Skip to comments.Civil Partnerships
Posted on 08/20/2005 9:37:26 AM PDT by sionnsar
There are a number of red faces in the House of Bishops this week and there will be more next year when they realise what an embarrassing piece of pastoral advice they have issued this week on Civil Partnerships.
The headlines themselves are confused on what the pastoral advice actually means ranging from Marriages but no sex for gay clergy to No blessings for gay marriages to Bishops forbid blessings for same-sex partnerships.
On the question of homosexual clergy entering into civil partnerships, the Bishops say that clergy will have to give an undertaking to uphold church teaching in order to take advantage of the new arrangements. For laity, the same distinction is maintained in line with the 1991 Issues in Human Sexuality that the Church gives greater freedom of conscience to lay people and will not penalise or excommunicate those who enter into civil partnerships.
In some senses, nothing has changed with this advice. There have always been anomalous relationships among disobedient clergy which are not officially blessed by the Church. Especially in dioceses like Southwark since the 1960s hordes of practising homosexual people have been ordained and each diocesan bishop in turn has gone native and either turned a blind eye to the problem or actively encouraged it.
Next year however when clergy enter into the form of quasi-marriage represented by the Civil Parternship Act, there can be no pretence that these relationships are any more anomalous. By allowing clergy to enter into a form of relationship which so closely resembles civil marriage to the extent that the same prohibited degrees of affinity apply, and that in individual cases the withdrawal of one partner from a sexual relationship could be considered grounds for dissolution the Church of England is effectively in a changed situation.
Let us not forget that it is a problem which the Bishops themselves have helped to create. While a small number of Bishops supported amendments in the House of Lords to broaden civil partnerships to include siblings, carers and so on, most of the Bishops who participated voted all the way for this pale imitation of marriage for homosexual couples.
Thus without a single debate in the councils of the Church of England, next year we will effectively have given the green light to homosexual marriages among the clergy leaving it up to individual conscience as to whether those relationships are actually sexual in nature.
In fact what the Bishops should have done is to publicly prohibit clergy entering into civil partnerships, taking the risk that some would defy them, while engaging in theological study and debate on same-sex friendship. Perhaps then the Church could bless friendships, as it seems to have done in the past according to the research of Boswell and Bray, rather than being dragged in confusion into an endorsement of this governments faulty and two-faced legislation.
My opinon here, I could be wrong, and sometimes I am. But...
Things like this just irk me to no end. Call it what it is.
Civil Partnerships are just that. Partnerships. They happen to be "blessed," if you will, by the government. Partnerships need not be between only a man and wife. They can be between just about anyone: business owners, friends, sibilngs, and yes, even same sex couples. It is a legal partnership that has no need of blessing by the Church. Hence the term Civil in its name.
If it is a marriage, then call it a marriage.
If it is to be blessed by the church, then it is no longer Civil, but Holy. That is, is it not, why marriage is called Holy Matrimony?
Now, if what is really being discussed is indeed Holy Matrimony, then the Church's definition of marriage needs to be taken into account. Genesis never mentions marriage for other than a man and wife for any reason other than that of mate. (2:24 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh.) In fact, according to Genesis we are to fill the earth with our offspring (1:28 God blessed them (man and woman) and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it...). So taking that into account, we are not only expected to bear children, we are commanded to bear children.
Can a same sex couple fulfill these two requirements?
A) Same sex couple are not comprised of a male and female. So, no to being man and wife.
B) They cannot bear children of themselves alone. So no to filling the earth with their own offspring.
If they cannot fufill these two God given requirements then their union is not Holy, and cannot be called marriage within the realm of the Church. This definition does not even touch upon the unrepentant sinfulness of a homosexual relationship.
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