Honest questions for Church of England bishops and other leaders

Nov 8, 2022 by

by David Baker, Christian Today:

Albert Einstein once said: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existence.”

As a trained journalist (now church minister) that is a sentiment I echo! And it is in that spirit I approach the current controversy about issues of sexuality and gender that we find, wearily, once again dominating the Church of England.

So here are some questions for, firstly, the Bishop of Oxford, who has declared that we should embrace same-sex marriage; secondly, for the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC); and thirdly, for evangelical bishops. They are genuine questions – and the mindset in which they are written is one of genuine curiosity. Maybe, who knows, some might even answer…

So, to begin with, some questions for the Bishop of Oxford. And I start with a typical parish scenario – doing marriage preparation with a couple whose wedding is coming up in a few weeks or months. I usually use a simple course (ok, the one here since you ask) which people seem to enjoy and benefit from.

In one week of the course material there is a part of the Bible that I tend to introduce by saying something like, “This is a Bible passage that may make you leap ten feet in the air to begin with.” It’s the classic outline of the theology of marriage in Ephesians 5, with its seeming “hand grenade” (to many) line about wives submitting to their husbands.

(Just in passing, I find that once I have explained the context and talked about what it actually means, and that it doesn’t involve wives being a doormat or oppressed, couples actually see how well the whole concept works and find it liberating and helpful).

My question for the Bishop of Oxford is: you are sitting there with a same-sex couple. How do you apply the theology of marriage set out in Ephesians 5, in relation to husbands and wives, to them? You state in your booklet that “the analogy does not depend on differentiated or complementary genders…” But, er, it does; the text could not be clearer.

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