Adventus

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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Rule Britannia



The news is that Great Britain has (or almost has) approved of same sex marriages.  When I heard, I immediately wondered what the C of E and it's new A of C thought about it.


I figured:

When Justin Welby formally began his tenure as Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday, he managed to pique the ire of lesbian and gay Anglicans and their allies in the UK by highlighting his opposition to marriage equality on the grounds that the matter is off-putting to the balance of the Anglican Communion outside of the UK, who remain forcefully committed to the notion that marriage is “between one man and one woman.”

Much as I agree that this is a matter of "the prophetic calling of an engaged Christianity," my sympathies are with the new Archbishop.  Archbishops, like pastors everywhere, aren't really called to be prophets.  Prophets marry prostitutes and name their children for symbolic purposes ("Blue Ivy" and "Moon Unit" are boring by comparison), or, they have trances and visions, and unlike foxes and birds, have no where to lay their heads.  It's not a life for someone with a family, someone who is, like everyone else in the church, just trying to make a living.

I'm also not all that sympathetic with the people in the church hierarchy who take "prophetic stances" with the Church, as they are seldom the ones who have to work out the messy details down in the local congregations.  It's a pastoral thing, but I sympathize with the pastors and with those whose primary job is to keep the whole communion together, which is rather what pastors are called to do.  Partisan as we may be on the subject of same-sex marriage, who wants a new pastor to take the pulpit and declare to one group "Screw you!  They win, 'cause I agree with 'em!  We're doin' it their way now!"  Especially if that group is not your group.

So I appreciate the A of C's bind.  But I also approve of the PM's action.

Go and please the world.

13 Comments:

Blogger The Thought Criminal said...

As long as it doesn't mean I'll have to marry a Brit.

4:25 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

Partisan as we may be on the subject of same-sex marriage, who wants a new pastor to take the pulpit and declare to one group "Screw you! They win, 'cause I agree with 'em! We're doin' it their way now!" Especially if that group is not your group.

I think the key word here is "new." Presumably, in this day and age, you have been asked to nail your colors to the mast, so to speak, before you get the job.

Before he was hired, my spouse made no bones about the fact that he supported full inclusion of LGBTs in the life and ministry of the church. There are people in his parish who do not agree with this--but they knew how he felt when they hired him. It would be rather churlish of them to insist that--in the name of being pastoral--he renounce his support now that he's employed, wouldn't it?

Justin Welby has already shown himself to be the same kind of coward that Rowan Williams was. So be it. The UK government has shown that it is more Christlike than the Church of England. Hooray for them!

When the government races ahead of the church, no one is being "prophetic." That moment passed a while back. The only question now is "How long can institutional Christianity survive, when it is associated so closely with misogyny and homophobia?"

7:08 PM  
Anonymous Sherri said...

The C of E still hasn't accepted women as bishops, so it's not too surprising that they don't accept same sex marriage. Not exactly the most progressive institution...

7:47 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Justin Welby has already shown himself to be the same kind of coward that Rowan Williams was. So be it. The UK government has shown that it is more Christlike than the Church of England. Hooray for them!

When the government races ahead of the church, no one is being "prophetic." That moment passed a while back. The only question now is "How long can institutional Christianity survive, when it is associated so closely with misogyny and homophobia?"


I'm unsure, but I think the A of C is appointed by...the government?

Curious schizophrenia here. Or maybe a typical split, come to think of it.

And yeah, I'd let the congregation know what I thought important before I took the pulpit, but the A of C isn't exactly chosen by the entire Communion; so he's got a stickier problem. Besides, the government gave him an out: churches in England are not required to recognize same sex marriages.

Which sounds terribly American of them, actually....

(Bottom line: I don't have an answer for this conflict, which seems tailor made to split the Anglican Communion no matter what happens. The only thing I can say in favor of it is that it doesn't involve something as silly as new carpet in the sanctuary; which is a real life example.)

9:15 PM  
Blogger Wormwood's Doxy said...

I'm unsure, but I think the A of C is appointed by...the government?

Curious schizophrenia here. Or maybe a typical split, come to think of it.


Or maybe it's just a good way to pave the path to disestablishment?

All those old buildings are getting really expensive--and it's kind of hard to explain to folks why you are decimating the National Health Service, but you can afford to keep up the Bishops' palaces and all those empty churches. Or why tax dollars should be spent to prop up an institution which openly professes both misogyny and homophobia.

Besides, the government gave him an out: churches in England are not required to recognize same sex marriages.

But it doesn't really matter, does it? The RCs don't recognize divorce and remarriage, and the government hasn't forced them to do so. But people still get divorced and remarried in the civil realm every day.

It will hurt individual members of the CoE who want to be married in their home parishes--and I don't mean to discount that--but the truth is that once same-sex couples are granted full marriage rights, it won't matter a lick whether the CoE recognizes their relationships or not.

Meanwhile, church attendance in Great Britain is at what percentage and falling?

I'm not really arguing with you RMJ. I'm just cranky that, once again, the church has given itself a black eye and made itself look not only ridiculous but cruel.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

I think the CoE is out of line on this, to be sure. When I say the A of C is appointed by the government, I mean to point out the irony of the government trying to have it both ways; and failing.

And as for the "out," it's a lame one. The church needs to go on and recognize these marriages; to not do so is foolish, especially for the "state" church.

It's an interesting set of cockups, is all; and to accept it openly would have given the new ArchB a position from which to challenge the churches which refuse to grant full human status to all of God's children.

It's definitely the half measures that are the problem.

11:20 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Why should the opinion of rest of the Anglican Communion affect legislation on same-sex civil marriage in Britain? Where is the archbishop's pastoral concern for the LGTB members of the Church of England who would like to be married in a civil ceremony?

If the Church of England and Justin Welby did not object to the legislation, they would not be showing prophetic leadership. The majority of the people in England favor same-sex marriage. The leaders of the church would simply be letting the will of the people in the country take its course. The church will not be forced to preside over same-sex marriages. What's their beef?

9:53 PM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Mimi--

I suspect the problem is, it's a state church.

And they really should have just come down on the side of what's right, and been silent if not supportive of the new law. And then used it to recognize same-sex marriages because, well, it's the state church.

Would have been better than this, huh?

11:21 PM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Rmj, you're right that establishment very much affects the statements by the church and the archbishop in ways that I can't possibly understand. The bill, as it stands, bans the Church of England and the Church in Wales from performing same-sex marriages, thus there would be no risk that clergy would be forced to preside at SS weddings.

9:01 AM  
Blogger Rmj said...

Does it ban them? I thought it left them an exit if they chose to take it, by not requiring that they conduct such marriages.

Of course, I could be wrong.....

I do think the A of C had an opening here to begin to move in the right direction on this issue, and he blew it. He may not agree with me that it's the right direction....

9:13 AM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

As I understand, the ban stands unless the churches take steps to remove it.

Justin Welby didn't even throw a bone to the LGTB people in the flock. Apparently, it's just an issue to him. He mentioned nothing about the consequences fot real people.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Rmj said...

He mentioned nothing about the consequences for real people.

Which is always the problem with hierarchies. The further up you go, the more removed from the people you serve you become.

Pretty soon it's all about the institution, and not about the people. In the UCC, that manifests itself in pronouncements from Cleveland ("HQ") which can be directly contrary to the understandings of the laity; but pronouncements must be made!

It's always a struggle....

9:57 AM  
Blogger Grandmère Mimi said...

Thanks for correcting my typo in the quote. I used my "smart" phone to comment, which often produces bad results, as it is not quite smart enough to correct my accidental misspellings when I type on the tiny keypad. :-)

10:29 AM  

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