Friday, December 7, 2012


Statement on same-sex marriage by English Prime Minister David Cameron:
He said he did not want gay people to be "excluded from a great institution", but would not force any groups to hold ceremonies in their places of worship. 

Ministers will reveal their response to a consultation next week. MPs will be given a free vote on the issue.
The "Church of England" responded:
It is important to be clear that insistence on the traditional understanding of marriage is not knee-jerk resistance to change but is based on a conviction that the consequences of change will not be beneficial for society as a whole. Our concern is for the way the meaning of marriage will change for everyone, gay or straight, if the proposals are enacted. Because we believe that the inherited understanding of marriage contributes a vast amount to the common good, our defence of that understanding is motivated by a concern for the good of all in society.

The proposition that same-sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute. To that extent, the Prime Minister's claim that he supports same-sex marriage from conservative principles is readily understandable.  However, the uniqueness of marriage is that it embodies the underlying, objective, distinctiveness of men and women. This distinctiveness and complementarity are seen most explicitly in the biological union of man and woman which potentially brings to the relationship the fruitfulness of procreation.

To remove from the definition of marriage this essential complementarity is to lose any social institution in which sexual difference is explicitly acknowledged. To argue that this is of no social value is to assert that men and women are simply interchangeable individuals. To change the nature of marriage for everyone will be divisive and deliver no obvious legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil partnerships.
We believe that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage.

Given the absence of any manifesto commitment for these proposals - and the absence of any commitment in the most recent Queen's speech - there will need to be an overwhelming mandate from the consultation to move forward with these proposals and make them a legislative priority.

We welcome the fact that in his statement the Prime Minister has signalled he is abandoning the Government's earlier intention to distinguish between civil and religious marriage.  We look forward to studying the Government's detailed response to the consultation next week and to examining the safeguards it is proposing to give to Churches.
Except for the weak acknowledgement in the second paragraph that "same-sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues" and the references to the English Government and the Queen, the statement could have come from the Vatican.

Who wrote this anonymous press release in the name of the "Church of England"?  What minds came together to produce this rubbish?  Or was it just one person?   Judging from the people I know in the Church of England, the response most certainly does not express the mind of the entire church.  Was General Synod consulted?  Is it possible for the people in the head office of the Church of England to be more out of touch?   Many questions; no answers as of yet.

H/T to Simon Sarmiento at Thinking Anglicans.

UPDATE: While we're on the subject, please read Mark Harris' brilliant response to the "Church of England's" response to David Cameron's statement on same-sex marriage. Thank you.


Bonnie said...

It is this type of rubbish which is giving rise to the "nones." And MHO I don't think it is possible for the Church of England to be more out of touch. And not just the Church of England but any church which supports this rubbish. People will just keep voting with their feet and soon the intelligent "nones" will be the majority.

Laurel Massé said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Laurel Massé said...

The phrase "fundamental complementarity" sets a little siren going in my mind, implying as I think it does a definition of the marriage worthy of protection as a union between a man and a woman, both of whom know, and stay within, the boundaries of their divinely-ordained Genesis 2 place.

Laurel Massé said...

Sorry to delete. The grammar got away from me for a moment. I reposted below.

Anonymous said...

"Distinctiveness"??? So, men will forget they are men if they are not automatically accorded rights and privileges that women don't get? Suddenly heterosexual couples will value their unions less and/or "let no man put asunder" means watch out for the lesbian about to wreck your marriage?
This is BILGE (no, I don't generally capitalize or shout, but this needs it), bogus bilge, big bilge ... drain, scrub,swab out your boats oh C of E boys or you'll be sailing solo soon.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Bonnie I'm afraid you're right. And why can't the head office of the Church of England find someone to write releases in plain English?

Grandmère Mimi said...

The complementarity argument drives me crazy. If a major component of marriage is that the parts fit together, and each person plays the assigned role in the match, rather than two people loving each other and committing their lives to each other, then I can't see what's so great about the institution.

Grandmère Mimi said...

For the life of me, I cannot figure out how same-sex marriage will affect my marriage in any way whatsoever, especially how it will dilute the meaning of my marriage. What nonsense.

The new Archbishop of Canterbury surely has his work cut out for him right there in the home office in revising the process for press releases.

Pfalz prophet said...
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Grandmère Mimi said...

PP, I'm sorry you removed your comment. I thought it contributed value to the discussion. Of course, the decision is yours to make.

Pfalz prophet said...

"Underlying, objective distinctiveness" and "fundamental complementarity" set flags waving here, too. These phrases are transparent euphemisms for male parts fitting female parts. Such a narrow definition is all that holds the opposition to same-gender marriage together.

I take a broader view of complementarity. Now, after a hetero relationship of more than thirty years and a gay one of a mere four, I see the blending of two souls in a far broader context. I am gregarious, she was much more self-contained, mousy even, to start; I am creative but a bit untidy, he was fearfully and wonderfully organized. In our partnerships, she became more expressive and I a bit more discreet; with him, I tidied up more and he became more tolerant of disorder (up to a point, of course).

The CofE comes across in its anonymous release as insulated and clueless. Would they regress like this if they weren't under some unusual political pressure from somewhere? Or, are they treading water whilst they formulate a more coherent strategy? Curious.

Bonnie said...

Curious as to why some I know have joined the "nones" or alternatively have sought a different spiritual home I am doing a little informal research starting with "What does your ideal church look like?"

The response of the "nones" isn't very complicated. "Believe in God. Don't believe in the Church." This post pretty much typifies why they don't believe in the message of "The Church." They really aren't going to help the church throw people under a bus. So, if TEC is talking about taking the message outside our walls, it needs to be very clear on what that message is because these are people who are living out the gospel message of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, & etc. If we want them back inside the walls they will have to see a lot of push back against bigotry and this type of rubbish.

As to "What does your ideal church look like?" That's a lot more complicated but it also encompasses "not throwing people under the bus."

Grandmère Mimi said...

The "parts" argument is lame and does not work at any level, even as it ushers us right into the "role" expectations in a marriage, which cause warning sirens to go off in the minds of a good many women...and even some men. :-)

The arguments against same-sex marriage rely so heavily on sex and parts fitting together, that you'd think sex is all married people do. Mutual sexual fulfillment is important, but married folks spend their time in other activities, like working, eating, sleeping, recreation, enjoying each other's company, etc. The opponents who base their arguments on sex seem - what? - obsessed.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Bonnie, you may be interested in this post at The Lutheran titled "Why don't people come to church?"

Thanks to IT at The Friends of Jake for the link. IT is a non-believer who is married to an Episcopalian and attends church with her. She is an excellent evangelist, much better than I and many Christians I know.

Caminante said...

Could it have been any of the various bishops of the CoE who are so against same-gender marriage? Whatever, it is pathetic.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Doesn't the "Church of England" have monitors to screen out pathetic responses such as this?

Murdoch Matthew said...

Behind the buildings on the family farm, we used to find pieces of slate, a stone that separates easily into layers. You can find pieces of slate and fit them snugly back together.

This was the image that came to mind, the first night that my (now) husband stayed over. I'd thought before that it was about sex, but stretched out length to length, we fit together like the halves of a broken stone. There are problems with the anatomy of complementarity -- men and women don't fit together perfectly, and same-sex couples can join satisfyingly. As P. Prophet observes above, it's the joining of persons rather than of parts that makes a couple.

Grandmère Mimi said...'s the joining of persons rather than of parts that makes a couple.

Exactly. I'm reminded of Tina Turner's song, "What's Love Got to Do With It?"

Lapinbizarre said...

The Church is reaping what it sowed (serious loss of respect and influence) in the women bishops debacle. The Prime Minister has included places of worship - excluded in earlier drafts of legislation under pressure from, among others, the Anglican & RC churches - as permissible locations for same-sex marriages, and has not consulted the churches before making the change. Under the earlier draft, places of worship were specifically excluded as acceptable locales and even denominations, such as Unitarians and Quakers, that wished to conduct on-premises same-sex weddings, were not permitted to do so. Under the revised form, about which the C of E is mewling, no denomination or congregation may be compelled to make its premises available against its will, so they're actually blowing hot air about nothing.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Lapin, I know. What are the powers in the Church of England crying about? It seems that not only must the CofE be exempt from equality laws, but they want to control what other denominations do. I don't get it, truly. And sensible people are to swallow this tripe?

JCF said...

I'm told of young males (won't call them men) getting a lesser-animal-like THRILL at (completely unplanned) knocking a girl up. He-man, chest a-thumping.

How much of our politics, civil and religious, come back to this (remembers gross "enhancement" ad) "burst of pride"? Real, or as in the Vatican, sublimated?

Remember how Orwell said Big Brother's worldview was "a boot in the face, forever"? For our "Big Fathers"---Anglican, Roman, Republican---is the worldview a female prone, and preggers? [And a "boot in the face" of everyone, from Feminazis to f@ggots, who stand in the way of The Dream!]

Just a late night rant. On Friday, I saw an SUV with this written on the window: "Keep your guns loaded, a civil war is coming!" (Charming, huh?) And then today, my cousin was buried w/ the "ministrations" of a sectarian priest who turned out to be ACNA. Grumble, grumble... >:-/

Bonnie said...

Thank you and IT for the link. Great article.

Russ Manley said...

Oh this is just so wrong in so many ways. But since you and your readers, Mimi, seem to apprehend that already, I will just say here, unequivocally, that if you're gay - the parts DO fit. Trust me on that.

If they don't, then you're not doing it right.

Anyone needs further guidance, call me.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Rant away, JCF.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Thanks for weighing in, Russ. :-)

Russ Manley said...

PS - On the idea of "complimentarity," see this quote from an article on the couple who brought the first gay-marriage case to the Supreme Court 40 years ago:

"Jack was the politician — outgoing and effective, manipulating the material world," said Roger Lynn, a retired Methodist pastor who performed a marriage ceremony for the men in 1971, and who remains in touch with them occasionally. "Michael was the librarian, detail-oriented, more introverted. They were a good match, and they're still making it work."

Full article:,0,3400774.story

Grandmère Mimi said...

Russ, I'd say the two men are a match, that they are complementary. 40 years proves it.