By Julian Mann, Virtueonline
In response to an intervention from a fellow peer in the House of Lords, the Archbishop of York did say that active homosexual relationships are 'Christian'.
Baroness Howarth of Breckland asked Dr John Sentamu during his speech in the committee stage of the same-sex marriage bill currently going through the House of Lords whether the Church of England would be prepared to perform religious ceremonies for couples in civil partnerships. She said: "The great difficulty with civil partnership marriages for Christians-those who love the Lord deeply-is that there is no religious content."
According to Hansard, the official record of debates in the British Houses of Parliament, Dr Sentamu replied:
"I wish I was speaking on behalf of the Church of England. I am not. I am part of it. The noble Baroness knows as well as I do that decisions about liturgy and constitutions are not the privilege of bishops but of the General Synod of the Church of England. This matter will need to be discussed. Incidentally, I am one of those who has gone on record as saying that had civil partnerships been given enough space, the church would not have escaped the possibility of a conversation. What do you do with people in same-sex relationships that are committed, loving and Christian? Would you rather bless a sheep and a tree, and not them? However, that is a big question, to which we are going to come. I am afraid that now is not the moment. We are dealing with the legislation as we have it. I am trying to make it slightly easier to work out what that difference is. Give me time, and one day I may come back and speak on this."
Though his claim that active homosexuality is Christian was conveyed in the form of a rhetorical question, it was nonetheless clearly stated: "What do you do with people in same-sex relationships that are committed, loving and Christian?" The assumption behind the rhetorical question is that active homosexual relationships, provided they are 'committed and loving', are Christian.
To illustrate the point, consider this rhetorical question from a revisionist perpective: "What are we going to do with that sublime pain in the neck, David Virtue?" There is no doubt that the hypothetical liberal posing this rhetorical question thinks that Mr Virtue is a sublime pain in the neck – arguably to the credit of Mr Virtue.
Though Dr Sentamu did not plan explicitly to affirm active homosexuality as Christian – the comment was elicted by an intervention – such a perspective was not out of kilter with the rest of his speech. Earlier on he said:
Read the Archbishop's in-depth views on marriage and civil partnerships here
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