The hundreds of thousands of public sector workers who joined marches, pickets lines and rallies across England and Wales on 10 July have cast into sharp relief the attitudes of those who would divide us, those who cannot see past their own narrow interests and those who have – to varying degrees – an awareness of the qualities of interrelation, solidarity and the common good which are integral to the civilised functioning of complex modern societies.
A Church of England bishop has refused a licence to Jeremy Pemberton, a hospital chaplain, because he married his partner Laurence Cunnington. This may prevent him from taking up a new job closer to his home. This has further strained church’s leaders’ already tense relationship with those seeking greater inclusion.
Clergy and laypersons should not get into trouble for marrying their same-sex partners, the Methodist Church in Britain agreed. For the time being, only opposite-sex couples will be allowed to marry in church. But a two-year period of study and discussion will examine whether this should change.
This week, I've seen two movements that I love become sullied by complicity with the arms trade.
First, Church House (a leading Christian conference centre) hosted a gathering of arms dealers and generals. Now, London LGBT Pride are about to allow a section of this week's march to be used to publicise a company that is complicit in homophobia– and other human rights abuses – around the world.
Pastors can, if they wish, marry same-sex couples in areas where this is legal, the Presbyterian Church (USA) has decided. The general assembly also called for a change in how marriage is defined, if a majority of presbyteries agree.
Ministers in the Baptist Union of Great Britain who bless same-sex partnerships will no longer be disciplined for doing so if they have the support of their local church. I think this is brilliant news.
New Zealand’s Anglican church has agree to explore ways of blessing same-sex relationships, while protecting the freedom of those who disagree. Meanwhile senior Church of England clergy have warned that opposing inclusion is undermining Christian witness.
Equal marriage is now taking effect in England, Wales, Scotland and many other parts of the world. Some Christians welcome this, others are unsure or opposed. Against this background, theological reflection on sexuality and gender identity is particularly important.