Principle v Compromise?

This post has been prompted by the political situation in the UK, but it applies equally to the Scottish Episcopal Church who have just voted to allow gay weddings (this article was written before the vote was passed, but I found it a good explanation of what has been allowed).

As an Anglican it is perhaps not surprising that I believe in compromise, although what that compromise means is up for discussion.  There are some things that are NOT up for debate, but in the Church of England the nearest we have to a “confession” is the Declaration of Assent (scroll down), although not everyone interprets it in the same way.

The battle in the Church of England is different from that in the Conservative and Labour parties.  The Church of England believes in the Gamaliel principle, we allow people to hold opposing views until time helps us to reach a resolution, and during that time discussion, debate and prayer happen.  Yes, in the short term this can lead to compromise, but it is not a winner takes all 52/48.  It requires a 2/3 majority in Synod to change anything.  All of those holding opposing views are principled, it is just that they have reached opposing conclusions from their principles.  There are, of course, those in the Church of England who believe that they are right, and that those who are wrong should be made to agree with what is right, but that is a minority position – see the decision taken in Scotland.

In politics there will be people who agree to do things which are against their principles because they belong to a party which espouses one particular view.  Interestingly I can remember a time when the rigorous “on message” approach of political parties was less enforced, and differences of opinion were tolerated, with Jeremy Corbyn being an example; but with the exception of the Brexit referendum parties seem to want to force everyone to agree with their stated policy.

Perhaps for the good of the country we need MPs to stand up for what they believe, regardless of party affiliation.

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