More than 120 Church of England clergy in London have spoken out against plans to make civil partnerships equal to marriage, sparking intense media coverage.
Speaking in response, Michael Nazir-Ali, former Bishop of Rochester and current president of Christian ministry foundation Oxtrad, said, ‘We affirm the value of all friendships and strong relationships between people, whether in the family or with friends.
‘We want a society with such strong relationships. Marriage, however, is special and should not be confused with other relationships which have their own integrity.
‘This is rooted in the Bible’s understanding of man and woman being created together, and created together in God’s image. This means their similarity and their difference make for the complementarity needed for a stable union’.
He listed reasons for this and claimed: ‘It is important to respect the similar yet different ways in which men and women reflect the image of God in them. The Bible sees marriage as a sign between Christ and his church. Clearly, this is a union of similarity and difference which marriage should reflect.
‘Not every expression of love is appropriate and we would want to uphold the continuous teaching of the biblical tradition that the proper expression of sexual love belongs properly within that ordered relationship of man to woman which we call marriage.
‘Anything less than that or other than that falls short of God’s purposes for human beings’.