ACTION ALERT: Challenge Bishops and Archbishops to tell the truth about marriage
|Archbishops Justin Welby (left)
and John Sentamu (right)
On 15th February the House of Bishops of the Church of England issued new "pastoral guidance" permitting churches to offer special prayers to newly 'married' same-sex couples.
The guidelines are in an appendix to a pastoral letter by Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu, addressed to the clergy and people of the Church of England, stating that the Church will not “interfere with the clergy’s pastoral discretion” on how to mark same-sex ‘weddings’ informally.
However, provision of special prayers for same-sex ‘marriages’ effectively amounts to an endorsement of such unions, and confuses and contradicts aspects of the guidance itself, which states:
Please write to the Bishops to make your concerns known and to urge them to give courageous leadership which is faithful to Scripture.
- The official teaching on marriage (exclusively between a man and woman) will “remain unchanged”
- The Church of England cannot offer a service of blessing for same-sex ‘marriages’
- Clergy are not permitted to enter into a same-sex ‘marriage’ as this would not set “wholesome examples and patters to the flock of Christ”
- Those seeking special prayers must enter into a “pastoral discussion” with local clergy on why the couple do not accept the official teaching of the Church
If you are a minister of any denomination, please write to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.
You may wish to include the following concerns in your email:
- Although the new guidance claims the Church’s official teaching on marriage will not be changed, nor will Church blessings of same-sex 'marriages' be permitted, special prayers for same-sex weddings will imply God’s approval of such unions
- The practice of offering special prayers will be perceived universally as an endorsement of same-sex ‘marriage’ and will effectively overturn official teaching
- It is a loving and compassionate act to point out sin and to direct people towards salvation - the guidelines fail to state that homosexual practice is sin in the eyes of God
- To offer people a repentance-less Gospel is to offer them a cheap-grace Gospel
- The credibility of the guidance will be tested by clerics who are already threatening (in the media) to go ahead with weddings to their same-sex partners when the law permits on 29th March
- The provision that special prayers for same-sex ‘marriage’ will be accompanied by pastoral discussion of the Church's teaching, and the reasons for departing from it, contradicts the guidance that homosexual couples should "not be subjected to questioning about their lifestyles" by local clergy
- Prohibiting clergy from questioning the lifestyle and practices of those who enter same sex 'marriages' does not amount to true pastoral care; those struggling with same-sex attraction and ex-homosexuals should be assisted in living in accordance with Scripture
- Setting different sexual standards for clergy and lay members in the Church creates confusion and is conflicting and irrational
- If the same principles were to be applied to clergy then the Church would allow ordained priests to be married to a same-sex partner but would require an assurance that such ‘marriages’ were celibate
- Clearly the Church could not endorse clergy entering celibate same-sex unions as these would not be credible, and as such would further undermine the integrity of the CofE and its claim to uphold official teaching that the only form of sexual relationship approved by God is between one man and one woman
- The guidance will effectively create “local options”, with individual clergy exercising “discretion” that results in conflicting decisions
- If, as the new guidance reminds us, Canon B30 states: 'The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord's teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman, to the exclusion of all others on either side, for the procreation and nurture of children, for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections, and for the mutual society, help and comfort which the one ought to have of the other, both in prosperity and adversity," why do we need such convoluted and contradictory guidance?
Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali has produced a response to the guidance, pointing to the Bishops’ own statement of 2003 that the consensus of biblical scholarship upholds the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage. He comments that “some people will not take no for an answer”, as the Church embarks on another two years of conversations on the issue of same-sex ‘marriage'.
Read his full response here >
Click here to see the guidance in full >
Click here for the contact details of the Bishops >