The UK's First Same-Sex Marriage In A Church Has Happened



On Saturday April 13th 2014, partners, Jan Tipper and Barb Burden, made history.

They hadn't intended to.

They just wanted to be married, in front of family and friends, in the church they'd attended for the last 15 years.

But they did make history: they became the first same-sex couple, in the UK, to marry in a church. 

The sky didn't fall in. Rivers didn't run with blood. There were no horsemen galloping down the Bournemouth seafront. Two people, each in love with the other, had their wedding in a church.

They were married by the Metropolitan Community Church (MCC) in Bournemouth. A church with strong roots in equality and diversity. At a time when other main stream denominations are pushing back against social change, the MCC is kicking down its doors to embrace it.

The open-for-all ethos of the MCC might seem progressive but it’s important to remember the humble beginnings of the Christian Church. Adopted by the Roman Empire in the second century, Christianity, before that, had been the religion of the powerless.

The early ministries of the church were attended by those without authority: the poor, the persecuted, the outcasts and the judged. The powerhouses of Christianity, the ones we would recognise today, with their political influences, vast memberships and wealth only came much later. So, is the MCC progressive or has it simply remained closer to this earlier ethos? 

No doubt many Christians would disagree.

Indeed, many do disagree with what the MCC did last weekend.

The MCC is not the only Christian Church to accept gay marriage. The Quakers and The Unitarian Church have both been key supporters of same-sex couples. However, they do not form the majority consensus. The Church of England is exempt. Most other religious groups are choosing to opt-out from performing ceremonies.

This will be of some comfort to those who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds.

There is fear in some religious circles that interference from the European Court could remove the option of "opting-out" of performing same-sex marriages. They fear the British laws protecting them will be overruled. Concerned at the precedent the Government has set in allowing equal marriages, they are worried about where it might lead, or where it could end.

It's unlikely, even under European pressure, that churches will bend to accommodate something which they see as being incompatible with their belief system.

Change is likely to be glacial at best. Religion is, after all, by its very nature, dogmatic.

For same-sex couples the religious options will always be few. For gay Christians, churches like the MCC will be, quite literally, a God-send. Allowing them the chance to celebrate their sexuality, their gender, their love for another human being and, above all else, their relationship with God.

Whatever the future will bring on the issue, we’d like to extend our congratulations to the happy couple. May they have many years of happiness together :) 

You can find out more about the MCC here.

You can read our previous post on religion and gay marriagehere

If you’re looking for a civil venue for your wedding/civil partnership then click here.

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