Survey shows many CofE ministers not upholding doctrine

30 August 2023

The Times has reported that a majority of Church of England priests disagree with Church of England doctrine on marriage and sexual ethics.

The Times carried out a poll of Church of England clergy and found that 53% said that the Church of England should allow priests to conduct same-sex ‘weddings’ if they wish to according to their conscience. 59% said that they would offer blessings to same sex couples as backed by Synod this February. However, only 49% said that they would be willing to conduct same-sex ‘weddings’ if they were permitted to do so.

When questioned about premarital sex, 62% of priests thought that the church should drop its opposition to premarital sex. Only 34.6% said that the teaching should remain unchanged.

On homosexual practice, 64.5% said that the church should change its teaching that “homosexual practice is incompatible with scripture.” 63.3% of priests agreed with lifting the ban on gay priests entering civil partnerships with their partners.

The poll carried out by The Times, selected 5,000 priests at random from Crockfords Clerical Directory of Anglican clergy, and received 1,436 responses which represents only around 6% of active clergy. It is not clear how representative of overall clergy views this is.

Those who responded to the survey were also pessimistic about the future of the church. Just 43.9% said it was “very likely” that they would still be holding a service every Sunday in ten years’ time. 66.7% expected church attendance to continue to fall over the next 10 years.

Andrea Williams, Chief Executive of Christian Concern said:

“To survive and thrive the Church of England needs leadership that believes the Bible and puts it into practice. The Christian gospel has always offered a radically distinct, challenging and life-giving vision to society. Simply aping the current values of the culture around us is the road to extinction for the Church of England. Church leaders that have lost confidence in the Bible and the beauty of God’s ethical teaching should resign or be removed.

“What the Church of England needs is an influx of leaders that believe that the gospel of Jesus remains the best news for society and who are able to present it and practice it in today’s world. Research shows that the churches that are growing are the ones that are doing exactly that.

“Our research found that Church of England churches with the largest under-16 attendance found no visible support for same-sex ‘marriage’. 61% of the churches with the largest youth groups could be clearly identified as supporting the church’s historic doctrine that sex is reserved for one man, one woman marriage. None of the churches with the largest youth groups, nor their leadership, were publicly supportive of a change to the doctrine of marriage or other views that indicated opposition to conservative beliefs on sexuality and gender.

“If the church wants to grow, attract youth, and remain relevant in society it needs to advocate for Biblical teaching on marriage and sexual ethics. The church should not be adjusting its teaching to follow the culture or society, but proclaiming the benefits for society and individuals of life-long heterosexual marriage and reserving sexual expression for marriage.”

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