'Reading' cohabitation

by Duncan Dormor
in Signs of the Times No. 13 - Apr 2004
[from his book Just Cohabiting? The Church, Sex and Getting Married]

The churches have tended to 'read' contemporary cohabitation as a rejection of marriage and a clear example of the waning influence of its teaching.

Some of the more generous discussions have considered cohabitation to be a 'mixed bag', dividing cohabiting relationships into three camps based upon perceived motivations: the casual, the ideological and the committed. Those in the first category are not interested in the permanent commitment of marriage and are in their relationship for its immediate benefits only; those in the second consciously 'reject' the institution of marriage for a number of reasons; whilst those in the third group see cohabitation in some sense as preparatory for marriage, are committed to and envisage a future together, and having taken several steps along the way, might be deemed in most senses 'already married'. Naturally it is this third category that is viewed most positively by the Church.

Read more ...

The threat of the headscarf

by Anne Davison
from Signs of the Times No. 13 - Apr 2004

The French Government recently passed legislation declaring that the wearing of headscarves by Muslim females (the hijab) in public institutions should be outlawed.

The reason given was that such an overt symbol of religiosity was a threat to the secular ideology foundational to the French Constitution. Almost as an afterthought, and probably in order to avert accusations of religious discrimination against Muslims, the wearing of the Jewish scull-cap and 'large' Christian crosses in public institutions have also been banned. The Sikhs, as yet not targeted, await with bated breath, but many are talking openly about leaving the country if such legislation should be passed against them also. However, a more pressing question comes to my mind; 'why now'? Why now, after decades, when the wearing of such apparel has been accepted at best or tolerated at worst by French society?

Read more ...

Re-enacting gay marriage

by Roger Burg
from Signs of the Times No. 13 - Apr 2004

Well, it's not gay marriage. It was the old adelphopoiesis ceremony that the historian John Boswell 'discovered' in the 1990s, the rite by which the Church in Eastern Europe united same-sex couples.

I had got fed up with the resistance to the Civil Partnerships Bill, which came from the socalled 'traditionalists' in 'the Churches'. It was clear that someone ought to do something, but who and what?

Read more ...