Ballarat Synod Asks Bishop to “Authorise” a liturgy for Same-Sex Blessings

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The Diocese of Ballarat had it’s synod this past weekend and, unlike other dioceses in Australia, chose to pass a controversial motion supporting the blessing of same-sex marriages. The full text of the motion (which was passed unamended) was:

That recognising the good work completed by last year’s Synod on the topic of same-sex marriage, we ask that this Synod:

a) Affirms that all people are accorded equal dignity and are created in the image and likeness of God, regardless of their sexuality or gender;

b) Acknowledges the reality of the recent change in Australian marriage law to include same-sex couples;

c) Commends the pastoral value of a Form of Blessing of a Marriage for optional use within the Diocese of Ballarat alongside, or in addition to, a secular wedding conducted by a civil celebrant and;

d) Asks the Bishop of Ballarat to authorise such a liturgy as soon as practicable. understands that, as in other dioceses, a motion that the motion be “not put” was presented to the diocese. The President (Bishop Garry Weatherill) questioned whether the “not put” motion could be presented but allowed it to be considered whereupon it was soundly defeated on the voices.

In his Presidential Address at the opening of Synod Bishop Weatherill, who is widely acknowledged to be in favour of the revising the church’s doctrine of marriage to include same-sex relationships, said,

The fact of our birth means that we have a vested interest in sex, from both a personal and a social perspective. But I am never quite sure why the Church is so interested in regulating sexual activity. The Scriptures are far more focused on justice, hospitality and what we do with our money, than what sexual activities we engage in. This is not to trivialise such an important part of being human, but I wonder if the whole of western culture has become over sexualised and, subsequently, unhealthily prurient.

Nevertheless the synod decided to indulge that very same prurient call of western culture that the Bishop identified and in so doing now places him in a difficult position. It has asked him to authorise a liturgy “as soon as practicable” (something he has indicated he may yet do) but authorisation would set him against the vast majority of the Anglican Church of Australia, not to mention his fellow bishops.

image: Diocese of Ballarat Facebook Page

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  1. linda nolan

    Here we go again. If these would-be splittists want same-sex marriage solemnisations in the Anglican Church why don’t they come straight out & say it? Just because SSM has been legalised does not mean the Church is required to bless couples so married civilly. As I have said in these pages ad nauseam, first they ask for SSMB’s “because its now legal”, then they’ll go for the main prize & if successful there ACA will go the way of the Scots Anglican church. Be it upon their heads, and those of their senior leaders who have had ample opportunity to stand up, be counted & advise that ACA is walking away from joint civil/sacramental solemnisations. And enough please, about pastoral values – if there was any such value in blessing registry office marriages the Church would have written an appropriate liturgy years ago.

  2. Bruce Wearne

    Well said Linda. You final comments raises another matter about “pastoral care”. Where is the liturgical “pastoral care” for those still grieving the sad breaking of the marriage bond? One wonders how long it will be before such confused churchmen and churchwomen realise that their obsessive search for such a “blessing” is part of a destruction of respect for the wife-and-husband relationship (Hebrews 13:4). The Bolshevik attempt to transform marriage by revolutionary decree – as a freely entered companionship dissoluble at any moment by the will of either of the contracting parties – and this injected such a toxic disintegrating impact in Russian society and their “revolution” that it was not long before “reaction” set in and “heterosexual marriage” became a solemn duty of all loyal party members!

  3. linda nolan

    Thanks Bruce. I was unaware of the Bolshevik attempt to revolutionise marriage and, even in such fearful times for the people, the backlash it engendered and the party’s quick reversal. A cowed populance still know right from wrong – the downfall of many dictators & repressive regimes, thank goodness!

    Our Parliament, in the eyes of many, cheapened the institute of marriage (destroyed respect for the wife-and-husband relationship as you say), by the changes they made to the Marriage Act last year.

    Amazingly, Parliament did not confine implementing the changed law to public servants or civil celebrants but licensed ministers of religion to implement combined civil & religious ceremonies under a law which defines the institution so differently from Christ.

    It is a grave error by Christian church Leaders to allow their ministers to participate in Australia’s amended Marriage Act.

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