Time is of the essence but essentially time is short these days, so I find myself not able to get into the time/space for mentally thinking through my final post, "Part 5", which (with fine tuning after, hopefully, some comments) would be my submission to the Archbishops by the 1 October 2016 deadline.
Here, en route to that final post, I am making a few remarks/notes, picking up on some on-blog and off-blog correspondence and conversations. Your comments remain welcome ... In no particular order of logic or priority:
(1) A very helpful suggestion that I drop talk of "same sex blessing" (SSB) but refer instead to "blessing civil unions or other marriages recognised by the State" where "other marriages" refers other than Christian marriages between men and women. That is, as a Christian church we Anglicans are "in the business" of conducting Christian marriages as traditionally, Scripturally and customarily understood by orthodox Christians in all churches, but we are also a church in a society which legally recognises permanent unions between couples (irrespective of gender) and short of disengaging from society we should ask ourselves how we might respond to such unions with some form of acknowledgment, affirmation and support.
(2) With particular reference to a debate between Malcolm Falloon and myself (e.g. here), I acknowledge the importance of asking of ourselves two related questions about the position we might come to. One question concerns the viability of a decision with reference to relationships with other Anglican churches in the Anglican Communion. Another question concerns whether "catholicity" means anything to ACANZP these days since we seem to be paying only a small amount of attention to whether or not a decision to change the status quo might affect our relationships with other churches and might mean that as a church having some semblance of commitment to being part of the catholic (universal) church of God we effectively ditch catholicity as a mark of ourselves as a church. In some conversations it strikes me that "justice" is the replacement mark for "catholicity."
(3) A growing conviction in my mind that the core of my proposal, that we steadfastly eschew SSM in favour of retaining our current doctrine of marriage but consider recognition of unions recognised by the State (see (1) above), is not a mere "compromise" (with all the difficulties that raises for brothers and sisters who cannot think of compromise in such a way as anything other than a failure to be faithful to Christ) but is actually a principled solution.
The principles here are that (A) we are committed to being a catholic church sharing in the universal Christian doctrine of marriage as being between a man and a woman, (B) we are committed to being a church which lives in a specific time, place and culture (21st century South Pacific), seeking to be a bridge between God and this set of Pacific societies (and not an isolationist sect within it), and (C) we wish to appropriately and lovingly respond to relationships which do not fit with that universal Christian doctrine yet which represent the frailties and vulnerabilities of human beings for whom relationship is preferable to aloneness.
As always, what do you think?
I will do my best to post comments over the next few days when I am tied up extensively in a meeting or two ...! I may or may not be able to respond to comments for a few days.