WYCOMBE MP Steve Baker said he expects to vote against the Government's gay marriage proposal, but said he believes as a Christian the church needs to address the issue in today's society.

This month the government announced its gay marriage plans and said the Church of England and Church in Wales would be banned in law from holding same-sex marriage.

Whilst other religious groups can 'opt in' and the plans would be due to be introduced before the next election.

The government said The Church of England and The Church in Wales expressed strong opposition to the plans.

Steve Baker, MP for Wycombe, said he is expecting to vote against the proposal and he believes the government should reduce legislation rather than increase it.

He said: "Firstly it is a mess. This is the wrong way of improving tolerance in society."

And secondly, he said, it will infringe on people's freedom of speech, conscience and religion.

Mr Baker said it should be a matter for the church to decide, adding: "I do not think anybody should be forced to approve of a gay marriage, I don't think anyone should be forced to conduct one or be forced to have one in their church."

But he said he has been disappointed by the views of some.

Mr Baker, who is a Christian, said: "Some of what's been said by fellow Christians seems quite heartbreaking. Many Christians seem determined to jump with both feet on the land mine with this. Our religion is one of universal acceptance and love and we as a church, apart from politics, need to work out what our response is to homosexuality in the 21st century.

"In the meantime there must be genuine tolerance- that tolerance begins with irreconcilable differences of opinion and it should end with a refusal to use the law to enforce one particular point of view. I want to live in a genuinely tolerant society where people can go their own way who are not doing anybody any harm."

He noted that there was a difference in attitude between members of the older generation - who were more likely to be against gay marriage - and younger people, who were more likely to accept it.

He said as civil partnerships have just been introduced it would have been better to leave the marriage issue for another 10 years when culturally, he believes, peoplewould have been more willing to support it.

Mr Baker said: "We seem to have begun to accept the liberal elite enforcing their views on everyone else. That is not tolerant. That is intolerant."

He added: "The law has to leave plenty of space for a private sphere where people can lead their life as they see fit as long as they do no harm. Marriage is part of that private sphere."

Reverend Peter Simpson, of Penn Free Methodist Church, who is openly against gay marriage wrote to the Free Press this week expressing his opposition.

He said: "By promoting same sex marriage all three main parties are rejecting the Bible’s teaching that homosexuality is sinful. By what authority do they claim to be wiser than God? They have no foundation for their position other than the currently prevailing winds."

A bill is expected at the end of January, when MPs will then vote.