A motion to affirm the Church of Ireland’s view of straight marriage as being the “only normative context for sexual intercourse” has been removed from this week’s General Synod meeting after it provoked complaints.
The autonomous Anglican province had been set to debate the motion and one which acknowledged the “hurt” caused by Church figures to gay people.
The Belfast Telegraph reports today that the motions were withdrawn following objections from gay members of the Church who said they were not consulted on them.
The first motion on human sexuality, 8A, had said: “The Church of Ireland continues to uphold its teaching that marriage is part of God’s creation and a holy mystery in which one man and one woman become one flesh.”
It continued that the Church will recognise “for itself and of itself, no other understanding of marriage than that provided for in the totality of Canon 31 [which defines marriage as being between a man and a woman]” and that therefore “faithfulness within marriage is the only normative context for sexual intercourse”.
A letter from Church of Ireland members said of motion 8A: “By stating that faithfulness within marriage is the only ‘normative’ context for sex, Resolution 8A imposes a condition that people in faithful, same-gender relationships cannot comply with.
“The implication that members of the Church of Ireland in relationships other than marriage are in breach of the Catechism gives legitimacy, for the first time, to excluding lay people in same-gender relationships from Holy Communion.”
A Church spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph: “There was a possibility that the resolution might have been undoctrinal in its content, and therefore it was withdrawn before a debate.”
The issue may not be discussed for another two years. Gerry Lynch of Changing Attitudes Ireland told the paper: “It seems that the battle is over for now, but it will come back.”