On 28 March 2014 the then Dean of Durham, Michael Sadgrove, wrote a blog post to celebrate equal marriage becoming law in England on that day when the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 came into force. You can read the post here.
In this 2014 post he recognized that equal marriage was something new (in England) and that it would take time for people to get used to it and for Christians to consider prayerfully what it means for us.
Now, nearly five years later, most ordinary people have seen how normal and natural it is for loving, committed same-sex couples to marry just like everyone else. The sky hasn’t fallen in; the institution of marriage hasn’t been damaged, in fact it has been enhanced. But in the Church of England we seem more divided than ever, and in a later blog post (2017) Michael Sadgrove expresses a degree of frustration at the lack of acceptance and calls for change as an urgent and vital necessity.
In every other respect Michael’s arguments in his 2014 post apply equally strongly today. To summarize, he:
- recognizes that a change of mind and heart takes time, and that many who cannot yet wholeheartedly accept equal marriage are people of integrity who are on a journey
- shows that we shouldn’t be afraid of how this legal change enlarges our understanding of marriage, for this has happened before
- calls for us to be more intelligent about thinking biblically in relation to equal marriage – “it’s not enough to quote texts by themselves, as if they prove or disprove a particular position: what’s necessary is to understand the direction in which scripture is leading us in the way we reflect on human relationships”
- acknowledges the justifiable pain and anger of gay people who continue to feel excluded by the Church’s stance on equal marriage.