23 October 2017

Reform Statement in response to Hereford' Diocesan Synod’s request for an Order of Prayer and Dedication after the registration of a civil partnership or a same sex marriage (20/10/17)

Reform note with deep concern the motion passed by the Hereford Diocesan Synod last night:
‘That this Synod request the House of Bishops to commend an Order of Prayer and Dedication after the registration of a civil partnership or a same sex marriage for use by ministers in exercise of their discretion under Canon B4, being a form of service neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter, together with guidance that no parish should be obliged to host, nor minister conduct, such a service.’[1]

Susie Leafe, Director of Reform said in a statement, "It is sad that there was no reference to the Bible in the briefing document provided to the members of Hereford Diocesan Synod. Their motion therefore ignores the fact that Jesus was clear that marriage was a lifelong relationship between a man and a woman, and this has been, and still, is the understanding of the vast majority of the worldwide church for two millennia. To ask for a service of Prayer and Dedication for a same-sex relationship represents a fundamental departure from this teaching.

But more than this, to suggest that the House of Bishops use a similar service to that offered to those who have previously been divorced, shows a fundamental misunderstanding of grace. Jesus was clear that marriage should be lifelong – but he was also aware that we are frail human beings and that things go wrong. Any marriage service that takes place after a divorce is based on the fact that those involved accept that Jesus' teaching about marriage is right, that they are sorry for the mistakes they have made in the past and their intention is to live differently in the future. It is hard to see how the Church can offer such a service to those who believe Jesus was wrong in his understanding of marriage and therefore see no reason to seek forgiveness or change their ways."

A comment from Susie Leafe and an interview with the Bishop of Hereford can be heard here (beginning at approximately 52 minutes).