"Religion is a hypothesis about the world: the hypothesis that things are the way they are, at least in part, because of supernatural entities or forces acting on the natural world. And there's no good reason to treat it any differently from any other hypothesis. Which includes pointing out its flaws and inconsistencies, asking its adherents to back it up with solid evidence, making jokes about it when it's just being silly, offering arguments and evidence for our own competing hypotheses...and trying to persuade people out of it if we think it's mistaken. It's persuasion. It's the marketplace of ideas. Why should religion get a free ride"

Greta Christina

Thursday, 6 June 2013

C of E drops opposition to same sex marriage

Well! Here’s something to be pleased about. The Church of England has decided that its chances of blocking the legalisation of same sex marriages are so remote, it will no longer oppose them. In fact, it now claims it is intending to seek to amend the new law in ways with which I heartily agree.
'under the current bill people in a same-sex marriages who discover that their spouse is unfaithful to them would not be able to divorce for adultery after Government legal experts failed to agree what constitutes “sex” between gay or lesbian couples. The bishops are also seeking to change a provision which says that when a lesbian woman in a same-sex marriage has a baby her spouse is not also classed as the baby’s parent. The result is that in some cases children would be classed as having only one parent.'
Assuming the church is not just attempting a cynical passive aggressive approach to elicit greater antagonism to the bill, strengthening the institution of same sex marriage to cover adultery and shared parental responsibility will in my opinion add to the justice of this long awaited social advance.
So far the government has taken the line that it cannot adequately define adultery in a same sex relationship, which strikes me as bizarre and vaguely insulting. After all when homosexuality was completely illegal they had no problem defining what constituted sex between gay men and something about the idea suggests they have bought the stereotype that all same sex relationships are based in promiscuity and infidelity by definition.
I can accept that there may be ethical dilemmas over parental rights of a lesbian spouse, but they are by no means insurmountable. There are plenty of mixed sex couples where the legal father of a child is not the biological one and we seem to negotiate competing financial and emotional interests in the child quite adequately under those circumstances.
So I await with interest the detail and substance of the Lords Spiritual’s actions towards the bill’s passage from here on. I would not be surprised to hear demands for greater protection of Christians who want to discriminate against same sex couples but the government must resist weakening equality legislation in one area merely to facilitate implementation in another. Nor do I think we have heard the last of the church’s concerns over challenges to the ban on same sex marriages happening in church, for the good reasons I outlined in an earlier post.
Finally, for now I am going to resist making too much of the moral and theological volt face this change of position implies, content as I am to welcome the fact of it. Suffice to say the Anglican church has a history of catching up with enlightened thought... eventually... and before long will be telling us that this whole gay marriage thing was its idea in the first place.

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