Church marriage – open to all?
Regular contributor Philip Young shares with us his personal view on whether churches should marry same-sex couples.
In the UK, same sex marriage has been possible since 29 March 2014. The vast majority of these are state weddings performed by a registrar where no religious content is allowed.
However, a growing number of churches are now allowing same sex marriages and accepting that God can be asked to bless these marriages. In the UK, Quakers, Unitarians, Scottish Episcopalians, the United Reformed Church and, most recently, the Methodists have all decided in their favour of this.
The Church of Wales has recently voted that same sex marriages and civil partnerships performed by the state can seek a service of blessing in the Church of Wales after the civil ceremony.
The Church of England has many people in favour of church weddings or blessings for same sex couples, but, recognizing the opposing point of view, is encouraging their congregations to debate the issues in a useful set of study materials called, ‘Living in Love and Faith’ (see www.churchofengland.org and go to ‘Resources’).
My position is quite clear on this. I believe that God loves to bless love between human beings and that the gender of the lovers does not matter. I have many friends who are in loving same sex relationships, and they are usually very joyful and enriching partnerships. I do not believe that these are anything but good and stable relationships and deserve to be called good marriages.
There has been so much hatred and prejudice down the ages towards same sex friendships but, to my mind, this is not of God, for God is love. The modern Church of England wedding service quotes this passage from John, ‘God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them’ (1 John 4.16). I cannot find any reason why this should not include all loving relationships.
My poem Love between two people written in 2016 sums up these thoughts:
I am love.
Whenever two people love one another I am there too.
My love is like a third presence, a threefold cord is not easily broken.
The gender of the lovers matters not.
The love between a man and a woman is beautiful.
The love between a man and another man is beautiful too.
So too the love between a woman and another woman is beautiful.
Rejoice that such love may express itself in caring physical intimacy,
Above all be mindful of the beauty which resides in your hearts.
If love is in your hearts, then love triumphs.
And love is always beautiful.
These thoughts are mine and I know that not everyone will agree. I hope there will be a time when all the churches accept same sex marriage and that all couples, regardless of gender, can have a church wedding.
In the meantime, let us remember that Jesus came to show us how to love one another and that Christians should be known by their love. Let us listen to one another and seek the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash.
Philip is an Anglican, Quaker, and a member of the Third Order of Franciscans, and now lives in Felixstowe. Until July 2014 he was the Diocesan Environmental Officer for the Norwich Diocese. In June 2017 he stood as an Independent Candidate for the General Election in the Suffolk Coastal Constituency. He is now Associate Priest at St. John and St. Edmund in Felixstowe and a freelance writer on spiritual and political matters. He is available to run Quiet Days, give talks, presentations or to preach and can be contacted at email@example.com. Philip is developing a new website www.revolutionoflovenow.com.
The views carried here are those of the author, not of Network Norfolk, and are intended to stimulate constructive and good-natured debate between website users.
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