From the Revd Giles Fraser.I'm afraid I couldn't resist quoting a large part of it.
THE Government has made it abundantly clear that it will not force religious organisations to conduct same-sex blessings in places of worship, if it is not their agreed policy to do so ... Rather, the Government simply wishes to make it possible for them to do so, if they wish. That seems eminently sensible. If the Reform Synagogues, for instance, decide that that is their policy, then who are the Church of England to try to stop them?
One familiar argument is that making it possible for same-sex blessings to take place in churches or synagogues represents some sort of threat to the institution of marriage. I find this peculiar. How is the desire for a gay couple to have their union blessed before God any sort of threat to the marriage of straight couples who wish to do the same?
Is it that, as the Revd Dr Judith Maltby asked last weekend (The Guardian, 26 February), some people do not believe there is “enough of God to go around”? Or is it that they just don’t want to admit undesirables into the club; that gay couples somehow devalue the marriage brand?
I am sorry to be asking so many questions. Although I disagree, I understand why some people may be opposed to blessing same-sex couples on theological or scriptural grounds. But the argument that it “devalues marriage” makes no sense to me. Marriage is under threat from many things, but the idea that the divorce rate is rising because gay couples want the Church to pronounce God’s blessing on their union is absurd. And you would have to be spectacularly homophobic not to want to get married because gay people might also do the same.
This issue will not go away. If the Church thinks that it can ride out the storm and look forward to more tranquil times in the future, it is mistaken. Over the past few years, the Church has been making enemies in large parts of society — and not just the gay community — because it has failed to recognise that the love two members of the same sex can have for each other is legitimate or genuine.
It is the job of the Church to search out love and to plant its flag where it finds it. Sometimes new discoveries are made. And the Church ought to have the humility to recognise that other people are often capable of making these discoveries long before it does. After all, there is enough scriptural emphasis for the blindness of religious authorities.