From Canon Robert
Sir, - When the Church of
England first published its response to the Government's
consultation on same-sex marriage, there was widespread dismay.
Although the official statement reiterated previous teaching, it
did not capture the range of opinion that exists within the Church
on this subject, especially at a time when views are being
reappraised. Therefore, many objected to the statement, saying "Not
in my name."
This dismay will be
reinforced as people read a new statement (issued on 7 December)
responding to the Prime Minister's words on the same subject. Once
again, the statement claims to be a response from the Church of
England, and yet it neither names the author nor respects the range
of views that are held with passion and conviction within the
What is worse is that it
bases much of its argument on the notion of complementarity, a word
that caused serious friction in the recent debate on women bishops.
Then, "complementarity" became a buzz-word for telling women that
they were subordinate to men, as though gender difference settled
all moral and relational questions.
The statement claims that
support for same-sex marriage is to assert that men and women are
simply interchangeable individuals. This claim is simplistic,
naïve, and untrue. The author would do well to avoid contentious
terms and articulate arguments more clearly.
But the worse part of the
statement comes when the author warns the Government from moving
forward with legislation without an overwhelming mandate from the
people. Is this irony intentional, or does the author not know that
the Church is, at the moment, hardly in a position to offer such
Holy Trinity Rectory
9 Eastgate Gardens
Guildford, Surrey GU1 4AZ
From Mr Colin
Sir, - The Church of England
has admitted in its statement made on 7 December that "to change
the nature of marriage for everyone will . . . deliver no obvious
legal gains given the rights already conferred by civil
partnerships": that is, in terms of what the ceremonies symbolise
and the rights that that subsequently confers, there is no
difference between marriage and civil partnerships.
This is my reading of the
situation as well: we don't need legislation for gay marriage,
because it already exists, except we call it something different
for those who - either through personal prejudice or adherence to a
prejudiced God or scripture - cannot face or accept that reality.
All we need is some honesty, and either to acknowledge civil
partnerships as marriages or vice versa.
The rest of the Church's
statement simply makes sweeping claims with no argument or detail
to back them up.
contributes to the common good, but we are not told how; neither
does it explain how gay marriage would work against the common
good. It claims that excluding gay people from marriage is for "the
good of all in society", though again doesn't explain how -
particularly for gay people themselves.
How can a body that holds
that "there is no longer male or female" in its own sphere, "as all
are one in Christ" (Galatians 3.28), nevertheless hold that sexual
difference is important for what it acknowledges as a "social
Sadly, the lack of logic and
argument in the statement seems to suggest that this is exactly
what it claims it isn't: knee-jerk resistance to change. The worry
is that, in being faithful to the social and familial tradition of
its roots, the Church is increasingly seen as more inconsequential,
and removed from the generation where it is now called to witness
85 York Road, London E4 8LA