B2 or not B2, that is (still!) the question: Thoughts on B5A and the Prayers of Love and Faith

Andrew Goddard writes: Back in June I wrote a number of posts concerning the various canons that might be used to introduce the proposed Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) into the liturgical life of the Church of England. In three parts it considered the original proposal to commend for use at the discretion of the clergy under Canon B5, options under Canon B4 including authorization by the two Archbishops alone which the July Synod was informed the bishops “are particularly weighing up the option of”, and the standard Synodical scrutiny process of Canon B2 which I argued should be the route used. All the parts are available combined here and there is also a shorter summary.

Although these posts made passing reference to Canon B5A, it was not explained or explored because it was not being seriously considered and is indeed not mentioned in the report of the Implementation Groups’ work to July General Synod (para 13). I simply noted that given my conviction that use of B2 was “the best—indeed only proper—way to proceed with PLF” then, because Canon B5A requires eventual use of B2, “this alternative form of archepiscopal authorisation (though not unproblematic) has much more to commend it than the use of B4.2”. It now appears that this route is being very seriously considered as the way to proceed and so what follows offers more information and analysis.

What is Canon B5A?

Canon B5A stems from the 1974 Worship and Doctrine Measure s.1(6) (introduced on 4th July 1975 along with new canons B1 to B5) although as leading canon lawyer Norman Does notes, “Canon B5A(1) is worded rather differently” from the Measure (Legal Framework, Chpt 10, n39). This is because B5A was extensively rewritten, following discussions in the early 1990s (see News of Liturgy Aug 1990, and June 1992), by Amending Canon 17 in February 1994 (see the Table of the Promulgation of Canons)

It now reads

B 5A Of authorization of forms of service for experimental periods

1. Where a form of service has been prepared with a view to its submission to the General Synod for approval by the Synod under Canon B 2 the archbishops after consultation with the House of Bishops of the General Synod may, prior to that submission, authorize such form of service for experimental use for a period specified by them on such terms and in such places or parishes as they may designate.

2. Where any form of service has been authorized under paragraph 1 of this Canon for experimental use and it is proposed that it shall be used in any church the requirements of Canon B 3 shall apply.

3. In this Canon the expression ‘form of service’ has the same meaning as in Canon B 1.

Canon B1 is also clear that the forms of service “authorised for use in the Church of England” include “any form of service authorized by the archbishops under Canon B 5A, to the extent permitted by such authorization” (1(f)).


The key important elements to be drawn from this and the other canons are:

  1. If canon B5A was used, PLF would then be authorised (not, as currently proposed, commended) but only under certain conditions.
  2. Such authorisation of a form of service must be combined with “a view to its submission to the General Synod for approval by the Synod under Canon B 2” i.e. only for wider authorisation once it has received final approval by two-thirds of all three Houses.
  3. As with all the routes in B2, B4, B5 and B5A, “form of service” is very wide-ranging and includes: “the prayers known as Collects…the lessons designated in any Table of Lessons…any other matter to be used as part of a service…any Table of rules for regulating a service…any Table of Holy Days…” (Canon B1.3).
  4. The archbishops (unlike under B4.2) are required to consult with the House of Bishops.
  5. There is no canonical need to consult with General Synod until the B2 process is initiated by the House of Bishops. 
  6. There is (in contrast to B2, B4 and B5) no reference in B5A to such authorised forms of service being “neither contrary to, nor indicative of any departure from, the doctrine of the Church of England in any essential matter”. This is a major and notable difference from the other canons setting out all other routes (although it needs to be remembered that General Synod required this for PLF in the only amendment passed in February). A consequence is that nobody is named as responsible to determine this before authorisation under Canon B5A. Presumably the Archbishops (who authorise) and also the House (who must be consulted) are expected to consider this question before proceeding down this route especially when it is clear that there are doctrinal concerns about proposed experimental prayers. This may or may not be legally required (the doctrinal qualification though unexpressed could be assumed as obvious given the other canons) but is certainly prudent given B5A needs to end in scrutiny under B2.
  7. The authorization is simply for “experimental use”.
  8. The authorization is time-limited—it has to be “for a period specified” by the Archbishops but the Canon sets no fixed time limit.
  9. The Archbishops also have to set down the “terms” and “places or parishes” in which this experimental use is authorized and they are not authorized in any other places or parishes or on any other terms.
  10. Once authorized under B5A a form of service can only be used in designated parishes under Canon B3. This means that the decision to use it has to “be taken jointly by the minister and the parochial church council” not simply (as when commended for use under B5) by the minister.
  11. Authorization under B5A does not, however, remove the power and discretion of ministers under B5.2. This relates to “occasions for which no provision is made in The Book of Common Prayer or by the General Synod under Canon B 2 or by the Convocations, archbishops, or Ordinary under Canon B 4”. 

Why is Canon B5A being considered now for Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF)?

The original proposal, supported by the General Synod in February, was for the bishops to commend the prayers for use under B5. This raised a number of concerns: commendation was seen by many as an illegitimate route for such controversial liturgical changes and it placed burdens on local clergy who could potentially be challenged for using them by those who believed them indicative of a departure from the church’s doctrine. It was reported in July 2023 to Synod that no decision had been made about the route to use for PLF but the bishops “are particularly weighing up the option of approval by the Archbishops (under Canon B4.2), as an approach that may provide more legal protection for those ministers who choose to use the Prayers” (para 13, italics added).

This raised a number of new concerns and it has been argued that B2 is the only legal route. As B5A is “with a view to its submission to the General Synod for approval by the Synod under Canon B2” using this path may be seen as at least partially answering that argument whilst also allowing the Archbishops (as under B4.2) to get the prayers authorised for use more swiftly albeit on an experimental basis. In addition, if the claimed distinction between ‘marriage’ and ‘holy matrimony’, on which the whole process brought to Synod was based, proves to be untenable, then a route which bypasses any further input from Synod could look attractive to those wanting to ‘get things done’.

When and how has Canon B5A been used in the past?

In contrast to other paths for authorisation there does not appear to be an accessible public record of when B5A has been used in the past (presumably because of its temporary, limited, experimental nature). I have, however, tracked down through the online editions of News of Liturgy and Praxis and David Hebblethwaite’s Liturgical Revision in the Church of England 1984-2004: The Working of the Liturgical Commission the following examples, with a fuller account in an appendix below.

Initial Analysis

Other examples of using B5A might exist and might either support or challenge the observations which follow but the following appear significant features of these precedents and raise important questions about the use of B5A for PLF:

  1. B5A has been used to trial new alternative texts for well-established and universally used liturgies (weddings, funerals, initiation, lectionary, and eucharist) not to experiment with a totally new and controversial form of service such as PLF.
  2. All “forms of prayer” authorised experimentally under B5A were therefore alternatives to forms which were already authorized by the full B2 process unlike PLF. 
  3. These were processes which were an integral part of the wider work of the Liturgical Commission whose purpose specifically includes “to advise on the experimental use of forms of service”. In contrast, PLF has thus far been developed with little or no formal structural input from the Liturgical Commission.
  4. The trials were of a complete draft liturgy in contrast to the varied liturgical resources in the suite of prayers format of PLF.
  5. The trial period for each experiment was short and restricted to between 500 and 800 particular designated parishes across the whole CofE which had been identified (for a 5-year period) by bishops as suitable for liturgical experimentation under B5A.

What questions are raised if the B5A route is used for PLF?

The first and most fundamental question is whether or not B5A is appropriate at all as a route for Prayers of Love and Faith. Unless a wider range of services for which B5A has been used in the past is able to be determined, its use (as with the previously proposed alternative routes for PLF other than B2) for an indisputably contentious liturgy which has never been approved in any form by Synod under B2 would appear to be unprecedented. 

The fundamental difficulty is that whereas nobody disputes the church should be authorising and over time revising services of some form for Christian initiation, marriages, funerals and Communion as all churches offer such services, this is not the case with PLF. This is largely because there is disagreement as to whether such services being provided for certain relationships is contrary to or indicative of a departure from the doctrine of the Church of England. It would make more sense to clarify the answer to that question first rather than proceed to experimentation with forms of service for patterns of relationship many hold to be incompatible with the church’s doctrine. 

Even if some form of experimental authorisation under B5A could be justified it would appear, given past usage, impossible to justify a blanket general authorisation under B5A (such as “to be used in any parish that desires”). In the past the Archbishops named a small number of designated parishes (usually a standing list submitted by diocesan bishops) for a limited time-scale after which authorization would cease anywhere in the Church of England until Synod gave final approval for the whole church under B2. 

If B5A is used then the following questions are among those which arise and would amount to some of the crucial details where decisions made will likely prove highly significant:

  1. What is the aim of the experiment in relation to the proposed B2 process and what form of questions would be asked of those authorized to use the prayers in order to achieve this aim?
  2. What are the problems in an experimental authorization for a form of service which a large number of parishes would not be willing to use? Would the sample and any feedback not therefore be unrepresentative as it comes only from those willing to use the prayers?
  3. What are the problems with experimenting given that even where the forms of service are used they would, given their limited demand, be much less frequently used than the forms of service for which B5A has been used in the past? 
  4. Would the selected parishes seek to be representative (eg randomly selected or those on existing approved lists?) and so make part of the experiment being a discovery as to how many would pass the canon B3 test of approval by clergy and PCC? Or would only parishes wanting to use the prayers be authorised for the experiment?
  5. How many parishes would be authorized and for how long and what is the justification for this decision? The pattern is clearly a small number (500-800) for a short period (roughly 3 to 6 months in most cases). This fits with the authorization being a genuine controlled experimental liturgy within the wider church and the findings then being passed to Synod to consider as part of its process of considering permanent authorisation for the whole church under B2.
  6. Who chooses the parishes? Could a diocesan bishop refuse to allow parishes under their jurisdiction to participate in the experiment because of the bishop’s principled objections to it?
  7. Would the process only commence after starting the B2 process with First Consideration? If not, how quickly would the B2 process commence after experimental authorisation began? Or would it wait until some time after the ending of the experimental period? The pattern appears to be that the bishops bring revised text back to Synod quickly after receiving feedback from a concluded experiment and/or the B2 process and the B5A authorisation period run alongside each other. Given that with PLF these are, uniquely, not alternatives to existing B2-approved services but services not yet ever considered under B2 it would appear hard to justify starting B5A until B2 has also started with a simple majority of each House of Synod approving it on First Consideration.
  8. What are the problems with these being novel forms of service so once the experiment ceases there will be no forms authorised anywhere until completion of B2 (again in contrast to eucharist etc)? Even more serious is the prospect that—if PLF fails to receive final approval under B2—no authorised forms of service at all (although some might argue possible use under B5)?
  9. What terms would the Archbishops set on their use? The proposed pastoral introduction to PLF, framing their context, has not yet been seen. Here perhaps the most contentious aspect is whether they can be used for couples in a same-sex civil marriage or couples in a sexual union other than holy matrimony. Could their use be perhaps limited to those in a civil partnership and/or celibate relationships during the experimental period (it is unclear how this would damage evaluation of PLF as a liturgical experiment) or at least until FAOC work on civil same-sex marriage and holy matrimony has been completed and been considered fully? 
  10. Related to this—would any changes to pastoral guidance which were not needed in relation to the experimental authorisation (e.g. on whether clergy can enter same-sex marriages) be postponed until that experimental use and the whole B2 process of which it is an integral part was completed? This would make it more clearly a period of reception, testing this as a development of current liturgical practice.
  11. Would Synod need to approve the use of B5A not because of any canonical requirement (as there is none as noted above) but given the February motion said (a) Synod “look forward to the House of Bishops further refining, commending and issuing the Prayers of Love and Faith” which is different from the Archbishops using B5A, (b) “invite the House of Bishops to monitor the Church’s use of and response to the Prayers of Love and Faith, once they have been commended and published, and to report back to Synod in five years’ time” which is different from B5A, and (c) endorsed the bishops’ intention that “the final version of the Prayers of Love and Faith should not be contrary to or indicative of a departure from the doctrine of the Church of England” and nobody is formally named in B5A as responsible for ensuring that test is satisfactorily met? 
  12. The B2 process is unlikely to resolve our disagreements and may end in no authorisation for at least some aspects of the current prayers and/or authorisation of prayers which a significant minority oppose as departing from doctrine. What work therefore needs to be done (in terms of “reassurance”) during the B5A and B2 process in order to prepare for these outcomes (especially that where the experimental step under B5A is then significantly stepped back from under B2 as is always possible in a genuine experiment)?

What evaluation might be made of using B5A for PLF?

The introduction of PLF by means of B5A would be quite different from the other routes and creates a number of potential challenges. 

  • For those welcoming PLF there is the reality that although it has the benefit of “getting the prayers over the line” in the near future, it does so on a limited basis and also by needing to go through B2 which risks any success from that perspective being short-lived. 
  • For those believing PLF are indicative of a departure from doctrine there is the reality that B5A enables such prayers to have authorisation (albeit in a limited experimental form) within the Church of England.

From the latter conservative perspective, a primary concern will be that this, even under relatively restrictive terms and conditions, represents the camel’s nose entering the tent and it is only a matter of time before the whole camel follows. The broader the terms and conditions of B5A (in terms of number of parishes, length of experimental period, range of relationships included), any introduction under B5A without first starting B2, and the greater the revision of pastoral guidance introduced alongside this before the B2 process is finalised, the more it appears to be much more than a camel’s nose that is entering. It could, in practice, be that B5A is pretty much B4.2 by a back door.

It might however be the case that using B5A enables a controlled reception period and the beginning of an orderly, archepiscopally-initiated, structural differentiation. Those wishing change could be identifying themselves under B5A for a development not yet embraced by the Church of England and not therefore constituting a formal change in doctrine. If the B2 process leads to the rejection of PLF (or their approval only on terms which conservatives can accept within current doctrine) the question will arise as to how to respond to those who are distressed by this outcome, particularly those who have previously used the prayers under B5A.

One solution would be to create a differentiated (provincial or quasi-provincial) space for them in some way while the CofE as a whole upholds historic and current doctrine and liturgy. In theory, some form of this could be encouraged or even built into the terms of use under B5A e.g. that parishes wishing to be authorised should join a society within the CofE marked out by wishing to minister to LGBTI+ people within a more “affirming” framework than currently authorised within the whole church, including use of PLF. A similar development, perhaps aligned with GSFA/GAFCON, might also be encouraged for those who would need differentiation should the prayers later be authorised under B2.

Once again this proposed route raises (in no particular order) a number of new questions which need careful consideration such as: 

  • whether or not this is now the “least worst” viable option for moving forward and one which conservatives can engage with constructively if it becomes clear that B2 is not going to be used except with B5A and B5A is used within and alongside rather than detached from initiation of formal B2 processes;
  • whether those unhappy with PLF think it is better for those wishing change to use commendation for use under B5 or authorisation by Archbishops under B4.2 and then be legally challenged for bypassing B2;
  • whether legal action could/should still be considered if B5A is used with B2 only being promised on the horizon, on the basis that Archbishops acting in this way under B5A is also ultra vires;
  • whether the B2 process will be taken through and completed in this Synod which ends in July 2026 (where the current figures suggest it would not get the necessary two-thirds for final approval at least for more contentious elements) or left until the next Synod, a long delay dragging out the tensions and making this a major focus of the next Synod elections;
  • what changes are made during the B5A experimentation to pastoral guidance;
  • whether beginning the B2 process immediately, followed by B5A experimentation in tandem if the PLF passes First Consideration, may helpfully buy time and hold things together with sufficient integrity in a genuinely “experimental” interim period of ongoing discernment that keeps open the possibility of a positive and consensual outcome. 

Some will be tempted to avoid rather than address questions such as these (and others raised earlier) in order to press ahead with B5A. This will, however, only introduce further new tensions and will likely exacerbate the existing arguments and division around the proposed prayers. If we are to resolve the underlying issues then careful and convincing answers need to be given before the Archbishops proceed with B5A and the implications of accepting the requirement of securing Synodical approval by means of B2 also need to be taken very seriously.

Appendix: More Details of Past Use of Canon B5A

The revised, newly worded 1994 Canon B5A was more frequently used than its predecessor as part of the preparation of a number of services for Common Worship. In September 1994, the Liturgical Commission “decided…that it would use that provision for draft eucharistic prayers so as to maximize feedback” (Hebblethwaite, p. 36). A draft of the proposed Psalter was also circulated in the mid-1990s for “experimental use” (Hebblethwaite, p. 19).

In the January 1997 House of Bishops meeting, “arrangements were put in hand for designating twenty parishes in each diocese for experimental use of draft forms of service” (Hebblethwaite, p. 38) and in June 1997 Bishop Colin Buchanan wrote in News of Liturgy:

The Liturgical Commission have asked for parishes to be nominated in each diocese to give advance experimental use of draft texts in process of authorisation under Canon B5A. This Canon permits the two Archbishops to designate specific texts to be used in specific places for specific periods. (It was originally devised at the outset of experimentation, but has so far been but rarely used—my own encountering of it being when eucharistic prayers were being tried in 1987 and 1988 in a handful of parishes, and, I suspect, when the General Synod was treated to ‘Rite A Revised’ in its unprocessed state in York Minster last Summer….).

In October 1997 it was reported that new rites for weddings and funerals had been released not to members of General Synod (see also Hebblethwaite, p. 31) but to incumbents of these roughly 800 parishes designated by the Archbishops for “experimental use” under B5A. The incumbents were to respond by January 1st 1998. Colin Buchanan described the process as an “arrow-like dash into the public, and equally sharp return to the House of Bishops for final cooking there before starting the synodical journey”. He warned that “it will be very hard further down the line to raise points not raised by any of the 800 parishes” and predicted the same process may be followed in relation to Eucharistic prayers. 

Buchanan’s prediction was confirmed in November 1997 when, interestingly using the word “assenting” for the House’s role, he reported that:

The Liturgical Commission has now sent six eucharistic prayers to the nominated 800 parishes of which I wrote last month. These texts of course have no standing or authorization and I for one, in assenting in the House of Bishops to their being used experimentally, do not view myself as having underwritten every detail of their structure, theology or language….They are put out now specifically for use with a view to a “consumer reaction” and it would be absurd to attempt to give more than a rough justification to their present form.

These prayers had previously been presented in earlier draft form to General Synod. A response to them was sought by March 1998 leading to the Commission doing “a large amount of fiddling with the text” (News of Liturgy, June 1998, p. 4. See the report and response form in May 1998, pp. 3ff). An analysis of responses was produced in June 1999 when the prayers were submitted for the July Synod (GS Misc 562, see Peter Nicholas Davies, Alien Rites?: A Critical Examination of Contemporary English in Anglican Liturgies, Ashgate 2005/Routledge 2018, Chpt 6; further details as to the prayers here, here and here and in News of Liturgy from period).

In 2002, General Synod members were invited to comment on various proposals including “extension of the provision for experimental use of draft forms of service under Canon B5A” (NoL, July 2002, p. 2). The following year it was noted that the “list of parishes designated under Canon B5A for experimental use of services which are in preparation for authorization” (which, as noted above, had been set up in 1997) had lapsed on 30th June 2002 as it had only been created for five years. Bishops were asked to propose around 20 parishes to test the draft weekday lectionary from July 2003 (NoL, April 2003, p. 2). 

In December 2009 the House discussed two eucharistic prayers for use when a significant number of children were present. These were then authorised under B5A in a limited number of places for use between 1 January and 30 June 2010 with the encouragement to use them in a variety of contexts and then complete a questionnaire (Praxis, Issue 24, Winter 2009).

More recently, the B5A process was used in relation to additional texts in accessible language for Christian initiation. As reported in June 2014 in a Liturgical Commission report (GS 1958), in December 2013 the House agreed to experimental use of these texts until April 2014 in 510 parishes nominated by diocesan bishops. The responses (only 163 from the over 500 parishes) were considered by the Liturgical Commission in May 2014 who made new recommendations to the House which sent texts for first consideration at the July 2014 General Synod (see also report in Praxis Sept 2014).

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.

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194 thoughts on “B2 or not B2, that is (still!) the question: Thoughts on B5A and the Prayers of Love and Faith”

  1. It is perhaps interesting to examine the legislation which underpins Canon B5A. That is section 1(6) of the Worship and Doctrine Measure 1974, which reads in full:

    “The General Synod may provide by Canon that where a form of service is in course of preparation with a view to its submission to the General Synod for approval by the Synod under Canon, the archbishops may authorise that service in draft form to be conducted by a minister in the presence of a congregation consisting of such persons only as the archbishops may designate.”

    The earlier version of Canon B5A followed this text and its requirements closely, but the revised form omits the requirement that the congregation should consist only of persons designated by the archbishops. I am no lawyer, but I do wonder whether that makes the current text of Canon B5A open to legal challenge as being ultra vires.

  2. Synod already voted to approve the Blessings for homosexual couples in February. All that is needed now is for the Bishops to finalise the format of those prayers, there is no need to go through the full B2 process. If full homosexual marriage in church was proposed there might be but that isn’t the case.

    Indeed if even the blessings are rejected under the B2 process as short of a 2/3 majority then the whole process of going via Synod may be irrelevant anyway. With polls suggesting Labour will win the next general election Labour MPs Bradshaw and Bryant would likely have the support of Starmer and a majority then in Parliament to change C of E doctrine and impose homosexual marriage on the C of E as established church whatever Synod thought about it.

    Meanwhile Oxford students are now advising their peers which churches are safe for LGBTQ+ peers


    • ‘Synod already voted to approve the Blessings for homosexual couples in February’

      Simon, I am afraid you are trolling again. If you don’t know this isn’t true, please go back and read the wording of the motion and the commentary on it.

    • Simon T1 (does the T stand for Troll?), as has been pointed out to you numerous times, the Synod has approved no such thing.

      The use of the word safe to describe churches that are ‘safe’ for gay folk is simply a way of weaponizing words and smearing churches that affirm traditional teaching on marriage. What do they expect if they walk into a conservative evangelical church- that the congregation will do violence to them?

      There are plenty of evangelical churches that are safe for them. They simply do not accept or have to agree with the gay theology that is being deployed. It is the same with the word ‘homophobic’ which is routinely used against anyone who disagrees with gay orthodoxy .

      I can understand the word understand being used against those with an irrational fear of homosexuals like a fear of spiders, or the dark, but most conservatives I have met to not have an irrational fear or are scared of them. If there is any fear conservative have at at all, then it the fear that God will judge those living unholy lives contrary to Scripture and this applies to all alike.

      At some point we will all stand before the Judgement Seat of Christ will we not?

      • Ian

        It’s far more detailed than that.

        It explains what sort of treatment LGBT people can expect in each church based on public teaching, witness testimony and answers to a survey they sent round.

        They are trying to give people a true understanding of each church’s policy because most of these churches hide their beliefs from students

      • Isn’t this stuff fairly common in university cities? It certainly was in my day. People are new to the city and want to find a Church. Unless you’re particularly restricted (e.g. if you’re Roman Catholic, you’re almost certainly going to the nearest Roman Catholic Church), there’s lots of choice. Folk who grew up in a conservative evangelical church want to seek out those, those of a more anglo-catholic persuasion want those etc. etc.. It’s fairly standard for one of the conversations at, and early material from, your Christian Union is about the Churches nearby, their style, stances, traditions etc.. This report is particularly for gay and trans students to inform them about how the Oxford churches approach those issues and are likely to treat them. It reads as pretty factual.

        • Adam, do you need to go to Specsavers? Here’s a couple of extracts from the report:

          ‘Importantly, an affirming theological perspective of the ‘Traditional View on Marriage’, is that it is not in fact a form of ancient orthodoxy, but is in most cases, an example of systematic homophobic theology from post-WWII USA.

          The dark shadow of the ‘Traditional View on Marriage’ has to be acknowledged as the demonization, pathologizing, and stigmatising of all LGBTQIA+ people. From our perspective, this stance is rooted in inaccurate and harmful theology, translation, interpretation, and understanding of scripture.’

          Sorry, but this is either ignorant, or propaganda, or both. This whole thing does not appear to be designed to help students but to damn faithful Christians.

          It is PR and ideological pressure.

          • That’s their theological perspective. They’re very upfront about where they’re coming from.

            The descriptions of the Churches appear pretty factual. What about this is St Ebbe’s supposed to find objectionable?:

            ● Currently a member of the Church of England.
            ● In 2003, the current Rector, Vaughan Roberts, was part of a group of ministers that sought to block the appointment of Canon Jeffrey John, who described himself as a “celibate homosexual”, as Bishop of Reading, claiming this would go against Biblical teachings.
            ● Current rector, Vaughan Roberts, has been an outspoken against same-sex marriage in the Church, LGBTQ+ identities, and particularly against individuals living as their preferred gender, in the Church and outside of it.
            ● For example, his book, Transgender: Christian compassion, convictions and wisdom for today’s big questions, argues that people should resist gender dysphoria through prayer and petition, and that Christians should encourage those struggling with gender dysphoria around them to live as their gender assigned at birth, which, he argues, is how God made them.
            ● Rector Vaughan Roberts was also one of the signers of the Nashville Statement, which denies ‘that sexual attraction for the same sex is part of the natural goodness of God’s original creation’ and that ‘adopting a homosexual or transgender self-conception’ is not consistent with’ God’s holy purposes in creation and redemption’.
            ● Hosted True Freedom Trust, an organisation that helps ‘Christians who struggle with same-sex attractions or gender identity’ to hold to ‘Biblical pattern for gender and sexual relationships or gender identity’.
            ● In February 2023, issued a public statement on the C of E’s decision to allow blessings for Same-sex Marriage, where they threaten to distance, and possibly leave the C of E for this decision. They argue those supporting the Blessing to have ‘chosen the way of compromise with the world and disobedience to God’s word’ rather than St Ebbes’ choice to ‘stay faithful to Christ, whatever the cost’ and oppose the blessing.
            ● This statement follows on from a book Together in Love and Faith? Should the Church bless same-sex marriage?, which disagrees with the Bishop of Oxford’s support for the blessing.
            ● As reported by The Oxford Student, Roberts has called homosexuality an ‘unchosen relational disability’ in teaching and promised that ‘change can happen’ with regards to sexual attraction.
            ● Roberts, and many other members of leadership at St Ebbes, signed letters opposing LGBTQ+ affirmations in Church, including the ‘Response to Transgender welcome letter’ in 2019, which argues against Gender Transition Recognition services, and the letter of ‘Concerned Anglicans in the Oxford Diocese in Response to Ad Clerum’ which opposes the language of ‘LGBTQ+ identity’, and the proposition of LGBTQ+ identifying people being included in leadership.
            ● In 2022, 6 of the 18 Oxford signatories of a letter responding to the Government’s proposals of a ban on conversion therapy were from St Ebbes Leadership. The letter expresses concern at areas of Christianity becoming criminalised through a conversion therapy ban. Oxford Pride released a statement saying they were ‘disgusted and disappointed’ by the letter, saying that ‘the authors believe we are ‘defects’, and they would have us go through harm to change ourselves.’
            ● Anonymous testimony describes their own experience of leadership attempting to “coerce a young and vulnerable member who wishes to leave the church into justifying themselves on a one-to-one basis, and when they do so, to chastise them and effectively threaten them with Hell”, and that they “felt unsafe’ in this situation”.
            ● Another testimony says “I was always left on the periphery, and was often ignored by church staff. I was left very alone, I didn’t know what was wrong with me. It is only later I realised it was likely because I was openly queer.”
            ● Apologised for not being able to respond to our survey.

            1 – St Ebbes and their leadership are outspoken in their beliefs on the impurity of same-sex marriage, relationships and LGBTQ+ identity. There will be an expectation to remain celibate, and as your gender-assigned at birth, and this will may well be supplemented by guidance, prayer and teaching, as shown by their indirect support for conversion therapy and/or practices. For these reasons, St Ebbes is rated as a 1.

          • Ian

            Sorry but that’s how most LGBT Christians view anti LGBT theology!

            If conservative churches in Oxford were not actively lying to students about their position on LGBT issues then the report would not be necessary.

            Just be honest!

    • Whatever is not safe is branded dangerous. So can you bring your best evidence that excellent churches in Oxford are, of all things, dangerous? This is pretty much libel.
      You are demanding that they accept your view of things. Well, you don’t accept theirs. What is the difference? Is one of you more important?
      It will be interesting to see what evidence you bring.

      • Christopher

        I think the issue is more that churches that are conservative on LGBT issues more frequently than not tend to try to hide their views. LGBT people, especially vulnerable young adults, get really hurt when they are deceived into believing a church accepts them, but then does not. At the worst end of the spectrum young gay people are encouraged to be subject to exorcism which you and I may take as a joke, but can cause lifelong psychological damage on people who fall for it

        A well publicized example of this is in the documentary about Carl Lentz who repeatedly claimed in TV interviews that gay people were loved at his church, but the testimony of gay people at his church is they were forced to leave under a cloud.

        This project is just an attempt to be honest about treatment of LGBT people in different churches

        • Peter J. I think you raise a perfectly valid point. Churches should be clear and upfront about what they believe about marriage and their reasons why and should not try to obscure their views or downplay them so that gay couples get to find out later.

          In my own church (which is not Anglican), we do not affirm gay marriage but we affirm people who come through our doors for who they are and whatever they are, even if they do not agree with us and will help them as much as we are able. We pray for them and ask the Holy Spirit to minister to them. We also help them practically as far as we can They are free to go elsewhere if they don’t like what we believe.

          This does not mean that our church is ‘unsafe’ which is a loaded word and used in many different contexts in an attempt to pass judgment and ‘other’ those you don’t agree with.

          • It’s for the individual surely to make an assessment of what is safe for them?

            I wouldn’t be safe as a regular at your church because I’m married with kids and you guys would want to end my family, but alternatively a single gay person who was seeking substantial support for remaining single might well be seeking your kind of church. It’s hard to know when most churches are not honest about their position

          • Peter J,
            It’s up to the individual to make an assessment of whether the doctrines held by a church are one that they agree with and for the church to make those doctrines abundantly clear. There are plenty of churches I know of whose doctrines I do not agree with and will not attend. This is not because they make me feel ‘unsafe’ but because I think they are wrong.
            No one can make you end your family and no one should try to do so except yourself and unless you reach the personal conviction that your way of living is wrong and the only the Holy Spirit can do that.

            As I stated earlier, the use of the word ‘safe’ is used to ‘other ‘people and groups whose views you don’t the like and who might challenge and scrutinise your beliefs and try yo make then out as toxic and hateful. If the Oxford group wanted to do so, they could merely have listed churches who affirm traditional marriage and for whom attendance for their community would be at variance with their beliefs i.e. advise them not to go -not that they are ‘unsafe’.

            If you want a proper use of the word ‘unsafe ‘then you might want to consider christians who have publicly spoken and affirmed traditional marriage and sexuality who have lost their jobs, been intimidated, cancelled and in some cases physically assaulted with the police looking on. Strangely enough the Cof E maintains a studied silence about them. The ‘T’ in LBGTIQ have been particularly active in this respect, intimidating women (and ironically lesbians) and sometimes threatening violence to them for asserting that only women can have a penis.

            And if you are a christian who asserts traditional christian teaching on marriage and sexuality in Finland, then the state will seek to put you in jail.

            Fortunately this doesn’t happen in the UK – yet.

            So I would have thought that LBGTI is actually unsafe for conservative Christians using the proper sense of the word.

          • Chris Bishop – thanks for calling out the inappropriate use of the word ‘safe’ by Peter Jermey – which basically amounts to breaking the ninth commandment.

          • Chris

            This isn’t about whether people agree with or disagree with a church’s teaching, but whether they will be safe attending.

            You claim nobody can make you do X, Y or Z, but even at the lightest end of the scale here I would face constant embarrassment and pressure by being excluded from certain activities because I’m in a same sex marriage. At the extreme end I would face heavy pressure and emotional trickery to pressure me into harmful behavior. Thats a lot for a young adult, newly left the nest, to have to overcome when *churches could just be honest*

            Actually I do think some of these activities against LGBT adults should be illegal. Adults are not always good at making good decisions for themselves, especially when cult like methods are used to help them comply.

            I expect virtually all of the young men Mike Pilavachi wrestled with were uncomfortable, but they felt they could not say no to this important leader who they had been told God was telling them to follow. We now know it was their good looks, not divine anointing, that had put them in that space.

            That’s an extreme example, but this report is not really about teaching, but about helping students understand what treatment they can expect from Oxford churches and letting them know how their own church is behaving behind closed doors

        • This is because (a) as soon as any discussion begins on this it (i) never ends, (ii) mushrooms; (b) the revisionists present things in a binary way, which does not reflect the complex realities, least of all for intelligent nuanced people; (c) the revisionists present things uncritically in a way that assumes their own concepts and mantras as fundamental, whereas the fault may lie with those concepts and mantras being incoherent. They just don’t know what else to do. They can give an exposition of their views, but that will require going several stages back and eschewing soundbites, and most revisionists do not have the patience for that. The disagreement is at a fundamental level, in that the revisionists’ claims are analysed by others as being incoherent in the first place, nor is there the slightest reason why their way of looking at things, whcih is novel, minority, and seemingly incoherent, should be imposed on others. After all, they do not accept our way of looking at things being imposed on them. So why would we accept their much stranger and more unusual way of looking at things being imposed on us without discussion? To reject discussion is to lose the argument.

          • Christopher

            The report is not binary.

            Each church has a description of teaching and behavior, with information about where the evidence comes from.

            If churches were just honest with students then it would not be necessary. Is lying a sin to conservative orthodox types or just revisionists?

          • I didn’t say the report was binary.
            It was the survey that was binary. That is why St Ebbe’s (and why perhaps others too) did not fill it in, and took the trouble to explain why.

          • Christopher

            Maybe I’m mistaken, but I thought the survey simply asked them what their theology and practices were. I really don’t understand why conservative churches are so against publicly stating their position.

  3. I can’t see what an “experiment” would show, apart from the entirely predictable.

    Some churches/couples would take advantage of it and (while a short time window was open) there might be a surge, reducing in numbers as time passes.

    It just looks more like a thin end of the wedge of normalisation. Or am I missing something?

    • What you’re missing it that it is time-limited and then they have to go to B2. Where, one hopes, the measure would fail.

      Of course, it is an effort to change the church’s doctrine. There are many in the church who want to change the doctrine. Revisionists would hope to be able to point at it and say “Aw, aren’t these couples happy and nothing bad happened” to bolster their chances of succeeding in the B2 process. The question is whether it would work.

      The thing wedge is already here. And he’s the archbishop.

  4. Some very interesting points raised here. And Canon B5A’s reference to Canon B3 raises even more questions in my mind, as Canon B3 isn’t very clear. Exactly what does “disagreement” mean in B3(2)? Does it mean if the incumbent and PCC don’t agree? Or does it mean if the PCC is not unanimous? If there is ‘disagreement’ over whether or not to use LLF, must all the services in that church thereafter be BCP? That’s the plain reading, although surely cannot be intended. What happens when there is no incumbent? If a certain form of service under LLF was considered to be an ‘occasional office’, would its use be governed by B3(4)? B5A services can only be used ‘on such terms’ (B5A(1)) as the Archbishops designate, but those terms can presumably not vary the requirements of B3, given B5A(2)?

      • You don’t think there won’t be conflict if liberal Catholic churches are denied the opportunity to perform the blessings for homosexual couples they almost all want to do, congregations and PCCs and clergy? Nobody is forcing conservative evangelical churches to perform gay and lesbian couples blessings, they can opt out but liberal Catholic churches have a mandate from the majority of Synod in February to perform the blessings and they will do so once the Bishops confirm the format this autumn

    • It’s not the plain reading.

      The disagreements in B3 are (a) between the minister and the PCC (i.e. the minister thinks one thing, and the PCC another), and (b) about choosing between the alternative forms authorised under Canon B1 (other than occasional offices). Even then, when there is disagreement, you couldn’t be forced back to the BCP if an alternative form is already in use and the PCC wants to carry on with it.

  5. Trying to look at all the messy dimensions were this thing to go ahead it seems to me that the entire picture would be perhaps 10 times messier than people assume.
    -The shrinking powerless faction would get the upper hand and then continue the shrink of the entire body, in accordance with the graph that always, for predictable reasons, happens to liberal bodies.
    -This at a time when most members will be dead within 20 years.
    -And at a time when ministers are having to serve 10-15 parishes, a number that can only increase, because the vital parish question is being left untreated while the cancer of incommensurable and insoluble sexual discussion eats everything (witness the reallocation of time in Feb synod, giving time to the predator issue at the expense of its prey).
    -And at a time when the church’s timidity (at an institutional not local level) is at a level least likely to attract new members.
    -The orthodox and mainstream would object to being regarded, and patronised, as marginals. That would not end well; it would not end at all.
    -What would happen to buildings can be seen from TEC in America. Absolute disaster and decimation of the denomination. Not only at the time but always subsequently. The figures out in the last 2 weeks show the shrinkage is every bit as bad as their worst fears.
    -And all this when such results could all (capitulation to, of all things, the sexual revolution which has always been the church’s biggest opponent) have been easily predicted, and indeed frequently was. Is this an unstoppable, mindless juggernaut?

    • To which we add the inner-congregational splits, all the more likely when a powerful secular culture meets the strongest and largest international movement (the Church) meets clergy who are radically different politically from their flock. This is probably the messiest bit of all, at each of parish, deanery, diocesan, national levels.

      For any church to function you need leader, treasurer, secretary, specific ministry leaders, tech people, musicians, administrators/wardens and so on. Worst case scenario (but we are talking of many thousands of situations, so it would frequently happen) at a parish level: each of the two factions, in an already shrinking movement, would somehow have to find all these functionaries, plus pay for (use of) an extra building.

    • The US Episcopal church is extremely wealthy (Episcopalian Trinity Church in Manhattan has $8 billion in assets alone) and also its congregation tend to be wealthier and more educated than the US average. Unlike evangelical churches it doesn’t need large congregations each week to fund it and its ministers it has more than enough assets and investments built up over centuries to do so, as does the established Church of England

      • Ah yes, because there’s always a direct (positive) correlation between earthly power and wealth and the faithfulness of Christians in a given place? 😉

      • So the souls are immaterial. People are the least priority? Just keep the institution running and manage decline. Sounds like the behaviour of those who do not believe in what the organisation stands for.

        • The Church of England has always stood for being the established church serving Parishioners and Anglicanism has always been a Catholic but Reformed Christian denomination not primarily an evangelical one.

          If your priority is saving souls and evangelism in the high street and on halls and the media not just in church then you may as well join a purely evangelical Baptist or Pentecostal or Presbyterian or Independent church

          • We wish also to save the souls of people who are interested in the message of Jesus Christ but decline to repent of what the Bible calls sin. Press them to be explicit about their motivation and it seems to be all about “me, me, me” rather than “God, God, God”.

          • Evangelism and proclamation is the first of the Five Marks of Mission, adopted by the Anglican Communion, to which the C of E is committed.

            If you are uncomfortable with that, then perhaps you should join another church?

          • The current 5 marks of mission are
            ‘To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom.
            To teach, baptise and nurture new believers.
            To respond to human need by loving service.
            To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to
            challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace
            and reconciliation.
            To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and
            sustain and renew the life of the earth.’

            None of the above say anything about wider evangelism. Indeed you can perfectly well do the first in church not the high street.

            I am a liberal Catholic Anglican not an evangelical. If I wanted to be an evangelical above all else I would become Baptist or Pentecostal

          • Simon, the C of E is a Protestant and Reformed church, as was made clear at the Coronation. As Canon A5 says clearly, its doctrine is found in the BCP including the ordinal, and the 39 Articles. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that you commit to any more than that.

            If you think evangelism can happen inside the walls of the Church, then your church will die.

          • 20 years ago there was a song including the words ‘We are here to reach the nations’.
            As the saying goes, If that is where you are going I would not start from here.
            Another time we were doing a door to door and one house had a sticker for ‘World Mission Church’. However the occupant was almost too timid to come out of the house at all.

          • Simon,
            1. do you know what the Kindgom of God is?
            2. Does it include the evangel.
            3 Maybe the CoE’s problem is that it is rarely preached and heard within its own walls.
            4 It is indeed it not safe to self, self, self. But brings in us a new birth, a new creation, regeneration, a new life in Christ: conversion.
            2 Corinthians 5:17
            Ephesians 4:22-24

          • Simon, the C of E is a Protestant and Reformed church, as was made clear at the Coronation. As Canon A5 says clearly, its doctrine is found in the BCP including the ordinal, and the 39 Articles. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that you commit to any more than that.

            If you think evangelism can happen inside the walls of the Church, then your church will die.

            It is a Protestant Reformed but also a Catholic church, hence the Nicene Creed makes clear that “We believe in the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church.” Indeed the coronation service itself was at least as much in the Catholic and Orthodox tradition as the Evangelical.

            The C of E has billions in assets, provides holy communion to all parishioners who want it each week and provides marriages and funerals to all parishioners who want them too. It is not going to die. If you want to evangelise fine, those of us on the Catholic wing of the C of E, both liberal Catholic and Anglo Catholic will stick to weekly Holy Communion and Mass

          • You are behind the times, T1. Anglo-Catholicism was the third ‘wing’ of the Church of England as recently as the turn of the century, but it has dwindled and is now a largely insignificant minority. There is now a simple shootout between liberals and evangelicals.

          • Combining liberal Catholics with Anglo Catholics there are probably slightly more from the Catholic wing of the C of E than the evangelical wing now

          • In terms of liturgy Anglo Catholics are closer to liberal Catholics than evangelicals. Conservative Anglo Catholics may be closer to conservative evangelicals on issues of doctrine like women priests and homosexual marriage but then there are also some liberal evangelicals who support women priests and homosexual marriage and are closer to liberal Catholics on that

          • Liberal evangelicals? You are inventing your own oxymoronic categories, which undermines rather than proves your assertions.

          • ‘Jayne Ozanne is an example of a liberal evangelical on Synod’. I am not aware of any views she shares with anything that looks remotely ‘evangelical’

          • ‘Our Director, Jayne Ozanne, is a well-known gay evangelical who works to ensure full inclusion of all LGBT+ people, particularly LGBT+ people of faith.’https://ozanne.foundation/jayne-ozanne/

            Conservative evangelicals like you have more in common in your opposition to homosexual marriage with conservative Anglo Catholics than you do with liberal evangelicals like Jayne Ozanne in the C of E. She in turn has more in common with liberal Catholics in the C of E on homosexual marriage than with conservative evangelicals

          • ‘Liberal evangelical’ is a term that used to be used a lot so is not invented. Not a very satisfactory term, though. It describes, for example, the way that Ridley Hall would have been in the 1940s or Wycliffe Hall at times before the early 1960s. And it would cover figures like: Bryan Green, CFD Moule, Max Warren, JV Taylor, and in general SCM members who were also affiliated to Christian unions. I have even seen it used for Charles Raven. Often missionary-minded mere-Christians.

  6. “Of course, it is an effort to change the church’s doctrine”

    I can’t read it any other way than this… from any point of view. I’m not convinced that “happiness” will be held to account by doctrine.

  7. Pilot-trial- schemes.
    Who would do the choosing and base based on what criteria.
    What would be the time frame?
    And at the outset, at the same time, a model and criteria for independent? and transparent evaluation/assessment ought to set out with an accountablity structure in accordance with canon law.
    Is that beyond the ability and competence of present CoE leadership incumbents?
    And/or, is it outside the will, values and pre-determination…to get it done, underpinned by the management and political adage: never explain, never apologize?

    It has well been described as a mess of potage.
    There would be no unity; no unity in the Spirit, no unity in Christ – the stone that the builders rejected, a house divided.

  8. ‘Double double toil and trouble/Fire burn and cauldron bubble….‘
    Oh what a tangled web we weave/When first we practice……’
    means that when you lie or act dishonestly you are initiating problems and a domino structure of complications which eventually run out of control.

    The report that a group in Oxford is warning students with same-sex attraction (that’s really what ‘LGBTQIA+’ means but they have to keep adding letters which takes up space but doesn’t add numbers, only the illusion of that) about churches that are not “safe”.
    A very commendable concern with “safety”, I’m sure.
    But what about Muslim students with SSA? Or Hindus and Sikhs?
    Why no list of ‘Safe Mosques’ or ‘Safe Temples’ or ‘Safe Gurdwaras’?
    And would any Christians visiting there find their beliefs disrespected?

    • Straw-manning again.

      Some people who choose to describe themselves as same-sex attracted (not having same-sex attraction, it’s not a disease nor a disability) have every right to do so.
      Some people who dislike this language and describe themselves as gay, queer, bi, trans, pan, ace, non-binary etc. etc. have every right to do so. Telling them what their identity ‘means’ suggests that your church would be a very unsafe space for them.

        • Reminds me of the well known saying ‘Aslan is not a tame lion’. The book LWW says in this context ‘Safe? Who said anything about *safe*? But He’s good.’.
          This was precisely reversed in the 1986 London production. The children asked about whether Aslan was safe (after all, he is a lion), and were reassured by the Mr and Mrs Beaver on stage that he *was*.

          • I think some people here would find the reading-out of Paul’s letters in their target congregations to be ‘unsafe’ too.

          • No, Jesus didn’t lie. He sat with people and said quite openly they were sinners, loved by God, who needed to change direction and follow the costly path of discipleship.

            This is precisely what these churches are being criticised for saying.

          • Anton

            The motivating event for this report was a student leaving a conservative church after 18mons having initially been told it was an inclusive church. The student left because they had a sermon saying that gay people in relationships would be excluded from the kingdom of heaven. 18 months is a long time in your early 20s.

          • Ian

            If these churches are being criticized, it is for dishonesty.

            If they were being honest then there wouldn’t be such outrage at a report detailing what their teaching and practices are.

          • Peter

            Until you name the church and the person in authority in it who said that it was inclusive and explained what that meant, you have not made good your claim.

          • Anton

            I’m not involved in this effort and I’ve never even lived in Oxford. I’m merely relaying information I have read about the report. I’m aware that gay Christians have been trying to get churches to be honest about their theology and treatment of gay people for at least a decade – the church clarity project is another effort.

            St Ebbes says this on their website

            “We all affirm the importance of welcoming everyone to our churches, whatever their sexuality or relational circumstances.”

            However it’s clear from the report that in other public statements that they support conversion therapy and one anonymous witness claims they were threatened with hell when they tried to leave, another that they were marginalized by the church because they were queer.

            Why not just be honest?

          • Peter, you are illustrating exactly the problem with the survey.

            They do indeed welcome everyone regardless. The minister is gay himself!!

            And no-one supports ‘conversation therapy’. That is just a slander.

            What this ‘survey’ is doing is circulating gossip. If you want to know what they believe, it is that marriage is between one man and one woman. That is the teaching of the C of E.

          • Ian

            Saying they welcome everyone when they clearly have a problem with gay people is spin, not honesty.

            Given the vicar signed the Nashville statement he either doesn’t self describe as gay or is not personally practicing his own values.

            Students have a right to know a church’s positions and policies before they attend or give money

          • Peter ‘Saying they welcome everyone when they clearly have a problem with gay people is spin, not honesty.’ The vicar is gay. So they clearly don’t ‘have a problem with gay people.’

            I suspect what they have a problem with is the idea that if you are gay, then to believe same-sex sex is sinful is a contradiction—the kind of desire-fundamentalism that you are showing here.

            To claim that ‘you are not practicing you own values’ if you think that some of the desires you have should not be followed is, well, frankly odd. I am a bit baffled that we can have been discussing this all this time, and you still believe that…?

          • Ian

            OK I have only even been to Oxford a few times. I have no personal experience of any of these churches. I could be wrong and the report could be full of misinterpretations.

            Please tell me why it is wrong for these churches to state publicly what their policies are with respect to LGBT people. Why do they feel they can’t even answer when a student organization reaches out to ask what their policies are? Why all the secrecy?

          • Ian

            To clarify on one specific point. The Nashville statement says that it’s a sin to self describe as being gay. So if the vicar of St Ebbes is describing himself as being gay then hes not living his values (I was trying, in good faith, not to use stronger words here, which is why it may sound inelegant!)

      • No, Penelope, plain speaking. “LGBTQ” is just a political way of saying “homosexual”.
        Adding extra letters doesn’t change this fact, it seeks only to obfuscate it by pretending there is some vast hinterland out there … that doesn’t exist.
        Homosexuality is indeed a disability if you want the human race to continue in existence. Every attempt to continue the species stubbornly insists upon the congress of male and female gametes.
        That’s called Natural Law. You must have heard about in your Catholic school days.

        • St Paul wished that all men were unmarried and celibate. That really would wipe out the human race in a generation. Was he wrong when he wrote that in 1 Corinthians?

          • In context that is a falacious conclusion, it is submitted.
            It is suggested that is a blatant misuse of scripture which smacks of desperation.
            There is one certainty: homosexual activity is biologically sterile.

          • Adam, but you are wrong in taking one verse out of context in order to create a theology.

            I don’t really understand why liberals read the Bible with a proof-texting wooden literalism, or assume that that is how others read it.

            We don’t!

          • What’s fallacious? Did Paul not write those things in 1 Corinthians? Is there some tricky Greek grammar or translation I’ve missed that changes the meaning entirely? Or is it simply a bit of Scripture you don’t like and would prefer to ignore?

            I feel pretty confident lifelong celibacy is similarly sterile. There’s the Virgin birth of course, but I get the very strong impression that was a one-off miracle don’t you? I suppose technically if we were all celibate the human race could reproduce entirely by IVF, but then that’s also an option if we were all gay.

          • AJBell @ 4.15pm – a serious misreading of 1 Cor 7.6 which should be read with the following verse and elsewhere in that chapter to grasp Paul’s point.
            “A text without a context is a pretext.”
            You cannot avoid the fact that homosexuality depends on heterosexuality for its continued existence. That’s the decisive Natural Law argument.

          • I’m not sure I’m creating an entire theology. I’m simply disagreeing with the view that homosexuality is a disability because we’re all supposed to be doing our bit to perpetuate the human race. And furthermore that it is an argument that is hard to square with Scripture when we have St Paul advocating for celibacy (and this is before I even mention Jesus’ own life). That’s not doing your bit to keep mankind going, and if we all did it there’d be no more humans after us. St Paul is of course smart enough to be clear that this isn’t a command for everyone to follow. But that’s my point. St Paul can say he wishes all were unmarried and celibate like him, and it be true, and hardly anyone actually be unmarried and celibate like him.

            It is nevertheless striking that the folks who are so keen to recommend lifelong celibacy to me, and fret that the Church mistakenly elevates marriage over singleness, do get their hackles up at the slightest suggestion that celibacy is something they should have considered themselves.

          • AJB., What Jesus did…”is not doing anything to keep mankind going”.
            Are you being serious? Yes, as it is serious misunderstanding and misrepresentation of who Jesus is, the Gospel, in furtherance of a self-expressive cause.
            It smacks of desperation and may even hint at heresy.

          • I’m not sure you’re following the argument Geoff.

            I’m suggesting that a Natural Law argument that we’re all supposed to be having children (or at least trying to) is somewhat undone by St Paul’s advocacy of celibacy, and Jesus’ own example of His life (unmarried and childless).

          • AJB,
            Your argument is truly being followed. The life of Jesus does not negate nor supplant the natural law argument. It is a false equivalent as an exemplar for marriage or singleness, or discipleship.

        • I’ve never been convinced by natural law even in my salad days.
          But you are wrong on two counts:
          Gay, queer, trans, bi, ace etc. is far more varied than ‘homosexuality’;
          Being queer is never going to be the majority, so the human race will continue until we really fvck up and, theologically, since we are living in the end times, why does humanity need to continue? That’s a rather atheistic view.

    • James

      If you read the report it lists lots of genuinely inclusive churches. It’s not an exercise in church bashing. It’s protecting students from deceit.

      T trans
      Q queer
      I intersex
      A asexual

      Not everyone who is LGBTQIA+ is same sex attractive

      • Peter Jermey – you would do yourself a tremendous favour if you did not assign yourself to this label. As I’ve indicated before on this site, I for one would be sympathetic towards the L and G – if it were limited to that. I’d prefer to see someone with a same-sex life partner than see people living a sad and lonely life. As soon as B is added, it begins to look like a license for promiscuity – Christians don’t fool around treating marriage as some sort of ‘secretary problem’, so the fact that someone is attracted to people of both sexes should be irrelevant.

        When you add in T, we see all the horrible nasties that this has led to – children given puberty blocking drugs – and even worse. We read stories in the newspapers of children, even as young as 7, where little boy decides that he would like to be a girl, so they put him in a dress, give him a girl’s name, etc …… (with a view to packing him full of drugs and doing Frankenstein monster type operations at a later stage).

        So, however large and inclusive the umbrella might be, it also includes this evil and you identify with this evil when you associate with this large umbrella.

      • Peter:

        I speak here as a gay man. “LGBTQIA+” is an initialism which we can very well do without. And no, James (if you’re reading this), it is NOT just another way of saying “homosexual”. It is a way of asserting – while evading the requirement to give any logical and convincing justification for the assertion – that if you are gay, lesbian or bisexual, then you are obliged to support the theories and demands of trans activists. I need hardly add that we have absolutely no such obligation.

        LGBT was originally fabricated for that purpose c. 1990, but we were well into the present century before it passed into common usage, the various additions being made during the past decade or so. This illogical and misleading initialism, and its equally tiresome extensions, have been gradually imposed on the public through insistent repetition and mindless parroting in the media – a process which would deserve a place in an updated version of “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds”. The letters L, G and B refer to people with a homosexual or bisexual orientation. The remaining letters do not, and they are not even in similar categories to each other.

        T denotes people with the delusion that their bodies are wrongly sexed and that they need to “transition” to the other sex, a biological impossibility. I (so-called “intersex”) refers to people with anomalies of physical sex development, conditions which affect around 0.018% of the population, and which as such have nothing to do either with sexual orientation or with the transgender delusion. A (asexual) refers to people who are not sexually attracted to anyone, and therefore presumably have no sexual orientation. God only knows what the + is supposed to mean. As for Q (queer), that is a word which was formerly used – and still is, even today – as a term of abuse to express hatred and contempt of gay men, but which is now used also – especially by peddlers of anti-factual “gender identity” ideology and “queer theory” – as an umbrella term to cover all of the aforementioned, illogically conflated categories.

        This unnecessary and misleading initialism does no legitimate favours to anyone, and it is high time that it was permanently ditched.

        • William

          Intersex is often not immediately obvious and some is only visible at the DNA level – I’m pretty sure lots of trans people are undiagnosed intersex cases.

          I don’t agree that it’s delusional or demon possession or what have you because the people who say those things against trans people say them also about you and about me

          They are not good people or moral authorities.

          • Peter:

            So called “intersex” conditions, i.e. anomalies of physical sex development, have no intrinsic connection with “transgender”, and there is no evidence that they are any more common among “transgender” people than they are among other people. I gather that many of those with such conditions have expressed their resentment at having been added without their consent to the already irrational LGBT(Q)(+) initialism.

            The argument that since people said this, that and the other about gay people and they were wrong, therefore people who say any things that sound similar – or which can be made to sound similar – about trans-identified people must ipso facto also be wrong, simply will not do. It is a patent fallacy.

            I make no claims about demon possession, or about whether there is such a thing, but anyone who was born male and believes himself to be “really” a girl/woman, or who was born female and believes herself to be “really” a boy/man, is delusional. It is impossible to “transition” from one sex to the other. Above all, we should not lie to children and tell them that any such transformation is ever possible, still less encourage them to pin their hopes on achieving such a chimera by having their development stunted with puberty blockers and irreversibly distorted with cross-sex hormones.

          • Ian

            I can remember very well learning about the existence of intersex people in secondary school biology in about 1994. I have a vague memory of watching a TV documentary about them.

            Its less and less plausible to deny unusual people exist because the age of mass communication doesn’t allow for cover ups.

          • Then you were lied to. There is no such thing. Ask any informed medical professional. There are intersex conditions, not ‘intersex people’. There can be no such thing, since there are only two gametes.

            This is not about ‘denying people exist’ but about understanding biology.

          • William

            I’m one of the letters in LGBT. I was also added without my consent. There are thousands of articles and comments online without my consent.

            I’m not saying that because you said the same thing about me therefore I know you are wrong about trans people. I’m saying because you said horrible things about me that were not true I cannot trust that you are going to say truthful things about my friends.

          • William

            Im pretty confident you are being manipulated by the media into believing all sorts of nasty things about LGBT people.

            Most of us are either totally disinterested in children or want LGBT children to have a better childhood than we had. There’s no secret LGBT cult to harm children.

          • Ian

            What does it even mean to acknowledge intersex conditions, but then deny the existence of intersex people? To me it sounds like you are saying “some people play football, but nobody is a footballer” what???

            Intersex is very well documented. It may still be possible in some circles to get away with claiming nobody has exclusive attraction to the same sex, but you can’t argue with DNA.

          • ‘What does it even mean to acknowledge intersex conditions, but then deny the existence of intersex people?’ Because there is no such thing.

            There are not males, females, and footballers. There are not male, female, and intersex. Intersex people are either male or female. There is no third sex. It is not that complicated.

          • Peter:

            Firstly, if you’re “pretty confident [I am] being manipulated by the media into believing all sorts of nasty things about LGBT people”, then you are pretty confident of something which you have no means of knowing, and which is in fact untrue.

            Secondly, there are no such entities as “LGBT” children or “LGBT” people. As I have already pointed out, that factitious and illogical initialism does not denote any genuine category of persons; it is merely an invention to con/guilt well-meaning gay, lesbian and bisexual people into supporting the pernicious ideology peddled by trans activists. I have not fallen for it, and I am gratified to note that, even among those who have, an increasing number are now starting to wake up and realise that they have been taken for a ride.

            People who advocate that children and adolescents who have problems accepting the fact of their unalterable natal sex should told that they can become members of the other sex, which is simply a coal-lack lie, and given puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones, which turn them into physical freaks, will no doubt deny that they are intending any harm. They may thoroughly believe in the rightness of such procedures. That cannot alter the fact that what they are advocating is abusive and does very serious and irreversible harm. As the late Sir Oliver Lodge remarked about the author of a pernicious book, “I suppose he may be credited with good intentions; which I always consider the feeblest kind of praise, because the only people without good intentions are criminals; and I am not so sure about them.”

          • Peter:

            Your realising that you were gay when you were 13 has no relevance to the points that I have made about the iniquitous medical abuse of minors in pursuance of the trans delusion.

      • Jock

        It wasn’t up to me. I didn’t choose to be gay and I absolutely would have chosen to be straight if I had been given a choice – my life would have been much easier and I would have been supported by the CofE, not encouraged to leave.

        I get upset at the current attempt to say “we will accept gays if you reject trans” because you never accepted us. When I was growing up you used exactly the same language about gay people as you now use about trans people. I remember a cabinet member having to resign because he was found to be gay. I remember an expose in a newspaper because a boy band member was a “shirt lifter”. You can’t use violent language against people and then expect to be treated as the good guys.

        • Peter Jermey – what the ‘T’ part of LGBT (plus all the other initials) is supporting is child-mutilation, child abuse in its worst form. We’ve all read about it in the newspapers – so please don’t act as if you are ignorant of it. Little boy, even as young as 6, thinks he might like to be a little girl, so they put him in a dress, give him a girl’s name. Later, they pack him full of puberty blocking drugs, etc ….

          So what you are saying is that you get upset when people call you out for your support of a very evil form of child abuse. Your reasoning is that, since you were subjected to abuse in your younger days as a result of your orientation, this gives you a good reason to be supportive of those who are behind these twisted forms of child abuse.

          Please read the post by William Fisher and appropriate its contents. I’m not gay, but am sympathetic to the problem – and I take my guidance on this matter from good people like William Fisher and PC1 who post here.

          • Peter Jermey – well, they’re not lying when they say that 7 year-olds are being diagnosed with ‘gender dysphoria’ – and getting treated for it. That is child abuse – of the worst kind imaginable. The newspapers are not lying when they say that this happens.

  10. Personally I think going for Canon B5A followed by B2 looks reasonable, as long as it’s done sincerely. What I suspect a great many can’t shake is that there’s some dishonesty in the discussion, with efforts to procedurally block things whilst claiming to want to do things correctly. The letter from network leaders, which caused some consternation amongst the networks themselves, and then got into a tizz about whether the leaders were writing personally or supposed to be seen as on behalf of their networks only served to demonstrate the manipulations and dishonesty at work.

    There’s been plenty of grumbles about things moving too fast for some, that they want to see the pastoral guidance written before giving full approval to a new set of prayers etc.. That strikes me as good grounds for using Canon B5A. We need to test this out. I suspect we’ll need a longer testing period that you’d typically have for a B5A process. PLF simply aren’t going to be used as frequently – e.g. when you’re doing a B5A with eucharistic services, you’re having a Eucharist at least once a week, so that’s plenty of use in a 3 month period. PLF use depends on having same-sex couples who want a blessing, or a covenanted friendship, or an individual who wants a blessing of celibacy (if something like that ends up in there). It’s far, far rarer than Eucharist, and rarer than a traditional wedding. I’d have thought the Churches part of Campaign for Equal Marriage, or Inclusive Church, would be good candidates and fairly easy to be identified by their Bishops. The big question for me is which of the “conservative” Churches want to participate in an experiment with prayers for celibacy or covenanted friendship, and if there aren’t any, then that will beg the question of what are they proposing to teach and do.

    After that we can head to Canon B2. I’d want to do it in this Synod if we can (I dread another Synod election with this hanging over us). I suspect those hoping to block PLF through B2 haven’t quite thought this through. CEEC tell us they are horrified at the prospect of having to talk about this issue with the public. What would Synod want to say to those who had used PLF in the B5A period? It would have to say something. Would Synod actually recommend dropping all of PLF? Even the prayers about covenanted friendship? Would it block the work on celibacy and singleness because it all too mixed up with the gays?

    Finally, I see no reason at all to delay work on pastoral guidance. One the criticisms earlier in the year was that we hadn’t seen the pastoral guidance revisions before seeing PLF. Using B5A gives us an opportunity to see and discuss the pastoral guidance before final approval of PLF under B2. It would perverse if those who’ve grumbled most loudly about not seeing the pastoral guidance now insisted it had to be delayed so we could get PLF approved first.

    • What is a “covenanted friendship” and why would Christians want special prayers for it? Is it a state of life recognised in the Gospel? Is it a legal status? I have friendships, even “best friendships” and have never felt the need to liturgise them. The idea makes no sense,

      • It’s a celibate marriage. It’s been put forward by the Bishops as one of the PLFs. Are you saying that is not and should not be an option for gay Christians?

        • Yes. Christian marriage is between one man and one woman for life.
          1. Marriage CANNOT be between persons of the same sex.
          2. Marriage should be consummated. To enter marriage not intending to consummate it violates the nature of marriage.
          3. Human beings cannot change Natural Law. They may break it but they cannot change it.
          4. People sexually attracted to each other sharing a home are very likely to give inyo temptation. That should be obvious to anyone with a functioning brain.
          5. The Early Church outlawed the practice of “virgines subductae” for good reasons.

          • ‘Christian marriage is between one man and one woman for life.’

            It isn’t for divorced couples and the Church of England already remarries divorcees, not merely blesses them.

            ‘Marriage CANNOT be between persons of the same sex.’

            It can be in English law now and the C of E as established church in England is obliged to respect that by blessing homosexual couples now married in UK law, hence the Synod vote in February for such blessings

          • It can be in English law now and the C of E as established church in England is obliged to respect that

            No it’s not. It has an opt-out. Ending the opt-out is what the present rumpus is about. But more importantly, does God recognise certificates of marriage contracted under English law between persons of the same sex?

          • Gay Christians are to live as hermit monks (not together, lest they succumb to temptation) bound to lifelong celibacy commanded by the Church? Or are they advised to enter into opposite-sex marriages? Or are they by definition outside the Church and not part of the elect? Which teaching do you prefer?

          • ‘Gay Christians are to live as hermit monks.’ Not at all. Gay Christians to live, as all others, in the family of faith, enjoying the fulness of life given by Jesus their [single] saviour. Some of my gay friends are single; others are other-sex married. All of us need deep and enduring friendships in community.

          • And Labour MPs like Bryant and Bradshaw want to end that opt out for the established church and ensure it recognises legal marriages of homosexual couples in its churches as it now recognises legal marriages of divorced couples who remarried. Hence Synod voted to bless marriages of homosexual parishioners in its churches

          • Of course hermit monks are in the family of faith, but I take your point.

            Forgive me if I’m misinterpreting Ian, but are you arguing that sexuality is essentially trivial and does not or (at least from Church teaching) should not affect your relationships and family life, because gay people are (and should consider themselves to be) as as free and right to enter into opposite-sex marriages as everyone else? In that sense there is therefore no need for any particular teaching for gay people other than to make clear the triviality of sexuality.

          • Adam, ‘trivial’ is the wrong word. Scripture tells us that sex(uality) is important, not least because it is so powerful, and because we are fallen thus potentially harmful.

            But in the age to come we will be like the angels, so sex(uality) is not of *ultimate* importance.

            Exposition of that here:https://www.psephizo.com/sexuality-2/what-is-a-biblical-theology-of-sexuality-part-1/

            and here: https://www.psephizo.com/sexuality-2/what-is-a-biblical-theology-of-sexuality-part-2/

          • Ian

            But even you have to admit that a decade on from the legalization of same sex marriage and there’s still very little support or inclusion for conservative gay people in the Church of England. There are a few secretive support groups in a few churches, but that’s about it. There’s been no attempt that I can see to do any theological work in this area. And we know that secrets lead to abuse

          • Maybe sexuality was the wrong word as it has a wider meaning that what I was referring to – sexual orientation. You do seem though Ian to downplay sexual orientation quite a lot. If I follow your argument in those pieces correctly, you’re saying that sexual desire is driven by bodily sex differences between men and women (which you contrast with Plato’s idea of people seeking the ‘lost’ halves of their souls). That is therefore is the true sexual desire, and same-sex sexual desire is in some way false or obscuring the real desire. You go further to suggest that it is essentially a disability: if you experience same-sex sexual desire your genitalia are faulty and unable to fulfil their function like someone in a wheelchair has legs that do not work properly. But that would imply that same-sex attraction is something we could, at least in theory, fix. There has been significant effort to do so for the past hundred years. It has yielded no progress.

            And this idea that same-sex sexual desire is false or a mirage would seem to me to be a vital underpinning of your point on the importance of integrity: we must have integrity in everything if we are to be like God, and “our inner thoughts and our outer actions must match one another if we are to be people of integrity”. But if sexual orientation informs sexual desire, then we have integrity problem if we encourage gay people into opposite-sex marriages. If the inner thoughts of same-sex sexual desire are not a mirage obscuring the real opposite-sex sexual desire, but are just as real as a straight person’s sexual desire, where does that leave integrity?

          • Sexual orientation and desire are clearly important and powerful in life and in experience. My observation is that Scripture counter-culturally refuses to elevate either desire or orientation in its anthropology. Scripture rejects the idea that orientation defines identity.

            Do read Sean Doherty’s reflection. He notes that being faithful to his wife is not about desire women in general, but being attracted and committed to this person in particular. https://www.psephizo.com/sexuality-2/our-bodies-our-sexuality/

            There have been gay voices in America who have indeed called for ‘being gay’ to be classed as a disability. It does mean have a pattern of desires which are at odds with one’s biological bodily identity. Our sexual desires cannot be divorced from our sexed bodies, and the biological function of our sexed bodies is to reproduce. By definition, gay sexual desires cannot lead to the biological outcome that the physical aspect of sexual desire is built for.

            And there is a paradox at the heart of gay identity, in that the idea of being gay in our cultural moment means, on the one hand, defining oneself according to inner desires rather than according to outward bodily form, but on the other being attracted to people with a particular outward bodily form, but not to people with the same pattern of inner desires. Gay men are attracted to other men, not to other gay people.

            That paradox has been made visible in the dispute about transexuals. Why, they complain, are lesbians not attracted to me, a natal male now acting as female?

            But the paradox was always present, and is likely to be the root cause of the persistently higher levels of mental health issues amongst gay men even in cultures where their identity is not contested.

          • Ian

            But Sean *is* attracted to his wife. You seem unwilling to recognize that some people are not attracted to the opposite sex.

          • Sean is not attracted to women in particular. He is attracted to this one. I am not in the slightest unwilling to recognise that, and I don’t know where you get that idea from.

          • Ian

            Sean has told me in a personal communication that he is bisexual. I have been in the same room as him and his wife. I believe that he is attracted to her. He is not gay in the same sense that I am.

        • AJB,
          That doesn’t answer the question of what a covenanted friendship is, or is meant to be. To the exclusion of all other friends? Or is is akin to * blood brothers* mingling of blood, which could include more than one other and stretching that out could be club and cult like.

          • Geoff – my points to Adam exactly.
            Christian marriage and friendship are two different things.
            David and Jonathan had a kind of personal covenant of loyalty, but it had no sexual content (despite the determination of some to see this ) and both men had wives and children. In the Middle Ages a kind of spiritual brotherhood-making cereminy apparently existed (adelphopoiesis) in Mediterranean areas, but again this had no sexual dimension: it was about establishing a kind of familial bond. The late John Boseell misrepresented this.

          • Geoff

            I think these relationships can be really helpful to a few specific individuals, but they are not a solution precisely because broadly liberals want marriage and conservatives are suspicious of any relationship for gay people

        • T1: I’m not too bothered about weddings in any church or about Establishment, but I do want the bride of Christ to be kept clean.

          You failed to answer my question: does God recognise certificates of marriage contracted under English law between persons of the same sex?

    • AJBell – on a previous thread, you indicated some of the life-decisions you have made, also that you regret some of them. If SSM is approved by the C. of E., could you indicate how you would avail of the situation, how it would improve things for you?

      I mean, nobody wants to see people living lives which they consider sad and unfulfilled. From a conservative point of view, Genesis 2 would indicate that normal marriage (i.e. lifelong commitment between one man and one woman) should solve this – but your experience seems to be wholly otherwise.

      • Hi Jock,

        I’m not sure it would necessarily change anything for me personally. I don’t think it’s really about me personally (although it is personal for me). It’s much more pressing on the generations younger than me: I really think the conservative advocates are quite blind and deaf to the impact of what they’re telling kids in the Church who are 16, 18, 21, 24 etc. and confronting this for themselves. And we’re beginning to face the issue of those who are in gay marriages being evangelised, and I don’t think there’s been a really serious consideration of quite what it means to say the Church ought to instruct them to divorce.

        I don’t think it’s quite true to say nobody wants to see people living lives they consider sad and unfulfilled. Some people in the Church sound all keen to see that, so they can boast and burnish their theological credentials as if to say, “see how pious we are and what martyrs we can make”. It does strike me sometimes that for many it’s an easy way to show how countercultural and unworldly you are: you get set your face against this rather modern sounding issue, and it costs you nothing personally.

        Me marrying a woman would (in my view) be an intolerable cruelty, bordering on an abuse of her, and which I cannot reconcile with the views of marriage in Scripture (especially 1 Corinthians). It’s not just my experience or expectations though. We went through the whole saga of the ex-gay movement in the 80s and 90s, which tried to get gay people into “normal marriages” precisely as you put it, to solve this. It was an utter disaster. The leading ex-gay Christian organisation Exodus International imploded in 2013, marriages failed everywhere, and the leaders admitted that people couldn’t change and publicly repented of what they’d been teaching. This is a big part of why this issue has erupted into the internal discourse of the Church. Despite what was written in things like Issues in Human Sexuality, a lot of people were able to tell themselves for quite while that if you didn’t want to be gay you could choose to change that about yourself, and that made the theological and moral discussion very straightforward – God doesn’t want you to be gay, so you should change, and just stop being gay, then you’ll get married just like everyone else. The exposure of the bankruptcy of that argument is why we are where we are.

  11. T1/ Simon:
    To anyone who was paying attention and understands Christian theology, obviously I was referring to CHRISTIAN marriage. The laws of Saudi Arabia allow polygamy. You can’t “bless” polygamous unions, whatever the zecular law says.
    You are very ignorant about the Church of England and its established status. It is NOt obliged “to respect” current Englieh marriage law in its ceremonies.
    Many remarriages in the Church of England are probably against the law of God.

    • Well the Church of England now remarries virtually all divorced parishioners who want a remarriage in its churches, not even just blesses them. So no reason it should not merely bless homosexual couples married in English law as Synod correctly voted to do

      • T1/Simon: so you don’t believe in repentance? You don’t believe Christians who do wrong should stop doing wrong and follow God’s commands?
        The prophets of Israel had a word for people who advocate what you do (ignoring God’s law and succumbing to social pressure), and our Lord warned that blind guides of the blind bring others, with themselves, into the pit of condemnation (Sheol).
        As you believe human law trumps God’s law, you must agree with the decision of the German Church in the 1930s to expel baptised Jews. Great thinking there.

          • We are not under Mosaic Law. But in the books of that law you find God’s view of man lying with man as with woman, ie sexually. What makes you think God has changed his opinion between Old and New Testament?

        • Ian: that’s what I understood him to be advocating, and I hope that is not so, because it is very cynical – like the days when some C of E clergy participated in the slave trade because it was legal.
          The theological reasoning that saw Boris Johnson married in a Catholic cathedral after two divorces still bewilders me – maybe Happy Jack can explain.
          The Church of England should not be involved in remarriages of divorced persons.

          • Jack attempted to justify Johnson’s Catholic church wedding (very much not ex cathedra!) on another – sadly defunct – blog, thereby creating an open goal for protestant satire. I am not aware that the Catholic church explained itself beyond saying that it had not made any exception to its own rules. An explanation by somebody well informed about those rules is offered in this Guardian piece, which suggests that the Catholic church declined to recognise Johnson’s previous marriages:


            I like the typo in the URL!

          • The Catholic church believes only Roman Catholic weddings are legitimate, the Vatican doesn’t officially recognise Protestant or civil weddings so in that sense as Johnson had not had a Catholic wedding before he was never divorced in Catholic eyes

          • It might be that because Johnson was baptised Catholic as a baby but did not have Catholic weddings to his first two, er, wives. Catholicism pays a heavy price for making it up as you go along.

        • I am saying the established church must respect the law of the land. That means blessing homosexual couples and divorced couples married in English civil law in its Parishes (marriage could have been reserved for heterosexual couples in lifelong unions but remarriage of divorcees in the C of E ended that).

          Notably though Jesus never actually opposed homosexual unions of course or divorce where there was spousal adultery in the previous union

          • Simon, it is very tiring to have to keep reminding you of actual facts, as opposed to your own propaganda.

            Canon Law is ‘the law of the land’ by dint of the C of E being the Church established by law.

            So the Church’s doctrine of marriage, set out in Canon B30 (part of canon LAW) is ‘the law of the land’. It is a second legal definition of marriage.

          • Canon B30 ‘The Church of England affirms, according to our Lord’s teaching, that marriage is in its nature a union permanent and lifelong, for better for worse, till death them do part, of one man with one woman..’. So the Church already broke that when it agreed to remarry divorcees in church, not merely bless them. Homosexual couples married in English civil law aren’t even being offered a marriage in church, just a blessing

          • So, Simon, are you saying that since we have broken canon law here, we should do so elsewhere?

            (But of course we have not. The C of E still believes marriage is lifelong, but also that we are sinners. If someone remarries after divorce, they still enter a lifelong union in their new relationship.)

          • So it is fine for heteresexuals to get married not just once but multiple times in a Church of England church even if their spouse is alive.

            Yet it is not fine for homosexuals in lifelong unions to even get a blessing, not even married, in a Church of England church.

            That is just ludicrous hypocrisy and thankfully Synod rejected it in February so Christian homosexuals in loving unions married in English law can get blessed in C of E churches

          • ‘So it is fine for heteresexuals to get married not just once but multiple times in a Church of England church even if their spouse is alive.’

            Not, it is not. Could you take a break now please? Just spouting false claims and demolishing straw men add nothing here.


          • Correct. It may well be ludicrous hypocrisy. Your next step in the argument is: ‘Because it is ludicrous hypocrisy, two wrongs make a right.’.

            You would think that if you are sufficiently moral to call out hypocrisy you would be trying to level up, not level down, in order to remove that hypocrisy.

            Arguments get increasingly desperate when the real agenda is for the end to justify the means.

          • Yes it is. In your own words ‘The C of E still believes marriage is lifelong, but also that we are sinners. If someone remarries after divorce, they still enter a lifelong union in their new relationship’

            So you can sin as much as you want if you are heterosexual and break your lifelong union of marriage via divorce and can get remarried in the Church of England with your full approval. However ‘sin’ as a homosexual Christian who is in a lifelong union with a same sex partner, married in English civil law and you must be forbade even a blessing in a C of E church.

            One could call it homophobic, it most certainly is blatant hypocrisy and thank goodness Synod rejected it and voted for blessings of homosexual couples and defeated it

  12. I see now that the Free Speech Union is reporting that the UK Government has dropped plans to introduce a “conversion therapy ban”, not because of respect for religious and personal freedom but rather after the chaos and confusion such laws have caused in Canada and Australia, particularly for kids suffering “gender confusion” and the potential of making it illegal to try to stop a child undergoing castration or a double mastectomy.
    If true, this is a rare piece of good news, and it shows how the illiberal gay advocates like Jayne Ozanne can’t do joined up thinking.

    What a terrible miral desert our children inhabit today. Kyrie eleison.

    • James

      It’s clearly not the reason because they could at a minimum ban gay conversion therapy for minors and adults who are unable to consent. They could drop the promise to ban trans conversion.

      In my state the law is that licensed professionals cannot perform gay conversion therapy on minors or adults who cannot consent…and religious conservatives still objected to even that!

  13. Reading through the comments here it is apparent to me that some do not believe God and disagree with his views completely and yet want to change the church to something that accommodates their own opposite version of god. It is bizarre and the lack of conscience and integrity at play is astonishing.
    If you are not even born again then you aren’t even at the starting blocks of being a real Christian, so sit down. Your soul is in peril. Become a Christian before you ever pontificate again!
    If you are not following Christ in holiness then why are you talking? Sit down.
    If you are gay and want to church’s doctrines changed then shame on you.
    Enough is enough here! Seriously. These matters are not up for grabs.
    The church is overrun by sin-lovers and is going apostate due to misconceived ‘tolerance’ which is neither truly loving or righteous.

    • If your only requirement to be a Christian is to be ‘born again’, then you would exclude most of the congregation of the Church of England who are not all happy clappy evangelicals but have been dutiful attendees since childhood every Sunday and in the Catholic tradition like me.

      If you also want to exclude gays from the established Church then you are better off in an independent or Pentecostal evangelical church than the Church of England which is meant to represent all Parishioners in its Parish married or single, homosexual or straight.

      • Simon, are you aware that the demand that we must be ‘born again’ comes from Jesus in John 3, not from ‘evangelicals’?

        Are you suggesting that members of the C of E don’t need to follow the teaching of Jesus?

        • In the context of believing in him to have eternal life. Not to have Catholic Anglicans like me lectured in a patronising way by certain evangelicals who want the entire liturgy and doctrine of the Church of England to accord with their worldview!

          • Simon, (a) you sidestepped the question and (b) rebirth is one of the most universal, agreed and widespread concepts in the NT, coming in Titus, John, 1 Peter and so on. The place where it is restricted to evangelicals is your culture, not the New Testament, where it is pervasive. So you are putting the cart before the horse – the more so if you fail to respond to the point.

        • A bit unfair.

          We all know that “born again” has a particular association with a particular school of thought within the Church, irrespective of its Scriptural origins. Just like describing yourself as “catholic” would have a particular meaning and mark you out, even though we all recite the Nicene Creed to say we believe in a catholic Church. Someone could (and people often do) criticise the catholic wings of the Church in strident terms, and it wouldn’t mean you were denying the Creed. Criticising the enthusiasts of “born again” is not a denial of Scripture or Christ.

          • Adam, ‘catholic’ can have both general and specific meanings. I am a catholic Christian; I believe what all Christians in all places at all times have believed.

          • AJ Bell – well, yes – there does seem to be a bit of a contradiction in the comment by Jeannie Armstrong – (a) the insistence on being born again (which – by the very definition is clearly only something that God can do for you – this is crystal clear in the encounter between Nicodemus and Jesus) and telling someone to ‘become a Christian’ – as if being born again is something that a person can do for himself ……..

            So you do have a point here. By the way, I’m probably one of those ‘born again’ enthusiasts whom you are disparaging. I think that John 3:16 is a key verse.

          • Not trying to disparage the “born again” enthusiasts. We are all born again through baptism, and us Anglicans here are part of Church that firmly holds baptism to be a Sacrament.

            But as Ian points out, words can have general and specific meanings. To pick another example, the conservative faction on sexuality have in recent years taken to describing themselves as orthodox Anglicans. That can be a little disconcerting given the tendency they have to draw on Calvinist thinking, which contrasts with the theology of the Orthodox Church and which ironically you’ll see Anglican enthusiasts of on the other side of the debate.

            Agree with you about the vital importance of John 3:16.

          • AJB,
            What is a born again/ born from above (as opposed biological birth) “enthusiast”?
            No one is a Christian without being born from above, born of God by the Holy Spirit’s, new-life- creation, life transforming, and in-dwelling.

            It is not mere intellectual assent.

            The question of how has not been addressed.

          • So immediate ecclesiastical experience is the main thing, and the New Testament is a mere footnbote?

            Maybe the relatively small culture with which we are familiar is the main thing, and Jesus is a mere footnote?

            So what if some people are relatively ignorant of the nature and foundations of their movement? All of us are ignorant of manhy things. The thing to do is learn.

            So what is the church for, and how did it get there?

          • @ Geoff

            >>The question of how (born again) has not been addressed.<<

            In baptism – not going to a crusade/revival where a minister delivers a sermon telling him of his need to be “born again,” or makes “a decision for Christ” and going forward at the altar call and praying the "sinner’s prayer" that they have been saved.

            Being “born again” is the transformation from death to life that occurs in our souls when we first come to God and are justified. He washes us clean of our sins and gives us a new nature, breaking the power of sin over us so that we will no longer be its slaves (Rom. 6:1–22; Eph. 6:11–17).

            The Greek phrase gennatha anothen occurs twice in the Bible -John 3:3 and 3:7 – and can be translated “born from again”. Another term is “regeneration.” When referring to something that occurs in the life of an individual believer, it only appears in Titus 3:5. In other passages, the new birth phenomenon is also described as receiving new life (Rom. 6:4), receiving the circumcision of the heart (Rom. 2:29; Col. 2:11–12), and becoming a “new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15).

            These different ways of talking about being “born again” all describe effects of baptism, which Christ speaks of in John 3:5 as being “born of water and the Spirit.” In Greek, this phrase is, literally, “born of water and Spirit,” indicating one birth of water-and-Spirit.

            In the water-and-Spirit rebirth that takes place at baptism, the repentant sinner is transformed from a state of sin to the state of grace. Peter mentioned this transformation from sin to grace when he exhorted people to “be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38)

            The context of Jesus’ statements in John 3 makes it clear that He was referring to water baptism. Shortly before Jesus teaches Nicodemus about the necessity and regenerating effect of baptism, He Himself was baptised by John the Baptist. We are baptised with water, symbolizing our dying with Christ (Rom. 6:3) and our rising with Christ to the newness of life (Rom. 6:4–5); we receive the gift of sanctifying grace and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27); and we are adopted as God’s sons (Rom. 8:15–17).

            After our Lord’s teaching that it is necessary for salvation to be born from above by water and the Spirit (John 3:1–21), “Jesus and his disciples went into the land of Judea; there he remained with them and baptized” (John 3:22).

            The witness of the early Church is that John 3:5 refers to baptismal regeneration. This was universally recognised by the early Christians. The Church Fathers were unanimous in teaching this:

            In A.D. 151, Justin Martyr captured this belief when he wrote, “As many as are persuaded and believe that what we [Christians] teach and say is true . . . are brought by us where there is water and are regenerated in the same manner in which we were ourselves regenerated.” (First Apology 61).

          • Geoff – is it OK if I answer that one? A born again ‘enthusiast’ is someone who (a) understands the need for a total regeneration of his own heart and mind, something that he cannot do for himself and something that only God can do and (b) (here is where the ‘enthusiast’ bit comes in) understands that his own regeneration is the source of the ‘joy unspeakable’ that Peter is trying to describe in 1 Peter 1:6-9 (for example).

            The call to faith is ‘repent and be baptised’ (in that order) – in and of ourselves we cannot repent; regeneration (being born again) is a prerequisite and repentance is an inevitable consequence of being born again.

            I’ve no idea what AJ Bell and Happy Jack are on about when they try to associate ‘born again’ with babies getting magic water dunked over their heads.

          • What I mean by a “born again” enthusiast is a particular form of evangelical who elevates the conversion experience (as a sudden, dramatic, and emotional experience of God) to a very central position in their faith, and consequently will describe themselves as a “born again Christian” i.e. much like someone else might describe themselves as a evangelical Christian, Orthodox Christian, etc. etc.. It’s a straw man argument to suggest that if you do not describe yourself as a “born again Christian” and think some other label might be a better description that you are somehow denying the need to be born again. The association of being born again with baptism comes straight from Jesus in John 3: “truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”

            I have some sympathy with the Orthodox views on this, that the danger with placing such an emphasis on the conversion experience as the defining Christian experience risks truncating your view of the Christian life. What happens next matters. Prayer matters. The sacraments matter. We are to “work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2)

          • As Michael Green said (‘Baptism’, Hodder), & I paraphrase: If one asks which is the more important, the spiritual side or the churchly side, it is a silly question, but the answer would have to be the spiritual side. If one asks which is the less important, it is an even sillier question, but the answer would have to be the churchly side.

            They are not particularly separable, but conceptually they are separate and in reality they experience separation to varying degrees.

          • I think we’re drawing this particular thread to a close, but I don’t really get what the distinction between spiritual and churchly is supposed to be. Eucharist for example, is utterly churchly, and profoundly spiritual – “The inward and spiritual grace in the Holy Communion is the Body and Blood of Christ given to his people, and received by faith.” to quote the BCP catechism.

          • Quite a big difference. Spiritual is what happens in reality inside a person. Churchly is you get a badge or register entry. Though the two intersect at the point of the ‘ritual’.

      • “Born again” is the essence, requirement and definition of being a Christian.

        Worship styles, music, churchmanship and any sub groupings are neither here nor there where salvation is concerned….

        What counts in response is obedience in love out of gratitude for God’s grace in Jesus.

        Plenty of born again Anglo-catholics around in my experience.

    • Jeanine

      If church teaching or doctrines are causing vulnerable young people to face abuse or even just dishonesty then it needs to change.

    • No it is a typical hardline evangelical whinge because they cannot have everything their own way in the established church in a nation where homosexual marriage is legal and supported by the vast majority of C of E Parishioners. Evangelical churches even get an opt out from the blessings yet still some complain!

    • Disagree. If this was a carefully constructed conspiracy against the evangelicals, the starting question would not have been “Given the significant changes in our culture in relation to human sexuality, how should the Church respond?” – that could have been designed for evangelical leaders to make a clear and succinct case to just say no. I think it’s a very poor question which doesn’t get at the issue, presents it badly, and makes it much much harder for typical evangelical to engage (and probably any other wings of the Church who aren’t straight-up liberals as well).

      Two reflections:

      It strikes me that a key problem is that there is a gaping hole in the middle of the historic teaching, at least as currently received. But only some people recognise this. The historic teaching (and you see this espoused plenty of times on here) is that marriage is between one man and one woman, and therefore same-sex marriage is not allowed. And the teaching stops there. The hole that leaves is what are gay people to do: a rule for lifelong celibacy, entering into opposite-sex marriages, covenanted friendships (e.g. civil partnerships but without sex), something else? This hole in the teaching is massive and catastrophic. In my experience (on here and generally) you have to really push to get at what they think the answer might be, it’s generally slippery and unclear, and this means that we’re corroding our whole teaching on sexual ethics. We have to keep our teaching abstract because we can’t get practical and in people’s lives (quite the contrast to St Paul’s writings on the topic).

      Secondly, I fear for too many participants in the debate, this is really a proxy for the battle they actually want to have. There’s been a strain of thought for some time now that simply dislikes the Bishops, and dislikes having to sit in the theological breadth of the CofE, and would much prefer to be off doing their own thing (but only if they can take a substantial slice of the money and assets with them). They have been pinning their hopes on getting their own Bishops of their choosing and being able to wall themselves off in a separate structure. You see it in the confused (and confusing) pronouncements from CEEC where they swing between being fully opposed to PLF, to accepting PLF as long as they get substantial structural differentiation (e.g. a third province of their own Bishops or similar). Consequently there are other significant arguments at play, albeit they are unspoken. But those arguments require maximum disunity…

      • ‘And the teaching stops there.’ For whom? Not for any of the people I engage with, nor me. Do read Preston Sprinkle’s new book. Or the work of Wes Hill. Or Living Out. If there is a hole in local churches, it is born of a fear of saying *anything* in the public sphere precisely because of the hostile attacks like the one in this ‘survey’.

        ‘There’s been a strain of thought for some time now that simply dislikes the Bishops, and dislikes having to sit in the theological breadth of the CofE.’ Well, I can tell you what I dislike: people who make public declarations that they believe and will teach and expound the doctrine of the Church, who then go on to demonstrate that they have no intention of doing any of this.

        We even now have two archbishops, neither of whom actually believe the doctrine of the Church on marriage—despite taking public vows to that effect at least three times.

        Is there any other word for this than ‘hypocrisy’? When was this acceptable in a Christian leader?

        • Ian

          The reason there are so few Christians like Wes Hill or Ed Shaw, Side B, is that they get criticized by conservatives too. I have seen this happen multiple times – you can be fully part of the church if you don’t have sex becomes … if you don’t tell anyone you are gay becomes … if you don’t associate with any gay people etc etc. Its death by a thousand cuts!

          There was a conference a few years ago for LG Christians who don’t have sex and it was widely attacked by conservative Christians and quickly collapsed. The main reason given was that it was a slippery slope to allow such people to call themselves gay.

          Side B gets virtually no support at all in the core or wider church. The vast majority of side B Christians are themselves gay and its a very small number.

          • ‘Side B gets virtually no support at all in the core or wider church. The vast majority of side B Christians are themselves gay and its a very small number’.

            Peter I don’t know where you live, but this is an odd comment. ‘Side B’ *means* gay Christians who follow the teaching of Jesus, so, er, yet they are gay, so yes a small number.

            Living Out is a constituent member of CEEC, and their leaders are prominent in CEEC activities and communication. So there is no lack of support here at all.

            You seem to be rather out of touch…?

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