Same Sex Marriage – where are we now  #pisky #anglican

I felt that many people on all sides of the debate went home from our General Synod with some contentment about what we had done. Some came up to me quietly at the end to say that they appreciated the way in which the process had been shaped.  
My own words of appreciation were about the tone and mood of General Synod – and in particular the graciousness of those who believed that conscience and more meant that they had to vote against the proposed canonical change in respect of Marriage. Several voices from that group expressed appreciation of the specific provisions both canonical and pastoral which had been put in place. The intention of that was to make clear that, even if our church makes a specific decision about the proposed canonical change, we will remain a church whose diversity and mutual respect embraces those who cannot support it.
If we had had more time – and it would have needed a lot of time – we might have undertaken a discussion of the various terms used to describe how we belong together as a church. It’s about the nature of our koinonia. I heard ‘unity in diversity’, of course. I also heard ‘walking together’ and ‘being kind to one another’. They express a continuing commitment to one another in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Not just one day in General Synod, this commitment needs to be lived in graciousness and mutual respect every day.
As many of you know, I approach these descriptions with a degree of caution. On the Anglican Communion front, my heart was warmed by the ‘bonds of affection’ description of the ties which the Communion to cohere without the benefit of a single, central authority. But in the end I think that ‘bonds of affection’ are not quite the same thing as relationship which can sustain difference.
So here is what I think is the situation:
The SEC is in process of considering a change to our Canon on Marriage. The second reading may or may not be approved in 2017. If it is approved, that will represent a decision about our attitude to Same-Sex Marriage.
But our church understands that the ‘other view’ doesn’t disappear just because the General Synod may make a decision. Indeed in this case, the ‘other view’ is held by a majority of members of Anglican Provinces across the Communion. That is a compelling statement – except that the Anglican Communion makes decisions within and through the Instruments of Communion and not by majority voting,
Therefore our commitment to ‘walking together’, ‘unity in diversity’ and the rest mean that we shall continue to be a church which holds differing views of marriage within our life. We shall have a clear position based on the canonical position. But we shall hold, honour and respect a diversity of view in our shared life. And we need to do that every day.

One comment

  1. Dear Bp David
    As you say, some may have gone away from SEC GC 2016 with a degree of contentment. Others, if like me, have a degree of grief and anger which is a challenge in itself, to myself. I do not think you should assume, if you do so assume, that courteous speech implies aquiescence. You say that if the deletion of C31.1 goes ahead, then the SEC will “have a clear position based on the canonical position.” I put it to you that the current canonical position is clear and consistent with itself and with scripture, tradition, reason and the orthodox catholic Christian faith. If it is deleted, it is clear what is rejected, but quite unclear what it has been replaced by or on what grounds. I am completely in the dark as to what actual or hoped for good is supposed to accrue to that tiny minority of the population who take up SSM, let alone anyone else.
    I note that Bp Bob Gillies wrote in his charge to this year’s A & O synod that he did not think the proposed change is in accordance with God’s will. Are you sure that he is wrong about this ? If so, it would be good to know how you reach that conclusion. Maybe you can persuade us. Perhaps you can tell us how Christians have discerned the mind of God wrongly in this matter for 2016 years and the Jews before that ? After all, God is not a man that He should change his mind – so He must have intended this from before creation.
    I would like to bring to your attention what the leaders (who are not called bishops, but who fulfill that role) of Vineyard USA have published in response to similar issues in their group of congegations. It seems to me something of a model of how this should be done.
    It is 90 pages long – not a quick read.
    May God bless you in your difficult and important tasks.
    Nigel Feilden, Inverurie

Comments are closed.