Church is ‘sacrificing’ LGBTQ+ Christians by refusing to back same-sex marriage
LGBTQ+ Christians have been ‘thrown under the bus’ by a controversial decision by the Church of England today.
In a major announcement, the Church said it will bless same-sex, civil marriages for the first time.
But its position on gay marriage will not change, and same-sex couples will still not be able to marry in Church of England churches.
The news has been branded ‘utterly despicable’.
Rev Robin Hanford, a Unitarian Minister, responded: ‘How much longer will the lives and relationships of my LGBT+ friends in the Church of England continue to be sacrificed on the false alter of “unity” in order to try and keep homophobes happy?’
Reb Hanford, who lives and works in Leicestershire, told Metro.co.uk his first reaction to this morning’s news was one of ‘profound anger.’
He said: ‘I have a lot of LGBT friends in the Church of England who have been waiting patiently for change and have been actively working for it for years by diligently going through the proper channels and laborious process.
‘Now Bishops, which should have pastoral care at the very core of their being, have effectively slapped my friends around the face.
‘As a Unitarian Minister, I proudly marry same-sex and opposite-sex couples at my chapel in Hinckley, Leicestershire
‘But the Church of England has so much visibility as the national church, and I know I will inevitably be tarred with the same brush in the eyes of the public due to this decision from the Bishops.’
Rev Hanford added that while the Church of England ‘seems determined to cling to outdated homophobic theologies and practices’ many other churches and denominations ‘have moved on and are far more affirming of LGBT people’.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in England and Wales since 2013, but the church did not change its teaching when the law changed.
The Anglican Church in Wales has allowed its clergy to bless same-sex marriages and civil partnerships since September 2021.
In the time since, charities and campaigners have put pressure on the Church of England to do the same.
Kieran Bohan, coordinator of the Open Table Network, has been among those calling for change.
‘This is sad news’, he told Metro.co.uk.
He added: ‘Other Christian denominations now welcome same-gender couples who wish to be joined in holy matrimony. We regret that England’s own established church still denies LGBT+ people this equality.
‘There are increasing numbers of English Anglican churches where LGBT+ people may feel genuinely accepted, until they want to get married.
‘We are concerned that the pressure of being an international denomination, with thousands of Anglican churches around the world, has influenced the Church of England in delaying doing the right thing.’
The plans will be outlined in a report to the General Synod, which considers and approves legislation affecting the whole of the Church of England, in London next month.
Under the new proposals, same-sex couples will be allowed to come to church for services including prayers of dedication, thanksgiving and God’s blessing following a legal marriage ceremony.
The bishops’ decision on same-sex marriage, which does not represent a formal change in doctrine, comes after an extended consultation period called ‘Living in Love and Faith’.
Jayne Ozanne, a prominent LGBTQ+ campaigner and a member of the Synod, said today’s decision was ‘utterly despicable’.
She told Metro.co.uk: ‘There is absolutely nothing “radicle” or “inclusive” about these proposals.
‘The bishops have made a complete mockery of the Living in Love and Faith process, which thousands chose to trust and make themselves vulnerable in. Just as in 2017, the Bishops’ focus on “unity at all costs” has thrown LGBT+ lives cruelly under the bus and sacrificed our God-given cry for equality on the altar of compromise.
‘Enough is enough!’
In a press release this morning, the Church of England said it was issuing pastoral guidance to its ministers and congregations and urged them to welcome same-sex couples ‘unreservedly and joyfully’.
On Friday, a formal apology will be issued to LGBTQ+ people for the ‘rejection, exclusion and hostility’ they may have previously felt within the church.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, described today’s decision as an attempt to ‘seek the common good’ but admitted it would ‘go too far for some and not nearly far enough for others’.
He said: ‘This response reflects the diversity of views in the Church of England on questions of sexuality, relationships and marriage – I rejoice in that diversity and I welcome this way of reflecting it in the life of our church.
‘I am under no illusions that what we are proposing today will appear to go too far for some and not nearly far enough for others, but it is my hope that what we have agreed will be received in a spirit of generosity, seeking the common good.
‘Most of all I hope it can offer a way for the Church of England, publicly and unequivocally, to say to all Christians and especially LGBTQI+ people that you are welcome and a valued and precious part of the body of Christ.’
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