An Investigation into the Church of England’s teaching on marriage

Dexter, Joshua (2019) An Investigation into the Church of England’s teaching on marriage. Masters thesis, University of Chichester.

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Abstract

This paper asks whether the Church of England considers sources other than the Bible in its
teaching on marriage, focusing specifically on divorce and human sexuality. On the issue of
divorce and the growing number of remarriages, the church felt comfortable letting reason
and experience lead the discussion. However, in the more recent debates around same-sex
marriage the church has continually referred to scripture. The literature review examines how
marriage is understood historically verses theologically. One key observation from the
literature is that the historical discipline considers marriage as a human invention for social
and economic purposes. This differs from marriage as defined by the theological literature
which contends that its origins are divine. The fundamental theological question centres on
the Churches use of the sources of theology: scripture, tradition, reason, and experience. The
method of discovering the answer concerns examining Church documents to understand the
sources they use. The findings focus on the Church documents concerning marriage and
divorce and marriage and sexuality. In the first group of reports the church is found to use
scripture to dictate doctrine while using reason and experience to direct pastoral discipline.
However, the distinction between doctrine and discipline is brought into question when
examining the reports discussing marriage and sexuality. The documents on human sexuality
make clear that expanding the Church’s definition of marriage to include same-sex
relationships would fundamentally alter current doctrine. To make a change to doctrine
would not only have theological consequences but national and global ones to the unity of the
world-wide Church. This is due to the vast range of opinions regarding same-sex marriage
within the Anglican communion. The desire to maintain unity within the global Anglican
community is a contributing factor to the Church’s reluctance to alter current doctrine on
marriage. This paper concludes that ultimately the church’s use of these sources is divided.
Human reason and experience only given authority on policies that do not directly impact
official Church doctrine, which is directed by the witness of scripture.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: MA Public Theology.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Church, Divorce, Sexuality
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BV Practical Theology > BV1460 Religious Education
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BX Christian Denominations
Divisions: Student Research > Masters
Depositing User: Janet Carter
Date Deposited: 16 Jun 2022 09:40
Last Modified: 16 Jun 2022 09:40
URI: https://eprints.chi.ac.uk/id/eprint/6327

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