Single people should be valued by Church of England as much as couples
Single people should be valued by the Church of England just as much as couples, new report commissioned by two Archbishops urges
- The study was commissioned by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York
- It points out single people may feel unwelcome if churches overuse word family
Single people should be valued by the Church of England just as much as couples, a major report has urged.
The study commissioned by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York points out that Jesus himself never married, and warns that single people may feel unwelcome if churches overuse the word family.
It also admits that being in a committed couple is no guarantee of being ‘happy ever after’ – and that even Adam and Eve had strains in their relationship.
The report calls for the Anglican church to start offering ‘marriage preparation’ similar to that used in the Roman Catholic church, with register offices required to highlight the service when couples book their weddings.
It says many couples ‘slide’ into living together without thinking about what it means or their future together.
The study commissioned by the Archbishops of Canterbury (pictured) and York points out that Jesus himself never married, and warns that single people may feel unwelcome if churches overuse the word family
It also admits that being in a committed couple is no guarantee of being ‘happy ever after’ – and that even Adam and Eve had strains in their relationship (pictured: Archbischop of York)
But although the Archbishops’ Commission on Families and Households, published quietly yesterday, ‘celebrates diversity in family life’ it is also scathing about a modern culture that treats sex as ‘simply a leisure activity’.
The report brands the type of relationships shown on reality TV show Love Island as ‘dysfunctional’ and ‘synthetic’ – comparing them unfavourably with those portrayed in Australian soap opera Neighbours.
And it warns that ‘hook-up culture’ is now presented as normal to young girls but adds: ‘Loveless sex is not empowering.’
Despite this, the researchers insist: ‘Having talked to many young people and adults, we concluded that neither the importance of family and marriage nor the values that surround them are in decline.’
The report says it is a ‘point of concern’ that the Government has increased the marriage age to 18 while leaving the age of consent at 16, saying: ‘It legally implies that sex before marriage is acceptable in a way that it was not legally until now.’
It also criticises Government plans to allow outdoor marriage ceremonies and the ‘underlying commercialisation of weddings’, suggesting that the Church should counter the role of the ‘wedding industry’ which prevents couples marrying because of the high cost.
However it also warns that the church is seen as too judgmental about people’s private lives, putting people off attending services.
‘We heard from people who identify as LGBTQI+, as well as those who are single, that they feel a stigma in church from not being in a ‘conventional’ household,’ it says.
Others who were divorced felt ‘unwelcome in their church and judged for their ‘failure’, with some leaving as a result.
‘Others commented that the declining numbers attending a church is symbolic of an institution which fails to understand and acknowledge the diversity of family life today,’ the report warns.
‘We heard that the Church of England often conveys an expectation of marriage which is not present in society, and that there is too much focus on marriage and family in the church community, especially as increasing numbers of people are choosing to remain single.’
The Commission’s key messages include: ‘It is critical to recognise and value all kinds of loving couple relationships. Different family structures in which strong, stable and committed loving relationships are central to everyday life should be celebrated, valuing and supporting everyone to flourish.’
And it recommends that the Church: ‘Honour and celebrate singleness, whether through choice or circumstance, and recognise the full place of single people within the Church and society.’
It points out: ‘We are reminded that Jesus never married and remained single throughout his life. This was unusual as it was expected at that time that everyone would marry.’
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