C of E Civil Partnership Guidance

Jan 24, 2020 by

Following the recent change in the law to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, the House of Bishops has agreed a pastoral statement reaffirming historic Christian teaching on sex and marriage: ‘… the Church of England teaches that “sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively” (Marriage: a teaching document of the House of Bishops, 1999). Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God’s purposes for human beings.’ 

The statement can be read in full here.

A few days later the Archbishops of Canterbury and York issued a further statement apologising for the first statement

and Press Release pressing home the advantage

Analysis and comment: (newer items at the top)

Recategorizing Sex: The Church of England and Civil Partnerships by Matt Kennedy, Stand Firm

Bishop offers orthodox Anglicans hope of retaining protected minority status as Diocese takes progressive route [acting Bishop of Oxford criticises Pastoral Statement, announces special LGBTI+ Chaplaincy and church services, but assures conservatives in the Diocese they are still welcome.] By Andrew Symes, Anglican Mainstream

When the Church Apologizes for Its Beliefs, by Trevin Wax, The Gospel Coalition

Where Atheists Dare Not Tread by Jake Scott, The Mallard

MP demands that Church changes doctrine on marriage or disestablish (video)

As if to make matters worse, the Bishops are sorry for re-stating orthodoxy, by Stephen Kneale, Building Jerusalem

Anglican Unscripted 571 – What are CofE Bishops afraid of?

When the Church of England apologizes for speaking against extra-marital sex by Michael Brown, LifeSite

Archbishops apologise for ‘hurt’ caused by sex and marriage statement by David Baker, Christian Today

A Statement From the Three Bishops of the Diocese of Manchester

Actually, Anglican Dog Devours Man by Rod Dreher, The American Conservative

Church of England apologises for temporary lapse into Christianity from Eccles and Bosco blogspot

Andrea Williams responds to Archbishops’ apology for marriage statement, Christian Concern

Pastoral Letter from St Edmundsbury and Ipswich in support of revisionist position

CofE: marriage ‘central to the stability and health of human society’, Coalition for Marriage

The Church of England isn’t ‘obsessed’ with sex by Melanie McDonagh, Spectator

The English Bishops on Marriage: The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Stephen Noll, Contending Anglican

What the Bishops Could Have Said… by Rev Mandy Ford

CofE attacked for holding to biblical position on sexual relationships, The Christian Institute

Lichfield bishops respond

C of E’s sex guidance caused ‘unnecessary distress’, say bishops by Harriet Sherwood, Guardian

Bishops in disarray over ‘sex for married straight couples only’ rule by David Baker, Christian Today

What is going on in the Bishops’ comments on Civil Partnerships? by Ian Paul, Psephizo

A message from the Bishop of Gloucester regarding the release of the House of Bishops statement re civil partnerships.

Church Society response to the latest statement from the House of Bishops

Church Of England Obsession With Sex Makes It A Laughingstock, Says Archdeacon by Jamie Wareham, Forbes

Pastoral Statement from the House of Bishops of the Church of England: A Comment by Michael Nazir-Ali

Open letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, Thinking Anglicans

Sex is for male-female marriage only, Church of England confirms by David Baker, Christian Today

Critics shocked to learn the Church of England is a church by Kaylee McGhee, Washington Examiner

Church of England reaffirms biblical teaching on sex and marriage—but for how much longer? by Will Jones, Faith and Politics

Sex is for married heterosexual couples only, says Church of England, Guardian

Church Of England Ridiculed For ‘Sex Is Only For Married Heterosexual Couples’ Guidance, Huffington Post

Anglican Mainstream editor’s comment:

If a church’s leadership states that it believes normal Christian doctrine, this should not be headline news.

Of course the secular media, and familiar campaigners within the Church of England have attacked the statement for being discriminatory and unjust, and have ridiculed the church for being out of touch. The situation has been made worse by the fact that in recent years, Bishops and clergy have not publicly explained and commended biblical teaching on sex and marriage which is such a wonderful basis for flourishing of individuals and communities, but have apparently been embarrassed by it or even undermined it, as this website has highlighted many times. While the official teaching of the church, which this statement reiterates, has not changed, on the ground it is often spoken against and ignored. The statement itself refers to pastoral practice which makes it difficult to apply the teaching in terms of discipline, for example by withholding Communion from those clearly not living according to the church’s teaching.

The statement should be welcomed, and Bishops and clergy who publicly affirm and explain Christian teaching on gender, sex and marriage should receive encouragement and support, especially if they are attacked for it. The statement is unusual because so many previous statements have implied at best an equivocation, an at worst a move away from that teaching. As the unveiling of ‘Living in Love and Faith’ draws closer, we will wait and see whether this statement represents a turnaround, and a new direction of faithfulness to God’s vision for humanity, or whether it is a blip on the ongoing trajectory of many Western churches away from that faithfulness…

…ah, ok, we didn’t have to wait long. A return to business as usual. The Church of England officially holds to the traditional understanding of sex and marriage, but must apologise profusely if this view is ever inadvertently expressed in public.


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