Saturday, July 30, 2005


In perhaps all but their own eyes, the House of Bishops of the Church of England have got themselves into something of a pickle over the government's new Civil Partnerships legislation, which gives legal recognition to established lesbian and gay relationships for the first time.

Yesterday Giles Fraser had a good, typically robust piece about this (Love is the answer) in the Guardian newspaper. The response from Affirming Catholicism was also firm and helpful. Ekklesia gives the background.

Inter alia, Giles, who has contributed to the new book on the Cross which I've co-edited, says: "[T]he writers of the New Testament did offer ad hominem support for marriage, but didn't provide a comprehensive theology of marriage for the simple reason that most didn't believe the world was going to be around long enough for that to matter. Hence St Paul's advice: if you are married already, fine - but don't make plans if you are not."

He goes on: "It's precisely this sense that the world is about to end that gives the New Testament its moral genius. It concentrates the mind on what's important. And their answer wasn't the institution of marriage - it was love. Whether within a marriage or in a civil partnership, it surely matters not: love and all its commitments, that's what counts. And when present, that's what will make a civil partnership holy."

I'd want to say more than that about the importance of permanent, stable relationships; but Giles is right to point out that wielding the New Testament without regard to its eschatological concerns creates all kinds of confusions. Chris Rowland (from Oxford) has written a good piece situating the sexuality debate in terms of the contestations within early Christianity, too.

Comment on this post: FaithInSociety

No comments: