I’m writing this article as part of a discussion that we’re having on OHO about religion and specifically the opening comments by the new Archbishop of Canterbury. Josh has already posted his views on Monday and now it’s my turn. I want to say straight away in the interests of full disclosure that I am an atheist. That’s doesn’t mean however that I think all religion is bad. In fact I happen to agree with a lot of what Josh said on Monday about Love and inclusion, that’s what the Church should be about and that’s what Justin Welby has said. However I want to pick up on two points from his speech which I think demonstrate how the Church aren’t living up to this mantra. Namely Women Bishops and Same Sex Marriages. I want to emphasise I’m talking about the Church as a whole not individuals as their are differing opinions within the Church.
Starting off I’m talking about Woman Bishops. Justin Welby commented briefly on this issue saying he would be voting in favour of their inclusion. That is very positive. The Church has long been anti feminist by denying Women access to a certain level of seniority within their hierarchy. The fact that they are beginning to change this view is definitely a step in the write direction. It’s about 20-30 years behind the rest of the country but at least it’s progress, however slow.
That is a principle that I wish the Church would take to Same Sex Marriage. Unfortunately Justin Welby remains opposed to this and so do a lot of senior members of the Church. The argument that is put forward for this opposition is that we have civil partnerships so why is marriage necessary it is only a label. Two point on this. 1) if it is only a label then why are the Church putting up such a big opposition to it. 2) if we are talking about inclusion then surely everyone should be allowed the same rights and labels as everyone else. A persons sexuality is no more a choice than the colour of someone’s skin. So to refuse them access to a long held social institution that celebrates love and commitment is wrong.
There is a final point to raise in this what has Same Sex Marriage got to do with the Church? Why is it any of their business? Granted it used to be the jurisdiction of the Church but in the present day Marriage is a legal relationship between two people. It can take place in a Church, should those people choose, but equally it can be in a registry office with no mention of God or the Church at all. I couldn’t care less what goes on between two people, I’m a heterosexual so why should I have any say in denying homosexual people access to this institution?
The Church will be presented with many challenges in the coming years. Justin Welby spoke of love and inclusion as central themes in his opening speech. That I can understand, they are principles that the Church should strive for. However I find it odd that two of the biggest issues that Welby will have to deal with in his tenure as Archbishop were only given 1 paragraph between them. I would have liked to have seen those two issues get more air time so to speak. I can understand why Justin Welby didn’t want to confront those major issues straight away. He probably doesn’t want to rock the boat and get people turning against him before he even takes the role. But I wish he had been brave and given full details of his views rather than the brief outline we had today. It would have given me a lot more to go on for this article. Women Bishops being admitted is a step in the right direction, but to be truly inclusive the Church needs to embrace Same Sex Marriage. I only hope Justin Welby is braver in the coming years than his opening speech suggests.
By Jack Troup