From the Revd Professor Martin
Sir, - Praise God for the Very Revd Dr
Jeffrey John's forthright and honest article about gay marriage (Comment, 31 August).
Until the Anglican Church as a whole is similarly honest and
forthright, it will continue to be seen as unfair, cruel,
repressive, and lacking in pastoral care for those who most need
and crave it.
I know so many wonderful and committed
Christians who are gay, among friends who were too meticulous to
proceed to ordination because they were in a same-sex partnership.
The Church has been the loser over the years.
What would Jesus think about a Church
which marginalised a whole section of society like this? Don't we
know? Are not the Gospels absolutely full of condemnation of those
who obey the letter of the law and disregard the spirit?
When, at long last, the Church decides
to accept all its children, as I have faith it will do sooner or
later, it will be able to move on and become true to the mission
that our Lord gave it: to succour all in need of help, and to
tackle the big issues that beset humanity - war, hunger, disease,
and disregard of the environment.
While people remain obsessed with
preserving the sanctity of heterosexual marriage by banning gay
marriage (though I don't see how the one affects the other in that
way), we will rightly continue to be derided by many people of
large and liberal hearts and minds as a rather pathetic joke.
University of Oxford OX2 6UD
From the Rt Revd Dr Laurie
Sir, - Dr John's article challenges us
all - especially us bishops - to "tell the truth about gays", and
offers a covenant theology of marriage which "does not depend on
gender or childbirth".
I once sat in on a series of seminars
offered at Harvard by a group of eminent Roman Catholic ethical and
biblical scholars. Their scholarship convinced me that the few
references to homosexuality in the Bible are simply not applicable
to the very different homosexual love in contemporary culture.
The biblical text does, however,
witness to the overwhelming inclusivity exhibited by Jesus. It was
a loving inclusivity that Jesus's immediate followers did not find
easy to accept, and they were soon at loggerheads over whether the
Church could include those who had not been circumcised, and were
therefore sexually and culturally "unclean".
The outcome of that debate rocked the
Early Church, but has since allowed such as me, a Gentile, to
belong, and play a full part - not by virtue of my own "gender or
childbirth", but by virtue alone of the grace of God. That debate
stands as a biblical "worked example" of why the Church should deal
with these questions of exclusion by primary reference to God's
Despite this, Cardinal O'Brien has
told Roman Catholics in Scotland that marriage cannot be redefined
to include gay couples. Social history, however, undoubtedly shows
that marriage has been refashioned repeatedly. Moreover, Jesus's
statement that "the sabbath is made for mankind, not mankind for
the sabbath" assures us that even God-given institutions can indeed
So the crucial question becomes: "Will
this change to marriage impoverish, or enhance it?" Perhaps it
would be an enhancement, for example, if same-sex marriage reminded
heterosexual couples that there should be more equality within our
marriages. I have counselled many a failing marriage where one of
the partners saw themselves as superior to the other by virtue of
"gender or childbirth".
As a bishop, I must also be true to
church tradition. A theological statement, believed to date from
before the formalisation of the eucharist, is usually sung in Latin
as, "Ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est" - "Where there is
love, there is God." So, where we see love, this tradition says we
should bless it.
Our lawyers can, I'm sure, find ways
around "Establishment" difficulties, and allow the Church of
England to fulfil the hopes of many gay couples by affirming their
love and offering them the supports that marriage provides.
My initial reaction against gay
marriage is being tempered by more careful reflection. Thus far, I
am finding the arguments "for" increasingly convincing, and those
"against" not sufficiently biblical.
Belclare, 86 Belle Hill
Bexhill-on-Sea TN40 2AP
From Mr John A. Ormes
Sir, - Regardless of any argument put
forward by Dr John, "gay marriage" will always be regarded by me as
wrong. Those who propose "gay marriage" might also be described as
the "cabal of the noisy and the bullying" who wish to impose their
desires on others (Letters, 31
August). A paedophile may love children, but that doesn't mean
it is considered right; neither is a man's sexual desire for
another man considered natural.
JOHN A. ORMES
55a Blendon Drive, Bexley
Kent DA5 3AA
From the Revd Douglas
Sir, - The article by Dr John fails to
address the most important argument of all: what is marriage? The
Oxford Dictionary defines marriage as "the legal union between a
man and a woman". Consequently, persons in a partnership of the
same sex cannot be called married. Far more important, however, is
the definition of marriage given by Jesus.
"Therefore shall a man leave his
father and mother and cleave to his wife and they shall become one
flesh." By quoting Genesis 2.24, Jesus goes back to God's
definition of marriage when he created the world. Jesus explains
what he means in Mark 10.8-9: "The two shall become one flesh: so
that they are no more two but one flesh. What God has joined
together let no man put asunder."
This definition makes it abundantly
clear that a homosexual relationship cannot be the same as Jesus's
definition of marriage.
This has nothing whatever to do with
the European Commission on Human Rights. Marriage, which is a
unique relationship between a man and a woman, is in no way
dependent on surveys and statistics.
The authority for this is natural law,
and the authority of the Bible interpreted through the mind of
Jesus. If any government in the United Kingdom tries to force a
contrary definition of marriage on its citizens, they will have to
decide whether to obey Caesar or God.
21 Nelson Road
Norfolk NR26 8BU