Bosco Peters, a priest in New Zealand who blogs at Liturgy.co.nz has offered an open letter to “Anglican Leaders” in the wake of the General Synods tabling of legislation to open the Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (ACANZP) to blessing same-sex civil marriages. In it he calls out the double-standards and hypocrisy concerning LGBT persons, calling out the different ways the debates around remarriage after divorce and the blessing of committed same-sex couples have played out there.
It is possible that we may be able to change our doctrine of marriage (from “life-long” to “intended to be life-long”, for example). My understanding is that such a change of doctrine requires a change to our formularies by the “twice round” process agreed to under the Church of England Empowering Act 1928. As far as I know, our church has not done this. The only thing the church has (to marry divorcees) is a clause in a canon, passed by a simple majority at one sitting of General Synod. This, as you know, is not the appropriate, agreed process to change doctrine. The clause is without foundation and inconsistent with the Act.
If I am correct in these points, then, it seems to me that, for the sake of justice and the integrity of our church and its leadership, if we agree it is God’s will to allow the marriage of divorcees, we must embark on trying to change the teachings of our church on marriage by our own agreed process. We need to be seen to treat moral issues for the majority (heterosexuals) with the same seriousness as our church has been treating moral issues for the minority (homosexuals).
Bosco notes that a copy of his letter was sent to the General Secretary of ACANZP with the request that it be forwarded to members of General Synod Standing Committee and invites anyone else who considers themselves a “leader” there to reply.
Like the recent gathering of the United Methodist Church, leaders in ACANZP have sought to short circuit action in favor of prolonged conversation. One might wonder at the quality of any ‘conversation’ on the issue at this point however and what we expect might change in the intervening years while choices aren’t made.