C of E bishops refuse to back gay marriage in church

Jan 21, 2023

There’s a lot of important news on marriage at the moment. One high-profile topic is the Church of England’s position on same-sex marriage.

In yesterday’s announcement, the bishops stopped short of backing gay weddings in Anglican churches, but endorsed prayer blessings of same-sex civil marriages.

Church teaching on marriage has been deliberately targeted by LGBT campaigners. That the bishops have not gone as far as those activists sought is thanks to the sterling efforts of marriage supporters within the C of E. But offering same-sex prayer blessings will disappoint many. The Church has been under huge pressure from liberals and the LGBT lobby to go further, which some senior bishops clearly wanted to accede to.

External demands for change included the Leader of the House of Commons, Penny Mordaunt MP, petitioning the Bishop of Portsmouth to “back reform, allowing parishes and clergy to conduct weddings for same sex couples”.

The Prime Minister “declined to express a view” (£) on the matter, implying that Mordaunt was not speaking for the Government. Yet she is a Cabinet minister, and her calls to “reform” the doctrine of the Church of England (C of E) are misguided and wrong.

The Anglican teaching on marriage is not some fringe belief that can be struck down and ‘updated’. The Book of Common Prayer makes clear that marriage is the “join[ing] together” of “man” and “woman” in an “honourable estate”, “ordained for the procreation of children”.

Mordaunt’s demands are no real surprise: she voted to redefine marriage in 2013 and boasts of how she allowed same-sex weddings to take place as Minister for the Armed Forces. But whatever her views, it’s not the role of Government ministers to determine Church teaching, a point made by Melanie McDonagh in the Times (£).

No pleas from Cabinet ministers, or indeed bishops, can change what marriage is. Marriage between one man and one woman is the core of a stable society. It is the ideal way to ensure that children are raised in a secure and loving environment.

The Leader of the House claims that not allowing same-sex marriage would “detract” from the “positive” contribution the C of E makes. Yet upholding the traditional understanding of marriage supports one of the most important contributions to society there is: the stability, love and faithfulness that can only occur between one man and one woman; for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do them part. At C4M, people from all faiths and none come together to defend one man, one woman marriage. We hope that the Church of England will continue to uphold the definition of marriage which has benefitted this country for hundreds of years.