Minister hopes church will perform gay marriages

TARYN UTIGER
Last updated 05:00 10/09/2012
Anglican minister Val Riches says she hopes her church will perform same-sex marriages if they are made legal.
JONATHAN CAMERON/Fairfax NZ
WELCOMING ARMS: Anglican minister Val Riches says she hopes her church will perform same-sex marriages if they are made legal.

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An Anglican minister whose son is gay says she hopes the church will choose to perform same sex marriages if the Marriage Amendment Bill becomes law.

“Sadly it's only one interpretation of the Bible that is getting heard at the moment. You don't have to choose between Christianity and homosexuality, they can exist together,” said Rev Val Riches, the regional dean of North East Taranaki.

Ms Riches said she believed same-sex couples in a loving and secure relationship would be welcomed by God.

“I believe Christ wants to embrace long-term, faithful, non-abusive relationships,” Ms Riches, whose husband is also a minister, said.

Labour MP Louisa Wall's bill, which was drawn from a ballot, passed its first hurdle to becoming law last month when MPs voted 80 to 40 in favour of it.

It will have to pass a further two readings.

Ms Riches said the Anglican Church had spent more than 30 years developing a respectful conversation about sexual orientation, and the Marriage Amendment Bill was an important step for New Zealand.

“The bill will help to reduce the myths that homosexuals are child abusers and are promiscuous, and give them the traditional supports that aren't there for them at the moment.”

Ms Riches said she came from a conservative traditional background and church workshops had helped her become open to homosexuality, but it was when her son told her he was gay she put her support in to practice.

“He became a powerful voice into my life.

"He made me aware of how hard it is.

"He's come out and he won't be silent, because he says there are teenagers out there who are struggling.”

Ms Riches, who plans to start a support group for youth and parents, said she understood why some people were scared of the shift in basic beliefs.

However, she believed spirituality and sexuality could co-exist.

“Jesus was often found alongside those on the margin and he would be challenging those who sit there safe and secure in a cultural majority and claim a biblical truth against those who are hurting,” she said.

Ordained 30 years ago, Ms Riches said she planned to sign the Legalise Love petition that is circulating in New Plymouth.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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