Senior religious leaders from the Anglican Church say ‘there is nothing to fear’ from gay marriage, and should ‘be a cause for rejoicing’.
In a letter to British newspaper The Times, prominent figures shared their support for marriage between same-sex couples.
It says: ‘We believe the Church of England has nothing to fear from the introduction of civil marriage for same-sex couples.’
The letter, which includes signatories from five former Bishops, says marriage has adapted over the centuries, from the polygamy of the Old Testament and the preoccupation with social status and property in pre-Enlightenment times.
It also notes the modern marriage service begins not by discussing the importance of child-rearing, but by emphasising the quality of the relationship saying ‘they shall be united with one another in heart, body and mind’.
It adds: ‘We hope this will lead to a recognition of God’s grace at work in same-sex partnerships and call on the Church to engage in theological discussion and prayerful reflection on the nature of marriage.’
A leading signatory of the letter is Dr Jeffrey John, the openly gay dean of St Albans Cathedral, the first person to have been in a same-sex relationship and nominated to be a Church of England bishop.
The letter was instigated by Dr John and Canon Giles Goddard of St John's Church, Waterloo, and was intended to reconcile the Anglican Church which is currently divided over gay marriage.
Goddard told Gay Star News: 'We were conscious there has been a lot of publicity opposing gay marriage, and we felt something had to be done to rectify this.'
When asked about the divisions in the Anglican Church, Goddard said: 'I think the problem is that we have arguments in public.'
He explained it goes back to when Queen Elizabeth 1 tried to convert the entire country to the Church of England, but said she was not going to oppose any differing opinions on the interpretation of scripture.
Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, the head of the Church of England, has resigned and will stand down from his position in December.
Conservatives had attacked Williams’ left-wing views, including his opinions on homosexuality, while he has been criticised by liberals for failing to stand by his own principles.
Over 450,000 people have now signed the Coalition for Marriage, a petition demanding that marriage remains between a man and a woman, while fewer than 47,000 people have signed the Coalition for Equal Marriage, a petition supporting the government plans.