Gay marriage in church?
This is untrue.
Equalities Minister Lynne Featherstone is preparing a Bill to allow all religious venues – churches, synagogues, mandirs, gurdwaras and mosques to perform homosexual unions if they wish, and to permit sacred scriptures and religious paraphernalia to be used in civil partnership ceremonies. There is no compulsion or coercion of anyone, and the state is not redefining marriage, for it cannot.
His Grace will now horrify and disappoint the vast majority of his readers and communicants and declare that he fully endorses this development.
The prohibition on the use of pseudo-spiritual poems in civil ceremonies is absurd: it amounts to state censorship and an enforced division between the private realm of spiritual belief and the public realm of political policy. If consenting adults wish to read the Bible, the Qur’an, the Gita, the Upinishads or a divine piece of Shakespeare as they make their vows, that should be a matter for them. We do not have a tradition of laïcité in the country, and the fundamentalist secularisation of society amounts to the systematic elimination of all religion from public life. Conservatives should see such a violation of conscience and property rights as utterly abhorrent.
And if two consenting adult Muslims wish to trundle off to their local mosque to get their gay-friendly imam to pray Allah’s blessing upon their happy union whilst facing towards Mecca and declaring the greatness of God and the eternal prophethood of Mohammed, that really ought to be a matter for the contracting parties and the president of the ceremony. In the pantheon of gods amidst the plethora of religious manifestations, the state does not define what is religiously permissible and what is prohibited, unless it transgress the law of the land. Having legalised civil partnership, it is bizarre to permit ceremonies to be performed in the Palace of Westminster whilst barring them from Finsbury Park Mosque. The state should have no interest other than in the licence of partnership by which property rights may be determined in law.
This is not simply a matter for the Church: although, as the established faith of the nation, with 26 bishops sitting in the Upper House, it is overwhelmingly so. Yet the Labour peer, Waheed Alli, who is a gay Muslim, has been more vocal on this matter than most of the lord-bishops. His proposal to permit the introduction of religious texts and language into same-sex civil partnerships should be welcomed, for it is no business of the state to sanctify what many may consider profane: it is a matter of religious liberty.
But His Grace would like to make a few things clear:
There is perhaps a justifiable concern that this development will lead to demands by militant homosexuals – the homosexualists, who are intent on terrorising Christians and the destruction of the traditional family – to get ‘married’ in a church (perceived to be the weakest religious institution and so the most vulnerable to legal challenge). Such a request will be rejected by a local vicar with the support of his bishop, and the church will be embroiled in a plethora of anti-discrimination lawsuits.
The homosexualists will not, of course, take on their local mosque.
And they are also likely to leave the Roman Catholic Church well and truly alone.
It is the Established Church they are out to destroy, and so will be encouraged in their quest by the National Secular Society and the British Humanist Association, whose aims and objectives happen to coincide with the homosexualist agenda. Parliament must address this head-on, and place an assurance in the Statute Book that the exercising of the religious conscience cannot be a violation of equality legislation. In short, Parliament must assert freedom of religion, not simply sustain freedom of worship.
Secondly, marriage cannot be redefined by a mere Act of Parliament, for it is God’s ordinance and not man’s. As Anglican Mainstream observe:
‘Civil partnerships are not marriage. The legal protections available to civil partnerships should not be confused with marriage. Marriage between a man and a woman is God's provision for human flourishing. Research has shown that it offers the best environment for the care and nurture of children and family stability which our society needs today.’It is Parliament which has approved and licensed His Grace’s Prayer Book for common usage and this contains the marriage liturgy which clearly defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Unless Parliament is intent on foisting a whole new liturgy of marriage on the Church and redefining what has been orthodox Christian belief for millennia, there can be no move to reclassify civil partnership as marriage.
Thirdly, there are the unintended consequences of tampering with the traditional definition of marriage. Some of them may be known unknowns, like state-approved polygamy or heterosexual divorce versus civil partnership ‘dissolution’. In cases of non-consummation, a heterosexual couple may legitimately divorce. But civil partners do not consummate their union. If they are to become ‘married’, may they divorce on all terms equal with heterosexuals? If so, may non-consummation become an indisputable reason in the courts? The unknown unknowns will be even more interesting, and will undoubtedly give rise to insurmountable hurdles and unresolvable conflicts.
Johann Hari gives an glimpse into the future, of a time when consenting incestuous behaviour is no business of the state.
His Grace notes that his successor in the See of Canterbury has been decidedly trappist on this dog’s breakfast, leaving it to the Archbishop of York to articulate the Church’s view. He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show: “I live in a liberal democracy and I want equality for everybody. I cannot say the Quakers shouldn’t do it. Nor do I want somebody to tell me the Church of England must do it or the Roman Catholic Church must do it because actually that is not what equality is about.”