Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Lambeth Conference: Resolutions on Sex, Marriage, Birth-Control and Abortion, 1908 and 1930.

(It will be noticed that in both 1908 and 1930 there is a high doctrine of marriage as a one flesh union for life; resistance to acceptance of remarriage in church after divorce; rejection of abortion; and, interestingly, total opposition to artificial birth control in 1908 and then limited acceptance of it in 1930 —this acceptance was the first official Protestant embrace of artificial birth control and led to the response of Pope Pius XI with Casti Connubii, four months later. If it difficult to imagine a resolution opposing either artificial birth control or remarriage in church after divorce in the forthcoming Lambeth Conference of 2008—in fact, up to a quarter of the bishops present will be in favor of blessing of same-sex partnerships.)

(a) 1908

Resolution 39
This Conference reaffirms the Resolution of the Conference of 1888 as follows:
(a) That, inasmuch as our Lord's words expressly forbid divorce, except in the case of fornication or adultery, the Christian Church cannot recognise divorce in any other than the excepted case, or give any sanction to the marriage of any person who has been divorced contrary to this law, during the life of the other party.
(b) That under no circumstances ought the guilty party, in the case of a divorce for fornication or adultery, to be regarded, during the lifetime of the innocent party, as a fit recipient of the blessing of the Church on marriage.
(c) That, recognising the fact that there always has been a difference of opinion in the Church on the question whether our Lord meant to forbid marriage to the innocent party in a divorce for adultery, the Conference recommends that the clergy should not be instructed to refuse the sacraments or other privileges of the Church to those who, under civil sanction, are thus married.

Resolution 40
When an innocent person has, by means of a court of law, divorced a spouse for adultery, and desires to enter into another contract of marriage, it is undesirable that such a contract should receive the blessing of the Church.
Voting: for 87; against 84.

Resolution 41
The Conference regards with alarm the growing practice of the artificial restriction of the family, and earnestly calls upon all Christian people to discountenance the use of all artificial means of restriction as demoralising to character and hostile to national welfare.

Resolution 42
The Conference affirms that deliberate tampering with nascent life is repugnant to Christian morality.

Resolution 43
The Conference expresses most cordial appreciation of the services rendered by those medical men who have borne courageous testimony against the injurious practices spoken of, and appeals with confidence to them and to their medical colleagues to co-operate in creating and maintaining a wholesome public opinion on behalf of the reverent use of the married state.


Resolution 10
The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex
The Conference believes that in the exalted view of marriage taught by our Lord is to be found the solution of the problems with which we are faced. His teaching is reinforced by certain elements which have found a new emphasis in modern life, particularly the sacredness of personality, the more equal partnership of men and women, and the biological importance of monogamy.

Resolution 11
The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex
The Conference believes that it is with this ideal in view that the Church must deal with questions of divorce and with whatever threatens the security of women and the stability of the home. Mindful of our Lord's words, "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder," it reaffirms "as our Lord's principle and standard of marriage a life-long and indissoluble union, for better or worse, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, and calls on all Christian people to maintain and bear witness to this standard."*

In cases of divorce:

1. The Conference, while passing no judgement on the practice of regional or national Churches within our Communion, recommends that the marriage of one, whose former partner is still living, should not be celebrated according to the rites of the Church.

2. Where an innocent person has remarried under civil sanction and desires to receive the Holy Communion, it recommends that the case should be referred for consideration to the bishop, subject to provincial regulations.

3. Finally, it would call attention to the Church's unceasing responsibility for the spiritual welfare of all her members who have come short of her standard in this as in any other respect, and to the fact that the Church's aim, individually and socially, is reconciliation to God and redemption from sin. It therefore urges all bishops and clergy to keep this aim before them.

Resolution 12
The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex
In all questions of marriage and sex the Conference emphasises the need of education. It is important that before the child's emotional reaction to sex is awakened, definite information should be given in an atmosphere of simplicity and beauty. The persons directly responsible for this are the parents, who in the exercise of this responsibility will themselves need the best guidance that the Church can supply.

During childhood and youth the boy or the girl should thus be prepared for the responsibilities of adult life; but the Conference urges the need of some further preparation for those members of the Church who are about to marry.

To this end the Conference is convinced that steps ought to be taken:
1. to secure a better education for the clergy in moral theology;

2. to establish, where they do not exist, in the various branches of the Anglican Communion central councils which would study the problems of sex from the Christian standpoint and give advice to the responsible authorities in diocese or parish of theological college as to methods of approach and lines of instruction;

3. to review the available literature and to take steps for its improvement and its circulation.

Resolution 13
The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex
The Conference emphasises the truth that sexual instinct is a holy thing implanted by God in human nature. It acknowledges that intercourse between husband and wife as the consummation of marriage has a value of its own within that sacrament, and that thereby married love is enhanced and its character strengthened. Further, seeing that the primary purpose for which marriage exists is the procreation of children, it believes that this purpose as well as the paramount importance in married life of deliberate and thoughtful self-control should be the governing considerations in that intercourse.

Resolution 14
The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex
The Conference affirms:

1. the duty of parenthood as the glory of married life;

2. the benefit of a family as a joy in itself, as a vital contribution to the nation's welfare, and as a means of character-building for both parents and children;

3. the privilege of discipline and sacrifice to this end.

Resolution 15
The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex
Where there is clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, the method must be decided on Christian principles. The primary and obvious method is complete abstinence from intercourse (as far as may be necessary) in a life of discipline and self-control lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless in those cases where there is such a clearly felt moral obligation to limit or avoid parenthood, and where there is a morally sound reason for avoiding complete abstinence, the Conference agrees that other methods may be used, provided that this is done in the light of the same Christian principles. The Conference records its strong condemnation of the use of any methods of conception control from motives of selfishness, luxury, or mere convenience.
Voting: For 193; Against 67.

Resolution 16
The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex
The Conference further records its abhorrence of the sinful practice of abortion.

Resolution 17
The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex
While the Conference admits that economic conditions are a serious factor in the situation, it condemns the propaganda which treats conception control as a way of meeting those unsatisfactory social and economic conditions which ought to be changed by the influence of Christian public opinion.

Resolution 18
The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex
Sexual intercourse between persons who are not legally married is a grievous sin. The use of contraceptives does not remove the sin. In view of the widespread and increasing use of contraceptives among the unmarried and the extention of irregular unions owing to the diminution of any fear of consequences, the Conference presses for legislation forbidding the exposure for sale and the unrestricted advertisement of contraceptives, and placing definite restrictions upon their purchase.

Resolution 19
The Life and Witness of the Christian Community - Marriage and Sex
Fear of consequences can never, for the Christian, be the ultimately effective motive for the maintenance of chastity before marriage. This can only be found in the love of God and reverence for his laws. The Conference emphasises the need of strong and wise teaching to make clear the Christian standpoint in this matter. That standpoint is that all illicit and irregular unions are wrong in that they offend against the true nature of love, they compromise the future happiness of married life, they are antagonistic to the welfare of the community, and, above all, they are contrary to the revealed will of God.

-- The Revd Dr Peter Toon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, Dr. Toon. It was interesting to see these resolutions after reading "A Short & Surprising History of Protestantism & Contraception" in this month's Touchstone magazine, which mentioned both conferences.

I'm wondering what this means from the 1930 conference: "the sacredness of personality". Is this of theological substance, or the creeping of secular worldviews into the church?