Thinking Anglicans

More supportive church reactions to same-sex marriage

The statement from the Bishop of Salisbury (already mentioned in the comments on earlier threads) is here: Bishop Congratulates and Prays for Same-Sex Couples Getting Married

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.

The Dean of Durham has published a blog article: Equal Marriage: crossing the threshold. Here’s an excerpt:

Fourthly, let me acknowledge the pain and anger of gay people who continue to feel excluded by the church’s stance on equal marriage. The recent guidance from the House of Bishops has not reassured them, and it’s now clear that some bishops were far from comfortable with the advice they had issued. However, I do not think that this represents a stable position. As equal marriage becomes accepted by society and, as the indications are showing, by the majority of lay people in the church, we shall see a shift in the official stance. In time, the church will accommodate itself to this development, and recognise that by blessing same-sex marriages and even solemnising them, it is affirming the principle that covenanted unions are fundamental to the way we see (and more important, the way God sees) human love. Precisely the same happened with the remarriage of divorced people in church, and with female bishops. It takes time for change to be received and its theological significance understood: not much comfort to those asking the church for recognition now, but in time I believe we shall get there…

The Camden New Journal carries a letter Same-sex weddings with our blessing signed by many clergy in Camden expressing support for same-sex marriage. The letter is reproduced in full below the fold.

THIS week, and for the first time, gay and lesbian couples will be celebrating their wedding day in many venues across Camden.

Some will have waited many years for this moment to celebrate the love that they have found in each other; and for all there will have been opposition and struggle at times. Their wedding day will be a time of joy and happiness as they make vows, declare their love, and rejoice with family and friends.

As members of the clergy of the Church of England in Camden we want to offer our congratulations to them and their families and friends and our very best wishes to them for many happy years of married life together.

Marriage brings strength to both partners in good times and in bad, so that they may find strength, companionship and comfort and grow to maturity in love. Marriage is a way of life that is holy and is a sign of unity and fidelity which all should uphold and honour. In the marriage service of the Church we begin the service with these words: “God is love, and those who live in love live in God and God lives in them” 1 John 4:16 – we pray for all those who are marrying this year – that they may find rich comfort and blessing in each other for the whole of their life together.

St Mary’s, Primrose Hill
St Mary’s, Kilburn & St James West Hampstead
Holy Cross, Cromer Street
Emmanuel, West Hampstead
Chaplain, Goodenough House, WC1
St Mary’s, Kilburn & St James, West Hampstead
St Cuthbert’s, West Hampstead
Emmanuel, West Hampstead
St Saviour’s, Eton Road & St Peter’s, Belsize
St George’s, Bloomsbury
Chaplain, Royal Free Hospital
New St Pancras, Euston Road
Chaplain, Royal Veterinary College
St Mary’s, Primrose Hill
Emmanuel, West Hampstead


  • JCF says:

    “Stars in their crown” (the signatories/supporters), as my late mother used to say.

    It’s a very Christian thing to love Love. Mazel Tov! 😀

  • Gary Paul Gilbert says:

    Mr. Sadgrove of Durham’s text is disappointing. LGBTs do not simply feel excluded from the church. They are–as a matter of fact, quadruple-locked, even.

    Advice that basically says that once society changes the church will change is silly because the church is supposed to be in the job of moral leadership, which it fails to provide. What will he commit to as Dean of Durham to end the ongoing injustice against same-sex couples? Waiting for Godot is unacceptable.

    He says those opposed to allowing same-sex couples to marry are not necessarily homophobic if their opposition is based on religious conviction. The effect remains the same that the church continues to commit an injustice against same-sex couples and their families by refusing to recognize them. Children of parents whose church refused to recognize their parents will probably want to have nothing to do with such an oppressive institution when they grow up. And right they would be.

    That he recognizes that the moral position of the Church of England against marriage equality is wrong makes his quietism all the worse.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

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