Church must change its position on same-sex marriage
Thank you for your editorial (12 January) which highlighted the nonsensical state of the Church of England’s position on church weddings for LGBTQI+ individuals. As a gay, civilly partnered cleric, I would also like to thank you for drawing attention to the fact that I am prohibited by law from marrying my partner of 22 years – even in a civil ceremony – if I wish to continue ministering in the church I love, and had to give assurances that our relationship was wholly celibate before I was first ordained, three short years ago.
Most people I have spoken to about this had no idea that anyone could be subject to such arcane rules in this day and age which, as you point out, provides ample grist to those with a prurient or malevolent interest in the lives of others to intimidate or threaten those placed in this unacceptable and extremely vulnerable position. The current practice of the church could not be further removed from the glorious liberty of the Christian gospel, which is that God is love, and those who love live in God.
May I commend Equal: The Campaign for Equal Marriage in the Church of England to your readers, and any who share such values and yearn for the church to remove this great injustice against the LGBTQI+ community, uniquely now within this island in England.
No matter the outcome of the Living in Love and Faith process this year, we will not rest until there is full and total equality for all in the provision of the church’s sacramental ministry, which is God’s gift to all and should be extended to any couples wishing to solemnise their relationship in the sight of God and God’s church.
Rev Dr Stephen J O’Connor
Current confusions and conflicts over the “real” meanings of, and differences between, words such as sex, gender, male and female, make debates about so-called same-sex marriage ever more problematic. Perhaps the simplest solution would be for the Church of England to adopt a definition of marriage as a union between two persons, regardless of any other supposedly innate – or unchanging – characteristics.
Fr Alec Mitchell