Church backs ‘Men and Women in Marriage’
Mr Cameron’s sudden conversion to being a passionate believer in ‘gay marriage’, dramatically announced at last year’s Conservative Party Conference to a stunned audience, may have been caused by his opinion pollster, Andrew Cooper. An ‘ultra-moderniser’, he convinced Mr Cameron that ‘gay marriage’ was the sure fire way to win votes, despite a few grumbles. Mr Cooper is now leaving Number 10 to rejoin Populus, the polling company, since his advice proved to be catastrophically bad, alienating a huge segement of former Conservative voters. The point to be gleaned for the Church is that a core social ethical institution has been radicalised by an opinion pollster, and purely for party political reasons. Can this be justified?
Mr Cameron is forcing through this change to the UK’s historic social institution, the state is coercing society: in contradiction to his ‘big society’ manifesto message. Any such change should have been placed in his next election manifesto for the people to decide, not an opinion pollster of a politically correct persuasion. Likewise Mr Cameron has said several times that he wants to support the Established Church: in fact he has coerced it and worsened its problems of handling division over homosexuality considerably. It is probably true that ‘establishment’ is now threatened, since no Christian Church can accept having its theological ethics decided by the state, Hitler was the last European leader to try that policy. The lawyers are clearly worried that the Church needs to keep in step with government legislation on civil partnerships and marriage.
The Faith and Order Advisory Commission of General Synod, a body composed of bishops and academics, has produced ‘Men and Women in Marriage’ as a positive statement of Christian marriage, reinforcing the previous statement by the bishops that ‘marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation’, is ‘a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman’ and ‘is central to the stability and health of human society’. But homosexuality is presenting problems, compared to that of divorce and polygamy, in the FOAC paper. These are dealt with ‘pastorally’ and in person. Marriage cannot be redefined to solve this issue. Rather ‘a degree of flexibility’ may be called for in upholding marriage and helping those caught up in problematic patterns of life – as for missionaries dealing with polygamous wives as kindly as possible. FOAC says the Church can ‘devise accommodations’ on an individual basis. This looks like Roman Catholic and Orthodox confessional practice for individuals. But the goal of that is that the penitent accommodates herself to God’s revealed ways, not the other way round – although priests say that very many homosexual partnerships are in fact accepted in this secret system. And the state created ‘civil partnerships’, these must be recognised by the Church or state prosecution could occur: are these to compel ‘accommodations’ - gradually overturning the excellent doctrine of the FOAC paper, in practice? At least the paper upholds Christian marriage.