*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Not strained; Plea for justice

by
17 February 2017

Not strained
A CODA to the Bishops’ report on marriage and same-sex relation­­­ships: since its publication, contrasts have been drawn between their policies on the blessing of same-sex unions and on marriage after divorce. Last Sunday’s Gospel brought this to the fore again: Christ’s direction is unequivocal, and preachers, most of whom would have been addressing people who have entered into a second marriage, will have tried to explain the apparent discrepancy between this text and current Anglican pastoral prac­tice. Many will probably have spoken of forgiveness, the word that Dr Malcolm Brown used in his article last week to disqualify any analogy between the situation of divorced and same-sex couples. It would be outrageous, he argued, to suggest that gay partners were seeking forgiveness or confessing a failure.

Similarly, however, there are circumstances in which it would be outrageous to use such language of someone seeking a second marriage after an unhappy first one: marriage break­down has many causes, and spouses can be divorced against their will. It is mercy, not forgiveness, that is at the heart of Pope Francis’s struggle with reactionary elements in his Church, and mercy is the quality at issue here, even when it is unrecognised by those who are already exercising it. By seeking to find ways to admit couples in prohibited marriages to communion, the Pope has been seeking to avoid the legalism of those who would regard them primarily as adulterers. In agreeing, in certain circum­stances, to bless or even solemnise marriages contracted after divorce, C of E pastors take a different approach, but are effective­ly exercising mercy by dispensing a party to a previous marriage from at least some aspects of the earlier vows. Since all human activity operates under God’s mercy, and no relationship survives without it, it is difficult to see why, by thinking more along these lines, the Church of England’s bishops could not develop new means of exercising the same quality towards people who find themselves attracted to the same sex.

 

Plea for justice
THE current argument about the failure of the Government to honour Lord Dubs’s amendment feels like a squabble over scraps. Lord Dubs had attempted to undermine the Govern­ment’s hard-heartedness by appealing to the UK’s history of welcome and its love of children. This, in turn, was undermined by hostile coverage of resourceful teenagers — who deserved to be praised and nurtured, not vilified. The Government clearly felt bumped into making the offer, and has quietly (until last week’s publicity) capped the figure at 350. But by far the greatest hardship is felt by the many thousands of adult refugees in camps in countries such as Greece, who can ill afford to care for them. The UK’s continuing refusal to help is shameful.

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

Forthcoming Events

6-7 September 2022
Preaching as Pilgrimage conference
From the College of Preachers.

27-28 September 2022
humbler church Bigger God conference
The HeartEdge Conference in Manchester includes the Theology Slam Live Final.

More events

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)