EQUAL marriage was praised by a bishop in a debate on whether same-sex marriages should be allowed in church.

Same-sex marriage passed into law in March, but gay weddings in the Church of England are still prohibited.

Bishop of Buckingham the Rt Revd Dr Alan Wilson this week spoke at a debate on the issue at Kidlington’s St John’s Church.

A prominent supporter of gay marriage, he told worshippers at the Broadway church that the Christian tradition holds “the root of marriage is not sex but companionship”.

He said: “The idea that marriage is about friendship has become extremely powerful in England.”

Christians must symbolise “good news”, he said: “One of the really painful things I have had to learn is how the Church can be really bad news to people”.

This can “stir feelings of guilt and lack of self worth”, but he said: “God has made us like that. If he wanted to make us another way he would but he didn’t.”

In a group discussion as part of the event, Stephanie Hobson, 67, of Kidlington, said: “I can’t see any reasons there why there should not be gay marriage, why then are so many people against it?”

Janet Warren, 70, said at Tuesday’s event: “The older you are the more you don’t like change and the idea that the world is changing around you is enough to put you off.”

The event came after a series earlier debates about assisted dying and women bishops.

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