the terms others are using.

  • My understanding ( and I may be wrong) but most ,if not all of the Christian groups/denominations here is Scotland will keep a record of baptisms, confirmations and marriages. I can see nothing wrong in this nor can I see anything against the rights and privileges of the state in keeping such records. The Church of Scotland keeps a record of baptisms, and marriages , they don't have 'confirmation' as such but there is usually a ceremony for formally 'joining the church' and I would be surprised if there is no record kept of this.
    Eutychus mentions that, in his opinion ,the RC Church in France has never got over the confiscation of its records. If ,as he says ,these belonged to the RC Church, then why does he perhaps think that the Church should have been happy to have these confiscated ? From the point of view of believing Catholics I can see why they might feel unhappy about the persecutions which came upon the Church in the last decades of the 18th century, but surely that is all in the past.
    Rightly or wrongly the RC Church ,all over the world, not just in France, keeps records of those who have received certain sacraments such as baptism, confirmation and marriage.
    The RC Church does not interfere in the marriages of those who do not declare themselves to be members of that body. It does, however, reserve the right ,and the duty, to explain to those who claim to be members of the Church, what the teaching on marriage is.
    Of course one can complain about the bureaucracy, but when one is dealing with what is a world wide organisation,there is a necessary bureaucracy in order that proper accounts may be rendered.
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