I MUCH regret making some off-colour jokes about homosexuals on my website and I have offered a full public apology. I made those remarks and they are the responsibility of no one but myself. I repeat, I’m sorry I wrote what I did. However, I do believe The Evening Standard took my words out of context, although that paper did have the good grace to print my explanation of my intentions.

To wit: I was not criticising individual homosexuals. I have never criticised them. I number many homosexual men and women among my dearest friends. I voted for the Homosexual Reform Act of 1967; and I would vote for it again today. This Act specified the decriminalisation of homosexual acts “between consenting adults in private.” “Between” means two. “Adults” meant 21. “Private” means in the bedroom – and neither Hampstead Heath nor public lavatories. What I do oppose – on the authority of the Christian faith – is the corrupting influence of the promotional parades of homosexuality by such as Gay Pride demonstrations. And that is what I was satirising. It is scandal that some homosexual campaigners have not kept to the letter and spirit of the generous Act of 1967 and instead have consistently and lewdly promoted homosexuality as if it were merely part of the entertainments industry.

Sex, whether homosexual or heterosexual, is a private matter and it should be kept private.

We used to acknowledge this when we contrasted “decency” with “indecency”.

One might say that what was once a mortal sin is now only a lifestyle choice. And the love that once dare not speak its name now shrieks at us in high camp down every high street. This situation is what some homosexualist campaigners constantly claim under their doctrine of “rights”. It is the reason also that they are so annoyed with me – because I repudiate their “rights” argument – which is in any case not Christian but secular.

Anyone who has listened to my sermons over the years, or who cares to read them on my website, will see that I have repeatedly and emphatically spoken out also against heterosexual promiscuity – the trivialising of human relationships so that “making love”

has degenerated into “having sex” and the only remaining commandment seems to be “Wear a condom.” This is the sin of regarding others as means to one’s own gratification.

It is wrong and a hugely corrupting influence and I make no apology for opposing it on Christian grounds. When sexual relationships – homo or hetero – are trivialised and commodified by casual pick-ups and onenight stands, then the whole of our public life is degraded.

I was delighted to be so warmly welcomed at church last Sunday by the many homosexual people in my congregation. I took the opportunity of their graciousness to say sorry to them personally for my tactless and offensive remarks – which actually weren’t very funny. I was glad to hear the comedienne Sandy Toksvig, on Radio Four’s The News Quiz, turn the joke back on me. She said: “Peter Mullen is Chaplain to the Stock Exchange – so he must know what it feels like to be completely buggered!”

That’s a funnier joke than the remarks I told and a lot better natured.

■ Peter Mullen is Rector of St Michael’s, Cornhill, in the City of London, and Chaplain to the Stock Exchange.