The Church of England has claimed that laws to permit gay marriage may portend an end to church weddings altogether, with suggestions that it is ‘one of the most serious threats to the Church in 500 years.’ This seems odd, since the greatest threat to the Church in recent times strikes me as being its intransigent and bigoted attitude – although, obviously, an end to church weddings would curtail a rich seam of revenue. The choice to become an anachronistic, crumbling antiquity – reminiscent of many of its temples – might be seen by some as brave, by others as merely stupid.
If the Church really intended to remain a relevant and central pillar of modern life, one might think that it would consider turning away from the rigidly defined ethos of its dark and questionable past. Its elders now posture as harbingers of doom, quoting archaic and apocryphal interpretations of diktats which were long ago prescribed by politically-slanted translations of scriptures which it was claimed conveyed God’s laws.
Of course, this is a body which still seems to be struggling with the idea of the equality of women and which took rather a long time to even take a position against slavery. For many years, I was unable to understand why Conservatism always claimed to be the party of Christianity – rather than Socialism, which might have seemed more natural – but I think that I finally get it: Conservatives and the Church both tend to want things to remain the same, to have a rigid social order and to not have to question the status quo. One might even go so far as to say that they share a desire for institutional ignorance – and yet even the Tories can see which way this argument needs to end.
Religion rightly preaches tolerance and forgiveness, but even the most divine patience would surely be tested by such wilful stubbornness and obstinacy as is being displayed by many of the incumbents.