Let’s be honest about same-sex marriage

Some people support same-sex marriage, but do so on the basis of ‘equality’ or ‘justice’. Many supporters are not aware of the large amount of scholarship in support of same sex marriage. There is a lot of serious theology and Biblical material that we can engage with. It is important that supporters are able to argue from the Bible and theology if we are to convince sceptics.

The place to start is with Alan Wilson’s book More Perfect Union?

Alan Wilson is the bishop of Buckingham.

This book is written to introduce readers to the Biblical material and to examine the arguments in favour of same-sex marriage.

Another good introductory book is Gene Robinson’s God Believes in Love.

Gene Robinson was the bishop of New Hampshire in the American Episcopal Church. His election as the first openly partnered gay bishop caused a crisis in the American church.

His book is structured as answering a series of ten questions, such as Don’t children need a mother and a father? or Doesn’t gay marriage undermine marriage? Then finishes with a final chapter that God Believes in Love.

Mark Achtemeier’s The Bible’s yes to same-sex marriage is a book written by an evangelical aimed at other evangelicals.

He sets out to show that the Bible can argue in favour of same-sex marriage, but it is important to look at the whole Bible, not just fragments to proof-text a point. Well researched and explained.

Further reading

This is written by Rev’d Clare Herbert.

It is based on her research, done at the time when only civil partnerships were available in the UK. This gives a unique perspective on the question of marriage. It asks what civil partnerships and what marriage are? Then shows that the UK’s civil partnerships fit all the criteria for marriage.

Thinking Again about Marriage is an edited book, with chapters from many different authors, covering subjects like Christian history, Marriage liturgy, Vocations, Reproduction and Gender Complementarity.

This is an affirming book edited by two of the leading experts in this field, Rev’d John Bradbury and Professor Susannah Cornwall.

Advanced reading

This is a classic book from Professor John Boswell.

This book takes a historical approach to marriage. It starts in the Greco-Roman world and moves through medieval Europe to more modern times. This is a detailed book that looks at history, liturgy, translation and theology to show that ideas about same-sex marriage have strong historical roots.

Blessing Same-sex unions by Rev’d Mark D Jordan takes on the questions of why some churches are opposed to even blessing same-sex marriages. In this book he examines some of the misconceptions about marriage and shows that some of the current ideas are based on history and tradition rather than the Bible.

He argues in favour of church blessings for all.

New Approaches in History and Theology to Same-Sex Love and Desire is an edited book. It has chapters including same-sex love, sexual ethics, homophobia, homosexual law reform, queer Christian marriage and queer saints.

This is edited by Rev’d professor Mark D Chapman and Professor Dominic James.

Time for Change

The Church of England is not a safe place to be.  Was it ever really?

A new report has shown that only a third of LGBT+ people feel safe in their local church.  The report is based on a survey done by the Ozanne  Foundation and it can be accessed at SAFEGUARDING LGBT+ CHRISTIANS SURVEY 2021 – Ozanne Foundation

It makes for stark reading.

It is clear that churches need to be much more proactive in helping LGBT+ Christians feel safe in their churches.  This means that church leaders must be much more transparent about where they and their churches stand on LGBT+ issues.  When we go to a new, unfamiliar church many of us are used to checking out the website first to see what the church is saying.  Too often those websites hide their position rather than reveal it.  We deserve much more transparency from our churches and their leadership.

What this new survey brings out into the open is that this feeling of churches being unsafe is something that is people who are not LGBT+ are completely oblivious to.  Churches should be the safest of safe spaces, but all too often they are not.  This needs to change.

The time for that change is now.  So, this report needs to be widely read by those in church leadership at local and national level and it must be acted on.