UK Weighs Religious Elements in Gay Ceremonies

Ad Feedback

Earlier this year, the British government lifted a ban on same-sex civil partnerships in churches.

Now plans are being considered to introduce religious aspects to the ceremonies, causing concern among evangelical Christians in the United Kingdom.

The government's review of gay equality rights is considering allowing homosexual couples to include hymns and religious readings in their union ceremonies. Parliament recently removed the ban on same-sex unions in churches and other places of worship.

But Don Horrocks, head of public affairs for the Evangelical Alliance, says no church should be obliged to perform the ceremonies.

"We would insist that no church would ever be required by law or be pressured to do anything they didn't want to do," he said.

The move has also run into opposition from the Church of England, which refuses to carry out the services.

"There's ever-increasing need that churches take the often unpopular stand of teaching clearly from the pulpit and in the life of the church the Christian understanding of marriage," explained Canon Dr. Chris Sugden, executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream and a member of the Church of England General Synod.

Sugden said he's concerned about the government's push to make same-sex civil ceremonies an acceptable practice.

"My concern about it is this becomes the accepted air that the people breath in the current culture," he said. "That this is just how things are."

Symon Hill with the Christian think tank Ekklesia welcomes the government's plans.

"At the moment only a civil ceremony with no religious elements can be accepted in law, which we consider is discriminatory against the many faithful same-sex couples who wish to carry out their partnership in the context of their faith and get God's blessing," he explained.

Hill believes couples of any sexual orientation should have the right to be able to have a religious wedding ceremony.

"I know many same-sex couples who are devout Christians and of other faiths too who, at the moment, could only have a civil partnership, no religious elements are allowed," he said. "No Bible readings, no prayers, and yet they wish to seek God's blessing on their partnership just as a mixed sex couple would at their wedding."

There are some churches that will carry out the ceremonies, including some within the Quaker movement.

Sharon Ferguson, is a minister at the Metropolitan Community Church as well as chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement said the government's move would be progress.

"To be allowed to actually have some religious content to the civil partnership is a wonderful step forward," she said. "Certainly with my members, with my congregation, and certainly for myself to be able to bring God into our commitment to the person we love is a very important part of what we're doing."

So while a more liberal minority within the U.K. church welcomes the idea of allowing homosexuals to have religious civil ceremonies, a large majority of Christians remain deeply opposed to the government's plans to impose the controversial moves.

*Originally published July 23, 2010.

Log in or create an account to post a comment.  

CBN IS HERE FOR YOU!

Are you seeking answers in life? Are you hurting? Are you facing a difficult situation?

Find peace with God, discover more about God or send us your prayer request.

Call The 700 Club Prayer Center at 1 (800) 823-6053, 24 hours a day.

A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.

Peter Wooding

Peter Wooding

CBN News United Kingdom Correspondent

CBN News is a national/international, nonprofit news organization that provides programming by cable, satellite, and the Internet, 24-hours a day. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.