Giving up marriage

I was intrigued by the statement made to the Equal Opportunities Committee of the Scottish Parliament of someone representing the Church of Scotland. They seemed to suggest that if they don’t get their way in stopping same-sex marriage then they might stop conducting marriages altogether.

BBC report here:

I think that it is interesting in that there are quite a lot of religious people who talk about getting out of the legal marriage business. It wouldn’t particularly trouble me if we had the same situation as they have in France whereby people get married at the town hall and come to church for a religious ceremony afterwards. I think they would end up just as married before God and state if we had that system in Scotland as they clearly do in France. However, that wholesale system doesn’t appear to be on the cards.

I sometimes find myself wondering whether I will feel comfortable doing marriages (as opposed to weddings) at such a time as the law allows same-sex marriage but the Scottish Episcopal Church doesn’t. I don’t find it difficult to think that it would be reasonable to expect straight couples to go to the registry office and come to church for a service if that is what the Episcopal Church expects of a gay couple in similar circumstances. What’s good for the gander and the gander is surely good for the gander and the goose, as the old proverb would say.

Anyway, well done to Bishop John Armes who was also speaking to that parliamentary committee this morning. Well done particularly for making it so clear that the Scottish Episcopal Church contains people who are strongly in favour of same-sex marriage as well as those who are not. It was just a little bit more helpful than hiding behind the “the church is made up of people who have a diversity of views” which is what we usually get.


  1. Margaret of the Sea of Galilee says

    Once upon a time, long time ago, in a country far away… I tried to get married in the (Presbyterian) Church without getting married by The State. And I “only” wanted to marry a man! I wanted the sight of God, not the eyes of Big Brother; the blessing of my church community not the sanction of the law.
    Not even my radical-est clergy friends would help me with that one. There was only “Blessing on a Civil Marriage” which of course I did not want.

    Maybe a bit of a tangent but it’s a long time since I got a chance to tell the story again.
    And I still think there is a place for people NOT affected by any of this to choose, in protest and solidarity, NOT to marry till the law was not only changed which it (now) has been; but the churches consider themselves equally bound by it.

  2. Peter Nimmo says

    I think you can take it that the Rev Alan Hamilton was flying a kite which most people in the Church of Scotland would rather stayed on the ground!

  3. Augur Pearce says

    My attitude to this is not entirely negative; because I have a certain respect for those churches and ministers (not, so far as I know, in the EC of S) who have said they will not solemnize opposite-sex marriage so long as the possibility of solemnizing same-sex marriage is denied them. If the impression given by the BBC report were indeed the C of S’s position I could not, consistently, condemn it.

    But I’m not sure whether it is. This is the sort of issue where the full statement needs to be read in context. Today’s live stream coverage was of very poor quality so I gave up watching the Committee hearing, and I see the written transcript won’t be out till late tomorrow. It may be worth reading in ful when it appears – – also because today’s evidence included that from a committee of the Scottish Synod of the URC, which I suspect will indicate that parts of my church are much warmer towards the idea of equality than others.

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