Christians supporters of same-sex marriage are holding a Day of Prayer on Sunday 3/2/2013 ahead of a House of Commons vote on Tuesday to give legal recognition to same-sex marriage in England and Wales.
As well as Christians pausing at 12 noon on Sunday for a short time of prayer, supportive churches will also pray for all committed, loving relationships – regardless of the gender of those involved – at their Sunday services.
As well as praying for all loving relationships and for the success of the legislation, supporters will pray for God’s guidance for all involved. They will ask God’s forgiveness for times when they have colluded in prejudice and homophobia, whether by word, deed or silence.
Symon Hill, co-editor of the Queers for Jesus site, which is supporting the prayers, said: “Jesus consistently broke the social and sexual conventions of his day. He modelled relationships based on love rather than legalism or power. It will be great to see churches and individual Christians praying for the many loving couples who are denied equality under the law. We’ll also pray that God will guide everyone struggling with these issues, whatever their views.”
Tiggy Sagar of Christians for Equal Marriage added: “Christ preached a gospel of inclusivity, reaching out to the excluded, marginalised and despised of society and validating their worthiness to participate in God’s Kingdom as children of God and not second-class citizens. Committed same-sex relationships should not be treated as unworthy of the name ‘marriage’.”
The Quakers are also supporting the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill as it passes through parliament. Their recording clerk, Paul Parker, said of the bill: “This is good news. We believe we are all born equal and therefore our love is equal too. This is the change in law we have been seeking.” Quakers in Britain have announced that Paul had a ‘helpful conversation’ with Helen Grant, Joint Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice and for Women’s and Equalities issues, ahead of the bill’s first reading.
Ben Summerskill, chief executive of gay rights group Stonewall added: “We’re particularly pleased that ministers have been persuaded to extend their original proposal in order to permit same-sex marriages for those religious denominations that wish to hold them. This is an important matter of religious freedom. While we fully respect the point of view of those who oppose the government’s plans, our advice to them remains that if you don’t approve of same-sex marriage, then just make sure you don’t get married to someone of the same sex.”
Derek McAuley, Chief Officer of the General Assembly of Unitarian and Free Christian Churches, said: “Having carried out same sex blessings for over thirty years, we look forward to being free to perform legally valid same sex marriages in our places of worship in the same way as we do with opposite sex couples.
As a faith group the Unitarian support for same sex marriage arises out of our deep spiritual values. We have always argued that the freedom to say “yes” to same sex marriage must be accompanied by the freedom to say “no” for churches and individuals. The opposite must of course apply. We hope that over time others will come to share our understanding of same sex relationships and how the churches can contribute to wider public acceptance of diversity in a more inclusive society.”
But not all Christians support the changes. Writing in the Catholic newsletter The Tablet, Edward Leigh MP said: “I and like-minded parliamentarians will try to defend traditional marriage with every ounce of strength that God will give us. But content aside, I hope the British people are fully aware of what a shambolic process has got us to the position where we are now.”
Meanwhile, Quakers in Scotland are supporting a consultation by Scottish parliament that could be the first step towards same-sex marriage becoming enshrined in Scottish law. The consultation on the draft Marriage and Civil Partnership Bill (Scotland) which will introduce same-sex marriage and the religious and belief registration of civil partnership. Phil Lucas, speaking for Scottish Quakers, said they strongly support the broad proposals and the provisions included in the Bill.