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Church of England will finally bless same-sex couples
Explainer

Church of England will finally bless same-sex couples

Matilda Davies
Matilda Davies
TL;DR: The Church of England this week voted to allow blessings for same-sex marriages and civil partnerships.  

The debate preceding the vote lasted more than eight hours but culminated in the monumental decision to allow priests to bless same-sex couples, with 250 votes for and 181 against - Guardian

Priest and LGBTQIA+ campaigner Charlie Bell said: “We’ve spent decades trying to argue for the Church to say anything positive in a corporate way about same-sex relationships. Today is that day” - Sky News

While the new policy means same-sex couples can receive official blessings of their marriages and at their ceremonies, they still won’t be allowed to marry inside CofE churches.

The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, praised the decision in a joint statement saying the church “will publicly, unreservedly and joyfully welcome same-sex couples in church” for the first time - York Press

Why the Church made more headlines

That wasn’t the only Church of England debate making headlines this week.

There are also discussions of whether the church should stop referring to God as “he” in favour of using gender-neutral terms for the deity - Guardian

The debate was sparked when the Bishop of Lichfield, Joanna Stobart, announced a project looking into gendered language in the General Synod, arguing for “more inclusive language” to be authorised by the church - YouGov

Priest Charlie Bell said: “Is god a man? Absolutely not.” - Good Morning Britain

One preacher said the media uproar was unfounded, as the church has been discussing the issue for decades because “for Christians, and for other people of faith… God is far beyond and far greater than simple gender” - New Statesman

Meanwhile, comedian and writer Sandi Toksvig started a petition calling for bishops not to be given an automatic seat in the legislature.

Presently, the only countries that give representatives of the state religion automatic positions of political power are the UK and Iran.

Analysis

The intersection between religion and LGBTQIA+ identities has been a centuries-long discussion.

Some argue the two should co-exist: that religious teachings should evolve with the times and LGBTQIA+ people should be able to have faith and follow religion like anyone else.

Others say LGBTQIA+ identities are sinful or go against the teachings of various gods and global religions.

In the UK, as Toksvig points out, the issue is arguably more pertinent with the Church of England because it remains our state religion and plays an inherent part in the laws and lives of British people.

People can hold whichever personal views they wish, but they should not impose them on others.

Businesses, charities, and organisations in the UK aren’t allowed to offer goods and services to straight people without offering the same to LGBTQIA+ people. Why is the state religion allowed to discriminate?

My take: Religious institutions must be held to the same standards as the rest of society. Discrimination is never okay, in any context.


Jamie Wareham, he/him, gay queer disabled - A note from me:

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