Ministers are expected to publish plans to enable same-sex couples to "marry" in church, the BBC has learned.Although not having a strong view one way or the other, I reckon the inverted commas surrounding the word 'marry' are very well placed here. The reason being - and I would love to know the thoughts of this blog's official theologian on the matter - that it is surely theoretically impossible for gay couples to be married under the auspices of the church.
If the church is run along the rules laid down by the Bible and scriptures, and a truly religious ceremony is banned under those rules, then it really shouldn't matter what law is proposed by the state.
Sure, they can say that same sex couples can be allowed to use spiritual venues, but unless the faith concerned is theologically aligned with the principle, the union wouldn't be blessed by whichever God is worshipped there. On that basis, If I were gay I'd struggle to see the point in choosing a church for my ceremony.
Of course, if the church were to declare that the rules had changed because they said so, surely that then casts doubt on the entire faith. Because faith in the ancient rituals and writings - if you boil it all down - is the only concept that holds religious groups together. Once it is decided by humans that these can be discarded, the cohesion of the religion buckles and its relevance falls apart.
It would appear that the usually ebullient Peter Tatchell understands this very well.
Mr Tatchell said: "Permitting faith organisations to make their own decision on whether to conduct same-sex civil partnerships is the democratic and decent thing to do.It's not just the decent or democratic thing to do, it is simply the only option. There is nothing to push hard for here. Same sex couples will never be spiritually 'married' in a church even with legal consent behind them, it would still be a civil ceremony albeit conducted in a church. So all this turns out to be is that a few more pretty buildings are available for use. Big deal.
"The current law prevents them from doing so, even if they want to. No religious institution will be forced to perform civil partnerships if they do not wish to do so."
John Lennon famously got in a bit of a pickle by stating that the Beatles were 'bigger than Jesus', but should faiths be ordered to accept same sex marriages in the true sense of the word, it would be the state declaring that they are 'bigger than God', and even dull-witted politicians can recognise their powers are limited in that respect. Well, one hopes so, anyway.
If a day ever does come where legislation is passed to force religions to endorse gay marriages equally with heterosexual ones, we are into a whole new world of government arrogance. It would be an official declaration of the coming of the Lord. The one and only new God ... the state.