Debated on Thursday 27 January 2022
Dame Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab)
7. For what reason the Church of England has not made provision to enable a church blessing of gay and lesbian relationships. (905264)
The Church of England’s doctrine defines marriage as between one man and one woman, and changing doctrine is a serious matter that involves humbly seeking to discern the mind of God. The Church of England is engaging intensively with questions of identity, sexuality, relationships and marriage in ways that have not been done before. That process of learning, listening and discernment among clergy and congregations is enabling a deep engagement with difference and diversity as part of the Church’s discernment of a way forward.
I was interested to hear what the hon. Member said about supporting families and households, because in Wales and Scotland, there are blessings for lesbian and gay marriages, which shows the Churches’ acceptance and understanding of all households and families. It would be good for the Church of England to introduce a Measure on this issue sooner rather than later, as we know that it often moves at a glacial pace, as it did on ordaining women and having women bishops. This would be a welcome change for the Church to make.
I thank the right hon. Lady for the question. What she suggests may be welcome, but the Church needs to discern what it believes the true teachings of the gospels to be. In order to determine where God is leading us, we are engaged in one of the most extensive exercises in consultation, learning and prayer carried out by the Church in recent decades. Both the destination and how we get there are important.