The bishops or the Bible?

Feb 6, 2023 by

by Campbell Campbell-Jack, Christian Today:

How does a denomination respond when it faces a potentially fatal split? The Church of England’s answer is a frantic fudge.

At their meeting next month the most contentious issue facing the CofE’s governing body, the General Trustees, will be same-sex marriage. Many are vociferously pressing for the church to solemnise such marriages, others are unequivocally opposed. Despite what the newspapers report, same-sex marriage is only the presenting symptom: underneath there is an unbridgeable theological divide.

How not to satisfy anyone

The formal teaching of the CofE, set out in its canons and authorised liturgies, is that marriage is between one man and one woman for life. To get round this the House of Bishops have recommended that, while continuing to forbid same-sex marriage in church, the General Synod should create a church service for same-sex couples. This would include prayers of dedication and thanksgiving and asking for God’s blessing following a civil partnership or marriage conducted elsewhere.

The fudge satisfies no one and only prolongs the agony of a denomination at war with itself. The recommendation has prompted anger from pro same-sex marriage campaigners for whom same-sex marriage ‘has always been a central demand of LGBTQ+ Anglicans and remains a priority for our continued campaign’. Christians holding the biblical position see this recommendation as the institution paving the way for same sex marriage ‘in all but name‘ and will vigorously resist.

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