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The effect of civil partnerships
Andrew Carey ^ | 6/08/2005 | Andrew Carey

Posted on 06/09/2005 7:42:38 AM PDT by sionnsar

On the subject of Civil Partnerships and the Church of England’s future policy when they come into effect at the end of this year, there is a strenuous debate. Here are my thoughts on the matter Rather Not takes a different view which is more than worth reading. To some extent I think it is right that some Bishops will believe that this step is a defence of marriage, but those bishops have far too much trust in the integrity of both their colleagues, and the clergy who enter into such Civil Partnerships. There is no doubt in my mind, that before this step is taken the Church of England needs to consider very carefully how this affects its teaching on marriage and human sexuality.

Our capacity for self-deception in the Church is unrivalled. To avoid the appearance of a breakdown of unity we are prepared to jump through contrived hoops that would give an accomplished gymnast severe backache.

This is particularly true when we come to the question of the Church of England’s future policy on Civil Partnerships. During the consultation process on the government’s proposals the Archbishops’ Council argued that Civil Partnerships for same sex couples should not look like marriage with the same rights and responsibilities. Furthermore, the consultation document suggested that to avoid this appearance of marriage civil partnerships should include siblings living together and carers who wanted the protection of the law because they shared significant parts of their lives.

The Government set its face against this option firmly heading off amendments which would extend the rights of Civil Partnerships to non-homosexual same sex partners. And a majority of Church of England Bishops who actually took part in the debates in the House of Lords, supported the government every step of the way in bringing about a form of Civil Partnerships which almost exactly mirrored marriage.

Now we are left with a situation in which a small number of clergy have declared their intention to enter into these Civil Partnerships – a public matter – and the House of Bishops have to respond to this highly divisive situation which many of them helped to create, against the initial view of the Archbishops’ Council.

According to news reports the House of Bishops will issue pastoral advice this Summer allowing clergy in same sex relationships to enter into civil partnerships. But clergy will have to give an undertaking to uphold church teaching.

Although the reports have said that couples will have to give assurances to diocesan bishops that they will abstain from sex, it is unlikely in reality that most Bishops will ask for anything more than the most generalised commitment to Church teaching. Given the Anglican ability to jump through hoops, it will be easy for practising homosexual clergy to assent to church teaching which they believe is not fully agreed upon without even crossing their fingers behind their backs.

In reality, anything but an absolute ban on civil partnerships for clergy will introduce homosexual marriage to the Church of England without any proper theological discussion and debate in the councils of the Church whatsoever. It will no longer be possible to pretend that clergy in sexually active gay relationships are in an anomalous position, like those who cannot say the creed with any integrity. In future the Church of England will have effectively changed its policy and its teaching on marriage without even admitting it.

In the 1990s, an attempt was made by evangelical and catholic Bishops in the Episcopal Church of the USA to halt the widespread practice of the ordination of practising homosexuals by bringing heresy charges against Bishop Spong’s assistant Bishop, Walter Righter. The court of Bishops threw out the charges on the technicality that ECUSA had no ‘core doctrine’ on such ordinations. Although the court said that its opinion was not a policy change for the Episcopal Church of the USA, this proved to be the case.

Civil Partnerships are the far-reaching equivalent for the Church of England.

There will be no pretence on the part of some clergy entering publicly into Civil Partnerships that they are doing anything other than embracing a form of marriage. Bishops who support a change in teaching will be able to bring it into effect and will thus be exposed.

Under these circumstances I cannot see how the Church of England can do anything other than fragment and divide. I’m not suggesting for a moment that such splits will be irreparable or amount to immediate schisms, but will be more akin to constant running warfare, skirmishes and the gradual separation of networks of parishes from the diocese and the national church.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant
[As noted, RatherNotBlog does have a very long piece with a different view, worth reading all the way through (but you'll have to wade through a lot to get there). Due to its length, I am only providing a link: Going to the Chapel?, 6/07/2005. --sionnsar]
1 posted on 06/09/2005 7:42:38 AM PDT by sionnsar
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To: ahadams2; coffeecup; Paridel; keilimon; Hermann the Cherusker; wagglebee; St. Johann Tetzel; ...
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15

2 posted on 06/09/2005 7:59:02 AM PDT by sionnsar (†† ||Iran Azadi|| WA Fraud: votes outnumber voters, court sez it's okay!)
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To: sionnsar

After a couple of years of reading about this stuff, I am still amazed that the Anglican Church would rip itself to pieces by insisting on heresy with an end to accomodating a few sodomites! Just astonishing.

3 posted on 06/09/2005 2:40:33 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

I have to agree -- what's even more surprising is that it still hasn't reached an end.

4 posted on 06/09/2005 3:08:31 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† ||Iran Azadi|| WA Fraud: votes outnumber voters, court sez it's okay!)
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To: sionnsar

" ...what's even more surprising is that it still hasn't reached an end."

You know, I suspect that has to do with the early and continuing compromises the Anglican Church made among groups which really didn;t believe the exact same thing for the sake of a stable polity in England. How else does one understand the elevation of unity over orthodoxy, even to the point of accepting heresy?

5 posted on 06/09/2005 3:12:58 PM PDT by Kolokotronis (Christ is Risen, and you, o death, are annihilated!)
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To: Kolokotronis

You've been paying attention! *\;-) Yes, I quite agree... but it's still surprising, having seen the depths of the disagreements first-hand (sometimes) over 25 years ago -- as when my barber left because of the 1979 BCP.

6 posted on 06/09/2005 3:46:11 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† ||Iran Azadi|| WA Fraud: votes outnumber voters, court sez it's okay!)
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