The Progressive Christianity Network (PCN) is the latest British faith-based group to come out in favour of legal recognition of gay marriage.
Reverend John Churcher, a Methodist minister and chair of the PCN, said in response to comments from Roman Catholic bishops – who have urged Christians to campaign against the government’s proposal – that there are very few biblical texts that appear to condemn homosexuality, and that the interpretation of those that do is controversial.
Reverend Churcher added that those Christians who condemn gay relationships often cherry-pick verses from the Bible, often misrepresenting their context and original meaning in order to support personal prejudice. He said they then claim they have biblical authority to back up their view, describing this way of using the Bible as “an abomination.”
He continued: “Being gay is not an illness to be cured but a natural biological orientation. The sexual sin is infidelity, not homosexuality. Marriage should be a loving relationship between two consenting adults, so why continue to deprive many within and beyond our churches from the God-given blessings of marriage?”
There are now a range of Christian groups on both sides of the debate. Those groups who have expressed support for gay marriage include the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) and the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches. They are joined by the Metropolitan Community Church, the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, the thinktank Ekklesia and the Catholic group Quest.
However, the fact remains that many churches and their leaders – including Anglicans, Catholics and Free Churches – take a different majority view and remain static in their opposition to gay marriage.
Controversy over gay marriage has been on the upswing since David Cameron committed his government to offer civil marriage ceremonies to same-sex couples in England and Wales by 2015. The Scottish government is expected to move on the issue more quickly. The Anglican Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, accused Mr Cameron of acting “like a dictator” for this stance, saying that the Prime Minister was seeking to “redefine” marriage. Archbishop Sentamu is the favourite to succeed Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury.