Bishops in disarray over ‘sex for married straight couples only’ rule

Jan 27, 2020 by

by David Baker, Christian Today:

The Church of England’s bishops appear to be at war with themselves after some distanced themselves from a statement reiterating longstanding Christian teaching that sex is for male-female marriage only.

The Bishop of Gloucester, Rachel Treweek, said that she was “deeply frustrated and saddened” by the way the statement was published. She continued: “I recognise that it has fanned into flame unnecessary pain and distress and I wish to acknowledge my part in that.”

In their document, published in response to the introduction of mixed-sex civil partnerships, the House of Bishops said last week: “For Christians, marriage – that is the lifelong union between a man and a woman, contracted with the making of vows – remains the proper context for sexual activity.”

It added: “Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings. The introduction of same sex marriage… has not changed the church’s teaching on marriage or same sex relationships.”

But Bishop Treweek said: “The word ‘love’ emanating from the generous love of God is one that needs to be heard and lived and I am extremely sorry that it has not been heard in the publication of the House of Bishops statement.”

She was supported by the Bishop of Sheffield, Pete Wilcox, who on Twitter described her statement as “very helpful comment”. The Bishop of Gloucester’s statement was also retweeted by the Bishop of Manchester, David Walker, and the Bishop of Edmonton, Rob Wickham.

The Bishop of Liverpool, Paul Bayes, retweeted a statement from gay campaigner Jayne Ozanne which described the House of Bishops’ document as making the Church of England “a laughing-stock”.

Leading evangelical and social commentator Rev Peter Ould responded on Twitter to Bishop Treweek’s statement by declaring that those who were upset by the House of Bishops’ statement – including bishops themselves – were guilty of “faux perplexity” and “emotional immaturity” since they must themselves understand how the Church of England works and therefore could not have been surprised or perplexed by its publication.

He added: “What perplexes me, though, is Bishops who renege on their ordination vows and teach contrary to the doctrine they took vows to uphold.”

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