February 1, 2013

C of E Continues Hand-Wringing

In their latest shot across the bow of Parliament those speaking for the Church of England have made yet another anxious contribution full of concerns, unanswered questions, and uncertainty.

Two of the "unanswered questions" concern consummation and adultery. Why? Under English law, consummation and adultery can only take place in a mixed-sex context. (That does not mean the pariticpants must be heterosexual; it is certainly true that numbers of gay and lesbian persons are capable of heterosexual sex!)

But as to the C of E, it is not that the question has not been answered, but that the tremulous and anxious church-spokespersons seem not to like that answer. In both cases this is only an issue when one is seeking either to annul a marriage (due to failure or refusal to consummate) or end a marriage because of adultery. But nothing has changed under the new law: Under present English law, a woman cannot sue her husband for divorce with adultery as the ground (or as the English say, the "fact") if he has an affair with another man — but she can sue for divorce on the fact of "unreasonable conduct." This will remain the case with same-sex marriage legalized: a person who has an affair with a person of the opposite sex is committing adultery under the legal definition; if with a person of the same sex, it could constitute unreasonable behavior — and an "innocent party" who finds that either situation render continuing the marriage intolerable, can sue for divorce. In short — nothing has changed.

So in the long run this anxiety is merely displaced; it is just the church making an issue out of the few scraps of straw available to them. It doesn't make a very convincing straw-man, as it has nothing to do with marriage other than its termination.

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG

2 comments:

Deacon Charlie Perrin said...

Between this business and their complete inability to ordain women to the Episcopate I have no further interest what the CofE thinks or does.

In my mind they are becoming nearly as irrelevant as Rome and the Vatican.

Let's accept the ABCs invitation to tea every ten years (unless he chooses not to invite particular Episcopal Bishops for political reasons) but otherwise let's just ignore them.

Tobias Haller said...

We may be in for a season of "warm feelings" without much of substance; and that's o.k. by me!