Together in Love and Faith
Chair of PCN Britain, Simon Cross reflects on the Bishop of Oxford's support for same-sex marriage.
The recent publication of Together in Love and Faith in which the Bishop of Oxford outlines his support of same-sex marriages should surely be welcomed by those of us in the progressive movement.
In the writing of this essay Dr Croft exhibits a prayerful, scholarly and pastorally sensitive approach to the needs of the church which is laudable.
Since the publication of the essay other senior members of the Church of England have voiced support for this stance, this too is encouraging.
We can hope that in time the whole of the church will come to support this call, and fully embrace the provision of public services of blessing for same-sex civil partnerships and marriages.
At present, though, it remains clear that there are many whose consciences would not support this.
Dr Croft has voiced his concern that the journey towards inclusion for some should not become "an experience of exclusion for others," his measured tone, and pastoral concern, demonstrate a sensitivity that befits his position.
We must recognise, however, that time to think is not equally apportioned. While some may have the ability to pause and reflect, to gather evidence and weigh up competing approaches, others are living with the severe pain of conflicted loyalties.
We might ask how many same-sex attracted people struggled with mental, emotional and spiritual agonies while due consideration was given (yet again) to the full range of opinions on this subject.
In his essay Dr Croft writes that he can perceive no harm flowing from the blessing of same-sex unions, indeed he says: "the opposite is the case."
This is something which has been clear to many of us for a considerable period of time. Even in recent years the Bishop of Buckingham and others have been vocal on this issue it is a shame it has taken so long for others to catch up.
For those of us who, like Dr Croft, are concerned with harm, it is clear that the exclusion of those who wish to have their same sex partnerships blessed in church is where the damage is done.
We must remember, of course, that Christianity has always been a plural tradition. Since the early church different views and positions of conscience have been held in tension and where change has been required it has been challenging and often polarising.
That we should attempt to manage this present process of change in a sensitive and thoughtful way is certainly vital, that we should recognise that time to reflect is not equally distributed is also crucial.
If you wish to buy a copy of the essay it can be purchased here.