Archive for the ‘Marriage’ Category

postheadericon Bishops declare ‘No biblical support for changing stance on marriage’

The Church of England’s decision against ‘taking note’ of a report on sexuality (15th February 2017) will result in ‘increasing division’, according to two bishops, The Bishops of Maidstone and Blackburn have called for a ‘rediscovery and reintroduction of the Bible’ after the General Synod voted against the report which both backed the biblical definition of marriage and called for “maximum freedom” for homosexual people,

Following the vote, The Archbishops of Canterbury and York released a joint letter which called for “radical new Christian inclusion in the Church” and “a proper 21 st century understanding of being human and of being sexual”,

The Rt Revd Rod Thomas and the Rt Revd Julian Henderson have responded to Archbishops’ letter by saying they are “completely unpersuaded that there is any Biblical warrant for the Church to change its doctrine of marriage”,

In a letter to the Church of England Newspaper, the two bishops expressed their concerns that “the recent General Synod debate will generate the development of pastoral practice that is completely at odds with Scripture and we plead with the proponents of change not to impair their communion with those who support the Church’s current teaching”,

Their letter also said: “In this year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, we do well to recall the rediscovery and reintroduction of the Bible in the sixteenth century to the beliefs and practices of the Church, re-forming the people of God according to His Word,”

Bishop Thomas has previously highlighted that a number of bishops have called for the C of E “to be more affirming” of same-sex relationships following the General Synod,

He said that these bishops view the Church “as being on a trajectory towards change,” But Bishop Thomas believes that: “Evangelicals in the Church of England are on a different trajectory,” He went on to say that “loving friendships between people of the same sex are given great value” in scripture, but added that “sexual intimacy is only ever commended in the context of marriage between a man
and a woman”,

Bishop Thomas warned that the Church cannot “sit loose to what the Bible teaches and then expect its mission to thrive”,

The C of E’s stance has also been criticlsed by a group of conservative Anglicans who said it was “very distressing to see such confusion” within the Church,

GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) warned that there is a “great gulf between the morality of the Bible and the neo-pagan sexual morality that is now dominant in the West”,

GAFCON Chairman Archbishop Nicholas Okoh said in a statement: “We need to be as clear today as the apostles were to the churches of the New Testament that new life in Christ means a radical break with the practices and lifestyle of the world,”

Christian Institute, 14th March 2017

 

postheadericon Academic claims that traditional marriage vows should be replaced

Traditional marriage vows would be better replaced by a fixed-term contract, an author and academic has claimed.

Jeanette Winterson entered a same-sex marriage in 2015, despite previously being “unsure about gay marriage”. Writing in The Guardian, Professor Winterson claimed that a lifelong commitment is “too long for most of us” and “that needs to be recognised”. “I want to stay with Susie, and I hope I can, but I would have preferred to sign up for 10 years because ‘for ever’ makes me panic”, she wrote.

Campaign group Coalition for Marriage said it had always warned that, “once marriage was redefined for same-sex couples, there would be further redefinitions down the line”. “We need to continue speaking out for the true definition of marriage – the voluntary union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others”. The concept of a ‘fixed-term marriage’ must be firmly resisted. Marriage requires total commitment, not temporary assent”, the group stated.

Under the headline: “Jeanette Winterson: we need to be more imaginative about modern marriage”, the professor also attacked organised religion. “If we are to reform marriage, the first and most important step is to nullify the power of religion to dictate the rights of individuals over their own bodies. And over their own hearts.”

She added: “We are all living longer, and not all of us can stay with that same one person for ever. Marriage has always been a contract, so why not discuss fixed-term contracts? “A fixed term might allow both parents to feel less pressure and more responsibility”, she said, questioning whether traditional vows amount to “liberation or a life sentence”.

In 2015, a columnist at The Herald newspaper praised marriage as best for children and individuals. Colette Douglas Home said that the “social experiment” of raising children in different arrangements had shown that marriage is best for all.

Christian Institute – 19th April 2017

postheadericon It’s time for the Church of England to lay down the law on marriage

It’s time for the Church of England to lay down the law on marriage

Wednesday’s [15th February 2017] vote in Synod was not a victory for the LGBT lobby. In whatever way that vote in synod is spun, the real issue is not about same-sex marriage but about the authority of the Bible in the Church of England. The effect of the vote is that there is no change in doctrine or practice. Marriage remains, as it has for all Christendom, a lifelong union between a man and a woman. This moment presents a great opportunity for the House of Bishops to embrace that truth and to act to uphold it firmly within the Church, disciplining those who would seek to abandon the authority of the Bible, and whose actions will eventually bring down the Church by actively denying that truth.

The Bishops’ Report on Marriage and Same Sex Relationships was in danger of weakening the Church’s teaching. It sought to hold together two positions that are irreconcilable – the orthodox position holding to the teaching of Jesus Christ, and the alternative which seeks to revise his teaching by insisting on acceptance of same-sex marriage.

People in society expect the Church to believe and teach the Bible. What other authority can the Church have? Moreover, God’s people are called to be “set apart” and clergy are supposed to be examples to their people. Today, however, a crucial faultline has opened up in the Church of England because it has permitted those who openly defy the teaching of Jesus into positions of authority and influence. Male clergy who declare to Synod their “marriages” to other men are applauded, despite the fact that this is directly contrary to the Church’s own teaching. The Bishop or Liverpool, and active LGBT campaigner, took to the floor of Synod this week and pleaded with members tacitly to back the report by voting to “take note” of its findings, because the language within it affirmed homosexual relationships. “Our explanation of maximum freedom will take us to places where we have not previously gone,” the bishop said, clearly indicating the direction of travel he intended to take. Such a position runs directly contrary to the teachings of the Church. Yet the Bishop is not even reprimanded.

I wrestled long and hard about whether to vote “take note” of the report. As debate progressed, however, I realised that the LGBT lobby would not stop until it had got full approval in the Church. But the undeniable truth is that the Church can’t give its blessing to same-sex marriages when its sole source of authority does not. The Archbishop of Canterbury himself is clearly wrestling with this contradiction. “To deal with that disagreement, to find ways forward,” he said, “we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. This must be founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology; it must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual … the way forward needs to be about love, joy and celebration of our humanity; of our creation in the image of God, of our belonging to Christ – all of us, without exception, without exclusion.” Of course, it is right to recognise that we are made in the image of God. But we are left with the question what does radical inclusion mean?

Christians are people who believe that Jesus is Lord and that he knows what is best for us. I believe today is a great moment of opportunity for the Church of England. The schism has been laid bare. It is time for the bishops to lead with clarity and authority. The Church of England has a cherished place in the life of our nation and its duty is to speak to government and people of the hope that is found in following Jesus and his words. Either it will flourish by doing so, or it will wither and die, because it capitulates and seeks the approval of the world more than the love of God. Providentially this vote means that the Church’s teaching on marriage is secure. The House of Bishops declared there to be no appetite among them for changing the Church’s official view. Now all we need is for them to follow through by upholding the teaching and, ultimately, disciplining those that brazenly seek to defy it. Jesus Christ proclaimed that marriage is between a man and a woman. It is Him we follow.

Andrea Minichiello Williams is CEO of Christian Concern

 

postheadericon A Christian View: ‘Better outcomes from marriage’

A Christian View: ‘Better outcomes from marriage’

If I had not become a Christian and had remained a votary of secular liberalism, I would now have to concede that the heterosexually married family is the best: environment for most children to grow up in. I would also have to concede that sex should be confined to marriage. Both propositions make sense. The British politician who has done a great deal through his Centre for Social Justice to demonstrate the vital importance of the institution of marriage is lain Duncan Smith. In 2012, when he was Work and Pensons Secretary, he went public with solid statistical evidence that children raised in married families were achieving better outcomes. Mr Duncan Smith’s pro-marriage declaration was made before same-sex couples could get married legally in England and Wales and in Scotland, so at that point marriage in Britain was exclusively heterosexual.

Since the Marriage (Same-Sex) Couples Act came into force in 2014 in England and Wales, around 15,000 same-sex couples have entered civil marriages, a small proportion out of the 240,000 or so marriages annually and a tiny proportion of the overall number of married couples in Britain. So, marriage remains overwhelmingly heterosexual in our country with the complementary nature of fatherhood and motherhood providing an intrinsic benefit for children.

What is the evidence for the contention that children generally do best with a man and a woman actively involved in their upbringing? It is the fact that such an arrangement, albeit to varying degrees of commitment depending on the parents, attaches to the domestic environment, namely the heterosexually married family, in which children are generally achieving the best educational and psycho-emotional outcomes.

What about the proposition that sex should be confined to marriage? The widespread acceptance of that ethic among British people before the 1960s was a major factor in encouraging young men and women to get married in the first place, thus enabling many millions of children across the social spectrum to get the benefit. Added to this, there was a plethora of moral, social, and legal factors encouraging couples to stay married and to work through or find a way of enduring the inevitable imperfectlons and challenges in every marriage.

I know a bit about this from personal experience because in 20 years of Anglican parish ministry I have met a range of men and women with a pre-permissive attitude towards marriage and family life and have been privi!eged to take funeral services for their spouses. ‘We had our ups and downs but .. .’ is a line I have often heard. It is surely no co-incidence that the marriage rates in our country have fallen significantly since sex outside marriage became socially acceptable, down by around 100.000 in England and Wales, from 343,000 in 1960, and that the number of children born without married parents is increasing.

For the follower of Jesus Christ commitment to a marriage once entered is a matter of biblical conviction and so transcends considerations of ‘compatibility’. For the Christian, the ‘right person’, except in dire circumstances such as marital infidelity or’ domestic abuse, is the member of the opposite sex to whom they made the promise of life-long commitment in the presence of God.

Comparing the broad state of British society now with the conditions across the social classes before the permissive society kicked in, along a range of indices from mental health to drug and alcohol abuse to crime and educational performance, is it really surprising to find that a society that honours marriage tends to work better for children!

Julian Mann is Vicar of the Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge