Bishop of Salisbury writes to Lord Alli on ‘Same-Sex Marriage’

Diocese of Salisbury press release: Bishop restates gay marriage is an endorsement of the institution of marriage and “a matter of justice” which begins thus:

The Bishop of Salisbury writes today that “The possibility of ‘gay marriage’ does not detract from heterosexual marriage unless we think that homosexuality is a choice rather than the given identity of a minority of people. Indeed the development of marriage for same sex couples is a very strong endorsement of the institution of marriage.”

In a letter delivered to Lord Alli at the House of Lords, Bishop Holtam believes that civil partnerships have been a natural precursor of gay marriage being recognised in law: “Open recognition and public support have increased in civil partnerships those very qualities of life for which marriage itself is so highly celebrated. It is not surprising this now needs recognition in law.”

Replying to a letter from Lord Alli of Norbury who requested that Bishop Holtam clarify his position on the issue as a member of the House of Bishops for members of the Upper House, Bishop Holtam stresses that this issue is about justice: “In the current debates it is striking that within the Anglican Communion one of the strongest supporters of same sex marriage is Archbishop Desmond Tutu. From his experience of the racism of Apartheid he sees same sex marriage as primarily a matter of justice.”

Bishop Holtam states: “there are a variety of views within the Church of England where we are experiencing rapid change similar to that in the wider society. This is complex to express, partly because there are those who see this issue as fundamental to the structure of Christian faith.”

In his letter the Bishop of Salisbury also observes that the church has adapted its approach to marriage in light of social change including the widespread availability of contraceptives so that couples may choose to have children; the acceptance of divorce and possibility of marriage in church after divorce so that not all marriages are lifelong, and the acceptance of couples living together before marriage by a Church that still teaches sexual relationships are properly confined to marriage…

The full text of the letter from the Bishop of Salisbury to Lord Alli is available below the fold. It is also on the Diocese of Salisbury website (link in press release), and on the Daily Telegraph website.

Press reports:

Telegraph Edward Malnick Opponents of gay marriage like supporters of apartheid, says senior bishop

Continue reading “Bishop of Salisbury writes to Lord Alli”


How thoroughly refreshing that Bishop Nick Holtham has responded to Lord Ali’s request: that he clearly enunciate his position on the purposes of Marriage – as related to the current Bill on Same-Sex Marriage about to be debated in the House of Lords – after its passage through the U.K. House of Commons.

One wonders, in the wake of this brave statement,  just how many more of the Church of England’s Bishops will be disposed to question the Church’s stance on Same-Sex Marriage, and indeed on the desirability, or not, of encouraging monogamous relationships among Gay people, and whether Bishop Holtham will be side-lined in the House of Bishops for his forthright defence of the provisions being made by the Bill?

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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