Family as common wealth: a response to 'Men and women in marriage'

Savi Hensman


Love of God and neighbour are inextricably intertwined, and committed loving partnerships can nurture spiritual growth as well as bringing joy. Couples and their children (where present) are also called to care for others outside their own households. In Jesus Christ, men and women are invited to be part of a wider family whose love overspills to the needy and even enemies, Christians recognise. Barriers of gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and status are overcome in this divine commonwealth of justice and mercy which is the new family created by Christ. Little of this vision comes across in Men and women in marriage, issued by the Church of England’s Faith and Order Commission with the House of Bishops’ approval in 2013 and commended for study. This document attempts to justify senior clergy’s opposition to marriage equality while allowing pastoral “accommodations” for same-sex couples. Its approach to the Bible, tradition, reason and experience is inadequate, and it fails to do justice to many heterosexual as well as same-sex couples, with damaging consequences for the wider church’s mission and ministry.


1. Introduction: A changing understanding of marriage
2. Defining marriage
3. Bypassing complexity and avoiding challenging questions
4. The centrality of bearing children
5. Gender equality, love and friendship
6. The family and beyond
7. Marriage as sacrament and covenant
8. Moving forward
Further reading and research from Ekklesia
The author

* The full report can be read and downloaded here (*.PDF Adobe Acrobat document): http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/files/family-as-common-wealth.pdf