Church Evangelical Council Attacks “Compromise” with Civil Partnerships
The Church of England has once again come under fire for its decision to ease its views on civil partnerships within the Church. The Evangelical Council, which is the umbrella organisation for the evangelical groups within the Church, has demanded that the Church’s attempts to compromise with the government’s civil partnerships legislation should be withdrawn immediately.
The council spoke out yesterday, 10th August 2005, against the decision by the Church of England Council of Bishops that clergy would be allowed to enter civil partnerships, just as long as they informed their supervising bishop that they would abstain from partaking in sexual relations with their partner.
In a clear and formal statement, the Evangelical Council criticised the Church’s leaders of submitting to the secular culture of moral decline. The Guardian newspaper record the council as saying, “We urge the House of Bishops to withdraw this compromised and unworkable statement while continuing to affirm the historic teaching of the church ... It will further exacerbate the division threatening the future of the Anglican Communion.”
Another Anglican evangelical group has also condemned the Church of England’s decision earlier this week. Anglican Mainstream agreed that the action will blur the distinguishment between a civil partnership and traditional marriage. As the Civil Partnership Acts is closely based on marriage laws, “these partnerships will be misunderstood as marriage. . . . The Act is self-contradictory because it prohibits civil partnerships between close relatives, which only makes sense if 'marriage' is in view.”
“If the church were to decide to follow the state legislation with its inherent self-contradiction, the result will be press headlines such as 'gay clergy to be allowed to marry'. The church cannot blame the media and general public for coming to this obvious conclusion.”
In a loud cry, Anglican Mainstream has called on the Church of England to “maintain the Christian position derived from the Bible that marriage is a life-long union between a man and a woman, and that sexual intercourse belongs within marriage exclusively.”
The Civil Partnerships Act, which comes into force in December 2005 will aim to give similar legal rights to same-sex couples as those already enjoyed by married couples. In response to the new legislation, it has been rumoured that hundreds of clergy may use this new law when it comes in; a rumour that has alarmed many Church bodies and leaders.