The new dean of St Paul’s Cathedral has called on the Church of England to embrace gay marriage. The Very Rev Dr David Ison, who was appointed by the Queen this week, said the church should welcome gay people wanting to take on the virtues of marriage, such as faithfulness.
“We need to take seriously people’s desire for partnership and make sure that the virtues that you see in married relationships are available to people who are gay,” he said.
Ison told the Times that there was a problem of “word definition” about gay marriage because of the history and the tradition of the church. He added that it was more helpful to talk of “Christian marriage” than homosexual or heterosexual unions.
“You can regard two Christian gay people as wanting to have the virtues of Christian marriage,” he said. “For Christian gay people to model that kind of faithfulness, in a culture which, historically, has often been about promiscuity, is a very good thing to do.”
He added that gay couples should also be allowed to adopt children: “I think that … anyone who can provide a loving, stable, caring home should be able to adopt.”
Asked whether the government was right to change the law on gay marriage, Ison said a commitment to being together was “the best pattern for how to flourish if you’re going to be in a relationship … whether you’re gay or straight. Marriage doesn’t belong to the Church.”
In his previous position as dean of Bradford Cathedral, Ison conducted ceremonies to affirm and pray for gay couples civil partnerships. He said he would be happy to do the same at St Paul’s.
“The Bishops’ regulations say you can do things which are pastorally appropriate… Marriage is an institution, but the definitions of that, and how you get into it, and quite what its responsibilities are, have changed over time,” he said. He added: “I just wish we weren’t so obsessed about sex. I was talking to someone the other day who said, ‘Why is the Church always going on about women bishops and gays?’ Justice and poverty should be the concerns.”
Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, has said “marriage is a relationship between a man and a woman”. He said David Cameron would be acting like a “dictator” to change the law.
Cardinal Keith O’Brien, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, said the proposals are “grotesque” and akin to legalising slavery.
These are the opinions expressed by Christian leaders for consumption by the people of the UK and in particular, those of us who are Christian and LGB&T. They are presenting a judgmental, bigoted version of Christianity and it is time for them to change their attitudes radically.