Today’s Times carries an interview with the Bishop of Salisbury, by Ruth Gledhill in which bishop Nicholas says he has changed his mind and now supports gay marriage. This is a dramatic development at the end of what has already been a very dramatic week for LGB&T issues in the Church of England.
Ruth says this puts him at odds with the other 43 diocesan bishops. That’s not true. Just as there are 13 closeted gay bishops (and is it too much to hope tomorrow’s headline will be ‘Gay bishops come out’?) there are a number of bishops who keep their support for gay equality and gay marriage carefully in the closet. I hope the Bishop of Salisbury’s honesty will encourage others to come out and speak the truth.
Bishop Nicholas believes there is no distinction between heterosexual and homosexual unions, in total opposition to the Archbishop of York in his Telegraph interview last Saturday.
“All of us have friends, families, relatives, neighbours who are, or who know somebody, in same sex partnerships.
“I’m no longer convinced [that marriage can only be between heterosexual people]. I think same-sex couples that I know who have formed a partnership have in many respects a relationship which is similar to a marriage and which I now think of as a marriage. And of course now you can’t really say that a marriage is defined by the possibility of having children.”
Bishop Nicholas says that in the Church, marriage is defined by two people promising to love each other faithfully for life in the context of a sexual relationship, and that they might have children. But he believed that the Church was “moving towards” the recognition of gay relationships.
“Not all heterosexual marriages produce, or even have the potential for, children, so that can’t be the single defining criteria setting them apart from same-sex partnerships.”
The Bishop of Salisbury said he didn’t think it would help if he were to “sublimate” his own views to the views of the Church.
“Part of responsible leadership is having the vision, the sight, to see that’s where I want to go.”
The Times reminds readers that in his 1989 essay The Body’s Grace Dr Rowan Williams wrote in support of intimate same-sex relationships and still in private, holds to the same view.
Commenting on the Anglican Covenant, Bishop Nicholas says:
“Although its architects says it is not designed to exclude, I can’t but read it without concluding that it is intended to exclude groups and specifically the Episcopal Church and the Canadian Church and parts of the Church of England.”