Words: Alastair James; pictures: Pexels
The Church in Wales has voted to allow same-sex couples to have their marriages blessed after a day of deliberations on Monday (6 September)
In a meeting in Newport, officials debated the plans, which have stopped short of allowing couples to legally get married in the church.
As a result, there's been a mixed response to the news.
“Their relationships are loved and blessed by God”
All three orders of the Church - bishops, clergy, and laity - passed the bill with some abstentions along the way. Having a marriage blessed is basically getting God's approval, which is why it's seen as a significant change.
Blessings will now be available after an official marriage or civil partnership at a register office. However, clergy will be able to opt-out from offering blessings if they don’t agree.
Ruth Eleri James, a trainee priest in the Church of Wales who’s also in a same-sex relationship, says the recognitions show the validity of relationships like hers.
As per the BBC, she says, “this is a message to LGBTQ folk in society at large to say their relationships are loved and blessed by God, and that's a message that hasn't been given, certainly in my lifetime, and I long to be able to share that with people."
She and her partner are pushing for full and complete marriage in the Church. Her optimism is not shared by fellow Christian Niki Stark Devlin, who thinks that many in the LGBTQ community will find the change “meaningless” and it will be seen as a “gesture”.
The Former Dean of St Albans, the Very Reverend Jeffrey John, who is gay, supported the change but told the BBC it’s a “halfway house”. He’s previously accused the Church in Wales of homophobia after he was rejected for the position of Bishop of Llandaff, which the church denies is the case.
He was told appointing him would be difficult as he’s in a civil partnership, even though he’s celibate, which is allowed under Welsh Church rules.
The Evangelical Fellowship opposed the plans to allow blessings as marriage was between a man and a woman.
In July the Methodist Church voted to allow same-sex marriage, defining marriage as between two people as opposed to a man and a woman. But the Vatican has ruled that the Catholic Church cannot bless same-sex unions saying "God does not bless sin".
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