Is SSB part of Core Doctrine?

by Tony Copple
20 July 2007

The recent Canadian Anglican Synod may have narrowly voted that the blessing of same-sex unions would not be a matter of the core doctrine of the Church, but were they right? Things outside this core have been known as "matters indifferent." This means they are not essential to Anglican identity and Anglicans can and do disagree about them.

"Marriage is to do with the church's relationship to her redeemer. What could be more core doctrine than that?"
- Nazir Ali Thursday July 5, 2007

At the fourth Chavasse Lecture at Wycliffe Hall on 4 July 2007, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali of Rochester responded to a question about the recent motion at the Canadian General Synod.

Q. Can you comment on the motion that the Canadian General Synod has passed asserting that blessing of same-sex relationships is not a matter of core doctrine?

A. First, the Book of Genesis affirms that humanity is made in God's image, male and female together, and is given a common mission which they fulfil in distinctive ways. As Karl Barth said, this makes marriage and the family the most visible sign of that image.

Secondly this is clarified further in the teaching of Jesus. Mark 10 1-9 ("The two will become one flesh") is set as the gospel for the wedding service, and when I preached at wedding services in Pakistan many Muslim women used to come to enquire further about it as they had never heard about this way in which the relationship between men and women is ordered.

Thirdly, Ephesians 5.32 ("This is a profound mystery, but I am talking about Christ and the church") is the only place where the word 'sacrament' which is the translation of the Greek word 'mysterion', is used in the New Testament. It affirms that marriage is a sacrament of Christ and the church. Fundamentally this is to do with the Church's relationship to her redeemer. What could be more core doctrine than that?

Read the original here.

Following on from the above, Rev. Canon Eric Beresford, in a Globe & Mail article 9 July, concludes that with the contradictory votes at Synod, "it is unclear what could be the basis of a decision to discipline any priest who in blessing a same-sex union acts on the basis of a 'matter indifferent' even if he or she does so on a matter of significant controversy, and without the authorization of the church." Read the article here.

So we have created a situation where a priest can probably not be disciplined for contravening God's timeless law.