Salisbury's MP preaches truth to Salisbury's Bishop
The Bishop of Salisbury, The Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam, wrote recently to Lord Alli of Norbury, who requested that the Bishop clarify his position on the issue of same-sex marriage as a member of the House of Bishops for members of the Upper House. He did so, explaining his belief that marriage is simply a matter of 'stable, faithful, adult, loving' relationships, and that those Christians who opposed the concept of same-sex marriage are like those in ages past who supported slavery and Apartheid - ie, wrong theologically, exegetically and morally.
The MP for Salisbury is John Glen, and he has replied to the Bishop:
SIR – I was deeply saddened to learn of Bishop Holtam’s letter (May 30). Bishop Holtam is a well-intentioned churchman who has done much for deprived communities in London during his career."It’s interesting," said Sir Humphrey, "that nowadays politicians want to talk about moral issues, and bishops want to talk politics."
However, his apparent attempt to place those Christians who seek to uphold traditional marriage in the same category as those who defended Apartheid and slavery is deeply unhelpful. It will be particularly offensive to those in black majority churches who do not share his view.
If the Bishop reflects on his visit to the thriving St Paul’s congregation in Salisbury, or the recent Prayer Market event involving eight churches at which I spoke, he would understand that these growing congregations object to gay marriage not because they object to homosexuals, but because they believe marriage should follow the biblical pattern affirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19.
To redefine the institution of marriage will not remove prejudice, but instead risk legal ambiguities and unnecessarily provoke a sense of resentment and isolation among very many Christians.
If today’s church leaders follow Bishop Nicholas, and allow public opinion to define what they preach, I fear the decline in some parts of the Church of England will be terminal.
John Glen MP (Con)
Member of Parliament for Salisbury