Same-sex couples who want to embrace marriage should be a cause for rejoicing in the Christian Church
There is a quiet rumbling that has been gradually getting louder for the past decade or so, and which is only now breaking the surface and demanding attention. It is one of the remaining discriminations suffered by thousands of people in Britain each day, and finally society’s attitude towards it is beginning to change. It is the equality of homosexual and heterosexual relationships, and this week the issue was dragged to the foreground by, most surprisingly, influential Anglicans of the Church of England including the Bishop of Salisbury and led by Dr Jeffrey John, Dean of St Albans, who has been a vocal supporter of gay rights since 2003. With others echoing him, Dr John argued that “The Church calls marriage holy or sacramental because the covenant relationship of committed, faithful love between the couple reflects the covenanted love and commitment between God and his church.” Therefore, he said, surely “there are same-sex couples who want to embrace marriage should be a cause for rejoicing in the Christian Church.”
Of course, Dr John has a valid point. In marriage it doesn’t matter about class, education, wealth, disabilities, skin colour or ethnicity, so why should it matter about gender? Because all these other discriminations have been challenged and broken down, and now it’s time to tackle the prejudices surrounding same-sex marriages. Since 2005, same-sex couples have been able to enter into a civil partnership in the UK, with the same rights and responsibilities of a civil marriage, but it is not recognised as ‘marriage’, especially not by the church. By creating a new term for the a same-sex marriage as ‘civil-partnership’, these relationships are not being accepted into society as they appear to be, they are being further excluded from equality of heterosexual relationships as they are deliberately being recognised as something other than ‘marriage’. Finally some brave members of the church have spoken out and added to the voices of the LGBT community who are tired of the discrimination and who share the hope that the government will accept the proposals to legalise same-sex marriage in the UK by 2015.
It is completely baffling, in my opinion, that heterosexual and homosexual relationships are not recognised as equal already. There are some absurd prejudices that exist in society which betray the fear and homophobia surrounding gay marriage. The most common is the idea that same-sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to marry as they cannot produce children – in which case they should probably break it to elderly people and infertile couples that they too will be forbidden from marriage. The other great one is that homosexual couples will raise homosexual children – because, of course, straight couples only raise straight kids. Following on from this, the powers that be who stand in the way of gay marriage argue that kids should grow up in a home which has both a male and female role model – so what about the millions of single parents in the UK, so perhaps they believe their kids should be taken away from them. And how about the idea that allowing same-sex marriage would cheapen the sanctity of marriage? In which case, would someone like to explain to me why the church and the state recognise the shotgun weddings of Britney Spears and Kim Kardashian, but refuse to recognise the loving relationship of a same-sex couple who have been together for twenty years?
So we should take immense hope from the fact that some members of the Anglican church are taking the lead in embracing change for once. It seems the church is beginning to recognise that change is inevitable and that if they are to continue their good work they will have to accept the change, just as they have with contraception and divorce. Such a loud voice from such an unexpected place only emphasises how the attitudes of society towards this issue are changing.
Pride London reported attracting 30,000 people to the event in London in 2004, this year they are expecting over a million people joining together to celebrate diversity, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. This is an exciting time for the members of the LGBT community, and news that the church is speaking out in support of same-sex marriage is hopefully a sign of more equal times to come.Tagged in: Bishop of Salisbury, Christianity, church, civil partnership, discrimination, Dr Jeffrey John, homosexuality, LGBT, marriage, Religion, same-sex marriage
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