AT A recent meeting of Anglican Primates from 30 provinces of the Anglican Communion of Churches, the key matter of discussion was the recent change to doctrine on marriage by the Episcopal Church of the USA which now allows the marriage, within that Church, of people of the same sex. This is at variance with the traditional doctrine of the rest of the Anglican Communion, including the Church of England, which states that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
The outcome of that meeting was that the Episcopal Church of the USA has been suspended from the internal bodies of the Anglican Communion, preventing it from taking part in the making of decisions relating to doctrine or policy or in representing the Anglican Communion on ecumenical or interfaith bodies.
Arising from their discussions, the Primates issued a statement in which they condemned homophobic prejudice, and the Archbishop of Canterbury went on to apologise for the sorrowful way the Anglican Church has often acted towards people on the basis of their sexual orientation that has caused them great hurt. The Bishops went on to affirm that: “God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality, and that the Church should never, by its actions, give any other impression.”
We, who agree with the Episcopalian Church on the issue of same sex marriage, do so because we believe that God’s love for every human being is the same, regardless of their sexuality and that the Church should never, by its actions, give any other impression. We are also taught that God made us all in His own image, and that must mean in whatever sexual orientation we may have been created.
When a man and a woman fall in love and decided to commit themselves to each other for life we honour that love and commitment by marriage. Why, therefore, do we within our church deny that same honour to people of the same sex who have a similar love and commitment for each other? Jesus affirmed: “love your neighbour as you love yourself”. If that is what is expected of us, we should willingly want that honour of marriage to be bestowed upon same sex couples if that is their wish.
God’s spirit has enlightened us in many ways down the ages. There are now those of us who believe He is saying stop treating those who are of different sexual orientation to yourselves as being damaged second class souls.
Is an act, as an expression of love and commitment, so wrong (even if it is ever that) that it is overwhelmingly so important that it causes us to deny God’s overwhelming love to all men and women, no matter what their sexual orientation may be? Also, to forget the second commandment of loving your neighbour as much as you love yourself?
ALAN SCOTFORD, Marshfield Road, Chippenham (The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald)
The writer of this article, appearing in the U.K. Wiltshire Gazette, puts his case for the recognition of Gay people, and their monogamous, faithful, life-long relationships as being worthy of pastoral recognition by the Church of England authorities.
Citing the polity of The Episcopal Church in the U.S. as a Gospel model of openness to people of different sexual-orientations; Alan Scotford expresses his understanding that this would be the ideal way forward for the Church of England in the near future.
Whether that will happen, or even whether Same-Sex civil marriages will be able to be blessed in Church, depends a lot on the current discussions on Human Sexuality presently being undertaken in every diocese of the C. of E., with results being taken forward to the General Synod in July, 2016.
New Zealand’s own ‘Ma Whea’ Commission, in accordance with Motion 30 of the General Synod of ACANZP, has formulated arguments that might allow our Church to proceed with the process of acknowledgement of Same-Sex relationships that have been legalised by the State, by the provision of a formula for a liturgy for Same-Sex Blessings. What will become of their proposals will depend on the outcome of local diocesan conversations, that have already begun, and which will be assessed – in connection with Ma Whea’s proposals – at the next General Synod of our Church in May, 2016
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand