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“Change is taking place rapidly within Church of England, something I’m pleased to see”

Nico Beard via unsplash.com

It is wrong for the Church of England to stipulate that LGBT clergy may not marry.

Philip-Christopher-Baldwin-CircleJesus loves every one of us. Gay, lesbian, bi, trans or straight, we’re all made in God’s image. God has a purpose for us and wants us to fulfil our potential.

Fourteen priests, in defiance of the Bishops’ Guidelines, have revealed in a letter to The Sunday Times that they are married. These fourteen priests have entered into civil marriages, in accordance with the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013.

The Bishops’ Guidelines were clarified in 2014, when Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury and John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, determined that priests in same-sex relationships may not marry. Clergy cannot enter into or conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies. The Bishops’ Guidelines also state that LGBT clergy, whilst they may be in committed relationships, must remain celibate.

By disclosing publically that they are married, these fourteen priests are clearly in breach of the Bishops’ Guidelines.

This puts tremendous pressure on the bishops who oversee them. LGBT clergy should be allowed to marry their partners and they should not be required to be celibate. The letter asks that the Bishops Council, which meets in a week’s time, to consider whether parishes should be allowed to decide for themselves if they can celebrate same-sex marriages.

He has moved the Church of England forwards on LGBT issues by about five years overnight!

Change is taking place rapidly within the Church of England, something I’m pleased to see. On Friday, it emerged that Nicholas Chamberlain, the Bishop of Grantham, is gay. Coming out in an interview with The Guardian, Nick revealed he is in a long term same-sex relationship. Nick has done a brave and wonderful thing by coming out. He will become a role model for many LGBT people of faith. He has moved the Church of England forwards on LGBT issues by about five years overnight!

Nick is in a committed long term gay relationship, but is not married and is celibate. Fulfilling these stipulations meant that being in a long term LGBT relationship did not prevent Nick’s episcopal appointment. On sexual intimacy, Nick stated in his interview with The Guardian that: “physical expression is not for everyone.” Referring to his identity as a gay man, Nick said: “My sexual identity is part of who I am, but it’s the ministry that matters.” Nick is making incredible personal sacrifices so that he can fulfil his calling to be a priest.

The Bishops Guidelines must be changed, so that LGBT people are not deterred from becoming priests and so that same-sex marriages can take place within the Church of England.

I know that Jesus wants same-sex couples to be able to marry in Church of England churches. I would like to fall in love with a partner and marry him in a Church of England endorsed ceremony.

I am praying that these issues may be resolved in favour of LGBT people.

Follow Phillip on Twitter @philipcbaldwin

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