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Posted on Fri 3 February 2012

Press Release: Bishop Michael’s statement on same-sex marriage

In light of recent developments, including the letter from 120 clergy in the diocese of London and the Bishop of Salisbury’s comments as reported in The Times, Michael Nazir-Ali, the former Bishop of Rochester and current president of Oxtrad, has made the following brief statement:

"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 friendships and relationships. Marriage, however, is a special kind of relationship 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 that men and women are ordered to one another and it is their similarity and also their difference which makes for the complementarity needed for a stable union.

"This complementarity has a number of aspects to it. There is the sexual aspect, which is not just about biology but about motivation that the love that the one has for the other and the way in which it is manifested is distinct from how, for example, friends might love one another. The complementarity is also social. This does not necessarily mean men can do certain tasks and women other tasks but that each approaches their task distinctively. This complementarity is very important in the bringing up and nurture of children, where all the research shows that children relate to each parent in a different way and this is why we welcome the government’s plans to give children access to their fathers. However, such complementarity is also important for that aspect of marriage which has to do with the love, comfort and support that the one ought to have for the other, even when there are no children involved. Again, this is distinct from the love and support that friends might give one another because it is related to the way in which man and woman are similar but also distinct. It is very 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.

“Whilst we affirm the value of friendships, we cannot put every kind of lifestyle and behaviour on the same level. 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”.

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