ABC prepared to support family S/S Wedding

Archbishop of Canterbury would go to his offspring’s gay wedding

Justin Welby resized

The Archbishop of Canterbury has said he would attend the gay wedding of one of his own children, despite his church opposing same-sex marriage.

Archbishop Justin Welby said in an interview that if one of his five children asked for his blessing for a gay marriage, he would pray with them and attend the ceremony.

The Daily Mail reported that he also refused to say that a gay relationship was “sinful or inappropriate”, insisting he would “always love ” his children, whatever their sexuality.

The interview was done by UK Justice Secretary Michael Gove and it appeared in The Spectator magazine.

Two of the archbishop’s children are married to spouses of the opposite sex.

Same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK in 2013, but the law stated that gay weddings could not happen in Church of England churches.

During parliamentary debate leading up to the law change, Archbishop Welby warned the legislation would “weaken” the idea of the “’family in its normal sense”.

Asked by Mr Gove how he would react if one of his children asked for his blessing for a same-sex relationship, Archbishop Welby said: “Would I pray for them together? You bet I would, absolutely.”

“Would I pray with them together? If they wanted me to. If they had a civil service of marriage, would I attend? Of course I would.”

Mr Gove challenged him on the views of some evangelicals and asked if he would tell his child that while he loved them “their relationship was sinful or inappropriate”.

But Archbishop Welby hit back: “I would say, ‘I will always love you, full stop. End of sentence, end of paragraph.’ Whatever they say, I will say I always love them.”

Mr Gove stated that Archbishop Welby has helped to change the “caricature” that the Church of England is “morally relativist, ethically vague, painfully politically correct and timorously unassertive”.


So here we have it – brought to us in New Zealand by our friends at ‘CATHNEWS’ – the fact that Archbishop Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is NOT homophobic. Nor would he be averse to attending the wedding of a child of his who happened to want to be married to a person of the same gender.

The ABC’s remarks reported here were made in response to specific questions on this important topical issue for the Church of England at this time in its history, when the Church has been accused of homophobia in its negative response to the issue of Same-Sex Marriage in civil society – not only in the Church but in parts of society.

The larger question here, of course, is whether he would actually abandon a child of his who was gay and wanted him to attend his/her civil marriage to a person of the same gender. This might be considered separately from a question of whether, or not, the Archbishop of Canterbury would attend a Church Wedding – which would, at this time, in any case, not take place in a Church of England building because of the Church’s extant ban on such a ceremony being held in any Church of England sanctuary.

More important, however, was the fact that family ties do make a difference – to how the Archbishop of Canterbury (and maybe how we Christians) would actually treat anyone with same-sex attraction who wants to enter into a permanent relationship with the chosen love of their life. This interview does seem to offer relief from the current conservative view of some Christians who regard any sexual relationship between same-sex couples as un-biblical and therefore unacceptable in a Christian context.

The further question arises: If we are prepared to consider the possibility of a close sexual relationship between 2 people of the same gender being permissible for close family members; why, in the name of justice, would we want to prevent a similar relationship of loving connection between two people outside of our intimate family circle?

This is happening in a society where fewer heterosexual couples are actually taking the step of even legalising their sexual relationships. I have a close family member who lives with her chosen partner – with a child – without the benefit of marriage, either religious or civil. Our daughter says that she sees so many officially married couples whose legal relationships have been abandoned, that she and her partner are reluctant to make vows they may sometime see the need to relinquich. They have bought a home together and their relationship is as stable – perhaps more so – than many other ‘marriages’. Do my wife and I ignore this loving family relationship because of its lack of offical recognition by virtue of legal marriage? Certainly not. Why then should we deny to same-sex couples who actually want to make a legal marriage the dignity of that ‘precious estate’?

I guess this newspaper interview with Archbishop Justin will be well discussed by both liberal and conservative members of the Church of England and, indeed, by other Christians (especially Anglicans) around the world. What is it about committed gay relationships – affording social stability for the same-sex partners – that is so very different from heterosexual couples – apart from the inherited distaste and bigotry that they have traditionally evoked?

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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