General Synod to consider sexuality report
The Church of England's General Synod will vote this week on a recent report from the House of Bishops about marriage and sexuality.
Synod will hold a 'take-note' debate, which means that it is not asked formally to approve or reject the report.
The House of Bishops report, published last month, states that there should be no change in the church's teaching on marriage and sexuality, but has been criticised for not sending a clear enough message about its position on same-sex relationships.
Meanwhile, liberal factions in the church are campaigning to reject the report altogether, because it upholds the teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Report sends mixed messages
Christian Concern's Tim Dieppe has written a summary of the report, explaining where biblical teaching has been upheld, and where suggested changes to practice may undermine biblical truth.
Liberals within the Church of England have voiced their opposition to the report. 14 retired bishops have sent an open letter last week claiming the report does not give the "pain of LGBT people" an "authentic voice".
Simon Sarmiento, chairman of the activist group LGBT Mission, said voting against the report "should make the bishops realise that what they've produced so far really is not satisfactory and it will give an impetus for a re-think on gay marriage."
Right decision for wrong reasons?
But some groups within the Church of England who uphold biblical teaching have also raised concerns about the report, because it implies that the church will affirm same-sex relationships in some contexts despite this being at variance with the Bible's teaching.
The report recommends a "fresh tone and culture of welcome and support" for those who say they identify as LGBT.
Nicholas Okoh, Chairman of the GAFCON group, said in a newsletter: "[Bishops] have retained the Church's traditional teaching, but because they think that holding opposite views together will eventually produce a consensus, not because it represents an apostolic boundary."
'Evil is being called good'
Rev. Melvin Tinker, commenting on the report, said: "What is singularly lacking is any doctrine of the fallen condition of human beings and the willingness to call a thing for 'what it is', in this case, that homosexual genital relations are sinful.
"Whilst there is no explicit statement whereby 'evil is called good and good evil', the implication is that when it is said that the church needs to 'welcome and support lesbian and gay people' it includes those who are actively engaged in homoerotic sexual activity.
"When this is considered with the permission that clergy may 'pray with same sex couples', say, following a civil partnership, then no other conclusion can be drawn but that God is being asked to bless that relationship. In which case the line has been crossed and evil is being called good."
Synod member and director of the Reform group, Susie Leafe, said:
"The main problem is that there are people from all sides of the debate who for very different reasons think the content of the report is deplorable."
The General Synod is made up of Bishops, clergy and laity, all of which will vote on the report.
Please pray for Christian Concern's Chief Executive and General Synod member Andrea Williams who will be at Synod this week. Pray also for the Christian Concern staff who will be exhibiting.
Bishops uphold teaching on marriage
Chairman's February 2017 letter (GAFCON)
Melvin Tinker: Here I straddle: I can do no other (Anglican Ink)
Church of England 'not listening to gay Christians', say retired bishops (BBC)