Jim Naughton has posted an article about an emerging British controversy over whether or not adoption agencies can legitimately discriminate against same-gender couples. Newly adopted British law says “no”. The Roman Catholic Church in Britain has said that if this law is enforced, they will close down their orphanages rather than let the children in their care be adopted by same-gender couples.
The Anglican Archbishops of Britain have issued a letter asking Her Majesty’s government to not pursue this course of action. In a nutshell the letter argues that morality should not legislated.
The key line in the letter from the Archbishop’s causes Jim to ask this question:
“What do you make of the statement: ‘The rights of conscience cannot be made subject to legislation, however well meaning.'”
There are any number of rather simple rejoinders to the statement but most of them have to do with people who do not have a strong informed conscience. (A category in moral theology – distinct say from a lax conscience or an ignorant conscience…)
But I think what’s more interesting is that this line of argument opens the door for the Episcopal Church to make a similar claim to the rest of the Communion. The Episcopal Church has taken a carefully thought out position on the full inclusion of Gay and Lesbian Christians. If our position arises from a strong and fully informed moral conscience, then how can it be gainsaid by the rest of the Communion? Rather, if we follow the same line of argument that the Archbishops have suggested, there should be made room in the Communion for people who believe as we do.
The immediate response from the re-asserter side would be that they too have a strong and informed conscience informing their position. To which I respond “Yes – and there should be space made inside the Episcopal Church for that.” But the Presiding Bishop has already offered Alternative Primatial Oversight to those bishops who desire it, and diocesan bishops have offered Delegated Episcopal Oversight as well.
So if this argument of respecting conscience works for protecting the rights of the minority in Britain, why can’t it work in the Communion?
Read the rest here: The gay adoption issue in the UK
(Via Daily Episcocpalian.)