“Another Fine Mess”? A Guide to Where We Are With LLF Pre-General Synod

Andrew Goddard writes: Last Friday (October 20th), papers were released for the extra General Synod called for November 13th to 15th and focussed on Living in Love and Faith (LLF) and within that the proposed Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF). They provide much more detail than the brief press release issued after the House of Bishops met on October 9th (about which I offered some instant reflections that remain, I believe, accurate). What follows offers an overview of the papers by providing answers to 12 key questions. A much more detailed analysis, which provides links and sources to the supporting documents, can be found here: Nov Synod papers final. 

1. Where do I find the key information?

The most important paper is GS 2328 (108 pages). It opens with a helpful 4-page overview. In its 9 annexes, important new material describes the basis for moving forward (Annex A, 6pp) and the theological rationale (Annex H, 22pp). It also presents partial draft pastoral guidance relating to the prayers (Annex E, 25pp, with the text and notes for prayers in Annexes B, C and D) and a report on pastoral reassurance (Annex F, 12pp) and future workstreams (Annex G, 4pp). Other important material is to be found in the Agenda (GS 2322, see also GS 2323) which includes the motion before Synod:

That this Synod, conscious that the Church is not of one mind on the issues raised by Living in Love and Faith, that we are in a period of uncertainty, and that many in the Church on all sides feel pain at this time, recognise the progress made by the House of Bishops towards implementing the motion on Living in Love and Faith passed by this Synod in February 2023, as reported in GS 2328, and encourage the House to continue its work of implementation.

There is also an easily-missed but important paper on “The Recent Evolution of the Church of England’s Liturgical Procedures and Canons (B1 to B5A)” from the Liturgical Commission written by Andrew Atherstone (GS Misc 1359).

2. What is the basis and theological rationale for the proposed prayers?

The papers offer the fullest theological rationale to date (especially in Annex H) and it is totally new, speaking of “pastoral provision” in a “time of uncertainty” that “respects the Church of England’s unchanged doctrine of marriage”. This is very similar to the rationale offered in 2017 after the Shared Conversations and set out in GS 2055 whose rejection by Synod triggered the LLF process.

However, the proposals now go beyond those then by introducing prayers. Although it is claimed this theological rationale has supported the bishops’ approach since February the paper appears a very recent contribution of unknown origin. It has been subject to very little scrutiny and its novel approach challenges arguments of both defenders and critics of PLF.

3. Does the reaffirmed doctrine of marriage include teaching about sex being for marriage?

In a significant development these papers make clear that the bishops are not proposing to change the teaching, which they acknowledge is treated as part of the doctrine of marriage, on sexual ethics ie. that it is within marriage between a man and a woman that sexual intimacy finds its proper place. Although this is sometimes nuanced (or, more seriously, expanded) in some of the papers, it basically represents an important clarification that will encourage supporters of current doctrine and upset those pressing for change.

It is not clear when and why this has been decided or whether Archbishops and bishops will now stop contradicting this teaching which has been one of the problems in recent months.

4. What about the claimed distinction between civil marriage and holy matrimony?

Although this is not drawn attention to explicitly, one of the interesting features of the Synod papers is that the rationale and legal basis offered in February and July—a proposed sharp distinction between civil marriage and holy matrimony—is no longer present. There is no explanation as to why this change has happened. It still remains unclear what the bishops are now saying about the decision to enter a civil same-sex marriage which they have previously argued is a rejection of the church’s teaching.

It is, however, stressed that the prayers treat those in a civil marriage no differently from a same-sex couple with no legal status. This is a stance which may be essential to secure their legality but it is one likely to upset both supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage in presenting the decision to marry in civil law as of no great significance.

5. How are the prayers now being categorised and who are they for?

The original PLF package has now been divided into three distinct sections. First, the prayers for covenanted friendships for non-sexual relationships, either same-sex or opposite-sex (Annex B). Second, the set of resources including prayers and readings which (in contrast to when first introduced) are now only to be used for same-sex couples (Annex C). These may or may not be sexual relationships but are not to be equated to holy matrimony and the prayers are celebrating the goods in the relationship.

They still include prayers for God’s blessing but no prayer over rings. Third, in Annex D, the service outlines have been made a distinct category and presented as “standalone” services that will not be able to be used for some time (if at all).

6. How are the prayers to be legally approved and introduced?

As originally proposed in February (but then rethought with many other options considered), the bishops are now planning to commend the covenanted friendship material and the set of resources for use at the discretion of local clergy under canon B5. The PLF material however is now only to be used in regularly scheduled services and cannot be the central focus of the service. This may mean the prayers are mainly made part of standard intercessions but there is still the possibility of clergy making the celebration of the couple’s relationships much more prominent. The “standalone services” will only be authorised if approved by General Synod under canon B2 (requiring ultimately 2/3 of all 3 Houses) and to many people’s surprise there will be no use authorised for an experimental period. If authorised the services will need to be opted into by both the incumbent and the PCC.

There are still a number of significant questions and concerns (from both supporters and opponents) about how this will all work out in practice once the prayers are commended for use (likely in the next few months) alongside the supporting Pastoral Guidance on how to use them. In particular, the sharp distinction between commendation of the resources but a Synodical process for the outline “standalone” services is one which is difficult to make sense of or justify. As in February, the introduction of such controversial materials by commendation and the risk this route places on parish clergy are also a cause of concern to many.

7. Are the prayers faithfully implementing the February Synod motion?

The Cornes amendment in February required the prayers not to be indicative of a departure from the church’s doctrine. In a significant new development, it is now acknowledged that in the light of the reaffirmation of the church’s sexual ethic (see Q3 above), when PLF are used for same-sex couples without a concern as to whether the relationship is sexual it “would be difficult to say” that this “was not indicative of any departure from the Church’s doctrine”.

In other words, it is accepted that the package now being proposed is not faithfully implementing the February motion because it contradicts the Cornes amendment and the bishops’ intention for the prayers based on this which they reaffirmed in their July paper to Synod.

8. Are the prayers legal?

This admission about PLF being indicative of a departure from doctrine because they can be used for a sexual relationship other than marriage also makes the legality of the prayers even less secure than it was in February. It is, however, argued that because the canons (unlike the Synod motion) refer to being indicative of doctrinal departure “in any essential matter” the PLF could be judged to be legal. This is because the teaching on sexual ethics may be seen as not an “essential matter” in the church’s doctrine.

The arguments in support of this judgment are, however, not particularly developed in the papers and rely totally on the new theological rationale of “pastoral provision in a time of uncertainty” (see Q2 above) which it is accepted represents “a new insight into doctrine”. It also remains unclear what the legal justification is for using PLF for those in a same-sex marriage (is entering this no longer contrary to doctrine or also contrary to doctrine but not “in any essential matter”?).

There is no clear signing-off by the Legal Office that the proposals are legal and this may be due to the fact they have previously stated this would require sight of the Pastoral Guidance (still incomplete as only covering the first two of three proposed parts—those relating to PLF and their use—and only in draft in Annex E) as well as the final texts of the prayers.

9. What about the Pastoral Guidance and clergy discipline?: Same-sex marriage and non-marital sexual relationships

The bishops have not released their draft part 3 of the Pastoral Guidance as they say it requires too much further work. This means there is no clear statement from the bishops about the controversial question as to whether ordinands and clergy will continue to have to be sexually abstinent if unmarried and will still be prevented from entering a same-sex marriage. It is said that the bishops intend further work on “whether the rationale of pastoral provision might provide a basis for allowing clergy to be in a same-sex marriage”. It is unclear whether this means the bishops have not decided if clergy entering same-sex civil marriage will be allowed or that they have decided it will be allowed but are unsure as to the best rationale for this decision.

Because there is nothing equivalent to “in any essential matter” in the canon about clergy behaviour (Canon C26) and it is accepted (see Q3) that sanctioning sex outside marriage is indicative of a departure from doctrine it would appear very difficult now for the bishops to loosen these requirements about not being in a sexual relationship other than marriage. There is also no evidence presented that the bishops have already decided (or intend in the Guidance to explain) that entering a civil same-sex marriage is not to act contrary to doctrine. This step appears, however, to be required if the ban on clergy same-sex marriage is to be removed.

The continued lack of clarity on these key issues makes the apparent withdrawal of the commitments not to proceed with PLF until Pastoral Guidance was finalised even more problematic and controversial.

10. What about Pastoral Reassurance?

There are some details about the various measures of Pastoral Reassurance (Annex F) but much of these clearly require further work by the bishops before they can be implemented. In particular, possible “Formal Structural Pastoral Provision” (to enable “some degree of differentiation” from those using the prayers) is explored but in ways that fall short of what many are seeking. It is also stated that “the House is not at this stage advocating for formal structural pastoral provision”.

This again raises questions given the past public commitments—most emphatically by the Archbishop of York—to bring together the prayers, guidance and reassurance and not to commend the prayers until such pastoral reassurance was in place.

11. How has all this been decided and how is Synod being treated?

There are numerous concerns about the process which has led to these new proposals from the bishops, in particular the lack of transparency about their production and decisions by the bishops in relation them. Questions are being raised by both supporters of the status quo and of change and 12 dissenting bishops have also spoken of the need for bishops to “have due regard to the obligations of good and proper governance”. Although the papers provide much material to Synod they do not give details about House of Bishops’ decisions or publish the legal advice received.

There also appears to have been additional theological advice (perhaps from FAOC) that has not been shared with Synod. In addition, the motion being presented appears to be either a meaningless “recognition” simply that the House has done something or an approval of what they have done despite it being contrary to the February Synod motion as it proposes prayers indicative of a departure from doctrine (which may fall foul of Standing Order 25).

12. What are we to make of all this?

Sadly, much in the Synod papers confirms that the bishops continue to oversee an “omnishambles”. Having first alienated and angered those committed to current doctrine and it being the benchmark for liturgy, new elements within this latest material are now, understandably, receiving a very hostile response from those who have previously supported PLF (even if only as a small step in the right direction). They not only have failed to secure same-sex marriage, but sex outside marriage remains contrary to doctrine, prayers may include a blessing but no vows or exchange of rings or prayers over them, services focussed on same-sex couples will only be permitted if supported by two-thirds of all three Houses of Synod, and it looks increasingly hard to find a legal basis to permit clergy to enter same-sex marriage.

However, the bishops’ attempt to say doctrine remains unchanged while changing liturgy is finally having to acknowledge it has failed. Now it is being stated that the failure here is not “in any essential matter” and can be justified by the new concept of “pastoral provision in a time of uncertainty”. The reality is, however, much more a situation of competing and incompatible near-certainties on deep theological questions.

The bishops’ disregard for wise well-established procedures for handling contentious and divisive matters within the church also represents a serious and wide-ranging failure of leadership by the Archbishops and the House and is now creating “another fine mess” up to, through, and likely beyond, General Synod.

Revd Dr Andrew Goddard is Assistant Minister, St James the Less, Pimlico, Tutor in Christian Ethics, Westminster Theological Centre(WTC) and Tutor in Ethics at Ridley Hall, Cambridge.  He is a member of the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) and was a member of the Co-Ordinating Group of LLF and the subgroup looking at Pastoral Guidance.

Signup to get email updates of new posts
We promise not to spam you. Unsubscribe at any time.
Invalid email address

If you enjoyed this, do share it on social media (Facebook or Twitter) using the buttons on the left. Follow me on Twitter @psephizo. Like my page on Facebook.

Much of my work is done on a freelance basis. If you have valued this post, you can make a single or repeat donation through PayPal:

For other ways to support this ministry, visit my Support page.

Comments policy: Do engage with the subject. Please don't turn this into a private discussion board. Do challenge others in the debate; please don't attack them personally. I no longer allow anonymous comments; if there are very good reasons, you may publish under a pseudonym; otherwise please include your full name, both first and surnames.

224 thoughts on ““Another Fine Mess”? A Guide to Where We Are With LLF Pre-General Synod”

  1. Thank you Andrew for your unravelling of the knotted tangles.
    It all seems to be first class but flaccid filibustering.
    Where are the legal determinants of essential and inessential doctrine to be found?
    Surely, there is something of a misnomer and unabashed self -ridicule to be found in referring to time of indecision and muddle, and constructive ambiguity as being a time of
    (self- created) uncertainty.
    It seems that the only ones who see uncertain inessentials in this whole farrago are the Archbishop and Bishops.
    When in a hole, stop digging. Time fess- up and get out. And that’s where the uncertainty ends – in the certainty of self- preservation.

  2. Ian – many thanks for the book recommend that you gave on the last having-it-off-and-the-synod thread. I’m finding it very clarifying, explaining how society in general arrived at this situation. The book – or at least the ideas in the book – need more prominence (than simply a recommend in one of the comments buried in the midst of a rather long sequence of comments).

      • James,

        On the last thread, Ian linked to this book –


        The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self by Carl R. Trueman. I bought the kindle edition and have now worked through most of it – and I strongly recommend it.

        Hope this helps.

        • Thank you – actually I have read this book all the way through and used it in a sermon! I shared a beer with Carl Trueman years ago, before he crossed the pond.

          • Here’s a critique of Truman’s ‘solutions’ in an early article he wrote for First Things. Carl Olsen is an “Arminian-Anabaptist” – so HJ assumes he’s opposed to Calvinism!

            Essentially, Olsen’s saying: why be surprised as “Christians, are always strangers and exiles in every country, society and culture,” and Truman’s “recommendations for Christian life-in-exile notably neglects the dimension of discipleship according to the Sermon on the Mount, “ concluding with a dig at Calvinism, “[If] God’s sovereign providence is correct, the sorry state of American culture is designed, ordained and governed by God. So why complain about it?”


            Some valid points?

        • One may over-complicate an issue. I’ve not read this book and I suspect it is a fine analysis of the rise of secular humanism, but I believe that the sexual revolution is explained simply by the availability of a contraceptive pill for women, followed by its use by single women.

          • Anton – the book is certainly worth reading (though you can find summaries of its arguments in Trueman’s talks on youtube). The book is long in detail but short on answers (except the Gospel, of course) – if that is what we are looking for.
            But your reference to the pill certainly has a lot of immediate resonance, in understanding the 1960s. I have often reflected that contraception (along with abortion) really explains modern politics much more than philosophical disputes between capitalism and communism.
            When sexual activity became decoupled from marriage, largely through female contraception, a profound revolution was unleashed in the western world, which the Islamic world has been fighting ever since to contain and defeat.
            Promiscuity, cohabitation, no-fault divorce and free abortion are the great ‘freedoms’ of the modern west, and the consequences are easy to see:
            – poverty and fatherlessness for the underclass (70% of births out of wedlock)
            – broken homes and a mental burden oh the young
            – cratering birth rates and a demographic freefall that are only covered over by immigration – and all that that has come to mean politically and economically.
            Trueman’s book doesn’t look into these issues IIRC. but looks at the philosophical (Rousseau, Marx, Adorno) and psychological forces (Freud, Reich, Marcuse etc) that helped create the modern world.

          • But we need to be a bit careful in using Trueman’s approach uncritically. He writes from something of a USA perspective with an almost wholly negative evaluation of modernity, albeit using a range of European philosophers and cultural critics. For a perceptive exploration I suggest Mark Vasey-Saunders recent book, Defusing the Sexuality Debate.
            Also the phrase ‘the sexual revolution’ (especially with implied wholly negative connotations) can be both over-used and very imprecise to the point where I suggest it’s now pretty meaningless. There has been a continual process of change in understandings of sexuality for the past 200 years at least, moving in different directions and with different effects. So I suggest we find a better phrase to explore these complex issues over a long period of time.

          • I have dipped into Mark VS’s book, and I am afraid I find it a travesty. His depiction of ‘evangelicals’ is one I don’t recognise, a parody and a straw man.

            There have been changes in belief about sexuality. The question is whether they are helpful or even right? What does it mean when we assume modernity has all the answers?

          • Tim Evans – from your comments, it looks as if you haven’t read Trueman’s book. Towards the beginning, he does point out how much better the ‘modern’ world is to the world in previous generations in many ways; it is, frankly, a better place to live. At the same time, he points to very serious problems that we’re all aware of – and then proceeds to give an account of their grounding and development. This is very interesting.

            I’ve only read half of the book, but on some issues, what he has said so far is very clarifying – for example, we’ve all seen newspaper articles which indicate that ‘sexuality’ in some form is being rammed down the throats of school children even as young as 5 or 6 years old. It is therefore clarifying to see Trueman explain how some theorists consider sexuality to be in some sense the defining feature of a person – even at a very early age.

            We’re all aware that there are those among us who have extreme psychological / psychiatric problems. We’d like to deal with these people with sympathy and compassion – generally do what we can and be supportive of whatever is in their interests. But anybody with an ounce of sanity about them understands that this ‘transgender’ business that has crept in over the last (say) 30 years, whereby for some people their psychological difficulties are ascribed to ‘being a woman trapped in a man’s body’ or other similar diagnoses are utter rubbish; the ‘specialists’ have picked up the wrong end of the stick – and the ‘transgender’ ‘solution’ not only doesn’t solve the problem, but is (in fact) extremely damaging.

            And I found Trueman’s analysis of how this false and damaging path arose and became popular very enlightening.

          • Tim Evans,
            You’ll be aware that Carl Trueman is English, raised and educated in England and Scotland. Although, he has recently taken American citizenship, he has family in England, I think and has a finger on the English cultural pulse.
            For a scripture based evaluation of the cultural moment, Matthew Roberts book, “Pride – Identity And Worship of Self”, gets to the nub. He is based in York.

          • Jock

            Part of the issue is how you define “sexuality” as a subject. There’s certainly a group of opinion makers who see any reference to gay people as inherently sexual, but not straight people!

          • If someone is arguing that there have been changes in belief and position, the fact that they regard this as certainly significant shows something (not something good) about their intellect.

            Cultural norms alone will produce this. If they are not arguing from, or showing, the intrinsic strength of a given position, but going by headcount, then why are they being published?

          • Peter Jermey – in the context that I use the word ‘sexuality’ it is quite clearly defined. In modern parlance, to say that a person is defined by their ‘sexuality’ means that they are defined by who – or what – they feel inclined to have-it-off with. But this seems to extend to very young children . The experts seem to think that people are defined by their sexuality from a very early age – a child is somehow defined by whom the child will want to have-it-off with when the child gets older – so you’d better make sure that young boys who show feminine tendencies live as girls, with a view to packing them full of drugs (hormones) before they get too old – and then doing some Frankenstein Monster type surgery on them later.

            I use the pejorative phrase ‘having-it-off’, because the modern trend is to consider the sexual act as something quite separate from creating children – and one thing you can be sure of is that creating children is never in view with modern theories of ‘sexuality’, which quite openly take the view that to be emotionally stable and fulfilled, you have to be having-it-off on a regular basis with someone whose approach to having-it-off is compatible with your own. Hence the necessity of interfering with children, just to try and ensure that they don’t have serious having-it-off problems later on.

            This (of course) is wholly opposed to the Christian view of sexuality, which is that by far the main pleasure of sexual union is the prospect of creating children – and that the sensual pleasure from having-it-off, separated from having children, is actually a delusion.

            That should give you some idea of what ‘sexuality’ means in a modern context – just in case you hadn’t understood it.

          • Jock, the reason for that is the common denominator of all this is people trying to get sexual content in children’s space. People might be forgiven – nay, justified – for thinking that attitude should end in being locked up before it ended in having a place at the table.

          • Christopher Shell – yes, absolutely. They take the view that very young children are defined by their sexuality and should learn about sexuality at a very early age. They want sexual content in children’s space – even at a very early age. It is all utterly perverted and hedonistic (disguised in reasonable tones, of course). The sensual pleasure of having-it-off seems, for them, to be the absolute key to happiness and stability – so they couch their hedonistic agenda in terms of emotional and psychological stability and well being. In religious circles, it is much, much worse, where they give an utterly false meaning to the term ‘love’ to mean ‘having-it-off’ (which is what the C. of E. LLF procedure really is all about – reconciling having-it-off as a purely recreational activity separated from creating children with being a ‘Christian’).

          • Jock

            Teachers are simply not requiring gay teenagers to live as girls.

            This alarmist claptrap is making divisions worse.

            My point is that, for example, explaining to young children about kids who have two daddies counts as “sexuality” according to some definitions, but explaining how other kids have a mum and a dad doesn’t! It’s an unthinking way of making gay people sexual in a way nobody would do about straight people

          • Other kids have a mum and a dad?
            Strange biology you have been taught. Silly me, thinking everyone had a mum and a dad.
            ‘Has 2 daddies’? Living in a house with someone does not make you their dad. If it did, sons and grandpas and lodgers and worse would all be dads.

          • Peter Jermey – (a) you are living on a different planet if you are unaware that sexuality is being introduced to children at very early ages.
            (b) while I do not know the extent to which teachers are responsible for this, again you are living on a different planet if you are unaware that there are cases where 7 year old boy lives ‘as a girl’; you are living on a different planet if you are unaware that children in their early teens (or perhaps even earlier) are being given puberty blocking drugs, with a view to sex change.

            All this is well documented – I find it in The Guardian, a newspaper which actually seems sympathetic to this sort of thing.

            Your comment about ‘two daddies’. This could be entirely reasonable if a child who was previously at an orphanage has been adopted. In such a situation, the child is probably very happy to be in a stable home rather than back at the orphanage.

            At the same time, there are a lot of sick and sinister things going on, which I am only just becoming aware of. For example, the sperm of one of the men being used – and they take the eggs of donor (woman) and then use a surrogate mother for the pregnancy (treating the woman as some sort of farmyard animal). I only became aware that this sick practice was going on when the Italians (quite rightly) decided to ban it.

            In such a situation you do have a serious problem – how to communicate to a child later in life the extent of the sick and sordid procedures used to get the child into existence.

          • Christopher

            I would say the complete opposite.

            Being a parent means showing up for you child, not donating DNA.

            In my generation of my family we have a straight couple who are parents to two adopted kids, we have a straight couple who are parents to a child who is the biological child of one of them and we have a gay couple with children who are the biological child of one of them.

            This is reality.

          • Weeks after the first gay weddings the Daily Mirror headline (12th April 2014) was My ex hubby is now my wife.

          • Jock

            Teachers are talking about different kinds of family at an early age, not picking out the gay boys and forcing them to wear dresses!

  3. the bishops continue to oversee an “omnishambles”. Having first alienated and angered those committed to current doctrine and it being the benchmark for liturgy, new elements within this latest material are now, understandably, receiving a very hostile response from those who have previously supported PLF

    No, it is part of Justin Welby’s coherent and continuing strategy: keep pushing for gay church marriage, but make smoke and retreat temporarily if you meet resistance. He is a devious man.

      • So would I. But the truth of the ages is that a judge a person by their deeds and not their words, and everything that Justin Welby has done, from greenlighting the appointment of two same-sex partnered suffragan bishops and the same-sex partnered Dean of Canterbury to appointing a man in a same-sex marriage as chairman of the CNC selecting bishops, deans and archdeacons reveals what his endgame is – to bring same-sex marriage to the Church of England.
        His appointment of the theologically ignorant Rose Hudson-Wilson as Bishop of Dover in Canterbury diocese also alienated all the evangelicals in that diocese: she spoke recently at at a DEF-arranged meeting there and offended everyone there by scolding them as hateful bigots.
        His time in Canterbury has been one of relentless decline and division.

        • Can I suggest we couch our comments in less personally unpleasant ways and avoid double-guessing the motives of our bishops? The same kind of language is being used on other blogs but about leaders of ‘conservative’ groups. Let’s hit the pause button. If we’re not careful this corrodes the soul. We pray for those we disagree with and for ourselves that we will all be led into truth which we don’t yet see.

          • Of course I pray for Justin Welby; he is the only Archbishop of Canterbury we have at this moment. But I am no more repentant at judging his motive as was St Paul when he wrote against the gnostics in the church, who were wrecking it. Paul would have been aware of Christ’s warnings about judging, but he recognised what the gnostics were up to. Read ‘James’ in the present subthread above about Welby’s deeds. In 2013 Welby inherited a clear statement of the Anglican Communion’s position that sexual activity is acceptable only in marriage, between man and woman, as set out at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Everything he has done has been geared to change that.

          • Tim:
            The motives of the bishops are very clear to those who observe their actions and parse their words. If I say one thing (or appear to say it), but do something entirely different, you are perfectly entitled to judge me by my actions, not my words.
            Do not get the vapours about ‘style’. I know people who heard the Bishop of Dover at the DEF meeting in Canterbury and they said she was out of her depth and scolding and lecturing of those who listened to her and disagreed. There was no attempt to meet argument with argument, just the assertion of power and the labelling of opponents as bigots.

          • James,

            People are too deferent to this errant hierarchy. In such meetings, they should give her robust replies in real time.

        • You could remove the word “theologically”. I too have suffered under the ministry of Rose, but you only put yourself in that position once. Neither are we ignorant of Welby’s wiles; he is exceedingly obvious.

    • He’s only got a couple of years – three at most – if he retires at 70, so he’s going to have to get a move on with his strategy if he wants to see it through while he’s in post. Perhaps that explains the current haste…

      • But its haste over nothing. Priests could bless gay people before Welby came along. And really this is typical of the man – repackage the status quo and pretend its a compassionate compromise – something to keep the media happy, but does nothing to resolve the church’s problems with abuse, sexuality or LGBT people

        • Peter, will you stop failing to see the elementary distinction between blessing people and blessing activities. A person is not any one of their activities. One would almost think you were doing it on purpose.

          • Christopher

            I will when the bishops make that distinction clear. These blessings are not clearly a blessing of an activity

          • What do you mean ‘I will when…’? It is obviously true now already. You think that at present a person equals an activity?

            ‘These blessings are not clearly a blessing of an activity’? But I thought you said that the people themselves could no longer be blessed. So if neither people nor activities are being blessed, what is being blessed?

          • Christopher

            I’ve never said people cannot be blessed. I’m saying that an outcome of this could be that blessing gay people is explicitly banned.

            I can tell the difference between a person and what they do. I wish the CofE could

        • Adam, it is about his legacy. What will people say when he retires having been the longest serving ABC in recent history?

          I think the conclusion will be that he left the C of E more divided, diminished, and on the brink of destruction than ever before—and with a broken Communion to boot.

          • He may well be concerned about his legacy. I just don’t get the impression that this is the issue that he’s trying to be remembered for, compared to say the issue of reparations and the legacy of slavery.

            What we get on sexuality is political management – a theology of Church disagreement, and a circling back to the Shared Conversations report with Living in Love and Faith as an exercise in just playing for time.

    • Anton

      From my perspective Welby has spent a decade kicking the can – endless discussions, but never anything substantive. He’s all about trying to resurrect the era of deferrence instead of even wanting to deal with huge problems facing the CofE

      • What do you mean, kicking the can?
        First of all your side allows travel in only one direction. On what authority?
        Second, squaring the circle discussions are not long at all. Rather, they are intrinsically interminable, irresoluble and infinite.

        • Christopher

          It would be pretty difficult to travel in the other direction- increase exclusion discrimination and abuse of gay people?!!

          Kicking the can – discussion upon discussion, but shutting down any attempt to actually discuss real lives or theology and certainly avoiding any and all change

          • It would be pretty difficult to travel in the same direction – increase the advance of the sexual revolution which has always been pretty identical with secularism, Christianity’s greatest enemy, and -more pertinently- destroys families and young lives and souls wherever it goes.

          • Christopher

            Treating LGBT people in the church as anyone else, allow same sex marriage and have a robust strategy to root out and bring justice to predators.

            Its not rocket science

      • Peter, I think it’s worth going back and re-reading the Bishops report on Shared Conversations (the one that was rejected by Synod in 2017). What Abp Welby and the Bishops have done starts to make sense once you assume they’ve decided to effectively ignore Synod’s rejection and just carry on as if that report was approved – all the most puzzling stuff is right there: the idea covenanted friendships, fretting over the new distinction between holy matrimony and civil marriage, pondering how far you can go without touching doctrine etc..

  4. “They not only have failed to secure same-sex marriage, but sex outside marriage remains contrary to doctrine, prayers may include a blessing but no vows or exchange of rings or prayers over them, services focused on same-sex couples will only be permitted if supported by two-thirds of all three Houses of Synod, and it looks increasingly hard to find a legal basis to permit clergy to enter same-sex marriage.”

    The walls may have been bombarded and suffered heavy damage, but they have not been breached! I imagine that the feelings of frustration with those parts that aren’t clear are slightly less intense than the feeling of relief at doctrine being properly asserted (if not properly applied).

    Even with all the grey areas and lose ends, this is very encouraging, no?

    • I’d wager if every gay and bi priest and every straight priest who had sex outside of their marriage left the church there would be very few people left. Dishonesty is rewarded, honesty is punished. Its no wonder so many bad eggs make it to the top

        • Christopher

          When you are gay and pass for straight you are privy to all kinds of “locker room” conversations, but it’s pretty well public knowledge that lots of straight priests have pre marital and extra marital sex and there’s a spattering of gay priests who have admitted having sex. Abuse is also still rampant and covered up. And the bishops know this. And therein lies the hypocrisy that the people who tell the rest of us how to live are not themselves living as moral a life as the average atheist

          • How arrogant to dictate to me what is public knowledge as though of course you know better, even far better, what things are public knowledge than I do.
            Why ‘of course’?
            Your version of public knowledge is sensationalist. From which I surmise it is what you have picked up in gossip sessions, which are well known for their accuracy. Because (1) how can you possibly generalise about an entire country when you are in only one place at a time? And (2) We are talking about private and secret matters insofar as they exist, so how could you possibly know?
            It’s more likely that you could not cope with public reality being unsensational. Because you have a need for maximum sensation?

          • Christopher

            By public knowledge I mean in the media!

            I know additional situations because friends have been involved, but I’m not talking about that.

      • Peter, if they did, I think we would lose about 10%.

        But why would we want any clergy who lie and live a lie in order to sustain ministry?

        Where is the integrity in that?

        • Interesting contrast with the Reformation though. Back then when priests couldn’t keep to the celibacy vows we got rid of the celibacy vows. Now it’s gay priests who struggle, we think we ought to get rid of the priests…

          • AJ Bell – A very strange reading of history. I am sure you know that compulsory celibacy only came late to the Western church and was never the rule for priests in the Eastern church. The Protestant churches abolished the requirement because they knew it was not a rule of the apostolic church.

          • The Orthodox don’t require it of priests, but they absolutely do (and did) of the Bishops. But Cranmer wanted a wife…

          • Adam, for the Reformers priestly celibacy was abolished since Scripture supports neither sacerdotal priesthood nor celibacy. So if we carry that logic over…we stay with marriage ‘according to the teaching of our Lord’.

          • Ian: I tread lightly on this subject at Anglican blogs, but as you have brought it up in your comment: “for the Reformers priestly celibacy was abolished since Scripture supports neither sacerdotal priesthood nor celibacy”…

            I agree with every word. Why then does the CoE have ordination and require that only the ordained may lead a Communion?

          • Being ordained and presiding at communion is a function of being an elder = presbyter of the community. The C of E puts preaching and presiding at Communion on a par as the two key elements of leadership within the Church. You can see this in Article XIX:

            ‘THE visible Church of Christ is a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure Word of God is preached, and the Sacraments be duly ministered according to Christ’s ordinance in all those things that of necessity are requisite to the same.’

          • What is the wording of the ceremony of ordination, please? Does it say you are ordained as a priest? If so, the implication is that others aren’t priests – even if this is never said, because it is so clearly unscriptural.

          • Presbyteros and hiereus are distinct words in the NT. This smells far too much like having a priestly officer class in the church while denying it. “But partly Reformed” as one Elizabethan Puritan described the CoE.

          • Well of course the Church of England has a priestly officer class, it is a church of apostolic succession not the Baptist church

          • AJB: The apostolic succession is a family tree of episkopoi, not that I believe it is in any way necessary – and it has been used as a weapon in church history (“you don’t have the apostolic succession therefore you are not a true church, even though you live blameless lives and we don’t”).

          • Well fine, if you don’t believe in apostolic succession become a Baptist or Presbyterian or Pentecostal ie a church which does not believe in apostolic succession to its ministers. However the Church of England like the Roman Catholic, Orthodox and Lutheran churches does believe in apostolic succession to its bishops and clergy

        • Ian

          So why is the leadership of the cofe more interested in suppressing legitimate public relationships than secret affairs and abuse by their own priests?

        • T1: I have said here more than once that I’m in a CoE congregation because I consider it the best congregation reasonably near me and that I have no loyalty to its system, only its local leadership – whom I don’t want to see knifed in the back by bishops who are traitors to Christ.

        • Ian

          The CofE has little integrity is my point.

          You know this that sexual misbehavior is still routinely covered up or ignored, but public loving relationships are punished

      • The fact that a law is repeatedly transgressed is not evidence of that laws immorality, but rather points to a poor implementation and deterrent.

        Absolutely, sexual sin is pervasive and widespread in the church, even among those called to minister, a fact that grieves me immensely. You likely won’t find anyone openly disagreeing with that assessment. You only need to look at, ahem, recent controversies to see that no one is immune to this.

        The solution however is not to change our standards, or even relax them, but to uphold them. The historic failure of the institutional church in this country (and yes, I am talking of more than simply the CofE here) to do this effectively, and in a way that show pastoral sensitivity, is part of the reason we are in this situation in the first place.

      • Peter: any C of E priest who is known to have had sex outside of marriage is immediately suspended. Personally I know of only one to whom this happened, and the person subsequently left the Anglican ministry. Past misconduct is not in itself a bar to ordination.
        I don’t know how many SSA priests there are in the C of E (do you?) but I know there were a fair number of gay ordinands at Westcott in 2017 when there was a ‘queer evensong’ in ‘Polari’. Ian’s guesstimate of 10% could be right. The demise of Anglo-Catholicism has probably reduced the number of gay clergy, but I also know of a few female clergy from evangelical backgrounds who are in same-sex relationships.
        Anyway, I think you would lose that wager. Do you actually know the Church of England?

        • I don’t know how many SSA priests there are in the C of E (do you?) but I know there were a fair number of gay ordinands at Westcott in 2017 when there was a ‘queer evensong’ in ‘Polari’

          How long-suffering the Lord is!

          • I know; I remember the thread about it at the now defunct Archbishop Cranmer blog. An apology is useless unless a few ordinands were thrown out.

        • James

          I think if it becomes public knowledge then the people are removed, but I’m talking about non public stuff – pointing out the hypocrisy that the cofe is more interested in how it looks than in doing the right thing.

          I know three cases where a priest has been preaching the party line, but not living it – one was removed and now essentially has the same job in a rival conservative denomination and two were allowed to retire gracefully

      • I think that’s insupportable nonsense. Yes, infidelity exits and I’ve come across it far too often but not the avalanche you suggest…

        However, even taking this scenario, surely those left would be the “faithful ones” who are “enduring” …. (“All have sinned…. ” still applying). The Church of God goes on.

    • Presumably the conservatives in the Church will now get on with calling more young people to commit to lifelong celibacy, celebrating and making provision for singleness in the laity and clergy, and pushing a more communal rather than family-oriented way of living. I shan’t be holding my breath.

      • The faithful Anglicans in the Church will continue to invite people to hear the good news offered by Jesus, and help people young and old to live the new life he offers faithfully, even if that means facing opposition. See Matt 5.11–12.

  5. Thank you Andrew for another clear analysis of this increasingly depressing saga. It’s becoming like a cross between the hokey-cokey and ring-o-roses: motions are put in and out, shaken about, and in the end we all fall down… It would be comical if it wasn’t so serious.

  6. Missionary to the priests of one’s own church is an embarrassing role; though I have a horrid feeling that if such mission work is not soon undertaken the future history of the Church of England is likely to be short – CS Lewis, Fernseed and Elephants.

    • In his last interview before his death, C. S. Lewis was asked, “What do you think of the controversial new book Honest to God, by John Robinson, the bishop of Woolwich? Lewis replied, “I prefer being honest, to being ‘honest to God.'”

      That was in 1963.

    • Why was he so accurate in his ‘prophecies’? They are just insights as to the signs of the times, like Chesterton’s. The bigger the brain, the bigger the scale of understanding.

  7. Tim Evans,
    You’ll be aware that Carl Trueman is English, raised and educated in England and Scotland. Although, he has recently taken American citizenship, he has family in England, I think and has a finger on the English cultural pulse.
    For a scripture based evaluation of the cultural moment, Matthew Roberts book, “Pride – Identity And Worship of Self”, gets to the nub. He is based in York.

  8. Take heart people of The Way.
    Praise God for the “men of Issachar” which were men that had/Have understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do”.
    The gift of discernment is valuable in times of uncertainty. Traditionally this is understood to reference the tribe’s characteristic role in scholarship to influence and lead Israel to establish the greatest dynasty of all time, perpetuated by the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    According to 1 Chronicles 12:32, understanding their times meant they knew precisely what Israel ought to do. They were divinely endowed with the wisdom to comprehend what God was doing and what they needed to do to align themselves with Him.
    The sons of Issachar understood chronological time, but they also understood spiritual and political time. The sons of Issachar could discern what God was doing and when He was doing it. They knew when one move of God was ending and another one was beginning.
    Jacob’s prophesying with blessing concerning Issachar is recorded in Gen. 49:14-15 where he says,
    Issachar is a strong donkey, couching between the sheepfolds. And he saw a resting place that was good and the land that was pleasant, and he bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a task-worker… Figuratively, a support; sustaining power; or that which elevates and sustains.

    In Daniel 2:21 the Bible says that “God changes the times and the seasons…” If God ordained the times and the seasons and changes them, then it befits us to find out from Him what season we are living in and what we ought to be doing in every season

    What are the characteristics of Issachar?
    They are strong and alert in the Lord. They are not lulled to sleep by lies, turning their heads to what man, media, and manipulative entities have to say. Rather, those with Issachar’s anointing are strong in the Lord because they focus on Him and His Word. See 1CHRON.CH.12.whole chapter.

    Andrew has given us an understanding of the times we are in within the C of E. Others have reviewed the histories of our spiritual decline as a once “Christian” country to a humanist centric one.
    For an excellent appraisal of the cultural changes that occurred in the 1960’s and 1990’s and what we should do.
    I earnestly commend to you Steve M. Schlissel’s “The 60’s and the Decline of the Christian West.”

    It’s not possible to understand the 90’s apart from the 60’s. And it’s not possible to understand the 60’s without considering them as the time when America — and with her, the West — changed her religion. The times, they sure were a-changin’.

    In understanding be men. Quit you like men.

  9. I wonder who came up with “pastoral provision in a time of uncertainty”. It’s an obfuscatory corker – something which couldn’t fail to impress a bunch of bishops who are desperate to extricate themselves from their very own omnishambles. I’ve no idea what it’s supposed to mean (and that’s probably the whole point) but I’m sure it’ll do good service as a gift that keeps on giving alongside ‘shared conversations’, ‘lived experience’, and ‘walking together’.

          • That’s not quite right, James; speed and direction are the information that together make up velocity, which is conjugate to position. If they know what speed and direction they are travelling then, according to quantum mechanics, they have no idea where they are; if they know exactly where they are, they have no idea of their speed and direction. Or they might have a vague idea of their location and their velocity simultaneously.

            There’s a fine joke about Heisenberg driving Schrödinger in his car in the early 1930s. A policeman pulls them over and says to Heisenberg, “Do you know what speed you were going at?” Heisenberg answers, “No, but I know exactly where I am.” The policeman says “You were doing 130 kilometers per hour” and Heisenberg throws up his arms and cries “Now I’m lost!”

            The policeman then asks Schrödinger what is in the boot of the car. “A cat” he answers. The policeman goes to the back of the car, opens the boot, and explaims “This cat is dead!”

            “It is now” retorts Schrödinger.

          • Anton: I should have figured a physicist would correct me. Thank you for the reminder of that fine joke. I have told that one before but never set it in the 1930s because cops didn’t have radar then. Oh dear, that does put me on the spectrum. I used be bothered that the crew in Dr Who would go back in time and find everyone speaking 29th century English. Then I realised I needed to apply the rabbinical principle of qal wahomer (a minore ad maius),

    • If you have never read this, you should, it’s a fantastically prescient essay from Orwell about how language is used to obfuscate meaning.


      As well as remarkably funny, it is scathing of poor craftsmanship in many aspects of writing and speaking, and never fails to convict me of my own laziness and sloppiness when arguing or writing essays and producing sermons. We should all hold ourselves to higher standards than we do for the way we communicate. Here’s a favourite passage.

      “The writer either has a meaning and cannot express it, or he inadvertently says something else, or he is almost indifferent as to whether his words mean anything or not. This mixture of vagueness and sheer incompetence is the most marked characteristic of modern English prose, and especially of any kind of political writing. As soon as certain topics are raised, the concrete melts into the abstract and no one seems able to think of turns of speech that are not hackneyed: prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning, and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.”

    • On “time of uncertainty”, I think Andrew Goddard sums the situation up in this comment towards the end of his longer article:
      “It might be claimed that the bishops are simply and honourably seeking to hold the church together and to be pastoral faced with the challenges of our disagreements at this “time of uncertainty”. The reality is, however, that they have failed to take seriously that a large part of what we are facing – as now is becoming public among the bishops themselves with the dissenting statement – is not fundamentally widespread uncertainty. It is rather competing and incompatible near-certainties on deep theological questions that then generate alternative visions of God’s purposes and call to us that are now dividing us, perhaps close to down the middle. The well-established processes in the face of uncertainty and division have a conservative bias towards the status quo. This is for good reasons given our belief we are simply part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic church across time and space. They require the careful discernment of the people of God in Synod not simply the exercise of episcopal power, super-majorities before liturgical and doctrinal development, respect for the established law and doctrine of the church, and careful and time-consuming theological formulation and discernment before rushing ahead on the basis of alleged new insights. That is frustrating for those eager for change but what we are discovering is that we will repeatedly keep getting ourselves into yet “another fine mess” if we do not respect and follow such received wisdom. “

  10. The idea that 2/3 of Synod should be required to allow mere services of blessing (which a majority of Synod have already voted for) that still falls short of homosexual marriages in the C of E is of course absurd. There might be a case for a 2/3 majority for homosexual marriage not for blessing. Hence prominent Labour MPs like Bradshaw and Bryant are already saying it is time for Parliament to act, supported by pro LGBT campaigners from Synod like Ozanne. Almost certainly therefore they will press for votes in Parliament to ensure the established church has to perform full services of blessing for homosexual couples married in civil law in England and if Labour win the next election that is highly likely to pass through Parliament and be signed into law.

    As for sex for homosexual couples married in civil law or in loving unions being outside the doctrine of holy matrimony, few opponents of the prayers seem to have any complaints about sex between divorced couples remarried in the C of E despite that being in clear contravention of the teachings of Jesus. Especially if no spousal adultery involved. Homosexual couples are not even being offered the full marriage services divorced and remarried heterosexual couples are being offered

      • What T1 is referring to is the prevalent ‘attitude’ within evangelical/conservative churches. If a couple are married, nobody cares how many times either one of them has been married before or why their previous marriages ended.

        And at the same time, everyone is really keen to tell a gay/ssa person what the bible has to say about same-sex sexual behavior and/or police how that person talks about their identity.

        • Joe S – I haven’t seen this. ‘Evangelical’ churches (by which I don’t mean C. of E. evangelical, which I don’t know anything about) don’t tolerate divorce (at least not the Brethern or Strict Baptist style of ‘evangelical’ that I have seen).

          I have one cousin who never darkens the doors of a church for this reason. (He was a Brethern – his wife left him – and the rules of the church were that he was not permitted to remarry). So the picture of evangelical churches that you present is not one that chimes in with the reality that I have seen.

          • My experience is entirely different. The big hitters – the big evangelical names – are all about marriage with no questions asked. Perform family values and that’s about it for them – with a bit of Jesus talk thrown in.

          • Joe S – I possibly am aware of the phenomenon that you are talking about. There is a Holy Roller establishment in the town that I come from, where divorce and remarriage seems to be ten-a-penny.

            This seems to be connected with the ‘feel it man, feel it!’ approach that they have to Christianity, where loving Jesus amounts to feeling the vibes and the more you feel the vibes, the more you are being rewarded by the Lord for your greater love of Jesus (irrespective of what is going on in your personal life).

            I wouldn’t say that these people are Christian. For Christians, love of Jesus is a moral issue, ‘if you love me you will obey my commandments’ – and this Holy Roller approach is actually the antithesis of Christianity (although it does fall under the umbrella of ‘evangelical’ in some generalised sense).

            In Christian circles, you’re much more likely to find the difficulties that my cousin came up with. His wife left him for no apparent reason (or at least she didn’t give one – except that life with him wasn’t sufficiently exciting for her and she didn’t like the fact that his job entailed two-week stretches out on the oil rigs). Nevertheless, the church he was going to took the line ‘no remarriage’ and as a result he left and hasn’t ever darkened the doors of any church since. He is now happily married to someone else who found herself in a similar position.

        • Joe, in that case, Simon is speaking from ignorance and (as is often the case) a silly stereotyping borne out of this ignorance.

          No evangelical church I have ever been a part of has such a ‘nobody cares’ attitude, and have all cared very much—to the point of being criticised for being unpastoral by being unwilling to marry those who are divorced with a partner still living.

          Ironically, it is usually the liberals who don’t care.

          • Yet remarriage of divorcees has been lawful within the C of E for years. Of course as you say some parishes and vicars have an opt out and can refuse to remarry divorcees but parishes and vicars also have been offered an opt out of blessings of homosexual couples too

          • Ian, all I can say is my experience is different from yours.

            On conversion I turned my back on a normal gay life but in ‘evangelical’ churches I have only met people who validate marriage with no questions asked about whatever has gone before. It is simply rude (social convention) to ask why a previous marriage ended in divorce. It is unthinkable (again social convention) to suggest that those who have divorced for unbiblical reasons should remain single for the rest of their lives.

            The entire thing will collapse because of this contradiction.

          • You’re talking about a different thing though Ian. You’re talking about an unmarried couple wanting to marry when one of them is divorced, and asking the Church to perform that marriage. Joe is talking about when a couple is married already, but it’s not their first marriage.

            I’ve never heard of an evangelical Church (or any other) telling a straight married couple to divorce because one of them had a previous marriage. I have heard of a Church making such a demand of a gay couple.

          • So 2 wrongs do make a right.

            But I know you will not answer to say whether or not you think that two wrongs make a right. This selectivity is very obvious.

        • OK, Joe, so two wrongs make a right.
          Secondly, how can you possibly generalise? You are only in one church (out of many thousands) at any one time.

          • So let us ask those who are divorced or who have remarried why their first marriage came to an end.

            Of course, no such conversation ever happens.

            But gay/ssa identified individuals face a barrage of questioning regardless of anything. Being gay/ssa and divorced/remarried are different experiences in ‘evangelical’ churches.

          • A ‘marriage’ cannot ‘come to an end’. A marriage is not an agent at all. It cannot do anything.
            Even if it could (secondly) what you say would still be subjective, unquantifiable and undemonstrable. Others could look at the same phenomenon and describe it differently, but you are imposing one unprovable perspective.
            These cliches were dreamt up in the early days of the sexual revolution, and their cynical authors did not dream that they would be swallowed so glibly even by supposedly intelligent people.

          • huh?

            When has a person in a so-called evangelical church who mentions a previous marriage ever been asked why they got divorced? It doesn’t happen. It’s considered rude to ask this question. Nobody who is divorced is encouraged to remain single for the rest of their life.

        • I agree. I was in a group of parishes in York Diocese which had been badly affected by a vicar in one parish having an adulterous relationship with a parishioner. He left and the fall out had to be picked up by others.
          Imagine my surprise when moving back into the midlands, I attended a service in Southwell Diocese and was introduced to a member of the clergy and his wife. In conversation it dawned on me that he was the vicar who had done so much damage in York diocese and he had a new wife!

  11. In short, the Bishops have switched to the conservative position albeit with a liberal sensibility – marriage is reasserted as one man and one woman, and the only proper place for sexual intimacy, however no one is supposed to talk about it. What seems to be proposed is that we take the current practice for the clergy – that it’s possible to enter a civil partnership as long as there is no sex, and extend that to the laity, and provide a service for acknowledging that. At the same time we’re just not going to talk about sex, in a kind of ecclesiastical “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. It’s wholly inadequate, ignores the reality of the lives of gay people in the Church and the need for clear and relevant teaching, but there really are no grounds for conservatives to object to the PLF anymore. I’m honestly surprised that Bishops like North, Williams and Duff felt the need to object if this is what was being produced.

    Some parts of the Prayers don’t make a whole lot of sense any more. The covenanted friendship prayers were originally providing for those who wanted committed and faithful relationships (like marriages) but without sex. That is now what the standard PLF prayers are for, so the covenanted friendships have switched to being for anyone even including to those who are married to other people. Quite who is crying out for such prayers is at best unclear, but perhaps someone can enlighten me.

    The giveaway is that the theological discussion, which pays scant attention to theological questions about what gay people are to do, and is instead a long discussion of the theology of church management and disagreement. How sad and tiresome.

    • I think that is an astute summary. Can you think of a reason why the dissenters might have felt the need to speak up? And what insight that might give to the incoherence?

      • Not really – what are the grounds for their dissent supposed to be? Or have they also modified their position in some so far undisclosed way?

        • “The covenanted friendship prayers were originally providing for those who wanted committed and faithful relationships (like marriages) but without sex. That is now what the standard PLF prayers are for, so the covenanted friendships have switched to being for anyone even including to those who are married to other people. Quite who is crying out for such prayers is at best unclear, but perhaps someone can enlighten me.”

          Me too. What is a ‘covenanted friendship’? The only biblical example I can think of that between David and Jonathan, which was a promise to protect each other’s household (both men married and had children, and David looked after Mephibosheth – sort of). In other words, it entailed a legal duty of care and was based on religious oaths. Is this what this prayer is about?
          I have to say that in all the friendships in my life, I have never undergone a religious ceremony to validate them (excluding baptism, I suppose).

          • Friendship I get. It’s the covenanted part that isn’t adding up – particularly when they explicitly say that this is open to people who are married (i.e. you can be married to one person, and enter a covenanted friendship with the other). Is a married person really free to make such commitments without their spouse?

          • Adam, I agree. And this incoherence has arisen from proposing something impossible to start with, and then being reigned back by better thinking…but ending in something that makes no sense.

          • In theory that was how it was presented. But the dissenting letter shows that this was not the case. And how can we make sense of it when the bishops meet in secret?

  12. I am still no clearer what a ‘covenanted friendship’ is. What does it mean, for whom is it intended, and what are the words of the prayer?
    Is it like a legal contract with obligations, duties and penalties for violation?

    • It’s set out (as far as it goes) in Annex B. The Prayers for Covenanted Friendship are super short, and all about offering myself in love and friendship, trust and delight in each other, sharing burdens and joys, and walking together wherever God calls us.

      The Notes explaining it say that this is for friendships that are both committed and non-sexual, but not exclusive, yet deeply meaningful, particular and seeking to grow in holiness. The friendship is by definition not sexually intimate, and the friends could be of the same sex or opposite sexes, single or married to other people.

      I’ve always understood the original idea to have been roughly as follows: gay people shouldn’t have sex, but that doesn’t mean we should rule out an ability to form lifelong partnerships that are in effect marriages without the sex. So, let’s create covenanted friendships – covenanted and exclusive like a marriage, but friendships because they’re not supposed to have sex. But once you start saying this is for everyone, married and unmarried, and not exclusive that starts to throw up all sorts of questions and problems. Can a married person really make this sort of commitment seriously without their spouse? Is it a good idea for the Church to encourage and formalise these gradations of friendship within the congregation (this fellow Christian is my friend, but those two other there are my covenanted friends)?

      • That’s what I sort of thought it meant – and it struck me as a view of friendship that sat rather uneasily with the historic Christian understanding of koinonia and brotherhood. The Greco-Roman ancients, like Cicero and others, composed tractates on friendship (philia) which set out the nature and obligations of amicitia, who was in and who wasn’t, but the NT makes it clear that the church is an inclusive brother-and-sisterhood bound together by agape.

        • I think calling it friendship has been an error. The underlying point was that we are talking about something exclusive, even if not sexually intimate. As soon as it’s not that, how it’s meant to be distinct from the friendship we are supposed to have with the whole Church breaks down. Putting to one side the questions that arise (but can be resolved I think) about setting the bounds on what we mean by sexual intimacy, the suggestion of a covenanted partnership is an idea worth exploring (if only to formalise our thinking, teaching, and theology of what’s already permitted for clergy).

          And of course if even this is deemed to be a step too far (see the Church Society pronouncements) then there’s some serious work needs doing about what the teaching to gay people actually is – either you’re advising us to enter opposite-sex marriages (and need to account for how much of a disaster than was in the 80s and 90s), or you’re telling people from 16 upwards that they are bound to lifelong celibacy (like a monk, except an actual monk chooses to make his vows).

          • Adam, a lot of people who are SSA, perhaps half of them, are actually bisexual and many have married and raised families. I’ve known a few people with this background. It hasn’t always worked out (heterosexual marriages fail, too), but these marriages are probably more successful than some people want to admit. My impression is that SSA doesn’t seem to go away but it ceases to be so central.
            I wonder if it has something to do with our thought-worlds. There are plenty of heterosexuals addicted to pornography, for example.

          • It doesn’t really work to switch from “gay people” to “people who are SSA” if you’re doing that to bring bisexuals into the conversation and then just ignore the gays and lesbians.

    • An open question.
      Is the CoE, now seeking to open the door to official approval of *polyamorous families*, within the scope of covenanted relationships, even to the extent where they may otherwise be *prohibited degrees* such brother + sister, in marital terms (other prohibited degrees are available)?

      • Seeking to, no. I agree with AJ.

        Potentially opening themselves up to a future challenge of that nature from either within or without, probably yes. These questions are being asked of the state already…

        • The sudden explosion of the trans obsession in the past 5 years or so has taught me not to laugh off any innovation as absurd. It is not very long since “same sex marriage” was dismissed as a scare-claim by horrible fundamentalists.

        • I’d suspect that the accommodation of polygamy a few decades ago is probably more of an opening to that challenge than prayers for friendships that are “by definition not sexually intimate”.

          • The accommodation of polygamy was a temporary measure leading to a generational adoption of monogamous marriage.

            Do you think we could to the same for SSM—allow those currently who have not understood the historic teaching to live in breach of it, with a define moratorium at the end?

          • Ian

            Well one of the many questions that conservatives do not seem willing to engage with is what would you advise a same sex couple with small children who want to attend your church?

            Do you just tell them they are “welcome to attend”?

            Do you tell them they should divorce and put their kids up for adoption?

            If you wait another ten years, actually not even that, you’ll have gay married couples wanting to bring their grandchildren to church

      • Geoff

        Covenanted friendships are what conservatives invented for gay people to stop them being lonely under the prohibition of a romantic relationship.

        The idea being that two gay people cam vow friendship for one another and support one another while abstaining from romantic relationships

  13. I am not privy to the thinking of the dissenting Bishops on this vexed issue, perhaps they are just taking a step back from the absurdity of the situation.
    Overarching this issue is the spectre of dictatorship; which ofttimes arises due to weak, absent or corrupt governance. Some times it is party factions at other times it is the vox populi which spawns mini dictatorship factions. Hence the rise of dictatorial priests or dictatorial PCC’S [As in my experience]
    At the moment protagonists are poles apart arguing how all this does or will Impact them emotionally or spiritually or theologically.
    One commentator recently opined that this issue of PLF attracts a large volume of opinions on this site whereas serious theological debate attracts a few usual contributors.
    The absurdity of it all is that how the God whom we purportedly worship is being dictated to feels.
    God needs to “lighten up” and listen to the ever-changing cultural milieu.
    “God, give your blessing on this which you quite clearly abhor or…. else we will”.
    That the end times are heading up to the manifestation of a “spiritual/political dictator quite escapes many communicants.
    Shall the pot say to the potter “What are you doing?”
    Ps 2:4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
    Ps 37:13 The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth that his day is coming
    Prov. 1: 22ff
    How long, O simple ones [open to evil], will you love being simple? And the scoffers delight in scoffing and [self-confident] fools hate knowledge?
    If you will turn (repent) and give heed to my reproof, behold, I [ Wisdom] will pour out my spirit upon you, I will make my words known to you.
    Because I have called and you have refused [to answer], I have stretched out my hand and no man has heeded it,
    And you treated as nothing all my counsel and would accept none of my reproof, I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when the thing comes that shall cause you terror and panic–
    When your panic comes as a storm and desolation and your calamity comes on as a whirlwind, when distress and anguish come upon you.
    Then will they call upon me [Wisdom] but I will not answer; they will seek me early and diligently but they will not find me.
    Luke 6:25 [Jesus]… Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger. Woe unto you that laugh now! for ye shall mourn and weep. 6:26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
    Luke 6:21 Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh.

    • Thank you, Andrew Goddard for this detailed explanation, and Ian for posting it.
      Alan Kempson, I’m partly replying to your comment:
      “One commentator recently opined that this issue of PLF attracts a large volume of opinions on this site whereas serious theological debate attracts a few usual contributors.”
      I am interested in the theological articles, but the issue of “Living in Love and Faith” and PLF could literally cripple the ministry of the local (broadly) evangelical church. After the LLF discussions quite a few people (on both sides of the debate) left the church, along with their giving, which unless something radically changes could hamper the church’s ministry. I also know of at least one family who would love to join our fellowship, but won’t because of the direction of the national C. of E.

  14. AJ Bell commented above:
    “It doesn’t really work to switch from “gay people” to “people who are SSA” if you’re doing that to bring bisexuals into the conversation and then just ignore the gays and lesbians.”
    What I was actually saying is that many people who ‘identify’ as homosexual are actually bisexual and their sexual feelings have changed and modulated over time (and probably experience). The idea that people fall into strict immutable categories is not very strongly based.
    Please don’t make defamatory comments here—thanks. Ian.

    • We’re back to saying it’s just a phase and you’ll meet the right girl someday? Really? The Bishops who wrote Issues in Human Sexuality rejected that sort of wishful thinking in 1992.

    • Im not sure how you could say ‘many’ people who identify as gay are really bisexual, as in having sexual attraction to both men and women, to a more or lesser degree. Im only attracted to other men (well some men, id say about 10%, the rest Id have no sexual feelings towards – Im picky) but can honestly say Im not sexually attracted to any woman. I dont get how women’s ‘bits’ are sexually arousing! So by definition Im gay and not bisexual.

      That isnt to say there can’t be some, though limited, fluidity to sexual feelings so I dont dismiss others’ experiences. But I think youre stretching it to say ‘many’ gay people are in fact bisexual.

      • I base this on self-descriptions from surveys on sexuality, including census data. People well known in this debate, like Colin Coward, Jeremy Pemberton, Roy Clement and others were all married for years, some of them raised families, before they began same-sex relations. Jayne Ozanne also had a relationship with a priest in her earlier days. In my own life, I have known 3 persons (all church people) who left their spouses and families in mid-life for a same-sex relationship. So I do think the sexual affections are a bit more fluid than some admit. Why this is so (from a psycho-sexual development point of view) and what may trigger a marriage breakdown are interesting questions.

        • Im not sure those examples actually back up your view. I wonder if they had been asked whilst they were married if they were tempted sexually by other members of the opposite sex, ie except their wives, would their answer have been yes. I suspect not.

        • Do those people say their sexuality fluidly changed, or did them simply stop trying to deny their actual orientation?

          And if it’s all so fluid and temporary how come the repeated attempts at conversion therapy (sometimes extremely brutal) have proven to be such a spectacular and damaging failure?

        • Why this is so? If your hormone levels change through life, as they certainly do, then why would it not be so? Think how many times they change. First, there is the asexual period. Second, the confusion of adolescence. Third, settledness. Fourth, menopause. Fifth, settledness again.

          Then there is the revenge thing – never touching another man again after what ‘men’ did to you.

        • I can think of two gay priests formerly married to women who are most definitely not straight. They married in order to become heterosexual. It didn’t work.
          Though I agree that sexuality can be fluid.

  15. What are prayers and blessings for?

    In the Catholic Church, a blessings of individual or a couple is intended to be an invocation of God’s protection and sanctification. The Church blesses people to request some good be granted to them by God or, more specifically some affliction overcome. They are prayers and actions intended to dispose people to receive grace.

    Here’s the pertinent section from the Catholic Breviary on blessings:

    10 Blessings are signs that have God’s word as their basis and that are celebrated from motives of faith. They are therefore meant to declare and to manifest the newness of life in Christ that has its origin and growth in the sacraments of the New Covenant established by the Lord. In addition, since they have been established as a kind of imitation of the sacraments, blessings are signs above all of spiritual effects that are achieved through the Church’s intercession.

    11 Because of these considerations, the Church has a profound concern that the celebration of blessings should truly contribute to God’s praise and glory and should serve to better God’s people. In order that this intent of the Church might stand out more clearly, blessing formularies have, from age-old tradition, cantered above all on glorifying God for his gifts, on imploring favours from him, and on restraining the power of evil in this world.

    12 The Church gives glory to God in all things and is particularly intent on showing forth his glory to those who have been or will be reborn through his grace. For them and with them therefore the Church in celebrating its blessings praises the Lord and implores divine grace at important moments in the life of its members. At times the Church also invokes blessings on objects and places connected with human occupations or activities and those related to the liturgy or to piety and popular devotions. But such blessings are invoked always with a view to the people who use the objects to be blessed and frequent the places to be blessed. God has given into our use and care the good things he has created, and we are also the recipients of his own wisdom. Thus the celebration of blessings becomes the means for us to profess that as we make use of what God has created we wish to find him and to love and serve him with all fidelity.

    Hence why God cannot bless sin and we ought not dare invoke Him to do so!

    The Church offers ritual blessing services for a range of people, including penitents, the sick and those addicted to drugs and alcohol.

          • @ AJ Bell

            So will this be made this explicit in any prayers?

            Such blessings will need to be clear that same sex attracted people need to renounce same sex genital activity and commit to a life of chastity, asking for God’s help in doing so. At a stretch, same sex friendships could be blessed, subject to the same caveat. Any ritual blessing would need to include such a clear and public commitment – i.e., if it’s a public and not a private service.

            You think this will satisfy the LBGTQ+ posse? Seriously?

          • Indeed and the Church of England is the established church of a nation where not only homosexuality but homosexual marriage too is now legal. It cannot ignore and offer no blessing to its homosexual parishioners for ever.

            Given the Church of England not only blesses but remarries divorced couples even if the former spouse is still alive it is only right it blesses homosexual couples too in its role as established church.
            Those for whom even a blessing goes too far, despite opt outs for Parishes that do not wish to perform them, are welcome to become Roman Catholic or Baptist or Pentecostal or join another non established church

          • Jack, you can go and read all the material and proposed prayers (together with notes explaining them) in the links provided above.

          • There’s a contradiction there though isn’t there James?

            On the one hand we’re told we’re placing far too much importance on sex. But when someone suggests committed and exclusive relationships without sex we’re told that would be pointless.

      • AJB,
        You do know. But are in denial, it seems.
        And coveting may be integral; something we all subscribe to, to varying degrees, over a variety of subjects and objects.

  16. Ref. Meri
    October 26, 2023 at 6:53 pm
    Meri, what you describe is indeed very much to be lamented.
    However, I continue from where I left my last post. Luke 6:21
    Indeed, this is a time for a great deal of weeping.
    Until now we have been only engaged in the preliminary skirmishes, if and when this thing goes off the outcomes will be catastrophic, {very much like the current Jewish – Hamas situation]
    As our Lord wept” If only you had known the things that belong to your peace …now they are hidden from your eyes” If we push God and his words away from us when we do need truth, we will never find it.
    It is not without merit that some thought that He was Jeremias [the weeping Prophet of lamentation] a man of sorrows.
    This is a time for the [Royal] priesthood to weep between the porch and the alter JOEL CH2 V17
    [read the context of that chapter and verse]
    How shall we weep, and what shall we pray? Well, Jeremiah is the one to ask JER. 14; 7-9..Selah.
    We as Christians have a more sure and certain word of prophecy which “we do well to pay the most earnest heed”. Don’t slay the prophets.

    • Alan,

      The endgame is when the Archbishop of Canterbury informs Parliament that he (or she) no longer requires any opt-out from ‘equality’ legislation over who marries whom. But today is *not* a time for weeping. It is a time for action. Evangelicals are losing this battle because they are not using effectively the one offensive weapon provided in the armour of God (Ephesians 6), the sword of the Spirit – words. We have this weapon and the opposition do not.

      Embarrassment is powerful and is based on the exposure of hypocrisy. Repeated demonstrations could be arranged outside bishops’ residences with placards asking “Does this bishop believe in God?” and “Should this bishop resign?” Flyers could be handed out explaining in brief and simple language the incompatibility of liberal theology with the Christian faith. Included would be the bishop’s salary, quotes from his (her?) liberal writings and speeches set against scripture, pointed questions about hypocrisy, and statistics for the number of administrators in the diocese and the number of regular Communicants during recent decades. (A website could maintain this information for every diocese.) Similar demonstrations could be held before services outside every church at which these (arch)bishops give a sermon, and also at their other public engagements; local media could be alerted in advance. Boo them when they appear. Withhold parish share.

      Evangelicals are squeamish about opposing other people who call themselves Christian and with whom they share the institutions of the church. It feels too much like breaking fellowship. But it is the liberals who have done that. Evangelicals need to recognise it and act accordingly and robustly – and fast.

      • Evangelicals who stay in the Church of England also need to recognise they are part of an established church based on apostolic succession. They are not Baptists or Pentecostals, if they want Biblical purity on everything I suggest they join those churches

        • T1 Writes- ‘Evangelicals who stay in the Church of England also need to recognise they are part of an established church based on apostolic succession. They are not Baptists or Pentecostals, if they want Biblical purity on everything I suggest they join those churches’

          Just because there are Christians who group together as ‘baptists’ or ‘pentecostals’ doesn’t mean that the C of E must be devoid of these emphases.
          Neither grouping extracted biblical purity from the C of E, depriving it of such.
          I note how you have here hoisted yourself from your own petard.
          You clearly wish to deprive the C of E of biblical purity and invite holy evangelical saints to abandon the C of E to you and your perverse agendas.
          Over Christ’s dead body!

          • AJB,
            1. There is a difference between the visible church and the invisible church of Christ. Sheep and goats, wheat and tares.
            2. The visible includes those who are dead in their trespasses and sins.
            3. There are branches of the True Vine, Jesus, who do not remain in Him are thrown into the fire and burned.
            Those who belong to Jesus, do not belong to the world. They obey Jesus’s teaching. They have no excuse for their sin. And hate both the Father and Jesus and that is without reason. John 15.

          • The Church of England was created to be a state Church with the King as its Supreme Governor to allow him to divorce his wife and marry Anne Boleyn. It is a Catholic but Reformed church which represents all its Parishioners no matter how regularly they attend church and marries and buries them.

            It also remarries divorcees and now correctly will bless homosexual couples. It is not and never will be a purely evangelical church and if your main goal is to ban the established church from blessing committed and loving homosexual couples married in UK civil law from being blessed in Church of England churches then I am afraid you have no place being in the Church of England and can leave it for the multiple non established evangelical alternatives

        • This is what apostolic succession means … you’ll notice the foundation is scripture, not Bishops machinations, contemporary morals or King Charles’ supposed or actual views. The idea that “Biblical purity ” is incidental or irrelevant is incredible..

          “The Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, worshipping the one true God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It professes the faith uniquely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and set forth in the catholic creeds, which faith the Church is called upon to proclaim afresh in each generation. Led by the Holy Spirit, it has borne witness to Christian truth in its historic formularies, the Thirty-nine Articles of Religion, The Book of Common Prayer and the Ordering of Bishops, Priests and Deacons. In the declaration you are about to make, will you affirm your loyalty to this inheritance of faith as your inspiration and guidance under God in bringing the grace and truth of Christ to this generation and making Him known to those in your care?”

        • The Church is ‘based’ on Jesus Christ, the cornerstone. Depart from him and from his teaching and it ceases to be His church, whether it has the apostolic succession or not. I have been in a free church and am currently in a CoE parish church even though I care nothing about the apostolic succession. I don’t ‘need to recognise’ anything other than what is a gathering of genuine believers, and fortunately you are not my vicar.

          • On that argument the C of E departed from Christ’s teaching the moment it allowed remarriage of divorcees in Church, which now occur even when no spousal adultery. Jesus never said anything against blessing homosexual couples however and holy matrimony is still reserved for heterosexual couples in the Church of England

          • And on your argument, Simon, you have the right simply to ignore repeatedly the point that you are saying two wrongs make a right. Your ignoring of this is dishonest, and is to be explained by the fact that you know that 2 wrongs do not make a right. Hence, by the normal rules of argument, you have thereby lost the argument by your inability to cope with this point.

        • Nonsense. Check what the law actually says. In any case the bishops are such moral cowards that they wouldn’t dare, because the case would blare in the public domain the gulf between the Bible and the 39 Articles on the one hand, and what they are up to on the other.

          Last time I made this proposal here, someone ignorant of the law said that threatening to withhold parish share constituted blackmail. You join them in error.

        • Does harassment include Ozanne’s cohort earholing and doorstepping ABC Welby, outside Lambeth Palace?
          Is witholding Parish share an exercise of free will, in recognition of a service that is not fit for purpose nor of Christian *merchantable quality* in the religious and biblical theological and world-view marketplace.

        • For once I agree with Penelope. Actually, they won’t end up on trial for harassment; nowadays people think it’s OK to park themselves outside the private home of a politician they don’t like, chant slogans, shout abuse, etc …. and they don’t end up on trial for harassment.

          The bishops in question are clearly at enmity with God and in defiant opposition to Christ Jesus. Romans 12:19-20 springs to mind – and the approach advocated by Anton is not the Godly way to heap burning coals upon their heads.

          • Jock, if you are pro-SSM in church then I’m not interested in discussing tactics to keep it out of the Church of England with you. If you are against SSM in church then what would you do to keep it out?

          • Anton – well you and Ian are the ones who are trying to square the circle by remaining within the C. of E.. As others have pointed out on this thread (when they argue on the two wrongs make a right principle) the C. of E. had already ‘lost the plot’ on other issues long ago – so why not lose the plot on this one too?. Christians have been aware of this trajectory for a long time – and most of them had already left the C. of E., with reluctance, before this issue came along.

            I can tell you what you don’t do; you don’t stoop to the level of the headbangers, thus losing the PR battle completely. You look at what Scripture says and you find methods of opposing the bishops (who are enemies of the living God – they do come under the category ‘enemy’) that are commensurate with the advice given by the apostle Paul in Romans 12:19-20.

          • Hello Jock,
            While I have no great affinity to the CoE as a organsation and as you have said, it has long ago lost the plot with ordination of cultural, social, unbelieving functionaries, I am appreciative of its existence locally as it is a place where I was converted, I see this as important for Christianity in general, as a whole.
            The CoE as a figurehead of Christianity in England and Wales, is a target for cultural, secular, atheist inspired, sourced ideology and its embrace of humanist hetrodoxy and praxy.
            If the CoE renounces the doctrine of marriage, by embedding the fiction of blessing which to all intents and purposes signals its de facto renunciation it will bolster an argument for making ssm compulsory in all protestant Christian churches regardless of denomination even if that would be more difficult to enact over the Roman Catholic church and other religions.
            Those from other denominations who don’t engage in this, are asleep at the wheel.

          • Geoff – you may be right that there is a remnant within the C. of E.. Clearly you are right about this; there are some examples of good Christian C. of E. people commenting here.

            And if so, then you are right that there is something worth fighting for. My criticism is more at the methods that Anton is suggesting (waving placards outside the house where the bishop lives) rather than the objective. Two reasons: firstly, do you really think that the methods of the ‘Just Stop Oil’ campaigners will do a bit of good? They all look like 24 carat headbangers to me and their methods are absolutely counterproductive – people looking at the ‘Just Stop Oil’ protesters say to themselves ‘if headbangers such as these are opposed to oil, then it must be a good thing’.

            Secondly – and more importantly – the methodology (standing outside a bishop’s house chanting slogans and waving placards) doesn’t chime in with the way that the Apostle Paul tells us how to deal with our enemies (and the bishops supporting SSM are indeed our enemies – and enemies of the Living God). The apostle Paul says, ‘Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath’.

            The Apostle adds

            “If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
            if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
            In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

            In this context, the burning coals sound very good – but I’m convinced that Anton’s approach won’t make this happen.

          • The majority of Synod voted for LLF as proposed by the Bishops, this was not just imposed by Bishops, it had the support of the majority of the C of E’s representative body

          • Jock, until you tell me what would be *your* strategy for preventing the bishops from enacting SSM in the CoE, which I have now twice asked you for, I’ve no further reply for you on this subthread. If you don’t like my proposal, don’t partake of it.

          • PS If I genuinely believed that, as a result of carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels, storms will worsen, the tropics turn to deserts, coastal cities submerge, billions of people be displaced, and the earth become almost uninhabitable by 2030, then I think I’d behave exactly as Just Stop Oil do. Happily I don’t believe that.

          • Anton – if you’re sticking with the C. of E., then I genuinely don’t have answers for you. I decided long ago – based on the fact that they do infant baptism, the fact that you need a special member of the spiritual A-team to consecrate the bread-and-wine for communion, etc … etc …. that the C. of E. (a) wasn’t really a Christian organisation and (b) by virtue of being a national church was far too much influenced by social norms. Yes – on the one hand, the C. of E. did play a role in shaping social norms, but on the other hand only because it allowed itself to be shaped to some extent by social norms. When John Bunyan really proclaimed The Word powerfully, the C. of E. people had him banged up in Bedford Gaol.

            Nowadays, the C. of E. really looks like the Prophets of Baal who, back in the time of Elijah, really had taken over The Church. So my suggestion might be to follow the example of Jehu – who handled it in a good way.

          • Jock: I don’t know if I’ll stick with the CoE if Welby gets his wicked way over this matter. I won’t know in full how I’ll feel about it unless it happens, and for all I know my vicar might say that he is quitting the CoE to start a free congregation. I am an adult convert who lost his commitment to the CoE after a decade and moved to free congregations (moving from one free congregation to another only when I moved town). Today I am in the CoE because one of its congregations reasonably near me is, in my experience, the best congregation in the area. I would regret moving congregation again in terms of not seeing regularly some fine committed Christians I have got to know, but I would not feel the pain I did during my first shift from the CoE to the frees; I’m relaxed about that and can distinguish my commitment to Christ more clearly from my commitment to any church system (although I do believe the Frees are set up as described in the New Testament and the CoE is not).

            But, to repeat: you criticise my suggestions for doing something – which involves no breaking of the law, no physical violence, and no filthy words (the truth about the bishops, spoken forensically, is enough), but you make no suggestion yourself. If you did, I would take your words more seriously.

          • Anton – well, as I indicated, I don’t have any good answers (except, of course, for prayer – and witness – we should each make it clear where we stand, without being abusive to those who don’t agree. They’ll take offence anyway). It’s important that we aren’t seen to be stooping to their level.

            As far as church giving goes – clearly if you have found a good congregation within the C. of E. then all well and good, but it’s unethical to actually give money to an organisation that is so inherently corrupt. Isn’t there a way – without confrontationally refusing to hand over money to the diocese – where people in the congregation could privately set up their own account for the maintenance of the facilities that the specific congregation uses and for the missionary work at home and abroad which the congregation endorses and would like to fund? Then the diocese won’t actually see the money – so they can’t complain that you are withholding it.

            I do think that taking the congregation where you currently worship right out of the C. of E. would be the best solution. If the C. of E. disintegrates to zero, then the C. of E. view on SSM will be utterly irrelevant.

            The two things that talk to these people are ‘bums on pews’ and ‘money’. But do you really want to be associated with people (the bishops – and, as T1 keeps pointing out, a substantial part o the laity) who are fundamentally at enmity with God and who need to be communicated to like that?

          • But do you really want to be associated with people (the bishops – and… a substantial part o the laity) who are fundamentally at enmity with God and who need to be communicated to like that?

            No. I want them kicked out of the church.

          • A C of E without Bishops would not be a C of E, it is a church of apostolic succession after all. Given the C of E also has an £8.7 billion endowment it is also not going to take too much notice of a ultra evangelical churches withholding parish share over LLF which was not only proposed by the Bishops but voted for by the majority of Synod. If such evangelical churches want to go independent or become Baptist or Pentecostal as the C of E allows blessings of homosexual couples in its churches (even when they still have an opt out) so be it

          • T1, you have no authority to make many of the statements you do. You are not the Archbishop of Canterbury. (Are you?)

  17. ‘Covenanted friendship’ blessed by the Church in God’s name? Sounds more wrong than a very wrong thing. Even between people who are married/ One flesh with other people? That’s adultery of the heart for starters. It’s the forming of Soul Ties between two people. Demonic then. Then blessing it in God’s house? That’s Satanic.
    You really couldn’t make this stuff up.
    Trouble is you’ve been badgered about these things for decades now and they have ground you down so that you are cornered and still trying to get them to see the basics.
    Goats and tares don’t need to be persuaded to see the basics, they just need to be kept from positions of influence and authority in the Church.
    Mark them out and don’t let them near the young IN Christ else they drag them off onto the wide road to destruction.
    Instead you have let perverters of the true faith become head of you. You have allowed these servants of Satan to sit Jesus on the naughty stool, while you try to slow the damage to his body.
    Stand up! Put the full armour of God on and turn the tables over and throw these wolves/ goats from their positions of influence and power.
    Be obedient to God only, not perverse men.
    All the while they have you holy men tied up in knots justifying that God really meant what he said, they are aligning with the world, the flesh and the devil to destroy you.
    Be obedient to God only, not perverse men.
    Will you allow God Almighty to suffer the insults proposed?
    Didn’t Jesus go through enough?
    What will it take for you to stand up and fight the good fight?

  18. Takeaway-
    ‘Goats and tares don’t need to be persuaded to see the basics, they just need to be kept from positions of influence and authority in the Church.’

  19. Oh foolish Galatians
    Is the arm of flesh now the Church’s saviour?
    Is the arm of the Lord shortened that it cannot save?
    Do you imagine that the strategies you immagine and propose are the arm and armour in which you trust in this warfare?
    Does not He who guards your life know it? Will he not repay each person according to what he has done?
    The ‘arm of flesh’ refers to efforts that are solely based on the wisdom, ability and strength of man. Unfortunately, the best of efforts is limited in any venture, because the spiritual controls the physical.
    What is the meaning of the arm of flesh?
    The arm of flesh, representing human power, is described in the Bible as unreliable and failing the one trusting in it. God warns his people of the fallacy and disaster of trusting in the human arm.
    ( Jeremiah 17.5ff) Thus saith the LORD; Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm, and whose heart departeth from the LORD.
    For he shall be like the heath in the desert, and shall not see when good cometh; but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land and not inhabited.
    Blessed is the man that trusts in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.
    2 chronicles 32.8. 32:8 With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the LORD our God to help us, and to fight our battles. And the people rested themselves upon these words.
    Eze 22:30 “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none.”

    God looks for mediators, but they are rarely found. Moses intervened for Israel, and God listened to him when He was about to destroy Israel in the desert. (Ex 32:10,11) Abraham intervened for Sodom and Gomorrah, but there were too few righteous men for it to be saved. Job intervened for his backstabbing friends, lest God destroy them. Though mediators are few there’s no excuse for not trying to rescue the people wandering in darkness. God holds us accountable to do so.
    “Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.” Rom 12:19 So leave the garments of vengeance behind.
    Ps 24: 11,12 Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. Salvation belongs to God not to the evangelicals.

  20. AJB,
    1. There is a difference between the visible church and the invisible church of Christ. Sheep and goats, wheat and tares.
    2. The visible includes those who are dead in their trespasses and sins.
    3. There are branches of the True Vine, Jesus, who do not remain in Him are thrown into the fire and burned.
    Those who belong to Jesus, do not belong to the world. They obey Jesus’s teaching. They have no excuse for their sin. And hate both the Father and Jesus and that is without reason. John 15.

  21. And on your argument, every single time you are exposed as saying two wrongs make a right you show such dishonesty as simply to ignore the point. But it is obvious that people will notice you avoiding the point, and if you are unable to answer it, then that is how arguments get lost.

  22. The world quite understand the current calls to repent of [ historic] wrongs and seeking compensation for sam,Black lives Matter.
    Quite evidently the AofC has apologized for past injuries to Gay people, quite what injuries have been perpetrated is nowhere described. IF he is speaking on behalf of the church we the pew fillers need to know what we are apologizing for with a view to repenting thereof,what is in need of repentence and what is not’ No this a blanket[fig leaf] thrown over the issue.
    Throughout the Bible repentance is foundational to the restoration of man or church.

    That the CofE has frequently wandered from it’s own teachings
    then we need to understand the Gospel and enter through the low and narrow gate. First understand what repentance is
    2 Cor 7:1 [in part] then produce the fruits meet for repentance.
    There is a crying need for repentance on
    behalf of all concerned, in the church and all who seek access.
    Yes, this a low gate,the eye of a needle no less. and few there will be that find it. Without repentence is no remmision of sins.
    Repentance must begin at the house of God for that is where judgement begins.

  23. A private Facebook page for ‘those who are “leading churches towards inclusion and/or managing strongly different viewpoints within their fellowships” ‘ https://anglicanmainstream.org/new-evangelical-group-sets-out-its-inclusive-credentials/ Am I the only one who is reminded of the secret Roman Catholic networks in 16th Century England? I think this tactic might be a bit counter-productive. The more we get tiny little, almost imperceptible, LGBT asides from the pulpit – about twice a month – the more I dig my heels in. For me, the Reformation (re-)discoveries of salvation by faith, and guidelines on how to read, understand and apply the Bible are life-giving and non-negotiable and I’m not about to give them up.


Leave a comment