Toast of the Tories spreads word on same-sex marriage, love it or hate it
By Tim Stanley
Conservatives always seem to be arguing with the Church of England, but the truth is they are very similar: wet, woke and at each other’s throats, held together – just – by characters such as Andrew Selous, who was sent into the Commons to explain the new Anglican position on same-sex marriage. In short, the Church will bless gays and lesbians but not marry them, which Labour MPS Ben Bradshaw and Wes Streeting said is discriminatory. Several Conservatives agreed. The tall and vague Mr Selous, a bishop in ministerial form, insisted he held every opinion in deep regard, and noted that even if members consider this new blessing an insult, the prayers written for it are “very beautiful”. What a consolation prize! “I’m afraid we won’t be giving you the vote just yet, Mr Mandela, but please accept this lovely bouquet of flowers…” It is “cruel”, said Sir Chris Bryant, his voice cracking, not to let a vicar marry their parishioners. “Did Jesus say a single word about same-sex relationships?” he asked. “St Paul said that in Christ there was neither male nor female” – surely it’s all about love? My eyes crossed to the Tory benches, expecting some answer. Come on chaps, at least one of you must’ve stayed awake during RE?! Jesus didn’t mention lots of things, but he did say he’d come to fulfil and not abolish the law, which was pretty hetero-normative in ancient Judea, and if there’s one person in the New Testament who would’ve been sceptical about gay weddings, it’s that inveterate letter-writer, St Paul. But no theology uttered forth from the Conservative benches. Ten years ago, you could expect at least one old stick to rise to his feet and deliver a lecture on “Adam and Steve” and the benefits of cold showers, in the sure and certain hope that two weeks later he’d be photographed in the arms of a Latvian drag queen. Yet, all we got was Sir Desmond Swayne, who said the blessings were “a fudge but all the more welcome for that because there are other fish that have to be fried”. The House had absolutely no idea what he was talking about. Mr Selous, respectful even of overt nonsense, noted that there are strong feelings on both sides and that while some people might like Marmite, others might hate it, but the important thing is that we all recognise the importance of yeast. Let us pray. A couple of MPS quietly defended “freedom of conscience”; the wedge, however, continues to thicken. When civil partnerships were introduced, we were told marriage was impossible. When gay marriage was passed, we were told churches would be exempt. Then, the aged Sir Peter Bottomley told the Cofe to “wake up!” – ironic, as MPS say it to him all the time – and warned that, on the issue of sexual equality, the Commons will not “put up with being held up” forever. Such are the wages of being an established church. One day, the state will tell what to do, and one can easily imagine the Tories imposing the latest reformation from above.