The House of Lords has backed a Bill to allow same-sex couples in England and Wales to marry, by 390 votes to 148. After a long debate in which Christians argued for and against the Marriage (Same-Sex Couples) Bill, a bid by opponents to block a second reading was heavily defeated.
Some Christian MPs strongly support marriage equality while others are strongly against it. In the UK and beyond, parliamentary debates on celebrating same-sex partnerships have revealed that – whatever top clerics or elders say – opinion within the churches is divided, says Savitri Hensman, reporting and commenting on the religious and theological views being expressed in parliament.
Allowing same-sex as well as opposite-sex couples to marry will open the door to legalising polygamy and sibling marriage, Lord Carey claims. His alarmist views, at odds with those of many other Christians, show his lack of understanding of both the value of loving partnerships and the problems arising from polygamous and incestuous relationships.
Two rural congreagtions say they will vote to leave the Church of Scotland over possible further ordinations of lesbian and gay ministers. In truth, the landscape is changing, says Simon Barrow. Larger numbers may well stay or join the Kirk if it ends its rejection of same-sex relationships, than will leave for the same reason. The refuseniks are looking back, not forward.
Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, has made clear his support for allowing same-sex couples to marry. Officially the Church of England is opposed to equal marriage but many members are in favour. The Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, covering England and Wales, is to be debated by the House of Lords.
The Church of Scotland vote to allow civil partnered gay and lesbian ministers, despite no change in the official teaching on sexuality, shows that the drift towards accepting gay people in the Kirk is continuing, says Simon Barrow. Indeed, while seeking pastoral sensitivity towards their opponents, the advocates of change believe that full inclusion is now inevitable.