Marlborough’s clergy support bishop’s plea for open debate on gay relationships
Church of England clergy in Marlborough are supporting the controversial plea by the Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev Nick Holtam (pictured), for there be an open debate on the church’s attitude to gay relationships.
According to the bishop, the church is failing gay Christian couples and must rethink the traditional, biblical portrayal of homosexuality as "idolatrous, promiscuous and exploitative".
He is the most senior member of the church to have spoken out favourably about the possibility of “gay marriage”, a subject on which the church is deeply divided.
In a statement to Marlborough News Online, Marlborough’s rector, the Rev Andrew Studdert-Kennedy, revealed that he has spoken to his clergy colleagues in the Marlborough team ministry, which takes in the parish church of St Mary’s, as well as St George’s, Preshute, and St John the Baptist, Mildenhall.
Their collective view is: “We support the Bishop of Salisbury in his call for a 'proper and open' debate about same sex relationships, most especially because, as Bishop Nicholas said, it is clear that the current position of the Church of England regarding Civil Partnerships "does not meet the pastoral needs of people in our care".”
The bishop believes there are gay couples who are living faithfully and lovingly for life and that the quality and nature of their relationships meant it was appropriate to use the language of marriage.
He told the BBC: "Marriage is between a man and a woman. What has happened now is that we have begun to see in a way, which is not there in the Bible, that there are people in same sex relationships who are living faithfully and lovingly for life.”
"I don't think there is much there [in the Bible] which addresses the issue of faithful, same sex relationships. We have had the experience of civil partnerships for six years now and we need to review where we are."
The Church of England has blocked the registration of civil partnerships in its buildings unless its own parliament, the General Synod, agrees to it.
Present policy is for the Church of England to tolerate clergy who are in civil relationships, but it expects them to be celibate.