Church must support non-married relationships
Clergy should give pastoral support to those in ìnon-married adult relationshipsî as well as married ones, a report published yesterday said.
The report, commissioned by the Bishop of Guildford, the Right Rev John Gladwin, and carried out by the social research unit of Surrey University, said that changes to family structure and society were challenging traditional church beliefs.
The report, "Church Support of Marriage and Adult Relationships in Southern England", presented at the House of Commons yesterday, criticised the Church for failing to give adequate support to adult relationships other than marriage.
It said: ìWhether by accident or design, churches support marriage on an exclusive basis.î
Bishop Gladwin said: ìConsidering that Jesus was single and among his most intimate friends were people in all kinds of relationships, some quite dubious, it is clear we are failing to pattern our ministry on this.î
He added: ìBeing pro-marriage does not mean being anti-gay or anti other choices people have made today.î
The report recommended that churches changed their ìcultureî so that marriage preparation became ìmarriage explorationî to deal with the increasing numbers of cohabiting couples.
It also suggested that the Church might be better employed focusing on couples about to become parents than those about to marry.
It said: ìThe churches should address the weakness of churches in attracting and involving those whose adult relationships are not lived as a married couple.î
The report was funded by the Lord Chancellorís department under the marriage and adult relationship programme.