Mar 30, 2024

Revd Dr Ian Paul joins me to discuss the marriage-related outcomes of the Church of England’s recent Synod. His perspective offers a critical lens on these debates, particularly their impact on the understanding of marriage within the Church. You can listen to Ian’s insights here.

The Living in Love and Faith discussion, aimed at exploring the Church’s stance on same-sex relationships, was a central topic. Ian expresses significant concern, stating, “we’re in a bit of a mess here”. He highlights the tension between the Church’s established doctrine—that marriage is “a lifelong union between one man and one woman”—and proposals that endorse a departure from this view. His frustration at the resulting “absolute crisis of confidence” is palpable as he discusses the complexities, contradictions and lack of coherence inherent in the debate.

The Families and Households report, commissioned by Archbishop Justin Welby, also came under scrutiny for its failure to underline the importance of traditional marriage as the cornerstone of family life. Ian’s disappointment was evident as he criticised the report’s approach, which seemed to disregard the well-documented benefits of children being raised by their married biological parents. “We are deciding to be indifferent to the welfare of children”, he remarks, summarising his dismay at the report’s omission.

Lastly, the Synod touched upon the sensitive issue of clergy remarriage, especially in cases involving divorcees with living ex-spouses. While this was addressed as a matter of pastoral concern, Ian cautions against allowing such discussions to implicitly challenge the Church’s teaching on the lifelong nature of marriage. His comments reflect a broader exasperation with the Church’s ongoing struggles to reconcile modern societal changes with its doctrinal foundations.

C4M urges the Church of England to adhere to its foundational teachings on marriage – not in belief only, but in practice as well. Rather than giving in to the pressures of a vocal minority, the Church’s discerning and principled leadership should prioritise the welfare of children, adults and society at large.