Canon B30 – Change, Uphold or Ignore

Some great stuff from Andrew Goddard on Fulcrum.

Andrew GoddardIn summary, those clergy who marry someone of the same sex, and those who support them in doing so, appear to be presenting the bishops and wider church with a very hard choice:

  1. Change canon B30 so that marriage is not defined, is re-defined to include same-sex marriage, or is defined without reference to “our Lord’s teaching”
  2. Take some form of disciplinary action against those who act contrary to canon B30 and thus canon C26 by marrying someone of the same sex
  3. Abandon the responsibility to uphold a canon which claims the authority of Christ himself and take no action against ministers who are licensed by bishops to minister in the name of Christ and his church but are openly living in a manner which contradicts what church law says is the teaching of Christ.

My genuine question is whether anyone – whatever their views on same-sex marriage – can see any way out of this difficult set of choices flowing from the arguments presented here about the canons and the decisions of some clergy to marry someone of the same sex.

If not, then unless we agree to end up (perhaps by default and through an attempt at conflict avoidance) in what we all acknowledge is the messy theological and ecclesiological incoherence of option 3, perhaps trying to dress it up as some “via media” or “living with difference”, we now have to grasp the nettle and work out whether we can remain a healthy body united under the same canons and episcopal authority structures by attempting either option 1 or option 2.

I think Andrew nails it. Either the Bishops act or de facto they have changed Church of England doctrine.