This week I have been watching the news a little like one watches a tense thriller.. Slightly hiding behind my fingers in case the very worst happens.
The scene which I fear playing out is one where the characters start tearing into each other but many people are caught up into the cross fire.
As you can probably tell, I am talking about marriage.
Once again communication around what marriage should be is getting muddied and sullied and people are getting hurt and are not listening to each other.
So- here's my thinking.
I want out of marriage. I think I would like the Church of England to drop its legal function in marrying people (of any gender combination).
Why- well my reasons are many and varied but include.
The idea of marriage goes back way beyond the day that the CofE got the right to do the legal bit. If we rid ourselves of the civil obligations it will create a helpful space for the church to think about (both locally and nationally) what it thinks about 'marriage'.
It will give churches the chance to offer blessing and celebration to those who are part of the faith community or who want to seek God's blessing after doing the legal paperwork bit. And the church can do that locally according to the conscience of the group of believers gathered there. It can be done on an individual level with preparation offered in a way that I'm not sure it can be when there are legal bits involved.
It will help in terms of the ever increasingly burden of paperwork involved in marrying those without UK residency.
It will prompt a helpful debate in the evangelical wings of the church about the obsession with the nuclear family (which is also pretty modernistic). it will also help the church full stop to consider its role as one of many societal forces that can be engaged for human flourishing and will help us to offer ourselves in humility (rather than as gatekeeper).
I am going to stop there- feel free to engage in the conversation.