(GUARDIAN) — The Church of England is failing gay Christian couples and must rethink the traditional, biblical portrayal of homosexuality as “idolatrous, promiscuous and exploitative”, according to one bishop.

In remarks that reveal deep divisions in the church hierarchy, the Right Rev Nicholas Holtam said there were gay couples who were living faithfully and lovingly for life and that the quality and nature of their relationships meant it was appropriate to use the language of marriage.

Holtam, who as bishop of Salisbury is the most senior cleric to have spoken favourably about gay relationships, told the BBC: “Marriage is between a man and a woman. What has happened now is that we have begun to see in a way, which is not there in the Bible, that there are people in same sex relationships who are living faithfully and lovingly for life.”

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