Wanganui vicar welcomes gays

By Brendan Manning


The contentious gay marriage bill currently before Parliament has divided many but not in the Anglican church in Wanganui.

"It is perhaps not the most important issue facing the church," said the Reverend Stuart Goodin, vicar at Christ Church.

His church has no plans to develop a perspective on the issue in the near future.

"It's one of those things where I would prefer that given its contentious nature, we have the discussion within the church first rather than out in the media."

Mr Goodin was not aware of any openly gay members of his congregation but would welcome any who were.

A conservative group within the Presbyterian Church has urged Parliamentarians to reject the same sex marriage bill, dismissing the views of Presbyterians who support the bill as "isolated voices".

Presbyterian Affirm made a statement last week opposing same sex marriage, saying the concept was "spiritually offensive to many Christian people".

Its spokesman, Dr Stuart Lange, said Affirm was a "widely supported conservative network" within the Presbyterian Church, although the church as a whole had no formal position on the bill.

The statement was issued after at least 12 Presbyterian ministers voiced support for the bill by co-signing a letter from 57 clergy of the Anglican, Presbyterian and Methodist churches rejecting Catholic opposition to the bill last week.

Dr Lange said he believed the contrary views expressed by other Presbyterians were "isolated voices". Most active Presbyterians wanted marriage to remain between men and women.

Families with both a mother and father were still the best way to raise a family, Affirm said.

In response, Steve Rainbow, chairman of gay support service Outline, said describing gay marriage as spiritually offensive was labelling homosexuality as offensive.

"That debate frankly has long been settled with homosexual law reform as long ago as 1986.

"People are entitled to their views but obviously every time someone says something like that, it makes it all the more difficult for a young guy living in the South Island in the countryside somewhere to accept that they may be gay.

"It has a very unfortunate effect on people who are grappling with who they truly are."

There was a range of views in the church, as there were within the community, about same sex marriage, he said.

However, a significant number of Christians and churches were comfortable with the concept.

"The critical thing about the bill before Parliament is that it will not require churches to conduct same sex marriages, and in fact it will be entirely up to churches whether or not they do that."

Same sex marriage was about love, he said.

"I thought that the church, of all groups, would have been very supportive of two loving people cementing their relationship."

The bill is expected to have its first reading today and is likely to pass to a select committee, although the numbers are not yet guaranteed.APNZ

- Wanganui Chronicle

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