By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jul 26, 2005
In recent decades, the paradoxes inherent in an established national religion have put increasingly intolerable stress on the timbers of the Church of England, especially in matters of sexual morality. The ceiling joists are finally plunging through the plaster:
The Church of England is to allow gay clergy to enter into civil partnerships but only if they promise to abstain from sex, according to guidance issued yesterday. It has been drawn up to clarify the Church's position on the Civil Partnerships Act, which will offer same-sex couples a legal status similar to marriage when it comes into effect on Dec 5.
In a "pastoral statement", the House of Bishops said that clergy would be able to take advantage of the Act, but only if they reassure their bishops that they will uphold Church teaching. Clergy were also told that they should not offer formal services of blessing for couples who had been through a civil partnership ceremony, but they could pray with the couple.
So, Christian doctrine holds that a same-sex marriage is a contradiction in terms, but ministers of religion who reject this doctrine may yet enter into a same-sex menage provided they feign physical abstinence out of respect for a logically unconsummateable union: stark staring madness.
Who deserves the blame for the mess? You have to reach back to the urbane, compassionate partisans of marital birth control who first separated the unitive significance from the procreative significance of the sexual act -- to use the language of Humanae vitae 12 -- those are the lads who buggered it up. The gay rights crowd behind the latest fiasco have simply seized on the original theological blunder and taken it to its logical conclusion.
A national religion is beholden to civil law in ways a non-established church is not, whence the passage of the Civil Partnerships Act forced the issue on the C of E and resulted in the doctrinally vacuous compromise. But many Catholics are squishy at best when it comes to sexual teaching, and gaze wistfully across the alley in the direction of our emancipated brethren. The state of contemporary clerical life shows that many Catholic priests and bishops who plead for caution ("Give it time, give it time ...") are for all intents and purposes unconsummated Anglicans themselves. No cause for gloating; the future is here.
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