Oliver O'Donovan, highly respected British theologian, writer and ecclesial luminary, recently spoke along these lines:
"Christian Today has revealed that one of the ways the Church may find a compromise over the issue is through a "pastoral accommodation". This could take the form of an authorised service of "welcome" or even blessing for people in same-sex relationships, but not an official marriage.I like what Oliver O'Donovan says and it does accord with where our GS 2016 was heading (retain traditional doctrine of marriage, authorise blessing of same sex relationship liturgy). Broadly, what he proposes is the compromise on the table of our church for our consideration.
Oliver O'Donovan, a theologian who was among the first to propose the idea, told Christian Today "untraditional forms of marriage" had been adopted "without modifying or qualifying in any way the teaching of the church about marriage as the union of one man and one woman for life".
He cited polygamous households in African churches and divorced couples in Western churches as two examples of a departure from traditional Church teaching. He said these models do "not undermine the natural family as a norm, but affirm it, by modelling itself as closely as possible upon it, so the well-designed pastoral accommodation in marriage, designed to meet a quite specific need, will witness in its own way to the normative form from which it derives"." Reported here.
But where we got stuck - in my understanding - was around the word "authorise" because the route we took was to authorise-via-a-formulary. There were several (if not numerous) problems with this route. It involved an effective change in our doctrine of marriage (despite language which claimed otherwise), it involved an oddity that dioceses could then choose whether or not they implemented (and thus corporately believed) something set down in writing as part of the common liturgy/belief of our whole church, and it required "civil marriage" as a pre-condition for the service of blessing which simultaneously raised and lowered the "status" of civil marriage between two people of the same gender.
What I want to propose - see next post - is a different level of authorisation of a liturgy of blessing, removing the requirement of a preceding civil marriage and a different level of decision-making regarding who may offer a liturgy of blessing.