Church of England says marriage equality one of biggest threats in 500 years

The Church of England has responded in harsh terms to the British government's plan to legalize same-gender marriage. The document will be found here when it appears.

Jerome Taylor in The Independent:

The Government’s plan to introduce same-sex marriage is one of the most serious threats to the Church of England in its 500-year history, senior clergy claim.

The Church today outlines its opposition to the Government’s proposals in scathing terms. Anxiety among Church leaders is so acute that they raise the spectre of disestablishment, warning that any attempt to alter the definition of marriage could fatally undermine the Church’s privileged position.

Ever since the reign of Henry VIII the Church of England has been the country’s official religion, facing down threats to its establishment as severe and varied as the Spanish Armada and the English Civil War. That senior clergy have raised concerns about same-sex marriage in a similar context indicates how seriously they view the Government's attempt to redefine marriage – as a potential attack on the role of the Church itself.

Critics have dismissed the Church’s stance as overly dramatic and called on bishops to follow the lead of established religious bodies in Iceland, Sweden and Denmark who largely embraced gay marriage.

Ben Quinn in The Guardian:

The threat of an unprecedented clash between church and state over the issue of gay marriage has opened up after the Church of England delivered an uncompromising warning to the government against pressing ahead with controversial proposals.

Introducing same-sex marriage could lead to the church being forced out of its role of conducting weddings on behalf of the state, the church claimed in a potentially explosive submission in response to the government's consultation on gay marriage, which closes on Thursday.

The submission's warning of a potential clash between canon law – that marriage is between a man and a woman – and that of parliament is likely to put pressure on the prime minister, David Cameron, who has spoken out in support of gay marriage and already come under fire from supporters of the proposals for allowing a free vote amongst Tory MPs.

Thinking Anglicans has the Church of England's media release as well as a round up.

Comments (17)

What will happen if two gay men or two women get married, two men or women got marrie, period, the end

And since when has Love been a threat to the church and to the world?

I'm Straight Against the Hate...

Earth to CofE bishops: it isn't the sixteenth century any more.

I'm amazed they aren't dumbfounded by people driving around in horseless carriages.

Good grief! The senior bishops in the Church of England must be taking lessons in hyperventilation from the Roman Catholic bishops in the US.

June Butler

Perhaps it is time for the church to get out of the marriage business.

Have couples get married civilly and only come to the church to have their union blessed.

Oh for God's sake!

Without benefit of bishops-who-are-women, Oh! The pearl-clutching!

Thank you, CofE bishops {sarcasm/Off}, for making MY task of evangelism to the LGBT community That Much HARDER. >:-(

JC Fisher

Let's see. Threats to the Establishment of the Church of England over the last 500 years:

1) Queen Mary's return of England to Catholicism (1553-1558)
2) The English Civil War (including the execution of Charles I)
3) The potential accession of James II (a Roman Catholic) to the throne in 1688
4) The end of discrimination of nonconformists and then Roman Catholics
5) Industrialization and the massive social change it unleashed
6) The secularization of society

How can gay civil marriage be equated with any of those historical events? One wonders whether the leaders of the CoE have any sense of the Church's history, and its current role and reputation in society. Perhaps it's time for disestablishment, and the opportunity to rethink what it means to be church in a secular, post-Christian culture.

No matter where one stands on the issues of gay marriage, listen to this video/song ..It is to me, indeed a heart-cry by a young person brought up in the Church, and who received blessings of many Sacraments over the years; baptism, confirmation, holy eucharist, etc... and who seems to have a love of God, of Jesus as Redeemer and Savior.. yet, because of her sexual persuasion, she is denied marriage in the Church. I do think this is something that the "Church" needs to look at more closely and give an answer to the good questions raised in this heartfelt song. (hope this link worked?) Jen Dobson- Jesus Loves My Girlfriend

How about we bring the Episcopal Church to the UK? I think they need us.

I am with Peter! Time for TEC to expand into England. Heck they are so deep into appeasing every hysterical party in the church they'd hardly notice we were there.

Perhaps Bp. Whalon and a contingent of TEC clergy could sail over from Normandy.

Our Diocese has been having classes on this getting ready for Convention next month.

Marriage equality is the biggest threat to a church founded by an adulterer who wanted a divorce in 500 years? Sounds like the pot calling the kettle black. Makes me a bit embarrassed to call myself Anglican.

Perhaps this is one of those 500 year "rummage sale" moments that Phyllis Tickle talks about when the Church has a rummage sale to rid iteslf of old things and ideas.

After our recent experiences with the proposed Covenant, it is ironic indeed that the drafters of the CoE document frostily declare of the Consultation Exercise, "The document expresses the issues in prejudicial terms which pre-empt the principles on which it purports to consult."

The other amusing thing about the CoE document is the juxtaposition of the erudite phrasing with the endless string of illogical arguments and unsupported conclusions, including the early resort to the playground every-else-does-it argument, the invocation of the 1662 prayer book (the irony of which appears lost on the authors), the assertion that the "inherited understanding of marriage contributes a vast amount to the common good," or the references to biology as an argument in support of marriage.

In short, the CoE paper is a hot mess and a sorry case of prejudice hiding behind the mask of learning.

Eric Bonetti

If TEC can expand into England, then there should be no argument whatsoever about ACNA being part of the communion. The "no crossing borders" argument goes out the window.

Sorry the AMIE - Anglican Mission in England - already has a head start.

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