Northern Irish churches insist same-sex weddings won't be held in places of worship - despite new law change

Northern Irish churches insist same-sex weddings won't be held in places of worship - despite new law change

CHURCHES in Northern Ireland have effectively announced that they won't be holding same-sex weddings, despite the legalisation of gay marriage coming into effect at midnight on Monday earlier this week.

The Church of Ireland, Methodist Church of Ireland and Presbyterian Church in Ireland have all stated that they will only celebrate marriages between a man and a woman.

The Catholic Church meanwhile expressed its concerns at the "redefinition" of marriage, but did not comment directly on whether it would hold same-sex wedding ceremonies on its properties, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

Marriages between same-sex couples are no longer illegal in Northern Ireland after legislation passed by Westminster in the absence of a Stormont Assembly came into effect this week.

Despite this, the Church of Ireland stated that weddings taking place in one of its churches or conducted by one of its ministers will only celebrate unions between men and women, as described in The Bible.

"The Church of Ireland affirms, according to our Lord's teaching, that marriage is in its purpose a union permanent and lifelong, for better or worse, till death do them part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side," revealed a spokesperson for the Church.

Rev Jim Stothers, deputy clerk of the Presbyterian Church's General Assembly, explained that as the Church was committed to maintaining  "the scriptural basis of marriage."

He said "In every marriage service, the minister officiating is required to read this statement: 'Since the beginning of creation God, in His gracious purpose, provided marriage as the accepted way in which a man and a woman may come together as husband and wife.

"This is the only basis on which marriage can take place within the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. The introduction of same-sex marriage in Northern Ireland does not change that conviction."

The only outfit to openly announce that it would be offering the opportunity for same-sex couples to get married was is the All Souls Church, a non-subscribing Presbyterian Church based in south Belfast.

Rev Chris Hudson of All Souls said that his church warmly welcomed same-sex marriages and he was disappointed that churches will initially be excluded from holding them.

"It is important to put in place immediately the option for churches to opt in or stay out of marriage equality," he said.