What’s wrong with the House of Bishops’ proposed same-sex prayers?

Mar 1, 2023 by

by Martin Davie, Christian Today:

Unless you have been cut off from all news feeds for the past few weeks you will be aware of the controversy about the proposal that the House of Bishops brought to the Church of England’s General Synod last month in response to the Living in Love and Faith process.

This controversy has been about prayer. The House of Bishops has proposed a set of prayers that could be used by Church of England clergy to pray for those in same-sex relationships and critics of this proposal believe that such prayers are theologically unacceptable.

In order to make sense of the issue at stake we need to understand first of all who, and what, it is right to pray for.

The answer to the question of who it is right to pray for is that we should pray for everyone without distinction. We learn this in 1 Timothy 2:1 where Paul instructs Timothy that ‘supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all men.’ To quote Gordon Fee, ‘Paul is urging ‘that prayers of all kinds be made for everyone.’

The answer to the question of what it is right to pray for is provided by the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4, which teaches us to pray that God will give to us and to all people the ability to flourish in both body and soul as we act in obedience to his will.

This second answer sets a limit to our praying by declaring that we can only rightly pray for people to act in accordance with God’s will and not otherwise. Thus, we can and should pray that people will worship, serve and obey God, but we cannot pray that people will not worship, serve or obey him.

If we apply the principle that we should pray for everyone, but that there are some things for which we may not pray, to the case of those in same-sex relationships this means, first that we should pray for them.

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