The Right Revd Nicholas Holtam, Bishop of Salisbury, has congratulated same-sex couples who will be getting married from tomorrow and assured them of his prayers.
Bishop Nicholas said:
“Tomorrow, the first same-sex civil marriages will take place in this country. This is a new reality being undertaken by people who wish their relationships to have a formal status which embodies a commitment to them being faithful, loving and lifelong. These are virtues which the Church of England wants to see maximised in society. I therefore congratulate those who are getting married, assure them of my prayers, and wish them well in all that lies ahead.”
1. The Church of England teaches that marriage is the lifelong union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others for life. To say that this can now apply equally to same sex couples has proved controversial, though Parliament voted for the new legislation by unexpectedly large majorities. The Church of England has not changed its understanding of marriage and is unable to conduct same sex weddings. However, it recognises that new circumstances have arisen and that change has happened very quickly. There is a spectrum of views among the members of the Church of England which is preparing for a two year discussion about sexuality.
2. Recent Church of England guidance on same-sex civil marriage supports lay people who enter into that new possibility. It can be expected that some people doing so will want support and prayer from Christians that their relationships will be loving, faithful and lifelong. Church of England clergy are not presently permitted to enter same-sex marriages.
3. In England and Wales there are something like 7,000 Civil Partnerships a year and a similar number of same sex marriages can be expected. This is less than 3% of the 240,000 heterosexual marriages that take place each year. There are about 118,000 divorces a year.
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