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Church in Wales to consider blessing same-sex marriages and civil partnerships

The Church in Wales is planning to allow services to bless same-sex couples after they are married, saying it believes the Church will also have to consider its teaching on marriage. 

The Church in Wales' Governing Body has proposed a new bill which would change the Book of Commons Prayer and allow clergy to bless a same-sex couple who have already made a legal commitment elsewhere, whether through marriage or a civil partnership. 

In a note explaining their desire to introduce the service, the Bench of Bishops say: "Scriptures condemn 'porneia', unbridled lust, in which sexual activity is divorced from faithful and mutual commitment. It is true that in Scripture such faithful commitment is always portrayed as between a man and woman in covenanted union (marriage), and all other sexual activity, including references to same-sex activity, is portrayed as an expression of porneia.  However, with new social, scientific and psychological understandings of sexuality in the last one and a half centuries, we believe that same-sex relationships can be understood in a radically different way, and that the teaching of Scripture should therefore be re-interrogated."

They add: "Approval of this rite would be stating that the Church in Wales accepts that the loving and faithful commitment of two persons of the same sex, aspiring to life-long fidelity and mutual comfort, and who have made a commitment in civil partnership or marriage, is worthy of acceptance by the Church by asking God's blessing upon their commitment.

"The Bench believes that, in the fullness of time, the Governing Body will have to consider whether it wishes to consider a change in the Church's teaching concerning marriage."

They bishops say they want blessings to be provided as soon as convenient as the Church's Governing Body had already made an informal commitment in 2018 to provide something for gay and lesbian couples, believing it was "pastorally unsustainable" not to.

The use of this blessing would be 'experimental' and 'temporary', lasting five years from October 2021, presumably to fill the gap before the Church in Wales hopes to bring in same-sex marriage fully. 

No clergy member would be forced to do the blessing against their conscience. 

One of the Liturgy options for the blessing reads:

"Beloved in Christ, we come together in the presence of God to celebrate the union of N and N and to ask his blessing on their future together. 

"Jesus said, 'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment' (Matthew 22:37-38)."

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