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Speakers put a ‘biblical case’ for gay marriage

03 October 2014


A ONE-DAY conference held to discuss biblical grounding for affirming same-sex marriage has been hailed a success by its organisers.

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 June).

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 traditional grounds."

At the conference, Fr Foreshew-Cain said that he had lost respect for his bishop, who had formally disciplined him after his marriage.

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 said.

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 each generation.

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