Marriage should be inclusive - a response to the Primates' rebuke of the Episcopal Church

By Jake Cunliffe
January 14, 2016

Today, following four days of discussion, the Primates of the Anglican Communion stated their agreement that The Episcopal Church of the USA (TEC) is to be disciplined for changing its canon law on marriage to allow same-sex unions.

Rumours before and during the meeting abounded that Primates who claim the ‘orthodox’ Anglican position would walk out if TEC were not held responsible for its actions, which are contrary, according to the agreement, to the ‘traditional doctrine of the church’ which ‘upholds marriage as between a man and a woman’.

When we were married (in the USA) the weekend before last, my wife and I used one of the vows from the gender-neutral liturgy approved earlier this year by the General Convention of TEC. We chose the vow, not merely as a statement of solidarity with LGBTI friends, but because the wording allowed us to express our love and devotion to one another, and the equality of our relationship before God and his Church, better than the existing liturgy of the prayer book. It seems implicit to me that the freedom we had must exist for every one of the more than eighty million Anglicans worldwide.

Anglicanism is not only the preserve of Primates who wrangle over doctrine and make sweeping judgements, but is first captured in the lives and cares of faithful individuals who come together in global communion. As Anglicans we have a distinct and ancient tradition, but at the core of this tradition is that which affirms and unites all Christians, and which Paul said is the greatest: love.

‘In the name of God,

I, N., give myself to you, N., and take you to myself.

I will support and care for you by the grace of God: in times of sickness, in times of health.

I will hold and cherish you in the love of Christ: in times of plenty, in times of want.

I will honor and love you with the Spirit’s help: in times of anguish, in times of joy,

forsaking all others, as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow’.


© Jake Cunliffe.  Jake Cunliffe is a former recruitment consultant who has experience with two charities supporting education and the Church's role in development internationally. Recently he has worked as a researcher and event organiser for a project looking at religion and war. Jake completed a masters degree in World Christianity in 2014. His interest in intra- and inter-church relations led him to research a dissertation on the current state of the Anglican church worldwide.

Everyone at Ekklesia would like to congratulate Jake on his recent wedding and wish him and his wife a long and happy marriage.


*'Sexuality, Struggle and Saintliness: Same Sex Love and the Church' by Ekklesia Associate Savitri Hensman is published  by Ekklesia by print on demand. It is available from the following online publishers: The Book Depository AbeBooks,   and Waterstones Price £12.99. Ebooks are available Price £3.99 by contacting the office office@ekklesia.co.uk. We are currently developing a word version for those with visual impairments.

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