Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Kiwi Response to the Scots Showing the English the Way Forward (2)

Further in this series, I now respond to this comment made a few days ago:

"(2) "How would opting out line up with the religious exemption in the Human Rights Act? You could hardly argue that something is core to your belief if half of your fellow believers thought it was not.""

For those outside of NZ, this comment refers to the possibility under our laws (re Human Rights, re our Marriage Act which permits same sex marriages) that if a church such as ACANZP ends up with a set of canons which permits its marriage celebrants to believe differently on marriage then the 'religious exemption' allowing marriage celebrants not to be pursued at law for refusing to conduct a same sex marriage might not apply.

Obviously there is a legal answer to the question which I am not qualified to provide (and, indeed, no one may be so qualified until a case arises which is addressed by our judges).

But I would think there would be some credence to a church (even better, to a set of churches in NZ, Anglicans, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists ...) which said,
(1) our canon on marriage remains as it has been and expresses the traditional Christian belief concerning marriage, therefore our ministers accepting this canon as part of their submission to the authority of General Synod cannot say Yes to performing a same sex marriage on behalf of the state,
(2) yet a subset of ministers within the church may legally bless same sex partnerships because they choose in writing to exercise an option to do so (e.g. the option to be available to bless such partnerships).

(On my original writing of the above paragraph, I offered a confusing wording around the idea that there might be an 'opt in' to the traditional canon on marriage and/or an 'opt out' of that canon in favour of a more progressive canon. Apart from recognising (H/T to a correspondent) the confusion in the wording, I now see that 'opt in' or 'opt out' options (to coin a phrase!) are quite tricky to work out. The wording above hopefully is less confusing; but the proposal made around 'opt' could no doubt be improved considerably).

If such an approach failed then we might or even would have to pursue the possibility that we no longer conduct marriages on behalf of the state.


Anonymous said...

We never did "conduct marriages on behalf of the state". Marriage in church long predated the church's interest, and it will also long outlast it (given the direction of travel is towards 'every relationship is the same'.)

We conduct marriage because we see this as the foundational relationship that God created, and that he blesses.


John Sandeman said...

Your summary of what the Church of Scotland has done could possibly include an update. Their General Assembly also passed a motion to apply their newly minted provision about clergy in same sex partnerships to clergy in same sex marriages, and has sent this provision about clergy in same sex marriages to their presbyteries to vote on.
Same sex marriage is newer in Britain than NZ, and that is the reason the Kirk moved in this two step way.
So the example of Scotland is most likely to be offering an an opt in on the issue of same sex marriage rather than same sex civil unions. Thee Church of England, the Canadiian and your province are likely to be caught with the same issue if they wish to allow for SSM: equality legislation will make it hard to protect their conservation ministers. I imagine the same might apply here in Australia.
John Sandeman

Jean said...

It is interesting the issue of human rights or the Human Right's Act come up in this topic and that it has been used against those who hold to traditional marriage in other countries.

In the Declaration on Human Rights Article 18 reads:
"Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance."

Hence, Christians who hold to the traditional view of marriage are free manifest this belief in practice such as carrying out weddings as are other faiths, of which I might point out are more likely to be even more conservative on the issue of homosexuality than some Christians..

In respect to equality the declaration says no one is to be discriminated against by the law of a country.

In NZ Christian Ministers can legally 'marry' a couple, however, ministers of our faiths such as Hindu's and Buddhists perform their ceremonies and then get a celebrant to do the legal part.

I one wanted a human rights cause in NZ a good focus would be that currently our law breaches the Convention on the Rights of the Child in that a child now born in NZ no longer automatically becomes a citizen. Meaning they are denied by right access to our education and health services.