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August 05, 2005

With my body I thee don't worship… - Celibate Civil Partnerships and the Church of England

Posted by Peter Mullen

From 5th December 2005 same sex couples will be able to enter into "civil partnership", often colloquially described as "gay marriage". The Church of England is allowing its clergy to enter into such arrangements - so long as they pledge not to consummate the relationship. Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen - the Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill in the City of London & Chaplain to the Stock Exchange - considers what the order of service for such a ceremony might be, if it were to take place in a Church (which, of course, it won't).

It's heartening that church authorities are to allow homosexual clergy to take advantage of the civil partnership perks. Gay activists claim that already 700 clergypersons are lining up to "marry". There is however a catch: the ordained newlyweds will have to promise not to have sex. It's like Bill Clinton all over again: "Sure I smoked – but I didn't inhale".

It makes for an interesting civil partnerships service of solemnisation in which the Gay couples will have to promise "…to have but not to hold". And "with my body I thee don't worship".

The Prayer Book Wedding Service talks about marriage as:

…a remedy against sin and to avoid fornication; that such persons as have not the gift of continency might marry and keep themselves undefiled.
The sexless Gay couples are clearly too pure to need such sacramental remedies and helps and will have no difficulty keeping themselves continent and undefiled.

Donated eggs and all the paraphernalia of the new parenthood-on-line culture we now inhabit will surely take care of the bit that says:

First, matrimony was ordained for the procreation of children.

But there will be severe problems with the traditional Exhortation from St Paul:

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands…
Yes, but who's the Omie and who the Palone? And "submit"? What about equality of the sexes?

Turnout on Gay Pride days is going to be a problem for clergy couples. For it says in the Prayer Book:

…let it not be the outward adorning of plaiting the hair and of wearing gold or of putting on of apparel.
There will have to be a new rubric, then about not spending time and money at Harvey Nick's.

Are they going to be allowed to pray for what sentimental Straight couples pray for in the mawkish new Common Worship:

Let them be tender with each other's dreams.
Depends on the particular dream, I suppose.

But really I don't think this new arrangement of unconsummated "marriages" will provide any difficulties for the modern church. They're well used to leaving out the necessary. Just look at the new church services. No devil at baptisms. No fornication, remedy against sin or brute beasts with no understanding at weddings. No worms at the burial. And if the Bishop of Oxford gets his way, we soon won't be allowed to have "body" and "blood" at the Holy Communion.

Can anyone offer a suitable euphemism to name what we once called "the church"?

Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael's, Cornhill & Chaplain to the Stock Exchange.

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In many ways this reads like a Science Fiction satire from about twenty years ago. But no smoke without fire, so does Revd. Mullen really mean it when he says “if the Bishop of Oxford gets his way, we soon won't be allowed to have "body" and "blood" at the Holy Communion.” How, then, can we interpret what Martin Luther says in The Bondage of the Will ?

“And, finally, if we believe that Christ redeemed men by His blood, we are forced to confess that all of man was lost; otherwise, we make Christ either wholly superfluous, or else the redeemer of the least valuable part of man only; which is blasphemy, and sacrilege.”

The latter is a commonly held view of Christianity, especially among those who “approve of” or simply “tolerate” it, and methinks it lies at the core of the decline in this country, not only of Anglicanism, but of other denominations as well. All this hoo-ha about sexual orientation (or when I was young, South Africa) serves as a diabolical smoke-screen to hide this fact.

Posted by: Robert H. Olley at August 6, 2005 08:45 AM

Does Dr Mullen refer to Paul of Tarsus's well-known misogyny simply for fun, or does he personally refuse to marry women who don't agree with it?

Posted by: Innocent Abroad at August 6, 2005 12:01 PM
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