The leader in the Church Times yesterday concluded by saying, “In the mean time, there are the twin concerns of public perception and mission. A greater enthusiasm for the blessing of same-sex partnerships in church would be one effective way of countering the negative impression given this week.”
The blessing of same-sex partnerships is the key. We know it is going to take the Church of England time to rethink its teaching and theology about same-sex relationships. We hope that all members of the College and House of Bishops understand that Changing Attitude is committed to the affirmation of loving, lifelong, faithful relationships, gay and straight. We hope that all bishops are committed to the same Christian values.
The slow, careful processes by which the church’s teaching evolves has been confronted with the need for a more urgent and radical review as a result of the past week’s developments. The reports of two House of Bishops review groups are going to come under much greater scrutiny now when published – and published they must be. Whatever the reports recommend will be judged in the context of this week’s events.
The church was pushed onto the defensive this week, anxiously claiming that the Church of England really likes gay people after all. The church doesn’t want to appear homophobic and it has said it doesn’t want to be locked into a ban on same-sex marriage. That’s a change!
Has the staff at Church House (and I don’t mean the lesbian and gay members of staff) woken up to the fact that, as Jonathan Freeland wrote in the Guardian today, “…. the landscape [for same-sex marriage] has been utterly transformed in a single generation.”
Bishops, I’d like you to authorise a change in current teaching, dating from Issues in Human Sexuality, 1991. What better way to demonstrate that you really mean it when you want to avoid the church looking homophobic than to approve the blessing of same-sex relationships in church and recognise civil partnerships?
This is really the only solution to the dilemma the church finds itself in, to redeem the damage done to people’s impression of the church. The Church of England urgently needs to restore the trust of English society and of LGB&T individuals, couples and families.
Archbishop of Wales complains
The Most Revd Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales and a patron of Changing Attitude, has complained that the government has put his church in an “enormously difficult position” which threatened to “severely curtail” its freedom to act according to its conscience. He said, “To regard the marriage of gays as a criminal act, I don’t think helps anybody. It certainly doesn’t help the church and it doesn’t help gay people either.
Labour asks the Church to reconsider
The Labour party accused the government of making a “real mess” of its equal marriage proposals and urged a rethink. Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary and minister for women and equality, asked the Church of England to reconsider the matter. She said, “Although the Church of England has said it does not support same-sex marriage right now, I hope it will change its position in time.”
Jonathan Freeland concludes his article by quoting Peter Tatchell, who says the remarkable struggle to end discrimination against LGB&T people, “helped everyone, gay and straight. It’s made Britain a kinder, more liberal society.” Says Freeeland, “I think he’s right. When this last piece of legislation is passed, we should all raise a glass – a celebrating a movement that has made our country a better, happier place to live.”