…you may have guessed I’m not entirely happy with what my particular corner of the Church Universal has produced:
The full version is too long to address in detail here, but I will refer to the summary which is located at:
Taking their points in order:
The first assertion made is: “[changes in law mean] the definition of marriage having to change for everyone.”
Does it though? At the individual level, is there a single legally defined definition of marriage that actually defines actual married couples’ understandings of their marriages? I rather doubt it. My marriage is what it is and what it means to Mrs AgnosticChristian and me, which may or may not coincide with a legal definition. It certainly isn’t entirely defined by any laws.
There are those who believe that remarriage after divorce is a nonsense, much as the Church may be trying to argue that gay marriage is (i.e. it doesn’t make logical sense if one is tied to marriage meaning one man and one woman, which appears to be ++John Sentamu’s position.) And the Church does not normally perform such marriages. Did the legality of second marriages redefine marriage for those who have only been married once and believe they cannot divorce and remarry? Did the supposedly unchanging definition of marriage survive this change? It rather looks like it did.
The next two paragraphs appear to be a bit of a straw man. In the same way that the Church does not perform marriages between divorcees, and yet doesn’t imagine that that presumes two categories of “religious” and “civil” marriages, why would a situation where the Church did not perform marriages between couples of the same sex, whilst the civil authorities did, do so?
The quotation from ++Rowan Williams looks for all the world like the sort of quote mining one expects from Creationists. Read in context, all Rowan appears to be saying is that the removal of stigma alone would not provide sufficient grounds, nor would be adequately addressed by, a simple legal change. But that is not the main reason given for the proposed legislation, so the point is rather moot. Rowan has been, to my mind, very quiet on this one – I suspect he is disinclined to upset anyone in the waning months of his position as ABofC, and the fact that this barely relevant aside keeps on being touted as his position rather reinforces the impression that he’s unwilling to make any really clear statement.
In reality, what will actually happen is that opposite sex couples will continue to marry exactly as they do now, with the same reasons and expectations, their marriages in no material way changed in meaning or significance. Their personal opinions and beliefs will dictate how they view the marriages between those of the same sex, much as a devout Catholic (or, strictly speaking, Anglican) might currently view with suspicion remarriages between divorcees.