A ONE-DAY conference held to discuss biblical grounding for
affirming same-sex marriage has been hailed a success by its
The "To Have and To Hold" conference was held on Saturday at St
John the Evangelist, Waterloo. It featured talks from academics
outlining both the history of marriage and the Church, arguing that
biblical texts support extending marriage to same-sex couples.
The Vicar of St John's, Canon Giles Goddard, said on Tuesday
that it was important for Christians who were in favour of gay
marriage to show that there was theology behind it. "These
questions aren't going to go away," he said.
"We wanted to show that we are taking the concerns of people
seriously, but also show there is a theological basis for moving.
We are not betraying marriage, but actually strengthening it."
Among the 120 people who attended was the Vicar of St Mary with
All Souls', Kilburn, and St James's, West Hampstead, the Revd
Andrew Foreshew-Cain, who, in June, became the second C of E priest
to marry a gay partner (News, 27
He said on Tuesday: "There seemed a real energy around a need
for a change in church practices. . . Both talks, on theology and
history, were clear that there is a . . . case to be made for
acceptance of same-sex marriage in the Church on good biblical and
At the conference, Fr Foreshew-Cain said that he had lost
respect for his bishop, who had formally disciplined him after his
Another of the speakers, the Bishop of Buckingham, Dr Alan
Wilson, strongly condemned the hypocrisy of some bishops who, he
said, were themselves gay. "The great thing about same-sex marriage
is that it kicks the whole 'Don't ask, don't tell' thing into
touch," he said on Monday. "It's a great exposer of the comfortable
fictions we have lived with really for some time."
He hoped the conference would help demonstrate that same-sex
marriage was theologically valid, and would have a "knock-on
effect" in the wider Church. "It's quite possible that hanging on
to medieval theology as though it would work for us is over," he
Dr Wilson hit the headlines earlier this week after the
publication of his book More Perfect Union?, which argued
in favour of gay marriage. In it, he wrote that as many as one in
ten of the College of Bishops was gay. But he said that he refused
to out any of them, believing it to be "morally wrong".
He said that "positive change" could come only when the Church
stopped treating the "gay issue as an embarrassing problem". He
said that the Church should apply its theology of marriage from
"first principles" to the ever-changing institution of marriage in