Skip to comments.Church of England Denies Blessings for Same-Sex Unions
Posted on 07/26/2005 5:16:23 PM PDT by sionnsar
The Church of England announced yesterday that it would not give Christian blessings to same-sex couples wishing to ''marry.''
Tuesday, Jul. 26, 2005 Posted: 9:40:36AM EST
LONDON The Church of England announced yesterday that it would not give Christian blessings to same-sex couples wishing to marry.
The decision was announced by a group from the House of Bishops led by the Bishop of Norwich, the Right Rev Graham James, and was a response to the Civil Partnership Act, which gives gay couples in Britain similar legal rights to married couples and is due to come into effect in December.
Bishop James rejected resolutely equal status for same-sex and heterosexual marriage stating, "Civil partnerships are not gay marriages. Marriage can only be the sexual union of one man and one woman that is in English law as well as the Church."
Regarding the Anglican Church's decision, the Rev Richard Kirker, general secretary of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, accused the Church of a "disregard for decency."
Kirker said, "At a time where lesbian and gay people let alone lesbian and gay Christians are looking to the church to affirm their families and to help build stability and provide a safe space for them, the church spits in their face."
The Church, however, fears that the Civil Partnerships Act will inadvertently damage the status of marriage. Yesterday's statement by the House of Bishops defended the Church's teaching on traditional marriage and sexual relations, stating "There are concerns that the introduction of civil partnerships in this form may create fresh anomalies and in practice even though not in law erode the unique position which marriage has previously occupied."
The statement claimed that sexual intercourse was "an expression of faithful intimacy, [which] properly belongs within marriage exclusively."
It went on to define marriage as "a creation of ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace.
Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society," the statement read.
In the Church of Englands The Book of Common Prayer, marriage is ordained as being "for the procreation of children, and for a remedy against sin and for the mutual society, help, and comfort that the one ought to have of the other."
Although gay clergy will be allowed an official union within the Church according to Church guidelines, it will be under the condition that they consult with their bishops and promise to remain celibate.
Homosexual members of the Anglican Church will continue to be accepted, however, as the bishops called for those entering into civil partnerships to be dealt with "pastorally and sensitively." Yet the bishops continued to emphasize the priority of heterosexual union.
"For Christians, marriage that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman remains the proper context for sexual activity, said Bishop James. "In its approach to civil partnerships the Church will continue to uphold that standard, to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships between people of the same sex and to minister to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently."
According to the statement, the ordination of homosexual bishops is threatening the worldwide Anglican Communion with a permanent division between liberal and conservative wings. It urged members of the clergy "to weigh carefully the perceptions and assumptions which would inevitably accompany a decision to register such a relationship."
In the Pennsylvania Dutch country we say "things come in threes". First, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Canada says "no" to "local option"; second, this wonderful news from the Anglican Communion; dare I hope that the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America assembly will be number three?
This is good news, regardless of the Rev. Richard Kirker's insipid reaction.
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