Some people may be understandably confused about the Church of England’s position on same-sex partnerships and equal marriage. Official statements, the publicly-voiced views of senior clergy and broader opinions among church members point in different directions. Part of this is to do with realism, but shifts in understanding also play a part.
I have often been critical of the Church of England’s leadership for being slow to speak out on issues of economic justice. I’m therefore delighted that 43 CofE bishops have criticised the coalition for cutting benefits (or technically, for raising them by one percent, which is below the rate of inflation and therefore a cut in all but name).
There has been much ado about bishops of late. First, the Church of England's House of Laity rejected the consecration of women, to the consternation of a majority in their own communion and the incredulity of wider society. Then the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster soured the Nativity season - perhaps the tenderest of all our celebrations of the mysteries of faith - with negativity about same sex love and marriage.
Clergy in civil partnerships can become bishops provided they are celibate, the Church of England House of Bishops agreed. Though this falls far short of full equality, some have labelled it a major shift in church policy.
The Church of England has announced that people in same-sex relationships can become bishops if they do not have sex. It is tempting to see this as a sign of progress, but for many gay and bisexual people it will be the latest message telling them that they are not welcome as equals in the Christian Church.
The government's proposals for same-sex marriage have revealed them to be clueless about religion, contemptuous of civil rights and bizarrely ignorant about the history, culture and politics of Wales. There is a serious possibility of these proposals failing to pass through Parliament. We must step up the campaign for civil rights, not assume they have been won.
As news came through of the Church of England's rejection of women bishops, Symon Hill was reminded of a small clique of sexist Christians who he knew at university. Supporters of equality have tried to reach accommodation with opponents, but their efforts have been aggressively rejected. We must stop appeasing prejudice and stand up for equality, he says.