Change of Tone, Change of Policy?

Can someone explain this to me?

I think the Church has reacted by fully accepting that it’s the law, and should react on Saturday by continuing to demonstrate in word and action, the love of Christ for every human being.
Justin Welby

How is this a “change of tone” or even a change in policy? How is this anything different from what the Archbishop has been saying all along? You could lift these words right out of the Pastoral Statement on Same-Sex Marriage.

I think Andrew Brown is just stirring and reading into this something that isn’t there. Unless of course the Guardian was briefed by Lambeth Palace to report it in a certain way, but Andrew Brown has denied that.

Behold, Archbishop Justin stands at the door and knocksThe Archbishop of Canterbury has signalled that the Church of England will mount no more resistance to gay marriage among churchgoers.

Gay marriage will be legalised from Saturday with dozens of ceremonies planned around the country for one minute past midnight. This passing of the legislation caused deep rifts within the church.

His comments mark a shift in tone, if not substance, from a letter from the bishops last month that attempted to forbid the clergy from marrying same-sex partners, and which led to a furious backlash from supporters. At least seven clergy couples are preparing to marry in defiance of their bishops, though none are known to be planning a public ceremony.

The global Anglican church is deeply split on the issue and Welby is trying to prevent the schism from spreading to the UK, where some conservative evangelical congregations are threatening to leave the Church of England if it compromises its opposition to gay sex by blessing civil partnerships.

He hopes to finesse the problem via a series of “structured conversations” with the aim of reaching a more civilised disagreement.

There is pressure on both sides of the issue, with some members preparing to publicly support the new legislation.

But where was the “resistance to gay marriage amongst churchgoers” before? Can someone point it out to me? Has Andrew Brown not read the Pastoral Statement?

Beats me…

57 Comments on “Change of Tone, Change of Policy?

  1. you’re right. It’s exactly the same. The same utterly incomprehensible difference in moral requirements for clergy and laity. Either same-sex activity is sinful or it’s not. If it is then how can it be acceptable for laity to enter into “marriage”?

    Sadly, Welby wants to have his cake and eat it.

    • You need to read the Church of England documents more carefully. The Church is very clear same-sex activity is sinful for all. It’s the discipline that is different.

      • I get all that. And that’s the problem. Under the current guidance a lay same-sex couple unrepentantly in an active sexual relationship with the state-endorsed label of “marriage” have no discipline required of them. And that is a shocking state of affair for our leadership to be endorsing.

        • David, I was about to post something on Peter’s blog on Cranmer’s World Vision parable, but this is a better opportunity.

          I cannot express how disappointed I was with Cranmer’s piece. He has always been one of my favourite bloggers, and I found it quite hurtful, and was further disappointed to find that Peter appeared initially to endorse it.

          So just to say – thank you for your excellent piece on Stand Firm.

          • Jill,

            Do you think a charity in the UK should be able to sack an employee for what she does in the privacy of her bedroom which has absolutely no impact upon the work she does for the charity? Let’s say a cleaner who comes in after everyone leaves?

            Yes or no?

            • Stop that, Peter. There is no ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer to this. Being in an openly unrepentant homosexual relationship (gay marriage) is hardly private.

                • Should any employer be allowed to sack any worker who violates their terms of employment? It seems to work like that when Christians want to work as marriage registrars (or photographers, or bakers).

                  Personally I couldn’t care less what people’s private arrangements are, as long as they keep them private, but that is not what we are talking about here.

                    • Why are you throwing in these red herrings? You had better ask World Vision. I suppose it would depend on the cleaner’s terms of employment – some are employed on a casual basis. You could as well ask if the Church of England should employ people who openly flout God’s law.

                    • I’m not talking about World Vision, I’m talking about you.

                      Your inability to give a straight answer is revealing in itself. What are you so ashamed of that you cannot simply say you think a charity should have the right to sack someone in a same-sex marriage, even if they are a cleaner?

                    • I think employers should be allowed to set the terms of employment. If people stick two fingers up at that, then I think they should expect repercussions.

                    • So just to be clear, you believe an employer should be able to sack someone for entering a same-sex marriage? What about for wearing a cross, or praying or owning a Bible?

                    • To your first question – yes, if it is against the terms of employment. And yes to the second part, if the employee in question works in a mosque.

                    • Peter, if you think that people’s private lives should not affect their employment in the church, do you dsagree with the church of england’s policy of discriminating against people who are members, even in private, of organisations that they consider to be racist?

                    • Surely it depends on what they’re employed to do in the mosque. If I were cleaning, then I’d be a bit miffed if I got the sack for owning a Bible – though not so miffed if they chose a muslim employee over me in the first place. If I were doing the accounts and they discovered that I was quite into the Bible thing, well, of course they would sack me. They don’t want somebody looking at the details of how they spend their money who doesn’t sympathise with their values and beliefs.

                    • I don’t see why. He who pays the piper calls the tune, or so I was told.
                      When I first started work in an office women weren’t allowed to wear trousers. Another friend’s employer wouldn’t allow the women to wear make-up. We grumbled a bit, but never thought it unreasonable. Well, perhaps we did think it unreasonable – but not enough to leave or kick up a fuss about it.

                      But of course that was in the days before the state got its tentacles into every area of people’s lives.

                    • Then I don’t expect you to ever complain again because a Christian is sacked for holding a traditional view on marriage. Because the moment you do you just become a hypocrite.

                    • Not so. It is the law that has changed, not Christianity. Ten, or even five, years ago it would have been unthinkable for a Christian to be sacked for following Christian tenets.

                    • Well, the Great God Gay is not bigger than the one true God, even if he thinks he is.

                    • This is the nub of the matter. Employers should be able to strike and agree a contract of employment. That contract alone should be the basis for employment.


                    • Prohibiting the ownership of a Bible would be largely unenforceable under the right to freedom of religion, but the contract could stipulate that a Bible could not be brought on to a place of work or a cross worn at the same place. The principle of the right of freedom of association allows for as much.

                      In the end it is a matter for the signatories to a contract to agree.


              • It isn’t any less private than being in an openly unrepentant heterosexual relationship (straight marriage). Neither should be grounds for sacking a person who is working for a charity. You seem to want people deprived of their livelihood for reasons which have no bearing on their work. You complained a month or two ago that you had been branded by some people as hateful. You, Jill, of all people! What could possibly put an idea like that into anyone’s head, I wonder?

                • I don’t want anyone deprived of their livelihood, Gugli, and that includes Lillian Ladele and others.

                  But I do think employers should have the right to lay down conditions of employment. If people join an organisation and then publicly violate those, then I think they should expect some consequences. Remember this is the US, not the UK where we are no longer free.

                  • Employers should have the right to lay down REASONABLE conditions of employment. The ones which you apparently want them to have the right to lay down are not reasonable. If employers in the UK are no longer free to do that, we should be grateful for it.

                    • Depends who defines ‘reasonable’. I think it is reasonable for a registrar to be allowed to opt out of conducting civil partnerships if they can be covered by others who don’t object. Or that people can refuse to have same-sex couples sleeping in their beds in their own homes.

                      You obviously disagree. So who decides?

                    • As a matter of fact, I am disposed to agree with you in the case of Lilian Ladèle, since she was employed as a registrar before civil partnerships were introduced. Such an exemption should not be allowed to anyone who applied to work as a registrar AFTER they were introduced: if you’re not prepared to do what the job entails, you shouldn’t apply for it.

                      If I want, I can refuse to have mixed-sex couples sleeping in my beds in my own home. It’s my home, so any restrictions are entirely up to me, and they don’t have to be reasonable by anyone else’s criteria. I can refuse to allow Jews, Scots, freemasons, Tories, redheads, Londoners, members of Anglican Mainstream, heterosexuals or any other category of people into my home. But if I decided to turn my home into a business and to open it to the public as a guesthouse, I could no longer impose such petty restrictions.

                    • Though in that case, Ladele’s view of the sanctity of marriage was somewhat undermined by the fact that (a) she had had a child by someone she wasn’t married to and (b) that she was happy conducting 2nd, 3rd and 4th marriages that, as a Christian, she must have thought were nothing but a charade. Perfectly acceptable behaviour for a registrar, of course, but it rather weakened her claim that she wasn’t being homophobic.

                    • Well, as Figaro said, « Les plus coupables sont les moins généreux; c’est la règle. » (“The most guilty are the least generous; it’s the rule.”)

                    • Is that entirely fair? Maybe when she starts education classes for girls telling them what a great idea it is to have children out of wedlock then we could call her a hypocrite. Now she just doesn’t want to directly facilitate something she doesn’t agree with. She’s not trying to stop them.

                    • Well, if what David Shepherd tells us about her history is accurate, then no, it isn’t entirely fair.

                    • Also, Jesus said the opposite – that the most guilty are the most generous – if they’ve truly repented and are grateful for forgiveness.

                    • The significant fact of the Ladele case is that there were only two such registrars who were not able to be accommodated within their local authorities. All the others who shared their convictions were found alternative posts.
                      That is the astonishing thing!
                      Such a major change with so little fuss is extraordinary.

                      Ms Ladele was herself offered a compromise, in fact there were several but in the end she did not win the support of her colleagues and there a various accounts of why that was so.

                      I have never discovered why she resigned.
                      Another of those who became a Christian celebrity was Mrs Edweida.
                      She too left her BA job but the European court later reported that her income from “supporters” was considerably higher than her wages and she was not additionally compensated as a result.
                      Perhaps Ms Ladele too has made a living from this adversity?

                    • Well, that’s all possible. It’s impossible to know what’s really going on in these cases unless you know the people personally. My point was more a general one – that you can always dig up dirt on people from their history, but that doesn’t tell you what’s in their hearts today.

                    • You really are priceless. A final whiff of speculation that Ladele ‘might’ have cashed in on her plight.

                      So little overall collateral damage, even for those hounded out of their jobs. A painless revolution with few real victims of heavy-handed policy enforcement. What a conscience salve that must be!

                      And what of Adrian Smith, the housing officer who was judged to be wrongfully dismissed after calling gay marriage ‘an equality too far’ on his personal Facebook page? One can only suppose he’s raking it in as others do after a high-profile court win. A well-invested £100 payout goes a lot further than some people think.

                      So, any of you attention-seeking Con-Evos out there with a passion for public notoriety, a short-cut to fame and fortune beckons. Become a litigation loser and your future is assured by well-heeled ‘supporters’. It’ll make the hate-mail so much easier to bear.

                      A pity that the Bulls closed down their B&B.

                      SPECULATION ALERT Yet, perhaps they too are cashing in on their adversity. B.B. B&B’s (Bible-Based Bed and Breakfasts) may soon be opening all over the country: these conservative ‘supporters’ appear to have no end of means to provide a soft landing.

                    • Also, there’s the people who haven’t gone to court. People who have had foster children taken away or been turned down as foster parents. Most of these cases never reach court. The ironic thing about the case that did get taken to court was that the social workers in that case appear to have been trying to work with the couple and weren’t being aggressive. Other people’s experience with social services have been so negative that the last thing they want to do is relive over and over again in a court case that they’re probably not going to win.

                      I understand why Martin wants to believe that these problems are being manufactured. Unfortunately, the more likely explanation for the hash Christian Concern appear to be making of everything is that fools rush in where the wise fear to tread.

                    • Yes, after a strict Christian upbringing in Nigeria, at 20, she had a child out of wedlock.

                      As a single mother, she went to America with her child, gaining an education there. On return to London at 28, she committed to Christ and became a regular worshipper at St James Church in Clerkenwell. She became a registrar at 31 and at 47, she pre-emptively explained her reservations about civil partnerships.

                      1. So, why would having a child out of wedlock before she personally committed to Christ undermine her post-conversion views on the sanctity of marriage?

                      2. ‘The legal requirements and procedures are the same for second and subsequent civil marriages as for first-time civil marriages. When you give notice of your marriage, you will have to provide the registrar with documentary evidence (decree absolute) that the previous marriage has legally ended.’ So, there would be neither prima facie evidence of whether it was a 3rd or 4th marriage, nor the circumstances of the divorce, which could have been caused by the former spouse’s adultery (as permitted by Christ).

                      While she attended a civil partnership reception for gay couple with whom she worked, she claimed ‘My issue was purely that I did not want to be the one to facilitate same-sex civil partnerships because I do not agree with them.’ Presumably because it was overtly in contradiction with the faith that she embraced.
                      Unless, she was prepared to ask intrusive questions and pry into the circumstances of divorce, I don’t see how you can interpret as homophobic her reservations about faciltating what she saw as an overt contradictions of a scriptural prohibition.
                      But she continues to be fair game for a spot of shameless backslapping liberal target practice, eh?

                    • I believe Ms Ladele became a Registrar of Births Marriages and Deaths in 2002, some time after Lord Lester and his colleagues gave the press launch for his Civil Partnership Bill on 10th January that year and over a year after consultations began with Registrars on CPs .

        • All the media reports I have read so far have led the casual reader to think that Welby has changed the Church’s stance. I think this is deliberate. He is trying to appease some and keep the rest on board, which will ultimately fail. I think the Church of England is finished.

            • Your right, Peter, Andrew is more than capable of being very mischievous, but I don’t think he is in this case.
              I still cannot get over the tenor of his speech on the second reading …. I think there is a face for the wider Communion and there is a face for the domestic market and I suggest that the domestic market persona is out in front this weekend.

                • Yes, quite right ….. It is more of the same, isn’t it.
                  But the sense here is the guidance was aimed at pacifying the GS and the real face is much more welcoming …….. all around.
                  Charlie, I know just how you feel about the redoubtable Ruth.
                  More than a decade later Peter’s brother above is STILL quoting her inaccurate stories!

            • Actually, it’s sub-editors who make up headlines – although I agree that Andrew Brown is mischievous. As for other media headlines – Church will embrace gay marriage, says Archbishop Welby – Daily Mail. Archbishop of Canterbury: Church’s resistance to same-sex marriage is over – Pink News. Well, those are just two today – there are many earlier ones in a similar vein.

              The point I am trying to make is that this is what the Man on the Clapham Omnibus will see, and believe. I am talking about the majority of people who don’t go to church and who have very little interest in church affairs. This way Justin Welby can get away with being perceived as embracing gay marriage (to make himself popular?) while not actually doing so.
              I would call this two-faced, but perhaps others might think it is clever.

              • I wonder what newspapers would make of Jesus’ answer “Give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s and unto God what is God’s”. The questions some people asked Him seem like a similar entrapment situation to today’s demands to know exactly what church leaders have to say about homosexuality. (God v Caesar – given that Caesar was worshipped as a pagan god, so the question presumably wasn’t just about tax to the state)

                • I blogged about this comparison over two years ago.

                  The probing Herodian question re-framed by our church leaders would be ‘“Teacher, we know that you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by others, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful for Holy Matrimony to be re-ordered by the State for same-sex couples, or does marriage belong to God?’

                  Jesus would have said: ‘Show me one of the marriage certificates you use in God’s church. Whose image and superscription is on it?’

                  The Lords Spiritual would reply: ‘The Crown, General Register Office’.

                  Jesus might then say: ‘Give back to the State, what belongs to the State and give back to God what belongs to God.’

                  But, that would mean separating the priestly role in performing the Christian ritual of Holy Matrimony from the State role in registering marriages.

  2. As someone who works within the newspaper industry – albeit for a non-British organisation – I am afraid that this is a classic example of a story where if the reporter can’t even find a storm in a teacup, they end up bringing along their own teacup as a last resort…

    Clearly, the Church – in all of its mainstream forms – has never argued for the law of this land to be subverted or denied or for the democratic will of parliament to be ignored. So nothing new there.

    And the fact that the Church is called to show in word and action the Love of Christ for all? Hmmm, the sound of barrels being scraped must have been terribly irritating for those seated near Andrew Brown’s desk….

    Just don’t get me started on Ruth Gledhill! I don’t know about the quality of her CoE stories but speaking as a Catholic, it feels like a game of bingo sometimes trying to tick off all the inaccuracies in any articles she writes about my lot!

  3. The World Vision fiasco was caused by a perceived weakening of the willingness of its leadership to uphold truth. Its donor base gave money on condition of continuing orthodoxy and this decision about gay marriage called WVs commitment to orthodoxy into question. People immediately asked themselves “What else are they thinking of changing?” WV tried to position the decision in terms of narrow practicality but its donor base saw it in terms of carefully couched principle. WV wanted its retraction to be seen as a principled reaction but in fact the retraction is seen as narrowly practical. Hence WVs problem. People now suspect it is an organization infected with modernism that pushed its new understanding without requisite caution. The perception is that WVs decision to equate marriage with Gay marriage represents what it believes, while the retraction represents what has to do to stay financially viable.

    None of this has anything to do with a Lesbian cleaning lady. The scandal wasn’t caused by the presence of homosexuals on the payroll. But this does raise an interesting question. What is the purpose of a morals clause in employment? Is it simply to avoid public scandal? Peter is quite right. An accountant can provide service to a Christian organization regardless of his private life. I doubt seriously that Christian organizations demand outside auditors be Christian let alone any demand for conformity with a moral clause. But it’s also true that the CEO technically doesn’t need to be a Christian either. Is the purpose of the clause simply to avoid a scandal such that the donor base won’t be shocked? Is the purpose to maintain the Christian identity of the organization? Is it in some sense pastoral? It’s an interesting question and one I hadn’t thought about before. Because there are legitimate questions of boundaries being raised. A cleaning lady isn’t going to cause scandal. WV isn’t a church but does need to maintain its Christian character. Does it even have any pastoral responsibility to its employees? Or perhaps only to those employees who present a public face?

    I’ll say this though. If it is only about avoiding scandal, then Peter’s argument about the cleaning lady is made in spades.


  4. Fudging the issue might be good politically but it doesn’t fulfil the Bishops vow to teach and defend the doctrine received by the Church. O give us Bishops with some balls!

  5. One of the patterns we see over here during the Episcopal Church schism is the political theatre of “creating drama,” which energizes the parties on all sides. Articles like this are aimed at the opposition to same-sex marriage (notice who wrote the article). The Guardian isn’t interested in saying what a wonderful thing the Church of England is and why don’t ya’all join up! No, the article is there to inflame the opposition. Don’t fall for it. Quote the facts as you do in your article, Peter. Drama-makers don’t want facts, they want drama. On our side of the Atlantic it’s called “community organizing.”

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