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Same-sex marriage and the coronation oath

21 June 2013


From the Revd Tim Storey

Sir, - The wide-ranging and some- times vitriolic discussions in the media over recent months concerning the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill have shown that the deeply held views of both sides of the argument are unlikely to find any genuine points of agreement. Equally, the progress of the Bill through Parliament means that, in a year's time, we shall enter a new reality.

It is my belief that those of us who seek to welcome those of all sexual orientations into the life of our Church communities, but maintain a traditional understanding of marriage and sexual ethics, now need to accept the prospect of this new reality and adapt accordingly.

This does not mean adapting our hermeneutical, theological, ethical, or sociological viewpoint on the matter, but accepting the reality that we have been unable to persuade the majority of the validity of the traditional argument in the secular, liberal Britain of 2013. In a democratic society, we may not like the views of the majority, but we have a biblical imperative to accept the law accordingly.

The so-called "quadruple lock" for the Church of England is yet to be tested - and if it fails to meet the tests of Strasbourg, then another, changed, reality will result. In the mean time, may I suggest that the energy currently being engaged in the battle to defeat the inevitability that the Bill will become law should be redirected towards ensuring that the new reality is engaged with, and the Church sends out a clear and positive message of maintaining its traditional position on marriage, and yet within the context of the new law.

It is, however, important to note another consequence of this: if those within the Church who support the Bill, especially those in senior clerical posts, are willing to embrace and rejoice in the validity of the majority views in the nation, then they should also embrace the majority views in the Synod and the wider Church which oppose the Bill, and adapt their stance and statements accordingly.

Forging a way forward requires all parties, both "victors" and "losers", to embrace the new reality, and the Church's stance and re- sponsibilities within the new law, and seek unity with grace.

2 Portman Place, Blandford Forum
Dorset DT11 7DG


From the Revd John M. Overton

Sir, - Some of the debate in the House of Lords (News, 7 June) centred on the most significant issue, namely, the profoundly undemocratic way in which the Government has pushed this Bill.

We are supposed to be governed through the ballot box, and yet no party had any such Bill in its manifesto at the last General Election, the Government has ignored a petition endorsed by more than 650,000 members of the public, and there is no question of a referendum on the matter, which, some might argue, is more significant for the future of this nation than either EU membership or Scottish devolution.

It is a pity that this point was not taken up by a majority in the House of Lords, and that that House did not have the courage to take such a stand for democracy.

If the Bill had been initiated and handled in a truly democratic manner, those who are against the content of the Bill would have no complaint about how the outcome had been achieved, assuming that the Bill will pass into law.

As matters stand, if the Bill does become law, it will leave a legacy of division which could rankle for years.

6 Brown Edge Close, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 7AS


From Mr David Leonard

Sir, - What an extraordinary letter from Mr Donald Draper ( 14 June). He seems to be saying that the Queen's oath to maintain the laws of God, the true profession of the gospel, and the Protestant faith is utterly meaningless, and, in fact, means the exact opposite.

It is that sort of sophistry that gets the legal profession (of which I am a retired member) a bad name.

Stars Cottage, 4 Mews Street, London E1W 1UG

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