Archbishop of Canterbury claims to support strengthening gay relationships but not equal marriage

Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, was interviewed on LBC 97.3 by Iain Dale who who is in a civil partnership and supports same-sex marriage. Ian asked the Archbishop: “You said once that you’re always averse to the language of exclusion and what we’re called to do is love in the same way as Jesus Christ loves us, how do you reconcile that with the church’s attitude on gay marriage?”

The archbishop replied: “I think that the problem with the gay marriage proposals is that they don’t actually include people equally, it’s called equal marriage, but the proposals in the Bill don’t do that.

“I mean I know plenty of gay couples whose relationships are an example to plenty of other people and that’s something that’s very important, I’m not saying that gay relationships are in some way, you know that the love that there is less than the love there is between straight couples, that would be a completely absurd thing to say.

“I understand why people want that to be strengthened and made more dignified, somehow more honourable in a good way. It’s not the same as marriage.”

Iain Dale then asked if the archbishop would be open to discussions if the Government’s proposals could be made to work in a more acceptable manner to the Church.

The Archbishop replied: ”We are always open to discussions, we’ve been open to discussion, we’re discussing at the moment. The historic teaching of the church around the world, and this is where I remember that I’ve got 80 million people round the world who are Anglicans, not just the one million in this country, has been that marriage in the traditional sense is between a man and woman for life.

“It’s such a radical change to change that I think we need to find ways of affirming the value of the love that is in other relationships without taking away from the value of marriage as an institution.”

“Interestingly all recent research also shows that the children of such a relationship are likely (not always but often) to be happier and more stable.”


  1. Jeremy Pemberton says

    Call me dim – but I simply don’t understand this:
    “…I think we need to find ways of affirming the value of the love that is in other relationships without taking away from the value of marriage as an institution.”
    How does opening things up for a few people take away from something? So, in the US, when black people were allowed to vote did that undermine the voting experience for white Americans? Only for the racist ones!
    For goodness sake, Archbishop Justin, you have got to do better than this. If you can’t explain clearly not just your assertion that opening marriage up to same-sex couples somehow takes away from the institution, but also and very clearly how this happens, and why this is an inevitable and negative consequence of the change that is about to happen in the law, then we will all be forced to conclude that his rather feeble utterances, affirming the quality and value of gay relationships, but not wanting us to be able to take a full part in marriage, are simply the noises that you get from someone who is coming round to realise that he hasn’t got much of a leg to stand on, but doesn’t want to admit it yet!
    Mind you, the way the C of E trill about civil partnerships these days you would think a) that they had invented them and b) that they had fought to see their introduction (try telling Cassidy, Nazir-Ali and Scott-Joynt that)! I confidently expect that in fifteen years time, when the sky has not fallen in and the C of E has got its little head around this social change we will have Justin’s successor telling us that she remembers how supportive of the whole idea the Church was. Grrr

  2. Christopher Bowman says

    One hopes the Archbishop is more than mindful of his million flock in this realm: which is his bread and butter! Not least it was the established religion of the realm which we chose to export and sell to the otherwise heathen ? One assumes the product that was being put forward and the Mores of this country were seemed to be superior in the first place? And yes therefore we do hope and expect such places as Uganda etal to be brought into line with our thinking here! I would hate to think for one moment that the Archbishop would listen more to positions with regard to gays : which are wholly acceptable to us here in the U.K ! I seriously think he should be mindful of the present commitment of so many gays and their partners in the church : whilst they are still tolerant and hopeful that the CofE will catch up with what is deemed acceptable in governance of the realm! I think a good many people like myself feel increasingly unwelcome by the CofE and indeed Institutional Religion!

  3. says

    I don’t really have a problem with any views emanating from Canterbury. Like most Anglo-Catholics I treat the Primate of All England a bit like Radio Three. It’s nice to have it there but I don’t listen to it that much. I listen more to progressive theologians and Classic FM.

  4. says

    Really and truly lame. Justin sounds like a company man repeating the company line, while knowing full well the line makes no sense.

    I, too, keep wondering, when Justin will pay attention to the flock at home, rather than focus so often on the 80 million Anglicans in other provinces, who have their own bishops to care for them.

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