The motion below -- put forward by the Dioceses of York and Ripon & Leeds, having already been passed by their respective Diocesan Synods -- is to be debated in the second week of February 2004 by the General Synod of the C of E. It surely reflects the loss of confidence in the received doctrine and practice of holy matrimony and also suggests a sense that the Church is not only in the world but is also as far as possible to be of the world -- certainly not against the world.
'That this Synod
(a) believe that the provision in law of a contractual relationship, other than marriage, between two cohabiting adults is socially desirable, that such relationships exist and will continue to exist whether approved by the State and the Church or not and that the absence of a legal contract for such a relationship is a potential cause of injustice and misery; and
(b) request the Archbishops' Council to investigate and explore the issues involved in contractual partnerships, other than marriage, between two cohabiting adults and to report to the General Synod.'
The background paper to this motion gives the following justification:
'For the Church of England marriage is the norm and we might wish that everyone were either married or celibate. But all the social trends show that marriage is less and less the union of choice. The Church of England should support justice and fairness for all, regardless of whether they are living in the kind of partnerships we see as the ideal.'
Apparently the basis of this kind of proposal is that (a) marriage is a relationship and an ideal (note, not a state of life & relation of order commanded by God and required by natural law) and so is an option; (b) the Church should not force its kind of relationship and its ideal on those who do not wish to strive for it; and thus (c) the Church should help people to form the partnerships they desire and help to provide them with a proper legal basis.
What in essence is different here from the ECUSA acceptance of cohabitation of both same-sex and opposite-sex partners? The C of E chases after the ECUSA!
The whole reality of what used to be known as SIN and the HOLY GOD is missing from this kind of thinking. God is there to bless our arrangements if they are sincere and according to what we deem to be peace and justice. We have made God into a Deity who approves of this kind of thing!
It is worth recalling that the British Parliament in this session will also be asked to pass into law provisions for legal rights and protections for “gay” couples. The Church is being asked to provide the Name of God to support the secular provisions of sinful man.
The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon M.A., D.Phil. (Oxon.),
Christ Church, Biddulph Moor & St Anne's, Brown Edge;