A gay vicar with the Church of England has publicly and openly committed to marrying his same-sex partner, even though it will likely cost him his position in the clergy.
Father Andrew Cain announced his engagement to Stephen Foreshew, his partner of 14 years, on Valentine’s Day. Foreshew is not only a man, but also an atheist, therefore a big double no-no for marriages within the Church. But Cain knows the risk he’s taking — namely the likelihood that he’ll lose his job — and he’s determined to proactively speak out about it rather than hide from the reality of his situation. And that certainly makes him all the more threatening to the Church.
“I’ve lived and worked in the church for 35 years and never have I felt unwelcome,” he said.
“It’s very sad that only now is my sexuality suddenly becoming an issue for some people. The church wants to promote faithful and stable relationships — the bedrock of our society. Well, I am in a faithful and stable relationship.
“God made me like this. He gave me Stephen and I’m pretty sure he would want me to be happy with him.”
Cain could become the first gay clergy member in the country to take advantage of the new marriage equality law, which will take effect in parts of the United Kingdom on March 13. But the Church of England is excluded from the law, meaning Cain’s place in the clergy could (and probably will) be taken from him soon after his wedding.
Case in point: The day after Cain announced his engagement, the House of Bishops not-so-coincidentally released a statement reiterating that only unions between one man and one woman could be understood as marriage.
“We are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged,” the statement read.
“Getting married to someone of the same sex would clearly be at variance with the teaching of the church.”
Pastors from neighboring churches have already extended their support to Cain, but it’s unlikely it will make a difference. The Church could easily make a sweeping move to kick him out as soon as he signs the papers, and they’ll do it boastfully to intimidate other Christian gays and prove that they aren’t messing around.
But by being vocal about his engagement and his uncertain future within the Church, Cain has beaten them to the punch. He’s shared his side of the story and demonstrated his commitment to the Church, even though it shuns people like him. And if/when he’s let go from his longtime title for marrying the person he loves, he won’t be the one needing to defend himself.