PBSC Response to the Commission on the Marriage Canon
by the Revd. Gordon Maitland
In 2013 the General Synod passed a resolution directing the drafting of a motion “to change Canon XXI on marriage to allow the marriage of same-sex couples in the same way as opposite-sex couples, and that this motion should include a conscience clause so that no member of the clergy, bishop, congregation or diocese should be constrained to participate in or authorize such marriages against the dictates of their conscience.” Such a motion would then be considered by the 2016 General Synod.
The General Synod stipulated that the preparation of this motion should, among other things, demonstrate that a “broad consultation” had taken place. To that end, a Commission on the Marriage Canon was established, and an important part of its mandate included inviting “signed written submissions on the matter of amending Canon XXI (“On Marriage in the Church”) so as to provide for same-sex marriage in our church from any member of the Anglican Church of Canada who wished to make such a submission”.
In response to this request from the National Office of the Anglican Church of Canada for “broad consultation”, a large number of individuals,congregations, and groups made submissions to the Commission on the Marriage Canon. It was felt by the executive of the Prayer Book Society of Canada that we also should make a formal submission to the Commission. The final submission was primarily the work of the Revd. Gordon Maitland, the Revd. David Curry, and Dr. Diana Verseghy. It was felt that a short response was preferable to a long one, and that the response should not be a treatise on human sexuality or the theology of marriage, but a simple re-affirmation of what is already presented in the Book of Common Prayer regarding marriage. Such a response was not intended to disparage gay and lesbian Anglicans, or to comment on the civil provisions already in place for same-sex marriages. It was intended to be a clear and positive statement of what Anglican Christians have traditionally believed about Holy Matrimony. What was submitted to the Commission on the Marriage Canon was the following:
The Prayer Book Society of Canada (PBSC) thanks the National Church for inviting submissions on the proposed changing of the marriage canon to allow same-sex marriage. The PBSC holds the following view, which we believe to be the constitutional and doctrinal position of the Anglican Church of Canada, following the classical understanding and theology of Christian marriage as articulated in the Book of Common Prayer and consistent with the Solemn Declaration of 1893; namely, that the catholic and apostolic definition of marriage is the lifelong and exclusive union of one man and one woman.
Our submission to the Commission speaks for itself. While we understand that not everyone will agree with this point of view, we feel that this is one way in which the PBSC can remain faithful to the Anglican tradition it has inherited and “transmit the same unimpaired to our posterity” (from the “Solemn Declaration”, BCP, p.viii).
(From the PBSC Newsletter, Michaelmas 2014)