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A Nuptial Mass of Contradictions?

Monday, July 15, 2019

I have been quiet in my thinking lately, mainly because I have been trying to do some work on a new book which, at the moment is rather shapeless and needs a lot of work. I beg your prayers for my new venture, especially given imminent upheaval in my life.

As usual it is the CofE that draws me out of my silence because, as usual, it gives a theological voice to the contradictions inherent in society.

Consider the following propositions:

1) Two people of the same sex can get married.
2) Only a man and a woman can get married.

3) Transgenderism is possible: e.g. a man can change gender to become a woman.

4) Transgenderism is impossible: e.g. a man cannot change gender to become a woman.

(1) and (2) are mutually exclusive, are they not? As are (3) and (4).

I must also add in the extra mutually exclusive statements:

5) Sex is a term interchangeable with Gender.

6) Sex is different from gender.

Now, let us consider the question put to the General Synod of the CofE by Miss Prudence Dailey:

"Given that the Church of England’s teaching about marriage is that it is a lifelong and exclusive union between one man and one woman, if one person in a couple undergoes gender transition, has consideration been given as to whether they are still married according to the teaching of the Church of England?"

The answer was given by Mrs Christine Hardman on behalf of the Chair of the House of Bishops:

"The Pastoral Advisory Group considered this question in the context of one specific case and I cannot comment here on the personal circumstances involved or draw a general theological principle from a single instance. However, we noted two important points. When a couple marry in church they promise before God to be faithful to each other for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health – come what may, although we preach compassion if they find this too much to bear. Secondly, never in the history of the church has divorce been actively recommended as the way to resolve a problem. We have always prioritised fidelity, reconciliation and forgiveness, with divorce as a concession when staying together proves humanly unbearable. In the light of those two points, if a couple wish to remain married after one partner has transitioned, who are we to put them asunder?"

Thus, it seems to me that the answer is, if a man becomes a woman, his wife is now in a same-sex marriage and this is to be recognised by the CofE.

Okay, let's just scrutinise this answer against the 6 statements I listed above.

Unlike the counterparts in Wales and Scotland, the CofE does not recognise same-sex marriage. That is the official position. It must therefore hold position (2).
Holding (2) means that the CofE cannot hold both positions (3) and (5).

Yet, the CofE either does recognise transgenderism to be possible seeing that it seeks to include transgender identities or it is paying lip-service to these folk. It has transgender clergy and has been considered liturgy to recognise a change of gender. Thus, either it is sincere in its belief and holds (3) or it does not and is therefore not as inclusive as it claims.

The principle of charity means that we have to accept that the CofE is sincere in holding (3). We must conclude that the CofE does not equate sex and gender.

This means that, officially, the CofE holds to statements (2), (3) and (6). The trouble is that many Trans people would say that they really are what they are because they find the notion of sex irrelevant to who they actually are. Thus the CofE in saying that they can accept a same-sex marriage because it wasn't originally a same-sex marriage goes against Trans understanding that the man was actually a woman from birth.

Further, if we turn the clock back to the "clear decision" of 1992 in which the argument for the ordination of women was made on the basis of Galatians iii.28 in which the equivalence of men and women is demonstrated in Christ. This does suggest that male and female are interchangeable in the eyes of the CofE. Thus their holding to (2) goes against the reasons for making the "clear decision" in the first place.

Here lies inconsistency because the CofE is trying to hold incompatible positions in its quest to be "inclusive".
This is because the LGBT philosophy is in itself inconsistent. If a man can become a woman without any surgical augmentation as the Trans philosophy suggest must be possible, then that man becomes a lesbian. If the new woman keeps her genitals, then we have the problem that she will not find a partner among fellow lesbians because lesbians do not have intercourse with genitalia which were formerly male.

This means that full acceptance of the Trans philosophy might be construed as defining lesbianism out of existence.

If the CofE wants to be fully inclusive, then it has no choice but to conduct same-sex weddings.

The alternative is, of course, that she return to orthodoxy where the problem of inconsistency goes away: (2), (4) and (6) are not incompatible and are fully consonant with the Christian faith! 

However, what is most consonant with the Christian Faith is the proclamation of God's love for us and His desire for us to conform to Him for our salvation. There is always salvation for those who turn to God wholeheartedly.

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