[The full report is accessible here. The section under discussion in this post is accessible here. In these posts I am aiming to work my way forward through A Way Forward report, posting on a new section each Monday in the weeks before General Synod, May 2016. Pagination refers to the PDF version of the report.]
If our church changes the status quo almost certainly some change consequentially will be required to our canon on marriage, technically titled within the raft of all our canons as "Title G Canon III".
Page 25 explains the proposed changes to the canon (i.e. if we agree to blessing of civil marriages) and the following pages in this section set out what the new canon would look like if the proposed amendments and additions are agreed to. For the sake of time I will focus here on page 25, save for one point I make about a possible missing word on page 27.
The first proposed change is that as a church we will no longer have our own list of "forbidden marriages". Rather we will conform our understanding of forbidden marriages to the state's understanding of forbidden marriages. I believe I am not alone in being perturbed by this proposed change: it is a small but significant step in which the church gives away its own sense of right and wrong in conformation to what the state thinks (which, on such a matter, will be largely what the surrounding culture thinks). I would not and could not vote to support this change. Incidentally, I see nothing in the AWF report itself which requires this change.
The second proposed change will enable the blessing of civil marriages (i.e. any civil marriage between any kind of couple). I make not further comment here about such blessed relationships since comment is already made in previous posts in this series.
A missing word?
On page 27, Part B: Of Civil Marriages, 1.1, I am wondering if the word "provided" should be added into this clause as it seems to be saying that "A minister may conduct services blessing a civil marriage ... Tikanga Pasifika [PROVIDED] a. the General Synod ...; and b. the Synod ... for such a civil marriage."
Without "provided" clauses (a) and (b) seem to hang there, and, in particular, it is less than clear that the minister may NOT conduct such a service if her or his Synod had not authorised the use of such a service.