Diarmaid MacCulloch, author of the popular History of Christianity: the first 3000 years, relates the sweep of marriage equality across the world leaving bishops in the dust.
Same-sex marriage is arriving across the world, all in a rush: The early arrivals were the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada. Now among others, there’s Uruguay, a dozen states in America, France, Britain — even serious proposals in Vietnam. An armchair tourist can enjoy watching the contrasts in different cultural settings.
The Church of England bishops have been caught between trying to conciliate noisy conservatives in the church and wanting to be nice to the gays, because (to episcopal surprise and alarm) gay people have ceased to lurk in the shadows and have entered mainstream society, demanding to be treated as ordinary human beings. Some are even clergy in same-sex partnerships.
The dilemma was captured in the performance of the archbishop of Canterbury during the Lords debate. A man normally characterized by shrewdness and sensitivity, he delivered an inept speech that began by saying how sad it was that the church had not supported equality for gay people in the past, and then went on to give some bizarre reasons as to why it would continue not supporting equality for them in the future. Having sort of hinted that his colleagues might be best not voting for Lord Dear’s amendment, he went on to vote for it himself.