In an emotional speech to parliament, Labour MP for Rhondda Chris Bryant has lamented the Church of England’s decision not to allow same-sex marriage.
He said: “Imagine being a churchwarden. You turn up every day of the week to open the church before the priest gets there. On Sundays, you turn up a couple of hours beforehand to make sure that the church is warm, you clean the vestments, you iron them, you make sure that the church is prepared, and you count the collection at the end of the service, and you fall in love with somebody from your own sex.
“The place that you've devoted your life to...is the place where you can't get married. That’s terribly, terribly painful.”
The Labour MP was speaking as the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Andrew Selous MP, answered an urgent question on same-sex marriage in the Church of England.
It’s as the church prepares to discuss proposals to bless and dedicate couples on same-sex marriage or civil partnerships in next month’s General Synod.
Following the decision not to change the Church’s doctrine of marriage, understood between a man and a woman, bishops proposed that prayers of blessing should be allowed instead.
Bryant continued: “I think that there is still a cruelty in what the bishops have brought forward. There is a sort of hypocrisy. I know that they are trying to square everything off, but in the end there is a hypocrisy that we will bless the individuals but not the relationship. You can have a sort of blessing of your relationship—a celebration—but you cannot be married; you cannot refer to the other person as your husband.
"Imagine being a priest and wanting to be able to marry your church warden to the person they love. Is there any biblical teaching that says this is wrong? Is there any, really? Did Jesus say a single word about same-sex relationships or marriage? I do not think he did. He said a great deal about love—God of love. St Paul said that, in Christ, there was neither male nor female, neither Jew nor Greek, and I think he would probably also have said, neither gay nor straight."
The Church of England’s General Synod will meet from February 6th to 9th.