Thursday, December 13, 2012

Ironies Abound

... in the recent decision of the British government regarding same-sex marriage.

Basically, it will be recognized by the state and permitted in all churches that desire it.

Except the state church.

So, yes, that's right:  the Church of England, which (we have always imagined) stands in relation to gay people as the ELCA does to bad liturgical ideas, will soon be the one religious institution on that sceptred isle which remains forbidden by law to do what many many of its members desire and feel they deserve.

This is not to say that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Westminster will immediately begin marrying men to each other, but merely that, if it wanted to, the Queen would have no objection.  (Likewise the Brixton Mosque, or any such improbable community.)  Whereas, were Canterbury to undertake such a thing, Her Majesty would not be amused.

The official explanation, per the Times, is:
... to guarantee the Anglican churches that they could not be forced to hold same-sex marriages if litigants went to British and European courts demanding the rights that members of other faiths would enjoy.
This seems dubious in the extreme.  Do we imagine that hordes of homophile attorneys may now descend, legal briefs in hand, upon Westminster and Brixton, and that the law will compel bishop and imam alike to violate their religious convictions?  Surely not.

MadPriest has a more cynical, and to our mind more likely interpretation. He suggests that the prohibition is PM David Cameron's gift to incoming Archbishop Justin Welby.  Because although it will not head off any successful litigation, it will -- for the moment -- prevent the CofE itself from making a decision on the matter.  Such a decision would surely pit one wing against another, and even if it did not lead to full-on schism, might certainly swell the trickle flowing Romeward.

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