And here is my own response

Here is my own response to the Government Consultation on Civil Partnership and Same-Sex Marriage.

It differs quite a lot, particularly in the sections on Civil Partnership, from the submission from St Mary’s Vestry which I posted earlier and which was reported on the BBC Website amongst other places.

The nub of the matter for me is opening up marriage to same-sex couples. I think that tinkering with Civil Partnership to allow it to be registered in church is a side-show.

Here’s how I answered the substantive question on marriage:

I long to be able to perform marriages for same-sex couples. I belong to a congregation where the majority view is believed to be in favour of conducting such ceremonies. I acknowledge that there are some people in my congregation for whom this would be a troubling development and consider it part of my job to help people with different religious views to be able to co-exist happily together.

I believe marriage to be sacramental – in other words, I believe that a marriage has the potential to show forth God’s grace in the world. I believe that gay couples have the potential to show that grace in the same way that opposite sex couples can do. Thus, I am in favour of marriage being opened to same-sex couples because of my religious convictions.

As a gay man I would like to be able to be married should I ever meet the right partner.

If I were unable to marry because of the law, I would feel that the law was sponsoring discrimination against me because of my sexuality and my gender.

If I were unable to marry in church because of the law but could be married elsewhere, I would feel that the law was sponsoring discrimination against me because of my religion.

If I were allowed by law to marry but refused by my church then I would believe that I was the victim of church sponsored discrimination.

I am actively working with others to change my own denomination in order that it will be able to take advantage of the proposed changes in the law in this area. Having seen how much the Scottish Episcopal Church has already changed its beliefs about marriage, its wedding liturgies and in its acceptance of gay clergy, it is not difficult for me to imagine a church where discrimination against gay people is a thing of the past. I think that bringing the church to a position where marriages can be celebrated between two people of the same sex will be achieved very soon.

It is a relatively simple matter to change Canon Law. The church does it all the time. Though it takes a couple of years to do so and involves great discussion throughout the church, it is a process which is constantly in use and with which many people in the church are familiar.

I believe that the change that the church has made in recognising a that a couple getting married is formed of two equal people entering into a mutual loving relationship rather than being a matter of property whereby a woman was handed over from one owner (her father) to a new one (her husband) is far more significant than the change needed to allow the church to agree to marry a same-sex couple.

The consultation closes tonight (Friday) at midnight. The easiest way to respond is through the Equal Marriage website. It takes about 5 minutes to respond on that site. Alternatively there is the full consultation response, which can be found here.


  1. william says

    Kelvin – is it just my IT ineptitude or was it that your earlier ‘yawn’ gave way to sleep after question 9!!

    • william says

      I had hoped my question might have prompted you to give your respose for question 10 ff, but maybe you have your own reasons for stopping at q9.
      I see your very carefully reasoned response makes the case very strongly in terms of equality and anti discrimination [whether from church or nation].
      But surely that approach, and I accept that it is the majority one in today’s society, only stands up if this whole matter is an equality issue.
      I think Stonewall etc have argued a brilliant case to turn this into an equality matter, but while they have convinced society they have made little impact on the christian church, generally.
      We have not yet heard it argued that the male has had his equality threatened because only the female can bear children. We still seem to accept that that is purely and simply
      a male/female distinction.
      The church, in general, begins at a different starting point,namely, that male and female are complementary and not equal. So the church, in general, begins from the divine provision by the creator of the marriage relationship precisely in the light of that complementarity.
      The church therefore has not been persuaded that equality is even an issue, far less the foundation of the current homosexual debate.
      If that presupposition was granted, rather than the one you assume, your arguments would fall – but, the issue would not thereby disappear! We would just need to argue the case differently.
      It appears as if the world has managed to squeeze you into its mould.

      • No William

        In all my work I presume that women and men are equal.

        So do the Canons of the Scottish Episcopal Church.

        There is no sense of complimentarity of gender in our new marriage liturgy. The protagonists are treated as equals and are expected to treat one another as equals.

        What you say about the church either locally or provincially is simply not true.

      • “”””””””while they have convinced society they have made little impact on the christian church, generally.”””””””

        William, whilst acknowledging that history is not one of your strong points, I’m sure you know that the C of S opposed the legalisation of homosexuality in 1980, for the same “theological” “reasons” that you yourself are a fan of. How many members of the Kirk would, now, in 2011, call for gay people to be locked up? Not many, I’d wager. The world only spins forward. I’m sure that a good protestant like yourself would agree that a dispassionate look at the history of the Church provides plenty examples of people thinking all sorts of prejudice to be not only permissible but divinely mandated.

  2. william says

    Sorry Kelvin – theologically you have just got it wrong.
    Quite simply in the Church of Jesus Christ male and female are not equal. Any more than God the Father and God the Son are equal. Neither is one superior to the other, nor one inferior to the other. It’s just the wrong word to use.
    Complementarity is at the very heart of God’s creation; it is at the very heart of the Trinity.
    This has always been the understanding within the Church of Jesus Christ. In particular you can see this from the arguments put forward by the RC wing, in this matter.
    I realise your presumption [“In all my work I presume that women and men are equal.”], it is writ large in your Response.
    But within the Church of Jesus Christ that is not where to start.
    But I am also saying that does not resolve this particular tension within society, and to a lesser extent within the Church. We have still to find the right way forward in the whole area of homosexuality, as it manifests itself in our day – because we are all image bearers of the divine, so we are all infinitely precious to Him, even equally whether male or female.

    • William, I’ve been pretty patient with your rudeness for a while.

      That patience is wearing a little thin at the moment.

      I can speak for myself. I sometimes speak on behalf of my congregation. I also know a fair bit about the polity of the Scottish Episcopal Church and most (though not all) of the time feel free to comment on that. As to what the Church of Jesus Christ thinks, all I can so is humbly bow in the face of the diversity of history and the extravagent blessings that God seems determined to bestow on the church of today in its many splendoured miscellany.

      Please don’t presume to lecture me about whether or not I’m in the Church of Jesus Christ (I think I am in and don’t really care much whether you think I’m misrepresenting that church to the world). Also, I’d be grateful if you didn’t presume to tell me what the theological principles of that church are.

      We appear to be hearing a little more about the Church of Jesus Christ Williamite (continuing) than anything I belong to. If you want to make those kind of grand theological statements, I suggest that the proper place for them is a blog (or a denomination) of your own.

  3. william says

    Kelvin – It’s very sad that rather than engage in debate we hide behind terms like – rudeness, patience
    I have said nothing that could even remotely be described[nor was it ever intended]
    as rudeness.
    Perhaps the use of ‘williamite’ fits the category.
    Surely the way to tackle ‘diversity’ is mature theological/biblical debate with respect and even warmth? In terms of both the nature and function of the trinity within the church there is ample scope for such.

  4. “”””””I have said nothing that could even remotely be described[nor was it ever intended]
    as rudeness.”””””

    William, appearing to assume that anyone who disagrees with your OPINION ON theological matters is ignorant *of* theology, is rude, especially when aimed at actual, y’know, clergy.

    Although positing “diversity” as a problem to be tackled (!) suggests that you do not, perhaps, actually understand the concept.

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