BBC's Songs of Praise faces criticism for first same-sex wedding

Mon 19 Aug 2019
By Premier Journalist

Sunday's episode of the TV programme featured its first same-sex marriage, disappointing some and pleasing others.

The wedding ceremony of Jamie Wallace and Ian McDowall at the Rutherglen United Reformed Church in Glasgow was filmed as part of an episode on faith and marriage. 

It also included a couple where the husband was an atheist and the wife was a Christian. 

The episode has been praised by websites such as pink news and stonewall, with one author saying: "Places of worship should be safe spaces where we can bring every part of ourselves, but the exclusion I’ve felt in the past made me reluctant to bring my whole self to church."



However, many have expressed disappointment in what they see as the increased liberalism within the church and willingness to accept culture's norms. 

Graham Nicholls from the Affinity network of evangelical churches in the UK told Premier his problem with churches, like the URC congregation showed, was that it epitomised what he sees as a departure from God's word: "It's normally not just the one thing. It's not like in all other areas they're very orthodox and Bible-believing and teaching the gospel and in this one area they happen to think's more like this is a part of a sort of continuum of probably moving away from biblical Christianity and moving to a kind of religiosity which says 'we won't really define the terms, but we'll say love is good and justice is good and inclusivity is good and that kind of means we can accept anything and anyone and it's really up to us sort of where we draw the lines, rather than up to God'.

"So, I'm sad that that is being represented as potentially biblical Christianity, because I think it's not."


The BBC told Premier in a statment: "Songs of Praise tells the stories of Christians across all denominations in the UK and in so doing, aims to reflect the balance of opinions on different issues. Three years ago the United Reformed Church - one of the UK's largest denominations - decided to permit each of its congregations across the country to decide whether to allow same sex marriages to take place.

"In an episode about Faith & Marriage, which transmitted on 18th August, we filmed the wedding of James and Ian, who married in Rutherglen in Glasgow, to find out what it meant to them as Christians, to take their vows in church."


Click here to listen to Graham Nicholls' full interview:


The Christian Institute’s Director Colin Hart said: “It is deeply offensive to see same-sex marriage celebrated in such a way on what is supposed to be a Christian devotional programme.

“Those connected to the programme are boasting that they are ‘not afraid of controversy’. In fact, they seem to delight in it.

“But for many who are housebound and unable to get to church, Songs of Praise has been one of the few sources of orthodox Christian worship they may have had access to.

“By featuring a same-sex ceremony, and for presenting those who may disagree as wrong-thinking, Songs of Praise has alienated this core audience.”

Others, however, disagreed, such as Joe Porter, who wrote: "Watching a church embrace two men get married is truly joyful. Everyone should be free to love & be with whoever they want. As a gay Christian, I look forward to the day when same sex couples can get married in all churches. Hopefully I'll be one of them!!"



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