The above link enables bloggers who want to to look in on Thursday’s (February 14th 2013) meeting of the Parliamentary Commission’s meeting with outside observers who want to make a submission on the subject of Same-Sex Marriage and the Bill before the British Parliament at this time.
For Christians who are interested in the point of view of Dean Jeffrey John, whose own Civil Partnership is now a well-known fact, but whose original election to be a Bishop in the Church of England was rescinded because of his admitted homosexual-orientation; they are invited to click on the above link – where Jeffrey John appears at about 5 minutes into the interview schedule.
JJ makes a very compelling presentation and answers many questions that might concern those who question the whole issue of the LGBT community in the Church, particularly, in this instance, with regard to the enabling legislation the British Government considers to be necessary in order to provide fairness for same-sex couples who would like to share the same status and legal benefits of marriage as heterosexual couples.
Some important points are these:
1. Same Sex Marriage would not require a re-definition of Marriage as currently available to heterosexual couples. It was pointed out that, when the Church agreed to ordain Women as Priests, it did not require a re-definition of priesthood.
2. Regarding the attitude of the Church of England; Where once it opposed the idea of Same-Sex Blessings for Gay People; it would seem that this is now considered to be a possibility – given that the new alternative could be ‘Civil Gay Marriage’. This change of tactic would seem to be a problem for the Church, rather than for the Gay people they seem to want to side-line – despite efforts by the hierarchy to be seen to support Gay people in the Church. There seems to be a double-mindedness here by the Church.
3. Asked whether the Church of England was trying to appease the homophobia of African Churches – in order to secure the unity of the Anglican Communion; Jeffrey John admits that this is one of the objectives of the Church hierarchy, and one of the reasons they seem implacably against the prospect of Same-Sex Marriage.
4. The woman seen giving her testimony alongside Jeffrey John, an admittedly non-religious person who is in a Same-Sex Civil Partnership, admits to her desire to be able to say that she and her partner are ‘Married’ , when people ask about their relationship. She also ventures the opinion that, although most of the debate about Same-Sex Marriage has been by religious people and organisations, about 2/3 of Marriages in Britain are now celebrated outside of any religious ceremony. She wonders why religious organisations should try to prevent non-religious Gay couples from exercising the right to be married. The Law in question would allow for Civil Marriage rights for every couple – regardless of their status – and would maintain equality in Law.
Whatever we Christians may think about Marriage, it is not the sinecure of any religious organisation. The Law is not only concerned with Christian Marriage, as such, but with the right of any couple to make public vows of faithfulness, to which they choose to commit themselves freely to one another. This can only strengthen society and not diminish it.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand