The Twisting Of Marriage
Canadian Anglican Innovations 1985-2004, And Beyond
The Canons Laws on Consanguinity (forbidden degrees of relationship suitable for marriage) date back to the AD600s, and reflect earlier tradition and practice. Those principles were carried over into Anglican Church Law in the various Books of Common Prayer, and Western legal systems.
All that changed in Canada, thanks to Canadian Anglicans. In 1984, then-Primate Ted Scott wrote to a Canadian Senate committee. He was in favour of repealing all legal restrictions to non-blood consanguinity.
My personal opinion is that the reasons for prohibiting marriage between “in-laws” are not of very great importance. However, I would favour the continuance of the prohibition of uncle/niece and aunt/nephew marriages for social reasons rather than genetic ones.
Marriages of adoptive parents with adopted children should certainly be prohibited, as well as marriages between brothers and sisters related by adoption. Genetic factors are not an issue in such relationships but family structure and solidarity require such a prohibition.
So said radical “Red Ted”, infallible arbiter of all things new.
At General Synod 2001, the Marriage Canon Taskforce Report to General Synod was received. That CoGs-commissioned 1999 taskforce was, in part, to review “the relationship of the Table of Kindred and Affinity to the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act.” Report below, as Appendix I.
In 2004, the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada voted in favour of repealing almost all those same restrictions found in her own canon law. Yet again, Canadian Anglican Christians are seen as leading the way on radical social engineering experiments, and following the secular lead.
Sadly, the Anglican Church of Canada document-police don’t want anybody copying their text. Even though it’s the people in the pews who pay the bills. Adobe security settings:
We’ve also helpfully made screen captures of the forbidden Marriage Canon documents, as follows:
[Also as well as a text-copy, below as Appendix II.]
Cuddling With The Old Leaven
We’ve noted elsewhere that the actual consequences of these innovations not only violate the ancient canon laws of the Eastern and Western Church regarding prohiited degrees of kinship, but violate scripture itself, where Paul condemns the union of a step-son with his widowed step-mother. Paul excommunicates the incestuous adulterer and admonishes the Corinthian Christians to purge out the old leaven.Clearly Paul would not be suitable for ordination in the brave new world of Anglican free-for-all morality. While the old blood-incest ban is retained (for now), the adultery, emotional incest and the permutations and combinations of new marriage-possibilities for CanAnglicans boggle & disgust the mind.
Got The Hots?
Any of your cousins? No problem. Niece & Uncle? Nephew & aunt? Former Mother-in-law? Ex-daughter-in-law? Non-residential step-kids? Fill yer boots. Coming soon: nephews & uncles, former mothers-in-law & daughters in law, step-dad with non-residential step-son– and on and on it goes.
Thanks, Abp. Scott, you and and your radical like-minded copycats. Once again, Canadian Anglicans are a Christian and an oecumenical embarassment.
THE TABLE OF KINDRED AND AFFINITY AND THE MARRIAGE (PROHIBITED DEGREES) ACT
The Table of Kindred and Affinity was first promulgated by Archbishop Parker in 1563. It originally contained many more prohibitions than are now found in the Table. When the Marriage Canon was revised in 1946 the General Synod removed prohibitions in respect of sisters-in-law, brothers-in-law, aunts and uncles by marriage, and nieces and nephews by marriage. That brought the church’s rules in line with changes in the secular law that had been enacted by the Canadian Parliament in 1882, 1890, 1923 and 1932. The Table as so amended is found in the 1959 Book of Common Prayer at page 562 and in section 3 of Canon XXI.
From 1946 to 1991 the secular law and the Table paralleled each other.
Among marriages that continued to be forbidden were those between persons related as uncle and niece or as aunt and nephew. Between 1975 and 1984 nine couples so related successfully petitioned Parliament for the enactment of Private Acts exempting them from the prohibition and authorizing them to marry. Two other Private Acts in the same time period authorized the marriage of a divorced person with the niece or nephew of that person’s former spouse. In most of those cases the parties were close in age; some had been living together and some had had children together.
Parliament did not want to be faced with an endless queue of couples whose relationships fell within the prohibited degrees.9 Parliamentary committees studied the matter between 1984 and 1990.
A Senate committee sought the views of all major religious denominations in Canada. The responses covered a spectrum ranging from approval by the Jehovah’s Witnesses who found a proposed bill to be in harmony with their practice, to strong objections from the Greek Orthodox Church which retained many prohibitions including one against marriage of a godparent with either a godchild or the parent of a godchild (spiritual affinity). In 1984 the then Primate, Archbishop Scott, wrote to the Senate Committee as follows:
- My personal opinion is that the reasons for prohibiting marriage between “in-laws” are not of very great importance. However, I would favour the continuance of the prohibition of uncle/niece and aunt/nephew marriages for social reasons rather than genetic ones.
- Marriages of adoptive parents with adopted children should certainly be prohibited, as well as marriages between brothers and sisters related by adoption. Genetic factors are not an issue in such relationships but family structure and solidarity require such a prohibition.
9 Between 1980 and 1982 three couples related as step-parent and step-child were exempted from the impediment by “Personal Bills” enacted by the United Kingdom Parliament. Those Bills prompted that Parliament to reform the law. See No Just Cause: The Law of Affinity in England and Wales (London: CIO Publishing, 1984).
In 1985 the church’s Sub-Committee on Marriage and Related Matters informed the Senate Committee that it was their opinion that marriage between step-parents and step-children should continue to be prohibited and that the prohibition should be extended to marriage between adoptive parents and adopted children and between brothers and sisters by adoption.
The Senate Committee sought the advice of Dr. Abby Lippman, an eminent geneticist and an associate professor at McGill University, about genetic and eugenic concerns. She said the risk for recessive disease in children born to first cousins (who were not prohibited from marrying) is less than one per cent and that the best guess for recessive diseases in uncle-niece or aunt-nephew matings is slightly higher – perhaps one to two per cent. She saw no need to prohibit such marriages.
Several Bills for reform of the prohibitions were introduced in the Senate in the 1980s but for various reasons died on the parliamentary order paper. In 1990 the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act was passed and it came into force in December 1991. That Act says:
- 2.(1) Subject to subsection (2), persons related by consanguinity, affinity or adoption are not prohibited from marrying each other by reason only of their relationship.
- (2) No person shall marry another person if they are related
- (a) lineally by consanguinity or adoption;
- (b) as brother and sister by consanguinity, whether by the whole blood or by the half-blood;
- (c) as brother and sister by adoption.
- 3.(1) Subject to subsection (2), a marriage between persons related by consanguinity, affinity or adoption is not invalid only by reason of their relationship.
- (2) A marriage between persons who are related in the manner described in paragraphs 2(2)(a), (b), or (c) is void.
- 4. This Act contains all of the prohibitions in law in Canada against marriage by reason of the parties being related.
The Act and the Table may be compared as follows:
- Both the law and the Table prohibit marriages between
A Man and his A Woman and her
- The law, but not the Table, prohibits marriages between such persons if they are related by adoption.
- The Table, but not the law, prohibits marriages between
A Man and his A Woman and her
- Grandfather’s wife
- Wife’s grandmother
- Wife’s granddaughter
- Grandson’s wife
- Grandmother’s husband
- Husband’s grandmother
- Wife’s grandson
- Granddaughter’s husband
The question we posed in our questionnaire was:
WHAT JUSTIFIES RETENTION OF PROHIBITIONS AGAINST A PERSON MARRYING A STEP-PARENT OR STEP-CHILD, A PARENT-IN-LAW OR A CHILD-IN-LAW, AN AUNT OR UNCLE, A NIECE OR NEPHEW?
Of those who gave a clear answer to this question a majority favour bringing the Canon in line with the secular law. Those who seek to justify the prohibitions cite, without any supporting arguments, “moral considerations”, “God’s Word”, “genetic and psychological concerns”, “psychological and spiritual damage to children”, “psychological incest” (?) and “a long-held belief that marriages between blood relatives can produce children with physical or mental disabilities.”
Many respondents recognize the danger in step-relationships of duress or coercion, vulnerability, issues of authority or power, dependence and abuse.
A member of the Commission in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island said:
- Canon law has always emphasized the importance of the totally free and independent choice being made by the bride and groom towards each other, and that any coercion constituted an impediment invalidating the marriage. If relative restrictions are related only to the fear of coercion, or trespassing on the freedom of the individual, there is no need to continue such, provided other assurances of freedom can be made.
None of the respondents advocated any doctrinal or theological justification for retention of the questioned prohibitions. We share the concern about issues of duress or vulnerability where one party has in the past been a child, e.g. step-child, who has lived in the same household as the other party and been treated by that person as a child. Because such marriages will rarely occur it is our view that they should not be prohibited
but that proper inquiries made by an incumbent will reveal any impediment related to the absence of free and independent consent.
- Our recommendation: We recommend that Canon XXI be amended to conform the impediments of relationship to those contained in the Marriage (Prohibited Degrees) Act . We further recommendthat a provision be added to the canon expressly requiring the incumbent, when the parties to the intended marriage have previously lived in the same household and either party has been treated by the other as a child or a parent, to be satisfied that both parties freely consent to the marriage free from any duress, undue influence or coercion, past or present.
Draft amendments are appended.
Amendment to Canon XXI – On Marriage in the Church – Impediments
of Relationship – Second Reading
Moved by: Chancellor Ronald Stevenson
Seconded by: Bishop Barry Hollowell
That second reading be given to the resolution
That Canon XXI be amended:
(1) by striking out section 3 of Part I and substituting therefor the
3. Impediments of Relationship
a) Notwithstanding the Table of Kindred and Affinity contained in
the Book of Common Prayer (1962), when making the inquiries
directed in section 2 the minister shall, with respect to
impediments of relationship, be guided by the Marriage
(Prohibited Degrees) Act, as it was in force on June 1, 2004, which
prohibits marriages between persons who are related
MINUTES OF THE 37TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL SYNOD, MAY 28 – JUNE 4, 2004 Page 80 of 100
i) lineally by consanguinity or adoption,
ii) as brother and sister by consanguinity, whether by the whole
blood or the half-blood, or
iii) as brother and sister by adoption.
b) In addition to marriages prohibited by law, no person may marry
another person if they both live, or have previously lived, in the
same household and one of them is or has been treated by the other
as a child or parent.
(2) by striking out clause 17 a) ii) of Part III and substituting therefor the
ii) they are related to each other
i) lineally by consanguinity or adoption,
ii) as brother and sister by consanguinity, whether by the
whole blood or the half-blood, or
iii) as brother and sister by adoption;
(3) by renumbering clause 17 a) iii) of Part III to be clause 17 a) iv) and by
inserting a new clause 17 a) iii) as follows:
iii) they both live, or have previously lived, in the
same household and one of them is or has been
treated by the other as a child or parent; or
CARRIED IN ALL ORDERS
MINUTES OF THE 37TH SESSION OF THE GENERAL SYNOD, MAY 28 – JUNE 4, 2004 Page 81 of 100
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