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Marriage and the purpose of the Faith and Order group’s report

by
19 April 2013

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From the Revd John Whittaker
Sir, - Thank you to the 11 men and four women of the Faith and Order Commission who published their report Men and Women in Marriage with the agreement of the all-men House of Bishops. I do hope the voice of women on a report about men and women was not too squeezed out by sheer weight of numbers.

The voice which certainly was lacking was that of gay men and lesbian women who could safely speak of their experience of same-sex covenant relationships. This assertion is based on the assumption that the 13 ordained members of the committee would speak under the discipline of the Church, which does not allow ordained gay and lesbian people to be in same-sex relationships, and that the two lay members are both in heterosexual marriages, and hence unlikly to speak from the perspective of experiencing same-sex covenant relationship. My apologies if these assumptions are misplaced.

Reading the report, I suspect my concerns about the lack of gay and lesbian voices inputting into the text are not misplaced. If the voice of thousands of Christians in permanent, faithful, covenant same-sex relationships had been present, the report would have been unable to "not affirm those human relationships which fall short of marriage relationships", as the voice of those in same-sex relationships speaks of a quality equal to marriage in mutuality, trust, commitment, and love.

If the voice of Christians in same- sex relationships' having and bring- ing up children were present, those children would not have been chillingly invisible in the report.

And so I cry out to the Church of England which I so love: Please, no more reports on sex, relationships, and marriage, until we are able to hear the voices of all, and particularly the voices of those likely to be most oppressed by the conclusions of the report.

JOHN WHITTAKER
2 The Rills
Hinckley LE10 1NA

From the Revd Andrew Sillis
Sir, - Commentary regarding the recent statement from the Faith and Order Commission has demonstrated much frustration and disappointment with the commission, but I believe that folk are expecting too much of them.

The Faith and Order Commission were asked to produce a "summary statement of the Church of England's understanding of marriage", not a description of what it ought to be in the future.

They have commended this for "study". I expect campaigners for equal marriage will be able to use the areas of argument which the document sets out to argue how equal marriage is compatible with our tradition. From there, proper reflection can be completed, and decisions about the future taken.

It will always be the case that official statements and publications lag behind the general direction and discernment of the Church on any subject.

ANDREW SILLIS
Chaplain, Anglican Chaplaincy of St Boniface, Bonn, with All Saints, Cologne
Koblenzer Str. 85
53177 Bonn-Bad Godesberg
Germany

From the Revd David Chillman
Sir, - In your leader column, you state that "The kindest thing to do with the new report Men and Women in Marriage is to ignore it" (Leader Comment, 12 April). That may be the kindest thing, but it is certainly not the right response.

This document needs to be pilloried for the nonsense that it is, and must certainly not be allowed to become the "official" Church of England position. It is so full of cod-theology and cod-sociology that it should be released into the North Sea to restock our diminishing cod supplies and help feed the nation. Perhaps from now on, the Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth should sign himself as "Captain Birdseye".

DAVID CHILLMAN
43 Church Road
Bagshot
Surrey
GU19 5EQ

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