When writing my book 'A Just Church' some folk said to me 'its OK to write about poverty, but why write about homosexuality?' The answer was clear to me. SoulSpace (Our local church in Bradford) is based on the notion that the Church needs to respond to areas of injustice and inequality. Gay Christians have faced massive discrimination within the wider church, and the persecution will only end when churches like SoulSpace stand alongside the LGBT community.
When the national church opposes legislation allowing for same sex marriage, it simply looks stupid and out of touch. But worse still, it is guilty of perpetuating injustice and failing to demonstrate God's love. Gay marriage is not a 'threat' to heterosexual marriage - if it is, then there are some severely insecure marriages out there.
Marriage is not simply about procreation. If so, the church should not marry those too old to have children or those medically unable to. Marriage is primarily about love.
Marriage is when two people declare their love for one another in the presence of God and this is witnessed by friends, family and the local community. The church is privileged to be able to solemnise weddings, but should not be allowed to abuse it's position of trust. We need to embrace those who find love, and apologise for the hurt we have caused in the past.
I know this situation will change. In my lifetime, the Church of England will allow those priests who are willing, to bless and marry same sex relationships in parish churches. We will look back at this period with shame, and we will regret the millions of people who will never have anything to do with the church because of its homophobic attitudes.
May God forgive the Church for it's refusal to endorse the love of others. Help us to grow in the Holy Spirit.
I completely agree with your sentiments Chris. One minor point is that for people of no faith marriage doesn't include the presence of God bit. Fairly obvious really, but this leads on to the relevant point that the proposed legislation would not force religious institutions to implement same sex marriages. As a secularist and atheist myself I'm comfortable with this as I believe that people should have freedom of religious practice, provided that it does not infringe on the rights of others. Although I think the proposals to ban religions from conducting these ceremonies is quite daft. Like you though I hope that the C of E will one day embrace the evident love that gay couples can have for each other and accept it as a strengthening of this ancient (pre-Christian) institution.ReplyDelete
As for the notion that gay marriage will "alter the intrinsic nature of marriage" I find the idea groundless. Has marriage survived the change from regarding women as chattels of their husbands? Did divorce ruin marriage for everyone? If the Church of England wants the respect of people who value justice, equality, and tolerance then they need to practice what they preach. I just glad that there are those within the Church who still do.