There was an error in this gadget

Friday, 15 June 2012

More on Marriage

I noted yesterday that Bishop Tim Ellis had made a stand on this issue. What was interesting was the responses. There were a very large number in support and a handful in opposition to his position. One of those quite rightly stated that the 'official' statement was simply quoting and restating the Church's own Canon Law on the matter.

To me, that is a part of the problem. Canon Law, like any other "law" is man-made. I accept that it is made in order to regulate and maintain certain principles and behaviours, but it is not immutable and it was certainly not God-given. Like any other "law," Canon Law can be revised, reviewed, amended or even repealed. The problem with the Church of England at present, is that the General Synod has forgotten this. A large part of it wants to make more Canon Law and certainly do not want to allow any part of it to be reviewed, revised or changed.

Some years ago I was part of a group setting up a Server's Guild. One of our number, a lawyer, drafted a constitution for it. It was a masterpiece, it set out clearly what we were, what our aims were and how we regulated ourselves in the performance of that Office for the benefit of the worshippers in our Parish Church. It had to be approved by the Parish Church Council and the Vicar. The Vicar considered it carefully, so did the PCC. At the meeting we waited to hear the usual 'nod thorugh' we expected. We didn't get it.

The Vicar raised the item, listened to the comments from members (all in favour) and then said quietly: "Jesus only made two rules for membership of his church. There are fifty three to be a server in this Parish if we approve this."

Our constitution did not receive approval, but we continued to Serve at the altar, and some of those at that meeting are still serving. Every time I look through the several books of Canon Law governing the Church of England I am reminded of that Constitution for the Guild of Servers. Yes, as humans we do need some 'rules' to govern ourselves, but there are times when we become so bound up in them we do well to step outside the 'rules' and tear up those that prevent us acting sensibly and in a Christian fashion. The 'Laws' laid down and made by the General Synod have, for quite some time, actually prevented us from behaving like the Christians we are supposed to be in a very wide range of matters. It is time the Church stopped being so legalistic and asked itself seriously the question; "What would Jesus do or say in this position?"

I suspect he would tell us, as he told the Pharisees, that the slavish adherence to a set of 'laws,' no matter how well intentioned, do not a good Christian make. Excluding people because they are different, labeling others because we do not like their lifestyle, or digging our heels in and taking refuge behind barriers because we don't want to have to face changing understandings or changing perceptions is not behaving in a Christian manner.

If nothing else, this debate may just provoke a revision of the Canons and perhaps a good hard look at what we are doing with the message of the gospels.

No comments:

Post a Comment