The Church of England has confirmed that it will not challenge the “same-sex” marriages of its parishioners if a spouse changes gender after marrying.
Currently, the church’s teaching is that marriage is between a man and a woman, however the Bishop of Newcastle the Right Reverend Christine Hardman confirmed on Thursday that it would not challenge a marriage between a couple if one of them became transgender after the marriage had been performed, reports The Times.
“If a couple wish to remain married after one partner has transitioned, who are we to put them asunder?” Hardman said, adding: “When a couple marry in church they promise before God to be faithful to each other for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, come what may, although we preach compassion if they find this too much to bear.”
The comments came before bishops travel to York on Friday for the General Synod, the national assembly of the Church of England which meets to agree matters such as doctrine, writing new forms of worship, and express the Church’s opinion on religious matters.
The Synod is set to answer some 100 questions, some expected to be of a controversial nature, such as reporting to the police abuse divulged during confession.
The ruling should hardly come as a surprise to those watching the mother church of England becoming increasingly progressive and anti-Biblical in recent years. The Church of England already allows marriages in its churches for two people born the same gender if one person has had their gender legally changed, so that whilst the Church maintains that its position is that marriage is between a man and a woman, it is in reality between what the State rules to be a man and a woman — not a man and woman as God had originally made them.
Defending the Church’s call to make it easier for people to legally swap sex, the Church of England’s director of mission and public affairs Rev Dr Malcolm Brown toldThe Times in October 2018: “Trans people with gender recognition are already able to marry in our churches. Being transgender does not prevent someone offering themselves for ordained ministry and we have transgender clergy as well as laity.”
Apart from allowing transgender people to marry spouses of the same biological sex in churches and recruiting trans people as clergy, the Church of England has also instructed its schools to encourage young children to “explore” their gender identity “without judgment” and issued guidance on holding “celebratory” ceremonies to mark a parishioner’s “gender transition”.
Meanwhile, the Methodist Church in Britain has ruled to move one step closer to allowing gay marriages to take place in their chapels this week.
During the Church’s annual conference in Birmingham this week, attendees voted in favour of Resolution 10/8 — 247 votes for, 48 against — with the resolution reading:
“The Conference consents in principle to the marriage of same-sex couples on Methodist premises throughout the Connexion and by Methodist ministers, probationers or members in so far as the law of the relevant jurisdiction permits or requires and subject to compliance with such further requirements, if any, as that law imposes.”
In the coming months, the proposals will be debated in the District Synods and final resolutions to the proposals will be put before the next Conference when it meets in summer 2020.
The Methodists’ decision is significant for the Church of England, as both churches are looking to develop closer ties. A final review on the Church of England’s stance on gender and sexuality is set to be published in 2020.