Methodist response to proposals on same-sex marriage

Statement from the General Secretary of the Methodist Church, the Revd Dr Martyn Atkins, in response to the Government's proposals on same-sex marriage:

"The Government has announced that it will proceed with a Bill to make provision for the marriage of same-sex couples, including marriage in Churches which "opt in".  This decision raises both issues around the nature of marriage, and also about religious freedom.

"The Methodist response to the consultation on Equal Civil Marriage, drawn up by members of Faith and Order and the Methodist Council, stated that 'The Methodist Church, in line with scripture and traditional teaching, believes that marriage is a gift of God and that it is God's intention that a marriage should be a life-long union in body, mind and spirit of one man and one woman.'

"Within the Methodist Church there is a spectrum of belief about sexuality; however the Church has explicitly recognised, affirmed and celebrated the participation and ministry of lesbians and gay men.

"The Government has indicated that Churches which do not wish to marry same-sex couples will have the protection of law. This is important. However, in our response to the consultation we also stated that, while in the future we may or may not choose to affirm same-sex marriage, it would be unwarranted interference for the State to make that decision for us. For the purpose of religious freedom, if the Government allows marriage of same-sex couples in civil venues, then it must allow religious bodies to make the same choice. Whilst we recognise that most Christian Churches will probably choose not to offer same-sex marriages, the principle of religious freedom is an important one as it would it would leave with the Church the ultimate authority and autonomy to chose whether or not to do so."

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