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
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
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.
Chaplain, Anglican Chaplaincy of St Boniface, Bonn, with All
Koblenzer Str. 85
53177 Bonn-Bad Godesberg
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".
43 Church Road