There is reason to hope and pray that when the House of Bishops meets with the Archbishop of Canterbury later this month, they will all move quickly and responsibly through the hot-button topic of homosexual love and sexuality, then purposefully onward to the more central concerns of the Church and the Communion: our mission in the world around us. If so, the bishops and the ABC will help to liberate all but those most invested in the controversy, to enjoy and to share the Love of God more effusively. Toward that end, a few observations around the polity of the Church and the canonical interrelationships of the Churches of the Anglican Communion may be useful.
It will benefit all concerned when Left, Right, and Centrist recognize that the Church is bound by the State when it comes to the definition of marriage. The State defines marriage; the Church does not. The Church acknowledges this in our canons at Title I, canon 18a, which requires that “before solemnizing a marriage the Member of the Clergy shall have ascertained that both parties have the right to contract a marriage according to the laws of the State.” Thus, when people either raise the fear or raise the hope that the Church is ready to define marriage to include couples who are of the same sex, such claims simply are not true because it is simply not possible for the Church to do so. Fear not, the State defines marriage; like it or not, the State defines marriage. The bishops, the ABC, and the Church as a whole will do well to waste no further time or energy around false fears and false hopes that ignore this fact.