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Not fully satisfied with the British government’s approval of same-sex marriage, a homosexual duo in Britain has decided to go to court to force churches to perform “gay wedding” ceremonies.
The Essex Chronicle reported Barrie and Tony Drewitt-Barlow, who signed up for a civil partnership in 2006, want now to get married in a church.
The British government’s recent legalization of “gay marriage,” however, includes a provision that churches cannot be forced to perform same-sex weddings.
“As much as people are saying this is a good thing, I am still not getting what I want,” Barrie Drewitt-Barlow told the Chronicle, according to the U.K.-based Christian Institute.
He said the “only way forward for us now is to make a challenge to the courts against the church.”
“”It is a shame that we are forced to take Christians into a court to get them to recognize us,” he said. “It upsets me because I want it so much – a big lavish ceremony, the whole works. I just don’t think it is going to happen straight away.”
Unlike the U.S., in the U.K., the Church of England is affiliated with the government. But with the advance of the homosexual-rights movement under President Obama’s leadership, American churches already are being advised to prepare for similar pressure.
Several major organizations are urging churches immediately to build in legal protections against anyone who might demand that they perform same-sex weddings.
An advisory from the California Southern Baptist Convention, for example, warns: “It is important that pastors take steps to protect the theological integrity of the church as it relates to marriage ceremonies, counseling, and other related activities, such as, use of church facilities, employees, and membership.”
It quotes Kevin Snider, chief counsel of the Pacific Justice Institute.
“Snider encourages churches to ‘review, edit and implement’ the model marriage policy ‘immediately.’ He noted the policy does not have to be included in the church bylaws but suggests that it be adopted by an appropriate church body such as the church board, church council or the church membership.”
The policy recommended by PJI notes that marriage “is a union ordained by God.”
“It was first instituted by God in the early chapters of Genesis, codified in the Levitical law, the Old Testament prophets compared it to a relationship between God and his people, examples of it are in the historical narratives, and, the wisdom literature discusses the unique unity of this relationship. Jesus explained the original intention and core elements of marriage, and several New Testament Epistles give explicit instructions on this union,” the policy proposal says.
“Marriage is a typology of Christ and the Church. As such, the Church views marriage as a profound spiritual institution established by God.”
The policy includes requirements that only ordained clergy officiate and that minister would be subject to dismissal and loss of ordination “for officiating a same gender marriage ceremony.”
It requires that anyone “wishing to have a ceremony performed by a member of the clergy employed by the church, or to use the church facilities, shall affirm their agreement with the Articles of Faith and shall conduct themselves in a manner that is consistent.”
The policy also requires a mandatory counseling period with clergy or counselors before any wedding and requires anyone officiating at a wedding on church property to follow its articles of faith.
The California Baptists note a church may also choose to state in its section regarding doctrine “that every member of the church is in agreement with the provisions of the doctrinal section in both faith and practice.”
“The church also can state that its staff will not participate in same-sex unions and its property will not be used to promote such purposes.”
The U.K. case, however, is different because of the link between church and government.
As the officially recognized church, the Church of England is obligated to marry anyone in the local parish. Government attorneys have said that under the European Court of Human Rights, the church exemption in the new law is “eminently challengeable.”
Prior to passage of the law, the prime minister was sent a legal opinion by Lord George Carey, former archbishop of Canterbury, warning that the parliament’s plan to redefine marriage would trigger legal problems and end the 500-year link between church and state, the Christian Institute said.
Church of England officials had called the government’s proposal to adopt same-sex unions was “divisive.”
They said redefining marriage “would alter the intrinsic nature of marriage as the union of a man and a woman, as enshrined in human institutions throughout history.”