You only have to read the headlines about the archbishop of Westminster's sermon to actually come to the conclusion that he got he wrong. He may have a point, he may even have won a few friends among evangelicals, but is a Christmas sermon really the place to attach a government policy? To balance the books, I think the Anglican bishop of York got it wrong too to talk about troop funding or whatever it was the John Sentamu spoke about in his address earlier in the week.
I do believe that our faith has something to say about and to the political world, I'm jut not sure that Christmas is the best time or a sermon the best vehicle for so doing. And I speak as one who has preached a lot in the past! Brian McLaren in his book Everything Must Change raises the question that if our faith has anything to say, it will have something to say about the big issues of our day. So yes, our faith does have something to say about gay marriage and war and poverty and injustice. Using his sermon to focus on one issue, an issue that simply reinforces the stereotype of Christians against whatever it is that is being proposed, doesn't help the debate.
Who is answering the question about the differences between marriage and civil partnership? Is there a difference in law and in the way a civil ceremony is conducted? I don't know, no one is setting out answers to those questions. If our only concern is for some idea that the institution of marriage will somehow be undermined by this policy, then what does that say about the way the heterosexual community has systematically undermined it for centuries if not millennia? You see, we need more than sound-bytes.
There's another reason for my disappointment too. Did either of these sermons point people towards the centre point of our celebrations? Possibly, but that's not what hit the headlines. Carelessly focussing on the wrong issue meant that the amazing story of the incarnation got lost again. We missed a chance to tell the world to good news. We became bad news people instead of good news people. How sad is that?
So there, I've had my little rant. Born out of frustration of so many carol services and events up and down the country that probably missed the same opportunity and so many that didn't but equally don't hit the news.