On Unions of Persons of the Same Sex
Question 5a: Is there a law in your country recognizing civil unions for people of the same-sex and equating it in some way to marriage?
Question 5b: What is the attitude of the local and particular Churches towards both the State as the promoter of civil unions between persons of the same sex and the people involved in this type of union?
Varies from careless indifference through confused bewilderment, to bigoted anger and furious condemnation. Conservative Anglicans are embarrassed to say other than “we have always welcomed homosexuals into the church” yet wish they weren’t required to face questions about their attitude. They will hope to get off the hook by saying the the CofE was at the leading edge of calls for homosexuality to be decriminalised — even if, as individuals, they opposed it fifty years ago.
At the other extreme Anglicans see any gender constraints indicative of homophobia. Catholics, like the conservative Anglian, would rather not be asked, but in general ensure that when asked, you are made aware that all Christians should be welcome in the house of God. Less tolerant views seem to be found amongst non–conformist Christians, and naturally some of the exclusive sects like Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Research at the University of Leicester last year showed interesting results. Differences in attitudes, over 30 years, have not changed between four groups: Anglicans, Catholics, other Christians (such as the non-conformist denominations and those unaffiliated) and those of no religion.
In 1983, 58% of people with no religion when asked if same–sex relationships are wrong or almost always wrong, thought that was the case. The highest group who thought it was wrong were those Christians who were neither Anglican or Catholic: 79.7%. Catholics = 74.8% and Anglicans 69.7%.
The average trend dropped for each group, so that by 2010 Christians who were neither Anglican or Catholic = 47%. Catholics = 41.2% and Anglicans 37.4%. Those of no religion who thought it wrong = 20.5%.
In Judaism, there is no ‘Pope’ to order one standard Jewish opinion, but Jewish marriage and the family is so important culturally to ensure community cohesion, that the emphasis has always been on the positive aspects of this, rather than any condemnation of something that 3000 years ago was taboo.
A group of 170 Orthodox Israeli and American rabbis, teachers, psychologists and community leaders spent ten years considering a viewpoint, which they published three years ago. They came to an official Jewish conclusion that: “All human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect … Embarrassing, harassing or demeaning someone with a homosexual orientation or same-sex attraction is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.”
In general polls have shown that whereas most of the population of UK and EU are in favour of same–sex civil partnerships only 46% want to see same–sex marriage and 45% oppose it.
Question 5c: What pastoral attention can be given to people who have chosen to live in these types of union?
I suppose I would expect to see evidence of what the Modern Orthodox Jews aim to achieve: “All human beings are created in the image of God and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect … Embarrassing, harassing or demeaning someone with a homosexual orientation or same–sex attraction is a violation of Torah prohibitions that embody the deepest values of Judaism.”
As we adopted the Torah as the Old Testament, the statement is valid as it stands.
Question 5d: In the case of unions of persons of the same sex who have adopted children, what can be done pastorally in light of transmitting the faith?
Emphasise that how you behave is always more important than who you live with or love. God doesn’t discriminate by gender, so don’t put yourself above God.