Prayers of Love and Faith, (Archi-) Episcopal Power, and Anglican Identity

Andrew Goddard writes: The Church of England is waiting for the bishops to decide (likely on Monday October 9th) the next steps in their discernment concerning Living in Love and Faith (LLF). These will be published shortly after the House of Bishops meets and brought in some form to General Synod (Nov 13th–15th). It is, however, becoming increasingly clear that, despite the protestations that there is to be no change in the church’s doctrine of marriage and so no need for those committed to it to be concerned, the whole process is raising deep, wide-ranging, and disturbing questions about the current state and future shape of the Church of England.

What Has Happened?


It now appears from recent statements that both archbishops no longer believe the received teaching of the church, summed up in Canon B30. This claims the authority of Jesus and condenses the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer, stating that marriage is between one man and one woman and is given, among other reasons, “for the hallowing and right direction of the natural instincts and affections.” They now reject what they and the other bishops reaffirmed as recently as 2019: “the Church of England teaches that ‘sexual intercourse, as an expression of faithful intimacy, properly belongs within marriage exclusively’” (“Pastoral Statement on Civil Partnerships,” para 9; quoting from “Marriage: A Teaching Document” [1999]).

Reviewing developments in the last year, it is becoming increasingly clear that the archbishops, with the public or private support of many bishops, have been determined to use the LLF discernment process to shift the church away from this teaching that they promised to uphold in their ordination and consecration vows. The Archbishop of York has been most open about his position and few have been surprised that he believes “physical and sexual intimacy belongs in committed, stable, faithful relationships.” The Archbishop of Canterbury has been less public, but no longer denies or hides that he has shifted away from his previous clear and strong commitment to the church’s teaching.

As Andrew Atherstone has shown in his biography, Justin Welby in the past regularly expressed his support for traditional teaching concerning sex being for marriage. In 1999 he wrote in his parish church news that “Throughout the Bible it is clear that the right place for sex is only within a committed, heterosexual marriage” (p 94). Four years later (around the time of the Jeffrey John crisis in Reading) he was again clear that, though pastorally difficult, “sexual practice is for marriage, and marriage is between men and women, and that’s the biblical position” (p 125). Ten years later—a decade ago—as he became Archbishop of Canterbury he spoke of the commitment seen in non-marital relationships but told Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times that “My understanding of sexual ethics has been that, regardless of whether it’s gay or straight, sex outside marriage is wrong” (p 218). A year later, in the context of debates about same-sex marriage, he had an exchange on LBC with Ann Widdecombe and stressed that this was also the teaching of the Church of England:

I just said the Church is quite clear that sex outside marriage is wrong and marriage is being understood as a man and a woman. That seems a fairly clear statement. The House of Bishops has just issued a pretty clear statement which has got me a lot of stick about our behaviour on issues of sexuality…My position is the historic position of the church, which is in our Canons, which says that sexual relations…should be within marriage and marriage is between a man and a woman. …I’ve just quoted to you clearly what the Canons of the Church of England say, what the law of the Church of England says, and I think that was reasonably clear.

He similarly told nearly a thousand people in St. Edmundsbury Cathedral around this time that Scriptures and the church teach that “sexual activity should be within marriage and marriage is between a man and a woman, and to change our understanding of that is not something we can do quickly and casually.”

By contrast, in June this year in answer to a question, he said, “sexual activity should be within permanent, stable, and faithful relationships of marriage, as that is understood in each society.”

We previously had, in Rowan Williams, an Archbishop of Canterbury who had publicly questioned the church’s teaching before appointment but during his tenure upheld it in his role as archbishop, offered a clear theological rationale for his approach, and challenged those who led their churches to depart from the teaching within the life of the wider Communion. We now appear to have an Archbishop of Canterbury who, having previously upheld the church’s teaching, has privately changed his mind, is now publicly questioning it as archbishop, and rather than offering a theological rationale for this change is using his position to undermine it within the Church of England and wider Communion.

It is important to recognise there is no agreed alternative sexual ethic. Some of those wishing to change church teaching would wish to redefine marriage to include same-sex unions and to approve of sex outside marriage. Others would keep the restriction of sex to marriage but redefine it. Yet others are more cautious about redefining marriage in this way but wish to affirm non-marital sexual unions. Everyone, including those committed to church teaching, faces the challenge that marriage has been redefined in law and wider social understanding and is now viewed as a union between two persons irrespective of their sex.

General Synod

In this context, the bishops’ discernment focused attention on the practical question of how to implement any changes. It soon became clear that it would be impossible to argue that a change in the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples would only need a simple majority (rather than two-thirds) in each House of the Synod. There was also certainly not 66 percent and perhaps not even 50 percent support for such a change in all three Houses, even if there was among the bishops. The obvious proper synodical route to bring about this change was therefore blocked.

Faced with this reality, the bishops’ initial focus turned to what new liturgical developments to introduce. This resulted in the proposed draft Prayers of Love and Faith (PLF) brought to, and welcomed by, the February General Synod. These, it was insisted and as required by canon, were not even indicative of a departure from the church’s doctrine. A significant minority of Synod was, however, wholly unconvinced by this claim and the Synod as a whole passed an amendment stating 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.”

Only after this did the bishops turn to consider—in what they called Pastoral Guidance—how to state that doctrine for today and what developments, if any, they would also introduce to the church’s discipline. This was particularly focused on clergy disciplines. Clergy are currently expected to conform their life to the church’s teaching and so not permitted to enter same-sex marriages. In terms of sexual conduct, they should live faithfully within marriage or be sexually abstinent (as also summed up in Lambeth I.10). The new Pastoral Guidance has not been published but has been drafted and circulated confidentially to bishops and some others for discussion and revision.

Those wishing to implement changes to what is required of ordained ministers not only face the problem of the definition of marriage in the church’s liturgy and Canon B30. There is also the fact that the church successfully defended its current stance forbidding clergy same-sex marriage on the basis of its doctrine of marriage, and had this upheld in the judgment of a secular court in the Pemberton case. The church’s Legal Office offered this solution:

  1. To reverse all its past legal advice; and
  2. to propose separating civil marriage (at least for couples of the same-sex) from holy matrimony;
  3. so as to argue that the church’s doctrine related solely to the latter institution;
  4. and that therefore a same-sex couple entering a civil marriage were not in fact in any way departing from the church’s doctrine as, in effect, it had no doctrine that related to civil marriage (just as it has no doctrine of civil partnerships).

This has been widely critiqued both legally and theologically. Partly in response to this, the bishops have in the last few months asked the Faith and Order Advisory Commission (FAOC) to subject this novel argument to theological scrutiny. It appears unlikely that many (even if supportive of developing church teaching and practice) believe this is a theologically credible and coherent way of arguing for change. Even if this argument is maintained and found convincing, it still remains unclear what the bishops are saying about the nature and legitimacy of a decision to enter a same-sex civil marriage (rather than, say, a civil partnership, which is open to clergy). What cannot be denied, however, is that this argument separating civil marriage from holy matrimony is an essential element in both (a) the case for the legality of the prayers as not indicative of a departure from the church’s doctrine, even when used for couples in same-sex marriages and (b) any argument in support of opening same-sex civil marriage to the clergy without changing law or doctrine.

After February’s Synod, many in episcopal leadership were determined to complete the prayers in time for the July Synod, but this proved unrealistic for two main reasons. First, there was increasing confusion about how to introduce the prayers legally. Second, it become more and more clear that the prayers could not be separated from the Pastoral Guidance and that developments in both these areas also raised significant ecclesiological questions (which the bishops described as “Pastoral Reassurance”) for those who remain committed to the historic teaching and practice of the church. This latter point had already been conceded by the Archbishop of York when, perhaps in order to encourage wavering voters in Synod (the motion eventually scraped through by just 11 votes among the laity), he made a public commitment during the February debate that “I won’t be able to support commending these prayers until we have the pastoral guidance and pastoral provision.” At the July Synod, the Bishop of London therefore made clear that it was now recognised there was a need “to focus on bringing the work of the three workstreams [Prayers, Guidance, Reassurance] together” (Q96, p. 39).

What Is Really Going On?

If we lift our eyes from these details and the current focus on the prayers and instead set all these developments of the last nine months in a wider chronological and ecclesial context, then the significance of what is underway becomes clearer. The bishops are, in fact, claiming to maintain as unchanged two of the central elements of their earlier proposal back in 2017 that was defeated by the clergy in Synod (some of whom wished them to go further) and led to LLF. They summed up their position then (GS 2055, para 22, italics added) as

Interpreting the existing law and guidance to permit maximum freedom within it, without changes to the law, or the doctrine of the Church

This meant (para 26):

proposing no change to ecclesiastical law or to the Church of England’s existing doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relationships.

This is exactly what the bishops say remains the situation. What is different now is that on this basis in 2017 they drew back from offering liturgical material because of these constraints. In contrast, they now are proposing PLF, but are increasingly realising (given the legal and political problems that have arisen since February concerning how to introduce either Authorized or Commended liturgies) why they did not take such a step in 2017. They may also be about to revise existing guidance—in relation to clergy in same-sex marriages and sexual relationships outside marriage—rather than simply interpret it to permit maximum freedom within it. Nevertheless, they claim that they can now (unlike six years ago) do all this while still “proposing no change to ecclesiastical law or to the Church of England’s existing doctrinal position on marriage and sexual relationships.”

They are not proposing such a change because they know that they are highly unlikely to secure the necessary majorities, given the composition of the Synod (which is more conservative now than it was in 2017). They are therefore as bishops changing liturgy and perhaps guidance while claiming to be working within the existing law and doctrine. In so doing, and particularly in the way they are proceeding, the bishops (with some notable exceptions such as those arguing for the use of Canon B2) are raising a number of serious questions. These relate to the implications of their actions for Anglican identity, the use of episcopal power, and the future well-being and unity of the Church of England. Six in particular stand out.

First, there has been no serious theological defence offered for the liturgy or to show that the liturgy is not indicative of a departure from the doctrine of the church. It is clear that a significant proportion of the church (including, I suspect, many—if they are being honest—who want to change the doctrine) and most of the Anglican Communion believes that the prayers are indicative of such departure. Given the quotations I’ve cited, Justin Welby himself would very likely have reached this conclusion in the past. Given that both archbishops and other bishops have openly contradicted the doctrine, there are good grounds for concern that their proposed liturgy is no longer conformed to it and that they are not the best judges of its conformity. All this strikes a major blow—in relation to the most contentious doctrinal issue of our day—to the fundamental Anglican principle of lex orandi, lex credendi that ties together our doctrine and our liturgy.

Second, the bishops are doing all they can to prevent proper scrutiny of the liturgy and the established normal means of testing whether any proposed new liturgy is conformed to doctrine. This requires full synodical processes under Canon B2 and ultimately approval by two-thirds of all three Houses of Synod (unlikely for current proposals). They began by wishing to commend the prayers on their own authority rather than authorise them, but then recognised the problems this could create and the novelty of introducing such contentious material by this means.

Next, for a time they seriously considered authorisation by non-synodical means under Canon B4. They even signalled to the July Synod a preference for authorisation simply by the two archbishops, leading someone to comment to me, “Who would have predicted that LLF would lead to the triumph of a form of anglo-Papalism?” (For more details on these options, see my summary and longer discussion).

Now it appears they are looking at experimental authorisation—again by the Archbishops—experimentally under Canon B5A. This has the merit of ultimately requiring wider authorisation by Synod under Canon B2, but is again unprecedented for new and controversial liturgy and likely to be implemented in a way that radically breaks with all past practice in the limited use of this canon (see more details here). No answer has ever been offered to why they have not simply used Canon B2—the most legally and theologically secure route. This leads many to conclude the only reason is they are fairly sure that it will not give them the outcome they want.

Third, the bishops first sidelined the Faith and Order Advisory Commission (FAOC) through the early stages of discernment and then, bowing to pressure for theological work, expected the FAOC to deliver responses to key questions on an unworkable timetable that enables the process to continue at speed. It is sometimes claimed that LLF has already done the theological work. It has done so only in terms of setting out the received teaching and the challenges to it. It neither presented different internally coherent theological options nor offered an evaluative, let alone a definitive, judgment on the competing and contradictory theologies it identified as present in the church’s debate.

In addition, there are key elements in the bishops’ proposals that were not considered at all in all the LLF work. There is now a real likelihood that developments will take place driven by secret episcopal votes and with no theological rationale offered for the outcomes or made subject to synodical debate and approval. This represents the marginalisation and diminution of serious theological reasoning by the bishops, in stark contrast to how the Church of England has addressed contentious questions in the past.

Fourth, the bishops have also failed to engage with FAOC’s past theological work on communion and disagreement. This, and the way it was taken up in LLF, including in the widely used course, makes clear that we need as a church to think theologically, and not only about our disagreements on marriage and sexuality. We also need to think seriously about the theological significance of these disagreements, and their ecclesial implications. The bishops appear to assume—without providing any justification and despite experience in other churches—that the matters are to be considered of minimal theological significance, or adiaphora. They have refused to engage with the theological arguments and deep concerns of those who see the matters as of much greater significance. They, as explored in LLF, raise questions concerning the authority of Scripture, the nature of God’s ordering of creation, including his human creatures, the effects of the Fall and sin, the pattern of transformation God works in redemption, and the content of the call to holiness. These in turn have implications for the degree of communion that can be maintained if the church departs from current teaching.

There appears to be no episcopal acknowledgment that, while the proposals have the support of those who have rejected current teaching, there is practically nobody who is committed to that teaching and welcomes these developments. In fact, the majority of those supporting current teaching believe it cannot be treated as adiaphora and that the bishops’ actions (particularly if pressed further in relation to clergy in same-sex marriage) represent a significant departure from it. Despite this, it looks like those wishing to continue to uphold that teaching in their ministries are going to be offered minimal “reassurance” which provides less secure protection than that currently offered to opponents of women priests and bishops, despite being a much larger proportion of the church and this question being widely acknowledged as of much greater significance.

Fifth, the bishops are failing to involve Synod as they should in relation to the prayers by using the processes of canon B2. It is also rumoured that Synod will not be able to scrutinise and vote on the proposed guidance. The argument used here is that previous guidance (Issues in Human Sexuality and subsequent pastoral statements on civil partnership and civil same-sex marriage) was all issued on the authority of the House of Bishops alone and not brought to Synod for debate and approval.

What this fails to recognise, however, is that all these episcopal statements represented the articulation and application of received catholic doctrine that was supported by the General Synod in 1987 and reaffirmed by the wider Anglican Communion in 1998 (supported by the General Synod in 2007). Were the bishops to produce guidance that went against those synodical votes and undermined or changed doctrine, then they should ensure they have synodical approval for such changes. To fail to do so is to undermine the fundamental Anglican principle of government by bishops-in-Synod and the Church of England’s legal position that:

General Synod is the only authority within the Church of England competent to alter the legally approved doctrines: no doctrinal development may occur unless the three Houses of General Synod consent to it. Indeed, it has been understood judicially that General Synod possesses in law an unlimited power to change the church’s fundamental doctrines, provided the required procedures are followed. The procedures are rigorous and, by requiring the participation of the whole church as represented in General Synod, they give juridical expression to the theological principle that doctrines ought to be derived from a consensus fidelium (Legal Framework of the Church of England, p 258).

Sixth, the bishops, including the archbishops, have given little or no attention to the mind of the wider Communion and the implications of their actions for its unity and the place of the Church of England and the Archbishop of Canterbury within it. The 2007 Synod motion was clear that Synod did not want the Church of England to do “anything that could be perceived as the Church of England qualifying its commitment to the entirety of the relevant Lambeth Conference Resolutions (1978: 10; 1988: 64; 1998: 1.10)”.

There can be no doubt that the prayers are widely perceived as much more than qualifying the C of E’s commitment. Were the disciplines expected of clergy to be changed by the bishops, it would be impossible to argue we remained committed to this Synod motion. Although one of the central arguments put forward for these changes is the need to preserve unity, this is ultimately set within a “little England” attitude, with a seemingly total disregard for the unity of the Communion. Instead, the bishops are leading the Church of England to embrace a doctrine of radical provincial autonomy that has proved so disastrous when followed by other provinces.

Conclusion: On Paying Attention to Power

The final of the six Pastoral Principles developed in the course of LLF was “pay attention to power”. The card produced for this says that “inequalities of power have led to abuses in the past and will continue to do so unless all who exercise pastoral care reflect continuously on the power that they hold. Power must always be acknowledged”. 

The way in which the bishops have undertaken their discernment and are proceeding is arguably at least as important as the substance of what they discern. In 2017 the bishops recognised they were constrained in what they could do if they were genuinely not going to attempt to change the law or doctrine of the church. The current college, led by the archbishops, while not proposing legal changes and claiming not to change doctrine, are showing little regard for such constraints or for longstanding principles of good Anglican governance and Anglican ecclesial identity.

We have archbishops openly rejecting the teaching they vowed to uphold. The bishops are showing a lack of respect for a clear, recognisable link between liturgy and doctrine, refusing to follow the proper synodical processes for introducing new (particularly controversial) liturgy in the life of the church, sidelining public theological reasoning and the work of FAOC, and possibly seeking to introduce new guidance contrary to existing doctrine without the proper synodical process that respects the principle of bishops not acting on their own but always as bishops-in-synod. Alongside this they are also effectively tearing the Church of England away from the Anglican Communion and wider church catholic.

These are not minor technical matters. These actions threaten to dissolve part of the glue that holds the church together and enables bishops to act as a focus of unity. The bishops appear to be abandoning precious gifts that have helped preserve, structure, and cultivate our often fragile common life together across our differences. They are disregarding and undermining well-established, tried and tested, theologically and pastorally (not simply legally) founded principles and practices that enable “good disagreement”. It is, however, only by living within their constraints that bishops will nurture trust and embody integrity, especially as we navigate contentious proposed changes in our teaching and practice.

It is a serious matter for the church to err on marriage and sexuality. That, however, is a problem in one specific, albeit vitally important, area. These developments, and how episcopal and arch-episcopal power is being used—on the sole basis, it seems, that these means are necessary to reach the desired end goal—are much more serious. They go beyond a single, possibly reversible, error of judgment, to weaken and potentially destroy core features of Anglican identity and essential characteristics of any healthy ecclesial body.

This article was previously publishing on the Living Church website and is republished here with permission.

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


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

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

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

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

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

331 thoughts on “Prayers of Love and Faith, (Archi-) Episcopal Power, and Anglican Identity”

  1. ‘We have archbishops openly rejecting the teaching they vowed to uphold.’ So who will rid us of these apostate archbishops then?
    How do we get them sacked?
    I’m not interested in jumping to their carnal ‘did God really say’ agendas.
    They are doing satan’s work and need to be got rid of from any position of power in the church.
    The only question is ‘how do you get them gone asap’?
    No more pandering to the nonsense.

  2. As I have long said, I would be content for (arch)bishops to be merely useless; the problem is that they are worse, far worse than useless. The only way they can preserve their integrity from here is to resign.

    The direction of travel preferred by the Church of England’s senior leaderhip has been obvious for most of this century. It is high time that the laity declared spiritual war against the (arch)bishops. What I regret is that evangelical Anglicans seem to think that this mess has come about by accident, and speak of it only as a tragedy. There is a deadly, coherent and continuing plot against the church by Satan, who is kept at bay simply by believers living out the scriptures regardless of personal cost. Contradicting the scriptures will always give the enemy a foothold. That people who take a large salary to run the Church of England are promoting heresy within it should make evangelical Anglicans feel deep, godly anger. This situation is indeed a tragedy, but tragedy does not motivate action. Righteous anger motivates action. Of the armour described in Ephesians 6, the offensive weapon is the sword of the Spirit – words, sharp uncompromising words, spoken in contexts that cause maximum embarrassment to the Church of England’s bishops. They are overwhelmingly bureaucrats who have few personal qualities of leadership, of the type willing use the power gained by virtue of their position to bully those who disagree with them, but who fold under concerted pressure.

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

    Welby is putting unity above truth. More of this and he will lead a church that has neither.

    • In the US and Scottish Anglican churches homosexual marriages are now performed in church.
      In the New Zealand and Canadian and Welsh Anglican churches blessings are allowed of homosexual unions and the same applies for many Australian and some South African provinces.

      So much of the Anglican communion globally has already approved blessings and in a few cases gone to full homosexual marriage in church

        • They aren’t, there are still almost 2 million people in the US Episcopal church for instance and in most western nations the Anglican communion has changed.

          We liberal Catholics anyway are not interested in attracting vast numbers of congregation. I would rather be in a tolerant church of 10, open to all, serving its Parishioners, while still performing tradition Holy Communion and blessing homosexual couples as well as marrying heterosexual couples than an evangelical church of 10,000 which refuses to even bless homosexual couples.

          That is our choice, you have yours, as you get an opt out from the blessings anyway you cannot complain when we perform the blessings in our churches Synod has voted for

          • They didn’t vote for ‘the’ Prayers of Blessing, since no prayers existed as finalised. You can scarcely vote for something that does not exist. They voted that such prayers should be finalised at which point the vote to approve such prayers might go either for or against.

            Not caring about congregations dwindling is tantamount to not caring (1) about souls or (2) about having any motivation. It sounds like drifting, sleepwalking, nothing really matters mentality.

            The Episcopal Church is haemorrhaging, and is not at all large any more considering the size of the country it is in.

            Do you agree that its figures are in freefall? The facts agree.

          • They did, the vote was for the Living in love and faith proposal of prayers of blessing for homosexual couples. They could have voted for no prayers of blessing at all, the Bishops are now just confirming the form.

            The US Episcopal church has never been the largest Christian denomination in the US, as the C of E has long been in the UK (and Church of Scotland north of the border). Even 50 to 100 years ago the largest Christian denomination in the US was the Roman Catholic church and the largest Protestant denomination the Baptist church. It also never had the advantage of being the established church the C of E had as at the declaration of independence the founding fathers ensured there would be no established church given the Anglican church’s association with a King at its head they had just fought a war to remove from power in the then colonies.

            However even so 2 million members for the Episcopal church is not insignificant and the upper middle class and wealthy in the US have long been over represented in the Episcopal church too, hence its significant assets and endowments

      • Well that’s fine but unless you’re 10 congruence are exceptionally wealthy or very faithful Tylers, you’ll soon run out of money and the diocese will remove theStipendiary priest and will replace him with an NSM or more likely that Parish will be led by laypeople with occasional priests been drafted in to do monthly communion services. Alternatively, you can hope to be subsidised by 10,000 strong congregations of Evangelicals!

        • The C of E has over £8 billion in assets and profitable investments. The US Episcopalian Trinity church in Manhattan alone has $6 billion in investments. In theory they could run without any congregation at all providing donations and collections. In any case there are already some lay ministers and NSMs who do the odd service as well as the main Stipendiary priest who does the rest. Indeed in rural Anglican churches like mine that is the norm now.

          Independent evangelical churches are different, they have no such assets or profitable investments so rely on donations from the congregation for survival. If they demand denial of blessings of decent Christian homosexual couples in liberal Catholic Parishes across England married in English civil law for continued donations and won’t even accept the opt out from such blessings in their evangelical churches Synod has given them then evangelical churches are welcome to leave the established church

          • ‘In theory they could run without any congregation at all’ Hmm…so you don’t think ‘the church’ is about anyone actually believing in Jesus then…? That is unusual.

        • (non-autocorrect version!)
          Well that’s fine but unless your 10 congregation are exceptionally wealthy or very faithful tithers, you’ll soon run out of money and the diocese will remove (or at least, not replace) the stipendiary priest and will replace her/him with an NSM – or more likely that parish will be mainly led by lay people with a regional oversight minister or occasional local priests being drafted in to take a monthly communion service.
          Alternatively, you can hope to be subsidised by 10,000-strong congregations of Evangelicals!

  3. It is hard to believe that all the Bishop’s are of a uniform mind on this and that some have their own misgivings and dissent.

    Why are they not speaking out?

      • Do you know what the answer to this is Ian? I know of two evangelical bishops (one diocesan, one suffragan) who have serious misgivings but I don’t know why they haven’t dissented openly. Everything about PLF is rotten so I don’t understand how anyone who disagrees with it can remain silent.

        • There is a strong groupthink in the House. There is pressure to conform; they do not do honest speaking well; there is also quite a strong sense of ‘everyone is against us as bishops’ so a tendency to defend each other. There is also a serious concern not to look divided.

  4. ‘Alongside this they are also effectively tearing the Church of England away from the Anglican Communion and wider church catholic.’ No, even the Pope has now said he will consider allow blessings of homosexual couples.

    ‘It is a serious matter for the church to err on marriage and sexuality.’ The Church of England is the established church of a nation where homosexual marriage is legal, headed by the King as Supreme Governor and obliged to offer marriages to anyone in its Parishes who want them. It is not ‘erring’ to bless the unions of homosexual Christians married in English civil law, it should in fact be the natural role of an established church in 21st century England. If anything the church erred on marriage when it married, not even merely just blessed, divorced couples even where no spousal adultery. However much fewer complaints from some conservative evangelicals about that.

    ‘They go beyond a single, possibly reversible, error of judgment, to weaken and potentially destroy core features of Anglican identity’. The core feature of Anglican identity in England is it is the established church and therefore intrinsically linked to the wider nation where homosexual marriage is legal. Synod voted for blessings, the mandate has been given, it is now for the Bishops to put forward the prayers format so they can happen

      • The head of the Church of England is the King and has been since it was created by Henry VIII.

        Yes God is part of it too as is Christ but that is true for plenty of churches which aren’t established including those which don’t even offer gay blessings like Pentecostal, independent or Baptist churches.

        If you refuse to even accept the opt out conservative evangelical churches are given from the gay blessings then I suggest you leave the established church for the latter and let the established church provide services of blessing for marriages approved by the law of the land and signed into law by his Majesty

        • Those who call themselves Christian should heed the biblical definition of what is and is not a wrongful action. All of the trouble in the Church of England today is because it has permitted itself to be infiltrated by persons who don’t heed it. They are the ones who should leave.

          • If you want to be a member of the established church you will have to recognise it will have to align with the law of the land. It was the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, the Monarch who after all signed homosexual marriage into UK law. Synod has now voted, correctly, to bless Christian homosexual Parishioners now married in UK law.

            If you want a church which accords to every word of the Bible on everything, you would have to go to one which does not marry divorcees as well as does not bless homosexual couples and which does not have women priests and where the congregation does not even eat shellfish! There are such independent churches around, if you will not even accept the opt evangelicals get then I suggest you leave the established church for such a church

          • ‘If you want to be a member of the established church you will have to recognise it will have to align with the law of the land.’

            Canon law is the law of this land.

            Do you think that a secular state should dictate to Christians what they believe?

          • No Crown in Parliament is the law of the land and can change Canon Law as it wishes if it wants. Nothing to stop a future Parliament amending or repealing the Church of England Assembly Act 2019 to amend Church law, even Canon law if it so desired, by statute if it felt the established Church was drifting too far from the values of its Parishioners and the nation as a whole.

            I think that an established church should certainly somewhat align with the law of the nation where it is established. A fully secular state would have no established church, in which case it would not be an issue

          • No Crown in Parliament is the law of the land and can change Canon Law as it wishes if it wants. Nothing to stop a future Parliament amending or repealing the Church of England Assembly Act 1919 to amend Church law, even Canon law if it so desired, by statute if it felt the established Church was drifting too far from the values of its Parishioners and the nation as a whole.

            I think that an established church should certainly somewhat align with the law of the nation where it is established. A fully secular state would have no established church, in which case it would not be an issue

          • ‘Nothing to stop…’ other than the repugnant idea that atheist and Hindus should determine the doctrine of the Church. It is odd that you don’t see any problem with that…?

          • No I don’t even have a problem with the Hindu Sunak or atheist Starmer even appointing the next Archbishop of Canterbury as long as it remains the established church. Thatcher of course memorably rejected one candidate for Archbishop in the 1980s as being too left liberal.

            Sunak also went to Winchester, a Christian school and Starmer has met with Welby and has respect for faith despite his personal atheism (his wife is Jewish)

          • I do not know who that could be, Simon.
            John Habgood is generally thought to have been the other of the two names for Canterbury in (I think) 1990 not the 1980s. Several twentieth century Archbishops of Canterbury were appointed straight from York (Lang, Temple, Ramsey, Coggan). However, George Carey (Know The Truth) received assurance that he was the first name on the list rather than the second. And it takes a lot for the second name to be chosen. Carpenter on Fisher speaks as though in the 1950s there was always either just the one name or the second was a cipher or never chosen (though people had to be reasonable and not put ‘Donald Duck’ as the 2nd name or anything like that).
            Carey was a bit of a left field choice and rumour had it that they decided not to madden Mrs Thatcher by listing both socialist Sheppard and absurdly ”liberal” Habgood. To her it would have been like a choice between the devil and the deep blue sea. I have never decided whether Sheppard would have been good but he was a great leader of men who commanded respect and took Sussex to within a whisker of their first County Championship (another c50 year wait ensued).

          • The would-be Archbishop rejected by the Thatcher government is generally believed to be Hugh Montefiore (Bishop of Birmingham) who is understood to have been the alternative choice to Robert Runcie (then Bishop of St Albans) in 1980.

          • Thatcher certainly picked Carey precisely because he was not the left liberal establishment choice for Archbishop

          • Well either you follow the bible completely, including no eating shellfish, no remarriage of divorcees except for spousal adultery, no women priests and no homosexual relationships or you don’t. If you want a church bible based Old and New Testament then you have to go to one that does not do any of the above. That is certainly not the C of E, probably not even the most conservative evangelical churches within it

          • The whole point is that the New Testament era represents a major shift because of Jesus. Simon by speaking of ‘the Bible’ undifferentiated suggests that Jesus caused no change or advance at all.

            How on earth can you class shellfish with homosexual behaviour when the former is nowhere in the NT nor in light of Mark 7, Acts 10) would be, whereas the latter is used as paradigmatic Gentile sin therein?

          • The main mention of homosexuality in the NT is by Paul, who at one stage as a pharisee persecuted Jesus’ disciples. Jesus on the other hand made no mention of it, he did however mention not approving of remarriage of divorce except for spousal adultery. The C of E however already remarries homosexuals and there are few complaints from evangelicals about that

        • If the state decided that we should be Arian would that also trump the bible (hint: the Roman Empire tried this)? Or if it decided that we should also offer Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist prayers to better match the population we serve, would you just follow that? If not, why not?

        • //The head of the Church of England is the King and has been since it was created by Henry VIII.//

          That is incorrect. Henry VIII made himself “Supreme Head”, but since Elizabeth I, in C of E Mark II, the sovereign has been “Supreme Governor”. The head of the Church of England, like every other Christian church, is Christ. Having a figurehead, as King Charles is, does not, repeat not, mean that any church, including the C of E, should follow the morals of the state as a result. That is abhorrent.

          • Supreme Governor to ensure it does not sway too far from the values and laws of the state either. Hence unlike many churches the C of E has women priests, marries divorcees and will now bless homosexual couples lawfully married in English law too

        • This is more accurate:

          The Act of Supremacy 1534 confirmed the king’s status as having supremacy over the church and required the peers to swear an oath recognising Henry’s supremacy. Henry’s daughter Mary I attempted to restore the English Church’s allegiance to the pope and repealed the Act of Supremacy in 1555. Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in 1558 and the Parliament passed the Act of Supremacy 1558 which restored the original act.

          To placate critics, the Oath of Supremacy which peers were required to swear, gave the monarch’s title as supreme governor rather than supreme head of the church. This wording avoided the charge that the monarchy was claiming divinity or usurping Christ, whom the Bible explicitly identifies as head of the Church.

    • But no mention of God’s opinion on this matter?
      He has been rather clear on this subject in the bible.
      Has he changed his mind and got with the culture now?
      Or has he just been cancelled?

      • Jesus never mentioned it. He did mention not marrying divorced couples without spousal adultery but the C of E already does that with few complaints from the likes of you!

        • Jesus mentioned porneia which included same-sex sex.

          Jesus taught marriage was between one man and one woman.

          It is frustrating the you keep ignoring these facts Simon.

          • To use the reference in Matthew to porneia as evidence of that stretches the word evidence beyond breaking point. Not least because we don’t know how much, if any, Greek Jesus used. Porneia is a word Matthew has put in Jesus’ mouth as part of Matthew’s own theology.

            Andrew’s article is yet another episode in his legalistic wall building. Let’s keep out anything that might hint towards a development of our understanding of human relationships and let’s keep it out by the laws of the scribes and Pharisees. Then we will Make the CofE Great Again.
            Surely Andrew can do a bit better and find another drum to bang?

          • So your response to Jesus’ prohibition on porneia is to claim that Jesus didn’t say it. Do you see any problem with that?

            Porneia is certainly used in a more limited sense, alongside others prohibited sexual activities. But it is also used in the NT in a broader sense, as a reference to all prohibit sexual actions. You can see both of these in Paul in a few verses—narrow in 1 Cor 6.9 then as a catch-all in 1 Cor 6.13. And in Acts 15, as Richard Bauckham has pointed out, the allusion in the four-fold list is precisely to Leviticus 17 and 18.

            It is odd that you castigate Andrew for being focussed on only one thing. This is the one thing that you almost exclusively comment on.

          • “So your response to Jesus’ prohibition on porneia is to claim that Jesus didn’t say it. Do you see any problem with that?”

            No, absolutely it isn’t. My response was far more detailed than that. I said that to use the reference in Matthew to porneia as evidence of that meaning stretches the word evidence beyond breaking point. Not least because we don’t know how much, if any, Greek Jesus used. Scholars are by no means agreed about that Porneia is very likely a word Matthew has put in Jesus’ mouth as part of Matthew’s own theology.

            And in fact if you check you can easily discover that I post comments on a whole range of topics. Please address actual facts rather than a personal prejudice.

          • So perhaps in T1’s understanding, the ten commandments say adultery is bad but fornication is ok, whereas suddenly when we get to Mark 7 adulteration of marriage is ok but fornication is out?

        • If the state decided that we should be Arian would that also trump the bible (hint: the Roman Empire tried this)? Or if it decided that we should also offer Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist prayers to better match the population we serve, would you just follow that? If not, why not?

        • Let’s assume you’re correct and Jesus said nothing and had no opinion about this. So? Scripture is abundantly clear on the subject elsewhere. It’s all scripture, it’s all to be read in concordance with itself, no verse should be read in isolation and that includes the words of Jesus. Or do you deny Paul his right as an apostle?

          • It’s all scripture. Quite right.

            Although remaining single can be a good calling (1 Corinthians 7), we should beware creating rules of celibacy for people (Matthew 19, 1 Corinthians 7). It is not always good for us to be alone (Genesis 2, Ecclesiastes 4) and in any case such rules can scandalise the Church (1 Timothy 5). The law was created for man, not man for the law (Mark 2). The key consideration to understand is that love is the fulfilment of the law. The law is not an arbitrary list of dos and don’ts with no meaning, it is about what is harmful and unloving (Romans 13).

          • The only reason we have any idea what Jesus thought about marriage and divorce is because he was challenged about it by those trying to catch him out, and because there was disagreement amongst different Jewish groups. It seems pretty clear the reason Jesus said nothing specifically about same sex sexual relationships was because he was challenged about it as everyone within Jewish circles agreed on it. I wish Andrew Godsall would just get that.

        • Sadly you don’t understand that arguments from silence can run both ways. In this case Jesus had no need to comment as it was unthinkable to the God fearing Jew of his day for a man to have sex with a man or woman to woman,which was widely under stood. With regard to eating shellfish read Acts regarding Peters vision to take and eat also the decision not to burden the gentiles with Jewish food laws.

        • Mark 10 and its Matthew parallel have Jesus effectively saying that God created humans male and female to become ‘one flesh’ through complementary anatomy (and also ‘one flesh’ in the chidren of the union), and that that is the meaning of sex and marriage. That rather precludes same-sex sex or marriage.

          Note that God/Jesus/Christianity/the Bible have no problem with men loving one another. The problem is rather with the notion that God is so weird about sex and so disrespectful to humanity that he positively makes men shove their sexual members up other men’s shitholes.
          (Ian – my apologetic feeling about using a rather crude word there is somewhat tempered by the feeling that any euphemism will allow the pro-gay lobby to just fudge the issue)

          As regards the state, I too am puzzled by supposedly Bible-believing evangelical Anglicans who want to hang on to an essentially unbiblical entanglement with the state; not to mention their failure to realise that such links with the state are a major reason for the conflicting pressures the CofE is under over this issue…..

          • Indeed, if even the opt out from the blessings for homosexual couples is not enough for some evangelical churches, they are free to leave the established Church of England and set up their own independent or Pentecostal or Baptist evangelical churches

          • A majority of gay couples don’t practice anal sex.

            Many straight couples practice anal sex.

            It is pleasurable. It is not unnatural, nor is it uniquely dangerous

          • Peter,

            When you say that anal sex between a straight couple is “not uniquely dangerous”, you are not saying much, because of the qualifier “uniquely”. It is not more dangerous than erotic asphyxiation. But it is a relatively dangerous form of sexual gratification. Whereas the vaginal wall is several cells thick and secretes anti-bacterial chemicals, the wall of the rectum is one cell thick and the rectal mucosa is digested by chemicals in semen, making it permeable to faecal bacteria. (Douching agents often used before anal sex have the same effect.) The rectum is constructed as a water-absorbent sewer. It ends at a sphincter which, even if relaxed by ‘popper’ drugs, damages the skin of a thrusting penis. Faecal bacteria and viruses then pass into the penetrating male. At least 30% of persons regularly penetrated anally need incontinence underwear, and their risk of anal cancer rises 20-fold. These problems with anal sex occur regardless of the sex (male/female) of the penetrated person and regardless of the fidelity of the two persons to each other. Medical references are at:


          • I mentioned only those medical problems that are specific to anal sex and that cannot arise when an uninfected man and woman who are faithful to each other have vaginal sex.

          • One problem with your argument is that I would imagine a significant number of gay men in sexual relationships do not actually have anal sex, but rather limit their sexual activities to oral sex and masturbation. Given most people are ok with such sexual expressions within marriage (though I know some Christians, likely a minority, may reject both as inappropriate) your argument then does not rule out sexual behaviour amongst the same sex, and of course it says literally nothing about lesbianism.

            The main reason I think God does not approve of anal sex, whether male or female, is because our bodies were not designed for that, as evidenced by the negative health implications associated with such a regular activity.

            In heterosexual sex, the main sexual organs are clearly designed for each other, they compliment each other. Noone can seriously deny this. Most also recognise the complimentary nature of not just physical bodies, but also on the psychological and emotional levels. Some try to deny that but I think it is obviously true. And of course one key raison d’etre of sex is to have children, which is impossible with 2 men or 2 women. So I agree with you on much of your post, but it’s unhelpful to reduce gay sexual relationships to anal sex.

          • Why am I talking about anal sex, Peter? Because you introduced it into the conversation. You may verify this for yourself in the immediately preceding comments posted.

            Dear PC1: I don’t know if your comment is addressed to me, but I made no argument that homosexual behaviour is limited to anal sex. What proportion of gay men do you believe partake in it?

          • Anton

            Ah yes – sorry confuses you with Stephen.

            I just think if the problem is anal sex then ban the flock from anal sex. As it stands anal sex is not prohibited, just same sex relationships

          • Peter,

            Man lying with man as with woman is toevah in God’s eyes. That is a clear reference to sexual practice with intent to orgasm.

          • Anton

            Not all gay male couples do anal. Lots of straight couples do anal.

            There isn’t going to be serious discussion about what the bible has to say about gay people when we are starting from wierd assumptions about gay men and ignoring gay women altogether

    • The liberal theologian’s Creed

      The Ten Commandments are renamed the Ten Suggestions. Then:

      I believe in one God, whatever the word means
      Maker of heaven and earth, although it might have been there beforehand
      And of all things visible and invisible, but not the supernatural
      And in one lord Jesus Christ…
      Who was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the Virgin Mary, unless (don’t tell evangelicals) she and Joseph overdid it
      On the third day He rose again according to the scriptures, although we don’t believe those any more
      He will come again as a revelation to each believer
      And He will judge the living and the dead, who will live happily ever after or cease to exist
      I believe in the Holy Spirit, which is the remembrance of Jesus in people’s hearts.
      I believe in going to church
      And obedience to bishops who promote heresy in it.

  5. I admire and support the Church of England Evangelical Council and Church Society in their faithful defence of the Anglican doctrines but I have a view on what their strategy should be which is different from that set out by John Dunnett in Evangelicals Now, October 2023 (Will there be a place for me in the Church of England?)

    I assume it is common ground that the paramount need of all people everywhere is to hear, believe and obey two vital messages. The terrible warnings, some from Christ’s own lips, to flee from the wrath to come; and the wonderful and sincere invitations and promises to all, some from Christ’s own lips, to repent and submit to Christ in his atoning death and life-giving resurrection, and to obey him for the rest of their lives.

    And the paramount responsibility for those who are in Christ Jesus is to pray that God in his sovereign love, mercy and grace will send his breath from heaven and breathe on those not in Christ Jesus, that they may live, and to pray that he will move the hearts of all who name the name of Christ to believe, teach and preach both of these two vital messages.

    Those in the Church who believe the supreme importance of these two vital messages are, no doubt, encouraged by the Church of England Evangelical Council and Church Society, teaching and preaching them and praying that God will move the whole Church to join in doing the same. They are convinced that these messages are not only revealed in the Bible but also supported by the 39 Articles, Homilies and Book of Common Prayer which all Anglican Ministers have promised to follow by making the Declaration of Assent and their ordination vows.

    The disagreement about same-sex behaviour and marriage has consumed and is consuming a lot of time, energy and debate in the Church of England, because the truth of the Bible and a change to the doctrine of the Church is at stake.

    John sets out the principles and specific provisions needed to “secure a place for those who wish to hold to the present teaching and practice of the Church” on sexual ethics. This will involve a “structural rearrangement of the CofE”. I note that John does not say anything about the situation if General Synod does not authorise such provisions and structural rearrangement.

    Nobody is presently trying to change the doctrines of Original Sin and the Wrath of God to which the 39 Articles, Homilies and Book of Common Prayer point. But are the terrible warnings and the wonderful invitations and promises believed and preached by the whole Church with the earnestness and urgency promised by those who have made the Declaration of Assent and their ordination vows?

    The clear answer to that is “No”. Most of the Church disagrees with the terrible warnings. This failure is surely more important than the same-sex disagreement, important though that is!
    That being the case the time has come to follow the remarkable example set out in Galatians 2:11-14:

    “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”’
    where one Apostle who met Christ on the Damascus Road openly rebuked another Apostle on whom Christ said he would build his Church.

    What is needed in the desperate situation of the Church of England is an open letter of challenge and rebuke to the Church about her failure, as a whole, to believe, teach and preach the terrible Biblical warnings of the Day of Judgment facing non-Christians, and the wonderful invitation to all to repent and submit to Christ in his atoning death and life-giving resurrection.

    A serious effort by the CEEC and Church Society to do everything possible to organise this would involve mobilising all the Diocesan Evangelical Groups to support such a letter
    together with an integrated plan to get this issue raised formally at all Synodical levels.

    Philip Almond

  6. “It is important to recognise there is no agreed alternative sexual ethic.”

    There’s not much agreed on the other side either. Some think sexual orientation is not such a big deal and gay people ought to consider themselves free and right to enter into opposite-sex marriages. You’d have thought that there would be some who’d look at the Church permitting clergy to enter sex-less civil partnerships and think say that was the ethic but those folk are actually as rare as hens teeth (the Pope doesn’t count). There are some who still talk of homosexuality as a changeable snd indeed curable thing. Others view the answer as lifelong celibacy, not as a calling but as a sort of martyrdom, albeit without any particularly clear point or purpose other than a demonstration of piety. There’s a rather hypocritical group who view gay relationships as a sort of indulgence for those who do a lot for the Church, but not to be permitted or acknowledged more widely. And so on. And so on.

    • ‘There’s not much agreed on the other side either.’ Despite the variations you list, I don’t think this is true.

      The consensus is the current doctrine of the C of E: marriage is between one man and one woman. You are right to highlight the issue of singleness (which I have responded on before) but that is a bigger issue for the many more single women.

      We need to offer a counter narrative to our sexualised culture, and we need to offer a counter-cultural commitment to community in our individualised culture.

      • “The consensus is the current doctrine of the C of E: marriage is between one man and one woman”

        As I’ve said before, that’s the problem. That traditional doctrine stops exactly where you’ve stopped it. And therefore leaves a gaping hole about how gay people are supposed to live.

        “We need to offer a counter narrative to our sexualised culture, and we need to offer a counter-cultural commitment to community in our individualised culture.”

        I hope you and others from your side of the debate in Synod, Archbishops Council etc. take up the Bishops proposals to carry out that work.

        • Gay people are supposed to live, like heterosexuals, chaste lives. That means sex only within mixed sex marriage and abstinence outside.

          You appear to have a comprehension problem as this has been spelt out to you a number of times.

          • Scroll down Thomas. Anton and Jeannie take a different view. They think that a mixed sex marriage is off-limits to gay people. We’re to remain single and celibate.

          • AJ Bell: I had presumed that a gay person would not wish to enter into a marriage with somebody of the opposite sex, but that is certainly an option.

          • How do you know they take a different view? They might simply not regard ‘gay people’ as a meaningful or essential or unchanging category. Science doesn’t.
            Why are you forcing other people to accept your language uncritically?

          • because Christopher, the answer given was that gay people “are supposed to live exactly like everybody else who is single”.

            I took that to mean that gay people were to be single and unmarried.

          • Not my point at all. My point was: Why are you forcing people to accept teh category ‘gay people’ as a coherent category? If someone is under development and a bit chaotic in their teens and feels such urges and levels out later (as most do), is that person ‘gay’ or ‘not gay’? You cannot employ central categories that are questionable.

          • Christopher

            Gay means people who have exclusive attraction to the same sex. There are plenty of other descriptions for someone who is confused what their orientation is or experiences attractions to both sexes – bisexual, pansexual, bicurious, queer, no labels, questioning etc etc

            Most social studies I have seen on orientation take use as a measure self description or serial behavior. I don’t think either of these are very accurate, especially if the data is more than a decade old. Changing how you describe yourself doesn’t mean your orientation has actually changed nor does behavior since people do not always have sex with people they are attracted to.

            I know a lot of gay men and from that sample I’d say that changes in orientation are very very rare … But so what if they do find their attractions changing?

          • If they do find their orientations changing, and bear in mind that 100% of them do, often more than once, since they change from being asexual as a young child from being confused as a teen to being settled as an adult – then all that goes to show is that this is one of those nonessential aspects of a person’s make up, and moreover circumstance-driven in part. So it cannot be used as the main classification for that person. Not by a long chalk, since there are many essential characteristics that trump it.

        • That traditional doctrine stops exactly where you’ve stopped it. And therefore leaves a gaping hole about how gay people are supposed to live.

          Based on the Bible, they are supposed to live exactly like everybody else who is single.

          • Anton

            That’s nonsense.

            Straight people who are single are allowed to date, kiss, hug, have friendships. They aren’t told that they were Gods mistake or are demonic or are “welcome to attend”. They aren’t told not to tell anyone that they are heterosexual. They don’t have sermons told against them from the pulpit.

        • ‘leaves a gaping hole about how gay people are supposed to live.’

          Same as unmarried heterosexual people- Lives of Celibacy and holiness.
          Not sowing to the flesh. For that way leads to death.
          Which part don’t you understand?

          • Jeannie which part of ‘not everyone understands or reads the scriptures that way’ don’t you understand?

            The bible simply is not clear about sex outside of heterosexual marriage. Yes, it became part of tradition, but it’s very difficult to extract such a prohibition absolutely from scripture. Even Ian will agree that much.
            You will find very few Christian couples who are engaged to be married who are not having some from of sexually intimate relationship, and it would be irresponsible of them not to do so. Sex is far too important to be left to chance.

            When it comes to homosexual sexually active relationships – well the CofE is already clear that the prohibition does not apply to lay people – any of whom may be exercising leadership roles within their local church. Our current debate is concerned with extending pastoral provision. That will happen. The question is how far the extension will stretch.

            If you would like to explore how the bible can be understood in different ways then reading the work of Jonathan Tallon is to be recommended. Jonathan sometimes comments here. His background is evangelical Anglican so that in itself makes his contributions extremely helpful.

          • The bible simply is not clear about sex outside of heterosexual marriage.

            Sexual activity between men at least was described as toevah and a capital crime in Leviticus. In the New Testament the law is a matter for the State – the church’s option is simply to expel people – but whatever God’s moral view of such actions was in ancient Israel, it is now.

          • Some unmarried heterosexual people have lives of celibacy. Most don’t. Most live lives of single chastity, which is profoundly different. Trust me, I’ve done both.

          • “You will find very few Christian couples who are engaged to be married who are not having some from of sexually intimate relationship, and it would be irresponsible of them not to do so. Sex is far too important to be left to chance.”

            Ahh, here we see active encouragement of sin by Andrew Godsall. It’s not even that the bible is unclear on this point (as his sophistry claims it is on homosexual sexual behaviour) but presumably Jesus is simply wrong.

            Andrew, you can read the bible however you like, but please do so from outside of the Church of England, which is clearly founded on a belief in the authority of scriptures that you find unpalatable. Maybe we’ll even be better friends if you didn’t presume to upend the foundations of the church in which I was baptised and now minister, but rather founded a new church based on whatever biblical interpretations you want.

          • Rubbish, Andrew Godsall.
            Not only is what you say untrue, being true only in that subsection of cultures where such behaviour has been sufficiently inculturated (making this a foregone conclusion and circular argument);
            But also you repeat the trendy 1970s cliche ‘And a good thing too’ which is diametrically opposed to anything Christian or New Testament.
            Thirdly, by saying ‘sex is far too important to be left to chance’ you are essentially saying (if I get you right) test out the milk before you buy the cow, in J Sentamu’s unpleasant wording. Testing if you are sexually compatible, as the saying goes. So how many do you test? And how adulterated are you by the end of that process? And how is a Christian marriage anything but less possible by the time that point has been reached?
            Not thought through.
            But presented as though it is somehow responsible behaviour!
            Which is exactly how contraception etc used to be presented. As though it were somehow a matter of maturity rather than urges.

          • And I thought that sexual compatibility meant that one party had a penis and the other a vagina. How naive of me!

          • It would certainly be good if Jonathan Tallon did again comment here, since I have contacted him 2-3 times on the issue of why *lifetime* suicidality is to be supposed to postdate rather than predate so-called ‘conversion therapy’ (or indeed some kind of mixture, though one hopes that the bulk would predate?) and have not yet received an answer.

          • Anton

            I’m not complaining. I’m just pointing out that it’s unhelpful for couples for whom PIV sex isn’t possible or wanted. But, fortunately, God is a God of infinite variety.

          • Jack, old chap,

            That’s why I carefully wrote: “I thought that sexual compatibility meant that one party had a penis and the other a vagina.” I never said who was male and who was female!

            The battle over the dictionary is important – as Orwell understood – but not (quite) as important as preventing people with testes from taking part in sporting events and going to prisons for people with ovaries.

          • So please do tell us exactly where in the bible it says that a Christian couple engaged to be married should not engage in any kind of intimacy at all?

          • ‘Not everyone understands or reads the scriptures that way’ makes not the slightest sense. A given passage may have more than one possible interpretation. But you are requiring that all passages do!!
            Secondly, it gets worse. You are requiring that we believe that people honestly arrive at overall interpretations of ALL scriptural passages (all thousands of them) that are both (a) internally coherent and (b) mutually exclusive, in the case of every single passage, from another person’s equally internally coherent overall interpretation of ALL scriptural passages. Person A just so happens to arrive at theory A for every single scriptural passage. Person B just so happens to arrive at theory B for every single scriptural passage. Both should be honoured.

            That could not happen for all sections of a single page of scripture, let alone the whole 1200 pages.

          • Christopher you are making a vast generalisation out of one specific point. That isn’t possible, although it is something you persistently try to do. I was replying to Jeannie who made a particular claim about a specific matter, not a general one. And I concluded with my question, which remains unanswered.

            So I ask again – please do tell us exactly where in the bible it says that a Christian couple engaged to be married should not engage in any kind of intimacy at all?

          • please do tell us exactly where in the bible it says that a Christian couple engaged to be married should not engage in any kind of intimacy at all?

            I’ll respond to that with another question: Do you consider it moral for a man and a woman who are married to other persons to assist each other to orgasm provided that his penis does not enter her vagina?

          • Andrew, there are infinite possible questions; of these the Bible answers mere thousands, albeit answers to others can be deduced. You are requiring that the Bible answer questions that are on your agenda, but your agenda is lifestyle-dictated and culture-specific and culturally distant in the first place. Extremely deep intimacy is already present to any couple wanting a life together. They exchange glances. They have a meeting of minds. They dance together. That is what makes the question vague. But strong thinkers and honest people are neither of them vague. Moreover, vague terms (‘relationships’ and the like) are frequently used as Trojan horses to mix the unexceptionable with the extreme. Which is in itself dishonest.

        • We do indeed need to do much better than was done traditionally – which was to shame, shun and mistreat.
          But for that, we need to sort out the truth about human sexuality, what it is to become God’s image as man or woman and how to get back to that from the various pitfalls and wounds that happen in a sinful world. The Biblical norms are essential, but not sufficient. This means paying attention to a wide range of evidence, some scientific and at a population level. Other evidence from people who have journeyed from less like God’s image to more like it. Other evidence still from those who have helped them in that journey.
          It is a sad shame that this work was not done during the LLF process, but it will have to be done at some point. The good news is that the work is mainly that of collecting already available information and experience together and making it more widely known. Not really incidentally, this process is also vital in the most literal sense for the medium to long term health of our society – actually rather more vital than net zero.

      • Ian

        If the church is teaching that marriage is primarily about sex then it is the church that is obsessed with sex, not the secular world. Its really upsetting when you reduce lives and relationships to sex. Its not all about sex. I’m sure your marriage isn’t all about sex. I’m sure your love for your wife isn’t just so you can get off. I’m sorry to be so candid, but I really think we are way passed time that church leaders need to ditch the playground and be more serious. These are real lives!

        • Im pretty sure Ian has never said that, but rather that sex is designed for a married couple, male and female, in a stable, life-long relationship within which children can be born. Until very recently most Christians believed that.

          I know from experience that not all marriages are ‘happy’, and that those involved can do harm to their offspring, but that doesnt mean the original design is faulty, just that sometimes people dont behave as they should.

          • Ian is claiming that the church needs to offer an alternative message to our sexualized culture, but it seems to me that it’s primarily religious conservatives who sexualize gay people

          • Ian

            Being attracted to the same sex is no more sexual than being attracted to the opposite sex. It’s mostly religious conservatives who are demanding that gay people be treated different to straight people. It’s not secular types who are out there protesting LGBT events.

          • “The consensus is the current doctrine of the C of E: marriage is between one man and one woman. You are right to highlight the issue of singleness (which I have responded on before) but that is a bigger issue for the many more single women.

            We need to offer a counter narrative to our sexualised culture, and we need to offer a counter-cultural commitment to community in our individualised culture.”

          • Marriage is between one man and one woman. It is a union of hearts and minds, of life and community. It is just weird that you think the first of these contradicts the second. I don’t know how to engage with your (wilful?) misinterpretation of everything.

            It’s a bit like me saying ‘Only cats meow’ and you saying ‘You think that all there is to a cat is its meowing’.

    • Christopher Shell:

      “Science” is not an institution which holds corporate views or issues definitive judgments, least of all on whether or not ‘gay people’ – or ‘straight people’, for that matter – are a meaningful or essential or unchanging category.

    • I have been impressed by his painstaking and well-informed analyses of where the Church of England is at each point in its dealings with this matter. That it takes such detailed knowledge and so many words is a measure of how unlike the church described in the New Testament the Church of England has become. ‘Canon Law’ should be a contradiction in terms given that the New Testament is about grace set in contrast to law.

      Every change in the situation which has elicited a fresh analysis has been initiated by the bishops. It is time for the laity to initiate a fight back. I would not be sorry to see some analogue of civil disobedience at General Synod by evangelicals, if they wish to remain in the CoE and not see it descend into heresy.

  7. Here is more information about Justin Welby’s trajectory, expanded from information given some time ago by occasional commenter Don Benson. When Welby became Archbishop in 2013 he inherited the Anglican Communion’s clear position that sexual activity is acceptable only in marriage, between man and woman, as set out at the 1998 Lambeth Conference. Yet…

    On 9th November 2012 at a news conference in Canterbury (before he took up office), he said: “I know I need to listen very attentively to the LGBT communities, and examine my own thinking prayerfully and carefully.”

    On 21st March 2013 he told the BBC: “You see gay relationships that are just stunning in the quality of the relationship.”

    On 20th April 2014 he was reported in a Daily Telegraph interview as saying the Church had caused ‘great harm’ to gay and lesbian groups.

    On 15th February 2017 he issued a statement on his website, saying: “… we need a radical new Christian inclusion in the Church. This must be founded in scripture, in reason, in tradition, in theology; it must be based on good, healthy, flourishing relationships, and in a proper 21st century understanding of being human and of being sexual.”

    In autumn 2017 he explicitly refused to answer the question “Is gay sex sinful?” when asked it as part of an interview by Alastair Campbell in GQ magazine, and went on: “I am having to struggle to be faithful to the tradition, faithful to the scripture, to understand what the call and will of God is in the 21st century and to respond appropriately with an answer for all people – not condemning them, whether I agree with them or not – that covers both sides of the argument.”

    In November 2019 he chose to take Jayne Ozanne, a campaigner for the promotion of LGBT views in the church, to Rome with him to meet Pope Francis.

    He has appointed two suffragan bishops (one male, one female) who, at the time at least, were in same-sex relationships.

    In January 2022, Welby announced that Stephen Knott, who has been through a civil marriage ceremony with another man, had been appointed as the new Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments. That position is influential in determining who will be appointed to vacant bishoprics.

    On 1st February 2022 Welby issued a statement on his website advertising ‘LGBT History month’ and saying “… As we work together to discover what it means to be a diverse church receiving the gift of everyone, our prayer is that this would be a time of truly valuing each other as God’s precious and beloved children.”

    In October 2022 Welby allowed the appointment of David Monteith, who is in a civil partnership with another man, as Dean of Canterbury.

    In January 2023 Welby explicitly affirmed, in a comment concerning the case of Christian parents Nigel and Sally Rowe (who had won a legal victory against the Department of Education concerning transgender policies), the Church of England’s document “Valuing all God’s children”. This document contains guidance for the Church’s 4700 primary schools, and states that children as young as five “should be supported to accept their own gender identity” and that “children should be at liberty to explore the possibilities of who they might be without judgement”.

    • I recall that Welby was definitely emboldened nine years ago; when his daughter’s friend, Vicky Beeching, started being extremely loud and public about living a lesbian gay lifestyle and wanting the C of E to change to suit her.

      ‘After what Beeching has suffered, why not discard the faith that considers her sinful and wrong?’
      “The Church’s teaching was the reason that I lived in so much shame and isolation and pain for all those years. But rather than abandon it and say it’s broken, I want to be part of the change.”

      • I hadn’t known that Welby’s daughter and Vicky Beeching were friends. Given that Beeching was a photogenic poster girl for evangelical Christian popular music and at the same time harbored lesbian desires, she must have lived under great inner tension. She chose to repudiate evangelicals. What we never see in situations like this is the prayer life of such people; the deepest part of the backstory is missing. It is worth reading testimonies by same-ex attracted Christians who chose to deny their flesh and be celibate, such as (Rev’d) Sam Allberry and David Bennett.

      • I do not know whether VB has pursued her PhD studies on this topic, but I pointed out at the beginning that she was speaking in terms of having a prior commitment to various stances e.g. those that underlie or emerge from Brownson and Vines. In reality, PhD research and prior commitment are anathema to each other.

        • Christopher: I don’t think she completed her PhD. She was in the news a fair bit a few years ago but I’m not aware of anything she’s been saying recently.
          Maybe others have more recent information.
          I know some folk who used to know her in Kent.

    • Welby also sought and got changes to the same sex marriage act making it illegal for gay couples to marry in the CofE.

      Hes come out against the blessings for people who may or may not be in a same sex relationship

      He’s given pretty lack lustre responses to the violent homophobia coming from other parts of the communion

      He’s blamed British gay people for Christians being murdered in Muslim majority countries

      He’s spent his entire tenure kicking the can of actually discussing LGBT peoples place in the church

      He’s been criticized for his part in the failure to address serial abuse in the church

      He was a leader at Iwerne and gave an award to Mike Pilavachi

      He may be too moderate for you, but he certainly does not support gay equality

  8. God’s present judgement is being manifested in this, in him giving us over to the desires of our hearts. Romans 1
    And it is a reiteration of OT themes such as seen in the book of Judges with a refrain, that everyone did what was right in their own eyes and a chastening evidential outworking of our hearts being deceitful above all things, traced back to the beginning and mankind’s heart desires response to the crafty snake, did God really say?

    Or, did Jesus, really say?

    And so we slither down on the desert sands of apostacy. A house divided on shifting sands will not stand.

  9. One wonders what St Paul would have written had he learnt that the elders of a congregation he had founded were affirming same-sex sexual activity.

  10. A good look at Jude’s letter would be useful.
    The problem is that we have not only allowed ungodly men (wolves) to slip unnoticed into the church but we have have allowed them to take over its leadership, them then promoting their ungodly pals and so on and on creating a safe space for the goats and tares to crush the holy sheep and wheat.
    The take-over has had an enormous effect on local churches. Just around me here there is the Bishop of Chichester urging his gay clergy to ‘set up households’. I rebuked him one Easter Sunday a few years back for preaching from the Cathedral pulpit in his bishops’ robes actively promoting homosexual relationships. A mile away my 90 year old mother’s old church has a homosexual couple living in the rectory, and the church beyond that has a ‘mother’ who can’t wait to perform gay blessings. As a hermit celibate holy woman how can I hope that these wolves and goats will support and encourage me in my walk when I’m the ‘enemy’ who believes what God has said? They don’t and won’t.
    Back to Jude- we would do well to mark these bishops and priests out and remove them all from positions of authority over the holy sheep. It is a take-over attempt of the church by Satan and needs to be halted and reversed. There are a lot of very wicked people in the church masquerading as holy men and woman of God.
    Stand up, stand up for Jesus, ye soldiers of the cross.

  11. Jude
    4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about[b] long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

    7 In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

    8 In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings.

    12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

    18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

  12. It is amusing, in a slightly schadenfreude-y way, to see that just as Ian in his post early this week looked at the Catholic discussion about ‘Sacramentals’ and definitions of blessing and asked “why can’t we articulate things this clearly, it’s so simple”, so do we non-conformists look to the CofE and it’s canon law and ask much the same questions. 😉 I am astonished, as ever, that it has got to this point.

    In a world of canon B2-B5, there really is no excuse for attempts to circumvent the established and proper pattern for doing things. The moment the HoB abandons the process upon which it’s very integrity rests, in favour of either an authoritarian ‘anglo-papacy’ (sorry, I can’t see the comment where this was quoted), or ‘ecclesial sneakiness’, it will cease to be the CofE in any meaningful sense.

    When is someone going to nail their Theses to the door of Lambeth palace, rather than endlessly dance around the issue.

      • Have you considered finding someone with a larger hammer?

        I’m stepping well out of area of expertise here (my finger is hardly on the pulse of CofE politik), but it certainly felt that, with the release of ‘Together in Love and faith’, the revisionist position finally found it’s primary figurehead, the public face of their case. That Croft held the view he did was no surprise, but the public stating of it in such a fashion, and at such a cynical time, galvanised people, and he was immediately supported by a large chorus of fellow activists (Ozanne et al).

        Certainly the tradition side has it’s stately individuals too, but it doesn’t yet have a figurehead doing the same thing or achieving the same galvanisation of support. For all the excellent work you (and other contributors) do, you urgently need to identify this person, and empower them to act as the voice of that position.

        And I think the first thing that person needs to do is call a spade a spade, and call out the inaction (and seeming duplicity) of the Archbishop.

        • Mat, I’ve sometimes been observing in comments here and elsewhere over the last decade that no effective leader has arisen from the evangelical wing of the C of E to put up a serious fight against the inexorable progress of the liberals. None of this should be seen as a criticism of some exceptional individuals (not least Ian Paul) who have regularly taken apart the liberals’ arguments but achieved little success in the political fight which is where Welby (and his fixer, David Porter) have been operating.

          All of us Christians are God’s agents in one way or another, but the people he seems to anoint for leadership exude a certainty of belief, wisdom, and focus for action which causes other people to follow instinctively. We all know a great leader when we see one. I suspect those qualities (if they’re being used in God’s service) are founded on a private life where prayer and inhabiting the scriptures are massively important. Certainly that’s the picture we get of Jesus himself.

          Could it be that no one has been raised to leadership now because the Church of England has run its course? It’s hard to see how, in its present state, it is fitted to offer Holy Spirit powered leadership for God’s people throughout England. Perhaps the argument John Stott won 6 decades ago was only ever going to have a temporary relevance: perhaps God gave the C of E extra time. Perhaps, now, time really is up. Why might that be?

          You’d have to live in a pretty detached bubble not to notice that we in the Western world are living through turbulent times. Already life as it was only 5 years ago is becoming a memory rather than a continuing reality. Technological progression looks a lot more likely to be harnessed for our detriment than our benefit. It’s no longer clear who’s really in charge and what they really intend. Yet the Christian world is largely silent in all of this, and the Church of England remains obsessed with a project which can only bring about its own demise. The Church of England watchdog is failing to bark as it should be doing at present.

          I can’t say what God may have planned for his people if our lives change beyond current recognition but I tend to think that the C of E’s absence of leadership tells us that, for all its past glories, a large, established, nationwide organisation will no longer fit the purpose. Perhaps we’ll return to a more NT style of local autonomous groups of Christians meeting together a lot more informally. That will shake a few feathers!

          • “Could it be that no one has been raised to leadership now because the Church of England has run its course?”

            I do not think they are there yet, but I am not without sympathy to your point. And even if I were in complete agreement, I don’t think the faithful remnant within it should go quietly into the night.

            Sometimes the leader appears unexpectedly near the very end.

    • As a matter of history, it deserves to be better known that the Twelve Conclusions of the Lollards were nailed to the doors of Westminster Hall and St Paul’s in 1395, but nobody of Luther’s stature stood behind them (Wycliffe was dead by then) and printing had not been invented to disseminate the message more widely.

      A mass movement is certainly needed; I have suggested tactics above. But I agree that movements need leaders.

    • Various different nailings and presentations of theses did actually take place on the 500th anniversary Reformation day in 2017. I heard/knew of 3 or 4.

    • They have to follow the right process without the process becoming an excuse not to do the right thing…we can’t help the guy beaten by robbers because of Canon B5!

      • This is a fair point. Process is not doctrine, and I wouldn’t want to elevate it to that position.

        But I look on the way the PFL is being considered and implemented, and I do not see a ‘just cause’, shattering the obstacle of process, but an attempt to to avoid process because it would ask questions people would prefer not to answer. That’s Atherstone’s whole case here, and I think he’s right.

        My point in any case was about identity. Giving due consideration to these things, and following an agreed path forward with the consent of all parties in Synod is part of the CofE’s DNA, and moving forward without consensus is destructive to the strcture and integrity of the institution .

        • I’m opposed to these prayers because it doesn’t improve treatment of LGBT people one iota. Priests could bless gay people, warships and pets before this came out. Its a smokescreen in lieu of actually improving treatment of LGBT people, actually figuring out some teaching on LGBT people and dealing with abuse.

          But to then say they won’t even do that is appalling.

  13. Conservatives need to take more notice of Vacancy in see” committees, they don’t seem to be seen as important most of the time

  14. Mark Vasey-Saunders’ recent book on this was rather good. The modernity of the evangelical consensus position (and from a fellow evangelical).
    Highly recommended.

  15. HJ thought the Church of England “lost it” over sex and marriage, when in 2011, the then Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, supported Prince William and Kate Middleton’s decision to live together before marriage, saying that many modern couples want to “test the milk before they buy the cow.”

    In fact, the actual proverb. “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?” (i.e., do not expect somebody to make a costly commitment if it will give them nothing they do not already have) is traditionally used as a warning against having sexual intercourse before marriage – let alone living together.

    • Not the only misjudgment by Sentamu – he lost his PTO over his terrible failings in the Matthew Ineson case, which Sentamu compounded with hubris (‘L’Eglise, c’est moi’).
      Prior to that, he was abusive to evangelicals in General Synod in ridiculing the supremacy of Scripture in the Church of England.
      Sentamu originally came to England to escape from threats to his life in the days of Idi Amin.
      Those days ended many, many years ago and Sentamu should have gone back to Uganda then and shared his wisdom with the Anglican Church there.

  16. It seems we may soon need some form of peaceful disobedience, beginning with parish shares and ending… The Lord alone knows where. Let’s face it, what are they going to threaten us with, the sack? Ha, hardly a threat for those feeling they’d love to leave.

    If the CofE goes down this road it will die, and frankly it will deserve to.

    • Well I am C of E and have no problem blessing homosexual couples in loving relationships most of the C of E Synod which voted for the blessings feel the same

      • ‘Well I am C of E and have no problem blessing homosexual couples in loving relationships most of the C of E Synod which voted for the blessings feel the same’

        Are you not at all concerned that by blessing what God will punish with eternal damnation that you are being complicit in deceiving people into thinking they are living a holy life when God says that they are not? To deceive someone in this way is the most unloving thing one can do. It is wicked.

        • If God wants to condemn to eternal damnation a loving couple who are faithful to each other and in a lifelong union but just happen to be same sex that is not a God I want to worship anyway.

          Plenty more would be joining them in the hellfires though, very few are completely pure and absent of all sin, after all if they were there would have been no need for Jesus to die for our sins

          • T1
            You have never said which God you believe, in truth.
            Never said what the evangel is.
            Avoidance issues abound in an assumed moral superiority over God and in a human judgementalism of Him.
            Where and in whom is eternal life to be found and how do you know, and know what it is?

          • T1 wrote-
            ‘If God wants to condemn to eternal damnation a loving couple who are faithful to each other and in a lifelong union but just happen to be same sex that is not a God I want to worship anyway.’

            Written like a lost soul.
            And there we have it.
            If God doesn’t allow you to do exactly what you want in the way you want then he doesn’t deserve to be worshipped by you.
            Lucifer/ Satan couldn’t have said it better himself.
            Satan is your spiritual father. Just as with all who refuse to bow down and worship God through Jesus in spirit and in Truth, being born again and living their lives following Jesus along the narrow path.
            You are in great eternal danger currently.

            T1 wrote-‘Plenty more would be joining them in the hellfires though, very few are completely pure and absent of all sin, after all if they were there would have been no need for Jesus to die for our sins’

            No, that’s incorrect. Very few are NOT completely pure and absent of all sin. For all have sinned and are far away from God. You are wrong when you say this because none are perfect except the man Jesus. He died for our sins and it is only by us turning our back on our sins and giving them over to Jesus and put our trust in him to be saved that we get our name written in his Book of Life and get to spend eternity with him.

            The walk with God in Obedience and holiness is a hard one. The cost can be extremely high in terms of relationships and pain and sufferings. What we can lose can be beyond imagination. Persecutions and being hated for the sake of Jesus can at times feel intolerable.
            You simply have to submit yourself to God in obedience and not give him ultimatums. It is his train set. Yes- it hurts to give up things God forbids. But only a fool goes up against God in defiance.
            Humble yourself before him and he will give you life everlasting.

          • “very few are completely pure and absent of all sin”

            Name one.

            “not a God I would want to worship”

            I think you ought to spell “God” differently… ie : “god”.. Irrespective of the issue you appear to confuse God with a creation of your own, one that you can give authority to .

          • In the Jesus of the New Testament who certainly didn’t preach hellfire and brimstone against homosexual couples in loving unions

          • Well if you think I am going to hell fine, if heaven means being with evangelicals for all eternity who want to rain hellfire and brimstone on homosexual couples who on earth were in lifelong loving unions maybe it is best avoided from my point of view. The main message of Jesus of course was to love thy neighbour as thyself, not to hate thy neighbour

        • No, holy matrimony is reserved to heterosexuals (even divorced couples are eligible) however still not homosexuals. All that Synod voted for homosexual couples was a blessing, however you don’t even approve of that

          • Bestowing a blessing on sinful behaviour is to invite God’s wrath upon the bestower and the bestowed.
            It is the sort of playing with fire that only a person who hates God would indulge in.
            To even have the church leadership endlessly discussing it is a victory for Satan. It is shocking.
            It needs to stop and Christ’s own need to stand up and say ‘no’ to the servants of satan currently heading up the church.

          • As I said, I have no interest worshipping a God whose main focus is sending wrath and hellfire on homosexual couples in lifelong unions.

            If you consider that only an interpretation of the Bible prevents a Church being a ‘servant of Satan’ then the vast majority of C of E churches would not be for you anyway

          • T1: There is only one Creator, so the point is to find out what his will is for you – whether you like it or not. How might you do that?

          • But if the only God you will accept is one of your own specification, Simon, then (as has often been said) 2 things follow:
            (1) It is not God you are interested in worshipping or following, but yourself. You are saying, if God does not conform to me / follow me, then I will not worship God. So you are putting yourself in charge (reminding me of what Ian McCormack said about Shirley MacLaine running along the beach saying ‘I am God, I am God.’: ‘She’s not: God is.’), forgetting that it is not our place to do so, since we are contingent creatures within an unimaginably vast and awesome universe.
            (2) You are expecting against all the odds that the creator of the universe will somehow be exactly as one of his creatures, created billions of years later, would have wished him to be. What are the chances of that?

          • Well the C of E already marries divorced couples even where no spousal adultery and few complaints upon here about the C of E rewarding that sinful behaviour only blessing homosexual couples

          • So to you, present practice at a random place and time in history simultaneously trumps all of:
            (1) logical basis
            (2) foundational/scriptural/historical basis
            (3) practice at any other place at that time
            (4) practice at any other time in that same place.
            But why? Where is your reasoning.

    • Let’s be more specific about ‘peaceful’ because nobody could call the CoE ‘at peace’ at the moment. Absolutely no physical violence against persons or property or its threat, to be sure; but money talks, as you point out, and the sword of the Spirit – ie cutting words – is sharp. And only one of the two sides involved has it.

      • The C of E has £8 billion in assets and investments and property rental. Some individual evangelical churches may have quite a lot of money and donations from congregations but even combined I doubt they have £8 billion worth of it!

        • Membership of the CoE is not easily defined! I currently attend (regularly) a Church of England congregation, if that’s what you mean. I have no loyalty to the Anglican *system*, however; I go to this congregation because I consider it the best congregation that is reasonably close to me. I have been in free congregations too.

  17. While this is only one instance or rather two it was grievous and groeving to learn.
    Yesterday we visited some older, dear Christian friends, from a church e re part of.
    There were two women there, who had meetings in their homes, one with a homosexual son, the other with homosexual daughter.
    On one rare occasion I preached, the cross on Christ was central ( within the Trinity). Afterwards, one of the woman admitted that she was confused now. She had visited Chalke’s church and had come under the influence of his teaching, including the cross of Christ. What I had said, was of course nothing new, something she had delighted in previously. But now she was confused.
    Where did that confusion settle? Yesterday, we learned it was to sink, shipwreck, her once, superficially, vibrant faith even in the face of her skeptical, atheist husband.
    There are still meetings in her home, but any mention of Jesus has been banned, in unbelief.
    While question of Christian anthropology are seen to be somewhat central, as the linked article by Steve McAlpine emphasises, pointed out by Alan Thomson, there are deeper theological, matters, matters of eternity the same article addresses with citations from Sam Allberry. And it is suggested the crux of the eternal questions, is the Cross of Christ, or as one theologian put it, the Glory of Gologatha (and the empty tomb).

    Maybe the gulf is deeper and wider than the presenting issues: worlds apart.

    • In 2009 Ms Beeching was diagnosed with linear scleroderma morphea, for which she underwent 18 months of chemotherapy, She’s been chronically ill for many years and is housebound much of the time. Healing would be good. Not sure how it’s pertinent to this discussion though.

      • It may explain why she hasn’t commented much on this issue. She used to quite a vocal critic and in demand by the media.

      • Jeannine – its a stress related disorder and she suspects that it was partially caused by the stress she was put under by the church trying to force or exorcise her into being attracted to men.

        I think we can’t know for sure, but I think church leaders often talk far too glibly on these matters and even smirk at the idea that their teaching may be causing active harm to LGBT people. These are the people our religious communities raise as moral leaders. But many if them just don’t care

  18. The Psalmist [ It is attributed to the sons of Korah- priests ] declared Psalm 84:10. .
    I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. KJV
    ! I would rather be a gatekeeper in the house of my God than live the good life in the homes of the wicked. NLT
    This word is used in Psalms 84:10 (R.V. marg., “stand at the threshold of,” etc.), but there it signifies properly “sitting at the threshold in the house of God.”
    The gate keeper far from being a minor duty was one of the most important jobs of the priesthood,ensuring that nothing unclean or unholy was allowed into the temple precincts.
    Jesus in his vehement cleansing of the Temple commanded that no one should carry anything through the temple acted as a gatekeeper.
    It is incumbent on all priests of the Royal Priesthood and Holy Nation to similarly Guard the flock over whom God has given them charge. That Pope and AofC act like Humpty Dumpty
    is regretable, the time is coming when “the abomination of desolation” will stand in the Holy place,having already deceived
    the nations.
    Until then we must stand fast,man up and be prophetic in this our generation.

  19. ‘Scroll down Thomas. Anton and Jeannie take a different view. They think that a mixed sex marriage is off-limits to gay people. We’re to remain single and celibate.’

    Where did I say that?!
    Marriage to someone of the opposite sex is open to all.
    Deceit however, is evil.
    No believer should use another person for selfish ends.
    It is not ok to not be honest with the object of your intentions.

    • Indeed. I know of a number of men with same-sex attraction who went on to marry women, but they were honest from the start about their sexual feelings. Those marriages are still going strong. I have to say I greatly respect those wives.

      • PC1 – yes, I also know of some men with same-sex attraction who have married women and raised families. In a couple of cases they have left their wives and families to contract a homosexual relationship, but others have stayed firm in their marriage.
        Several of the prominent names in the pro-gay movement in the C of E were actually married or in a heterosexual relationship in the past (Jeremy Pemberton, Colin Coward, Jayne Ozanne etc), and there are figures from other churches too. This fact has long suggested to me the rather plastic nature of sexual affections, and that very many people who call themselves ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ are really bisexual.
        How was it that they left their marriages and started a homosexual relationship instead?
        Lives are rarely as simple as we make them out to be – a fact that many people in broken (heterosexual) marriages will recognise. Infidelity doesn’t happen out of the blue. It begins with flirtations, pornography, the wandering mind, the thoughts that turn to obsession.

        • James

          I’m pretty certain that Jayne Ozanne has never married or been in a serious relationship with a man. I’ve read her autobiography and I’m pretty sure she would have mentioned it.

          The generation of gay men who are slightly older than me were told by well meaning church leaders that if they married women they would become straight. That’s partly why there are so many of the boomer generation who were in straight marriages

          • Yes, that happened quite frequently.
            It was a lie and has caused damage and trauma.
            But some Christians simply don’t care, they want everyone to be confirmed to a Procrustean bed of straightness.

          • Peter,

            Jayne Ozanne writes in her autobiography (“Just Love”) about a very serious relationship she had with a man. She even said that they searched the scriptures to see exactly how far they could go as an unmarried couple. How did you miss it?

          • Anton

            Im sorry – I must’ve forgotten – it was probably 5 years ago that I read it.

            But you agree it wasn’t a sexual relationship or marriage?

          • Peter,

            It was most certainly a sexual relationship. I would rather not post specifics here even though it is public-domain information (and because I passed my copy on to someone else), but I will do so if you insist.

        • James (2)

          My husband was in a straight marriage prior to our marriage. He’s not bisexual and so the marriage was very difficult. He married a woman because he believed sincerely that that was what God required…and that’s what lots of people commenting here also keep affirming. I don’t think you can blame young gay men for following what they’ve been taught in church!

          • As a gay man of quite a few years I can honestly say noone has said to me that I should get married, either because that was what God ‘required’ or that it would make me straight. It seems we live in different worlds.

          • PC1

            My husband is American, but it seems to me the hostility towards gay people moves in waves. In the UK gay people were more socially acceptable in the 60s and 70s than the 80s and 90s.

            The 90s both the UK and US young Christians were hit with “Purity Culture” which had some very wierd teachings and there was an attempt to mainstream both conversion therapy and mixed orientation marriages.

            Actually at a friend’s gathering last night I met yet another guy in exactly this position – came from a conservative Christian background and was encouraged to marry a woman.

    • When asked what gay people should do, you said “lives of celibacy and holiness”. That’s wildly different from entering an opposite sex marriage.

    • Ann- it’s a pet hate of mine when people talk about someone who is here, about them, and not to their face, as it were. (As though trying to create an us and them gang). This is done to me online all the time as I always post counter to the world. People do prefer/ need anonymity at times. As long as he lets Ian know his identity that’s all that’s required on this board, surely. If you want to address TI with a sparkling post then do so!

    • From the informal interviewing panel above and
      his understanding of the Triune God of Christianity and scripture, it is clear that T1 is ripe for the office of Bishop in the CoE.
      A tragic, end game, really for the espousal of a false-fake religion masquerading as Christianity, and its outworking.

  20. *Andrew Godsall wrote-
    October 6, 2023 at 7:12 pm
    So please do tell us exactly where in the bible it says that a Christian couple engaged to be married should not engage in any kind of intimacy at all?*

    Apologies Andrew- I didn’t realize you wanted me specifically to answer this.
    An engaged couple ( a couple is a man and a woman, together made in God’s image) need to make sure that not only do they not become intimate with the other before marriage but that they are also clearly seen to remain blameless with each other before others. The good reputation of themselves, their families and their congregation requires it. Oh, and God. God requires it. Exactly and Specifically. They are to behave as chaste brother and sister in Christ until the marriage is public and clear. At which point they are to behave as husband and wife living in prayerful Holy Matrimony before God.
    I hope this helps.

    1 Thessalonians 4:3-8
    It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control your own body in a way that is holy and honourable, not in passionate lust like the pagans, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong or take advantage of a brother or sister. The Lord will punish all those who commit such sins, as we told you and warned you before. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, anyone who rejects this instruction does not reject a human being but God, the very God who gives you his Holy Spirit.

    Hebrews 13:4 Marriage is to be held in honour among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled; for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterers.

    Ephesians 5:3 “But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” The New International Version puts it this way, “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people.”

    Upon Marriage- Mark 10:8
    “and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.”

    • Thanks Jeannie.
      But absolutely none of it would – of itself – say that a Christian couple who are engaged to be married (please note the specific circumstances) would be engaging in anything immoral if they were to be intimate in various ways. I am not even suggesting – please note – that they should be engaging in sexual intercourse. I am suggesting the need to explore intimacy of a committed Christian couple in private. They do not fit the texts you have given – unless you interpret them in a very particular way. And not everybody does.

      • I don’t see any wriggle room at all. It isn’t about ‘interpretation’, but about the very clear directive that ‘there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality’. So come the wedding service and one of them does not say their vows and the marriage is called off, neither one of them has SINNED. There has been no sexual intimacy. None.
        I don’t want to be mean to you, but I’m hearing that serpent voice asking again ‘did God really sssaaaay…’ Yes he did actually.

        The couple do need to be extremely careful of being alone in private before marriage.

        I’m well aware this all sounds so far away from the world’s view on behaviour during engagement to marry. But walking in the spirit not the flesh is vital for followers of Christ. Who in their right mind wants to start their married life before God by having to repent of their sinful activity in the lead up?!

        • Jeannie, I don’t wish to be mean to you either, but it is possible to disagree without being mean. And the whole study of the scripture has to be based around a basic question: what did they understand of God and believe when they wrote these texts that made them express themselves in the way that they did then? That’s quite a different question to ‘did God really say…?’.
          And it is quite clear that within the CofE people take different approaches to the scriptures. The LLF material explores this in some detail and that’s quite right because the whole of the approach of some people towards questions of human sexuality are based – as yours evidently is – on a very literal and universal interpretation of texts.
          Marriage as it is portrayed in the bible has almost nothing in common with marriage as we understand in the 21st century west. Marriage was in any case a very different relationship, arranged by families rather than by the couple, and dating in our sense did not exist. I am aware that custom and tradition would make it risky and could cause a couple to be ostracised. That was still true relatively recently, until reliable contraception made sexual intercourse the ultimate intimate expression free from the outcome of childbirth. I am also fully aware that while dating, many people find creative ways other intercourse to satisfy each other sexually, ways which have always been available to the unmarried as well as to the married.
          We will not agree on this, I am sure. But it is important to note that the CofE contains those who see things differently from each other.

          • Where in your words is there any understanding of the living faith one has IN Christ? The moment by moment relationship experienced by the born again follower of Jesus? Being led by The Holy Spirit every step of every day. A desire above all else to please God in all we say and do?
            Of course marriage has changed throughout history and throughout cultures. I’m talking about now. As informed both by scripture and relationship with God. You were asking about now. I’ve said my bit. Any more on this is probably above my pay grade!

          • “As informed both by scripture and relationship with God.”

            And the point is that others are informed by both those things and arrive at a different conclusion to you Jeannie. And we both have to co-exist in the same Church of England.

          • The CofE is creaking under the strain of containing those who disagree on this matter. Frankly it’s time it stopped harbouring those who lied at ordination. Pretending that it doesn’t have a clear doctrine is again sophistry.

            Marriage might be different now to then but it remains in its core the same; exclusive, life long, male and female. Sex before marriage is clearly sinful both then and now.

          • “The CofE is creaking under the strain of containing those who disagree on this matter”
            Agreed. It needs resolving. The Bishops have been given a mandate by General Synod to bring us a solution. Let’s hope they are not prevented from doing so by the modern day scribes and Pharisees who are obsessed with the minutiae of Canons and the like and will use every available lawyer they can find and every wrecking amendment to ensure that we spend the next ten years going round and round it with the next Archbishop of Canterbury, whoever she may be.

          • What a bizarre comment Andrew. The idea that the bishops should actual act legally, and not disregard Canon Law, is only the concern of those ‘obsessed with the minutiae’ is extraordinary. It perhaps indicates where we have come to as a church—that being honest and lawful are now secondary concerns.

          • The C of E already remarrries divorcees, even when no spousal adultery or the spouse still alive. So in C of E terms marriage in church is not always lifelong even now, whether the homosexual couple blessings in the established church for homosexual couples married in English law Synod approved go through or not

      • Andrew – I’m sure you won’t find verses in Scripture explicitly telling you not to smoke like a chimney, drink like a fish, play cards and let off in enclosed spaces – but Christians don’t do these things because they know, from the whole tenor of the Holy Writ and the guidance that it does give, that these things don’t correspond to Godly behaviour.

      • It depends on what you mean by ‘engaged’ and ‘intimacy’.

        Perhaps the scholars here can clarify, but Ive tended to think ‘betrothal’ in for example between Mary and Joseph is the nearest thing we have to what today we call engagement. Joseph’s reaction to hearing Mary was pregnant during this time shows us how betrayed he felt, and intended to break off their relationship, until God stepped in. He felt betrayed because they were already committed to each other and noone else.

        As to sexual intercourse, it is obvious they had not done that during this time. We cant of course be sure if they did anything say beyond kissing. Today of course we know how the world laughed at Clinton when he denied ‘having sex’ with Comiskey because it was ‘only’ oral sex. So even today people know what constitutes sexual activity. If that is true today I would suggest it was even more so then. I would therefore think that anything beyond kissing which is an accepted display of affection, but even then you would have to be careful it doesnt lead elsewhere, is unacceptable for an engaged couple.

        Has Andrew fallen off his seat?…

  21. There are some who read scripture through the secular sexual morals and ethics that were promulgated and fast-tracked during the 1960/70’s onwards.

    • You’re right. When I pushed the ordination door a decade ago (silly me for imagining they’d let me in) I remember having a two hour meeting with the ordinations adviser person who expressed dislike of their own local non C of E church whose leadership encouraged their youngsters to marry as virgins. They were disgusted by this and thought young people should have sex with various partners so that they were better ready for marriage.

      • Jeannie – well, if some church person really did suggest that young people should have sex with various partners so that they were better ready for marriage, then that person is forsaken of God and is headed for the eternal fire.

        • Jock I think it’s important to read what Lesslie Newbigin wrote on this: “the question of eternal salvation and judgement is not a basis for speculation about the fate of other people: it is a an infinitely serious practical question addressed to me”

          There is a pretty clear message in scripture for those who are sure of their own righteousness and the fate of others.

          • None of us has righteouness of our own. And that presupposes an understanding of what it is according to scripture.
            It is not located in us. That is the Good News of Jesus in our Triune God, as is full assurance of faith, redemption, purchased by his blood.

          • Andrew – … and the fate of any church person, masquerading as a big-cheese Christian who takes the view that Jeannie reported is condemned to the eternal fire – irrespective of what Lessie Newbigin or anybody else has to say on the matter.

          • Jock let’s just look at a wee bit of evidence here.
            Jeannie has made a particular claim against a person who has no right of defence, and Ian has chosen to publish it without question – something he is inclined to do. Whilst not wishing to cast immediate doubt on its accuracy, the language and intent of Jeannie in her comments would at the very least make we want to explore context, hear the other guy’s story, see what follow up was made etc before condemning someone to the fires of hell.
            Secondly, your own approach to human sexuality is rather dour. Correct me if I’m wrong but I’m pretty sure you have said on here that the only purpose for sex is procreation and beyond that even a married couple should not really be engaging in sex for pleasure. It’s a very particular approach and you won’t find support for it in any of the mainstream churches or indeed in the scriptures – think the erotic poetry of the Song of Songs for example.

            Thirdly – do you actually literallly believe in hell fire? Surely it’s figurative and descriptive language included to make a point. This third point isn’t so crucial as my other two but nontheless…….

            Fourthly, I do think you need to take what Lesslie Newbiggen says a bit more seriously for the sake of your own soul. Grace and mercy and more significant than damnation, and it’s dangerous to point fingers when others are pointing back at you.

          • Andrew – yes, well, I was wondering if we were talking about the empty set – Jeannie was summarising the contents of a conversation which may have been misunderstood, etc …. I was dealing with it in a hypothetical way – if a church person really did say something like that, then it was utterly out of order. Note – Jeannie didn’t mention any person by name, she didn’t say which parish or diocese, etc … so she hasn’t actually put any particular person in the wringer – so there is no reason for Ian to remove the comment.

            On sexuality-in-general, it is completely clear to me that we are living in a ‘having-it-off’ culture, where ‘having-it-off’ on a regular basis with someone who has mutual enjoyment of ‘having-it-off’ is considered to be an absolute key to emotional stability.

            I believe that the Holy Writ is firmly opposed to this – indicating that fulfillment does not come through gratifying the sensual desires – and there is a better way.

            Although Jeannie didn’t mention any particular person by name, we don’t have any independent corroboration about the contents of the conversation, we certainly do know that the basic idea is very much alive and well in the secular world. Just peruse the columns that Pamela Stephenson writes in the Guardian, helping people out with their sexual difficulties of life – and the standard advice seems to be that you should dump your partner and get yourself hooked up with a different one if both of you don’t find the blood draining from the brain to a lower organ in a satisfactory manner.

            As Christians, we understand that such a culture, based on fulfilling sensual desires is basically sad and empty. We’re opposed to it, because we know that there is a better way.

            Even though Jeannie didn’t name a specific person (and didn’t even mention a specific diocese or parish) and even though we don’t have corroboration, we do know that what she wrote is depressingly believable. We have seen the way-of-the-world and we know the extent to which the way-of-the-world has infiltrated the church.

          • Jock I find your reply simplistic beyond belief and would just like to distance myself from it as far as humanly possible.

        • Andrew – well, you shouldn’t distance yourself from it. You should recognise a powerful delusion when you see one – and, particularly as a church-man who presumably has to give some pastoral advice from time to time – you shouldn’t be afraid to call out a powerful delusion when you see one.

          The Holy Writ extols the virtues of companionship – so if the debate were purely about companionship, with Lesbian and Gay people pointing out that they couldn’t possibly get on with someone from the opposite sex as a life companion, I’d be sympathetic towards this. As soon as it is to do with sexual activity – and as soon as sexual activity separated from creating children is considered to be essential for a person’s emotional well being, that is a powerful delusion.

          It is also the way-of-the-world, which seems to have completely bought into the powerful delusion that sexual activity – separated from creating children – is an essential component of a person’s psychological well being.

          So as far as I’m concerned, it is the opposite way round. You are the one who has bought into the way-of-the-world which is simplistic beyond belief. Since you are a Christian, I feel that you have absolutely no excuse for this – since the Holy Writ is completely clear that gratification of sensual desires isn’t a solution to anything – and if you look deeper than the surface and apply some thought, you’ll see that you don’t really need Scripture to tell you that.

          • This is just vastly generalised stuff Jock that has no real relationship to the Christian life or life in the world. And Holy Writ is such a variety of material. Try reading the Song of Songs.
            Your compartmentalising of sex is troubling and troubled.

          • Andrew – you often come back to the Song of Solomon. It was written by the most promiscuous man in the whole of Scripture, who displeased God to such an extent that He ripped 10 of the 12 tribes of Israel out of the hands of Solomon’s son – so I don’t feel like drawing too many lessons from it.

          • Wow. You can’t seriously be arguing to just ignore an entire book of Scripture? Or are you denying it actually ought to be part of the canon?

          • Adam, I think Jock’s position is very odd. I don’t know of any ‘regular’ evangelicals who would disregard Song of Songs. Many have written commentaries on it.

          • AJ Bell – I’ll give you a clue. (a) Despite the impression that Andrew Godsall might give, George Best’s favourite subject is not the main theme of Song of Solomon. (b) At the same time, we’re expected to read Scripture in context – and we know that Solomon’s behaviour towards women was completely disgusting, even if it was consensual and the kingdom was taken from him (or rather, because of his behaviour, the kingdom was taken from his son).

            In short – King Solomon followed the advice of Pamela Stephenson – and look what happened to him!

          • Ian – you could try giving an answer to the question that AJ Bell keeps coming up with – which is a good question – which is what are the positive aspects of church teaching for AJ Bell and others of a similar disposition.

            I see one answer, which I believe to be the only logical answer that makes sense – which is that the pleasure from any sexual activity which is separated from creating children is transitory and illusory – and, in any context other than a male and female within a life-long union where family is the intent is actually damaging.

            The basic idea is that God doesn’t impose arbitrary laws just for the fun of it, just to see if people are able to avoid the arbitrary obstacles that He has laid out in the obstacle course; behind every law, there is something that is for our own good (e.g. the Levitical food laws do seem to exclude things that go off most quickly and easily without refrigeration).

            There is ample evidence that the same principle holds with sexual activity.

            So the answer to AJ Bell is that the pleasures he thinks he might get from following a different line are illusory and transitory – a powerful delusion and could easily make things worse.

            Whatever the book of Song of Solomon may (or may not) be advocating, it certainly isn’t advocating sexual activity between people who aren’t married (despite what Andrew Godsall might have us believe) – and if it were, we wouldn’t accept advice from Solomon in that department anyway, given his life history recorded in Scripture.

          • ‘what are the positive aspects of church teaching for AJ Bell and others of a similar disposition’.

            I have answered that several times in past exchanges. Here’s the good news: I am not defined by my sexual desires. I do not need to seek sexual expression of my desires to find fulness of life. I am called into a new family of belonging and purpose. My true union is found not in marriage and sex but in my union with God in Christ. And one day all these others things will pass.

            The Christian ethic of male-female marriage is also good news more widely, particularly for women and children in calling men to self-control and faithfulness.

          • Ian – good as far as it goes, but I get the impression that (a) AJ Bell is a reasonable sort of fellow and that (b) he isn’t convinced. Of course, I can’t speak for him – and it’s up to him to say where it all goes wrong.

            I’d suggest, thought that the ‘I do not need to seek sexual expression of my desires to find fulness of life’ could be expanded by pointing out that, furthermore, the idea that sexual expression could lead to fulness of life is a complete delusion. (Creating children is – of course – an entirely different matter).

            Anyway, he doesn’t seem convinced.

          • No, he is not convinced. Once you accept an outlook of ‘expressive individualism’, then you will not find this a satisfying explanation. What needs to happen is a rethink of our understanding off self.

          • Ian, well, I hadn’t heard of the term ‘affective individualism’ before. I looked it up – and tried to get the basic meaning, but I’m not at all convinced that this has much to do with the case.

          • Ian – OK – thanks – the amazon link was very useful – I’ve bought the kindle version, it’s now on my kindle and I’ll read it.

      • Jeannie,
        If you drew on the theological, scriptural and spiritual reality of believers being *in* Christ, it is doubtful that would elict any or much comprehension to even attempt arguments to oppose and refute, as understanding presupposes a transformed life conversion.

  22. Feel The Love at ‘Thinking Anglicans”:
    Someone called Chrissie Chevasutt at St Columba’s URC in Oxford has this to say in Jayne Ozanne’s ‘Via Media’ (linked by ‘Thinking Anglicans’) by Simon Ponsonby of St Aldate’s Church:

    “While his voice oozes compassion, his words drip hatred, judgement, condemnation, exclusion, and rejection towards us as LGBTQIA+ people. Simon demonizes us and pathologizes us, pouring shame upon us; all in the name, and supposedly for the glory, of God.”

    And so it continues for several paragraphs, along with attacks on Ponsonby’s intellectual and theological inadequacy. Ah well …

    • A surprise would be that Simon Ponsonby would be openly defended and supported by his Bishop against bilious and hate filled attacks from outside the CoE, yet hosted by some holding themselves out as Thinking and Anglican. The rant cited is evidence of self -negation, self- refutation.
      The URC is in its death throes.

      • I have passed by St Columba’s in the past but never looked in. My impression is that the URC, like Methodism, is doing very badly nowadays.
        They are becoming the haunts of angry gays and elderly liberals, stuck in a 1960s time warp – a bit like ‘Thinking Anglicans’ in fact, which is both aging and anti-orthodox in its constituency. The hatred of evangelicalism which some of them harbour there is palpable at times,
        They don’t seem to grasp that embracing liberalism means death. Well, some of them do and don’t seem to mind. Not a lot of joy or Christian hope on show.

        • Jayne is right. Ponsoby’s sermon was vile and smug. Furthermore he went on and on about the aetiology of homosexuality as if that had anything to do with the ethics of gay relationships.
          Thank God I have always attended churches where the preaching is biblically based, usually on the gospel, epistle, or the HB reading and not on some obsession of the preacher’s.

        • St Columba’s model of prioritising LGBTQIA+ outreach as a justice response in Oxford is not without it’s followers, as several other Oxford churches are considering following suit, if they haven’t already.

          St Columbas is already working with the nearby Methodist church (Wesley memorial chapel, a glorious building if you ever get the chance to go in) and Baptist Church (New Road) to appoint a student community worker to build on this work.

          • Hello Mat,
            I don’t think that is representative of either the URC or Methodism as a whole. It certainly isn’t in my neck of the woods, where I’ve been part of the.Methodist church as a trainee local preacher and then due to a combination of medical interventions, study, work, part of a nearer URC.
            In Methodism one set Communion service, addressed God as mother ( more than 15 years ago) and I was on a friend’s support group as he underwent ordination training. Anything on his essays that hint at orthodoxy was marked down in red ink.
            And I’m aware of local(ish) congregation that has set up its own independent church and local preachers who have left, and other members who have left.
            The URC I was part balked at paying it’s financial dues, not only as there was no ministerial provision after the incumbent retired, but they didn’t want to contribute to the spread of false teaching.
            Now, after five young families moved across the city and took up leadership, the church has come away from the URC to be part of FIEC, is thriving and growing and buying the land and building from the URC.
            My present church has *refugees* from the Methodism, URC, and rainbow flag bannered Baptist as well as multicultural, multinational.
            The example in Oxford that you cite, begs the question of the position of scripture and of Christian doctrine, orthodoxy in the life of the church.

          • I didn’t say it was representative of all, though I implied (perhaps) that it might be representative of those churches in Oxford. I was simply adding some context.

            For what it’s worth, I have actually met Chrissie; an introductory conversation through a friend at NRBC which was entirely pleasant and reasonable. I would disagree with her quite profoundly on a great many things (surprising no one), but it’s a feeling that I imagine would be entirely reciprocal. When we spoke it was solely in the context of the urgent need to reach the students in Oxford, and that is an aim I endorse fully even I think she is utterly mistake in some of the methods.

            We shouldn’t judge people’s character too easily by their expressions online. It all to easily distorts the people we really are, and conversations typed in the defensive have a habit of being the worst expressions of ourselves. It was not just the more radical liberal theologians who were annoyed by Ponsoby, and people with whom I share theological convictions were cross about the way that sermon landed. From what they have told me, the fact that Chrissie (a trans woman by the way) was upset by it and felt the need to vent on TA is entirely to be expected.

          • Also, as I didn’t not realise others were commenting below, it is not an unconnected issue with other things. As David Runcorn has added, there is some history here with other churches in the city.

            On account of the fact that this conversation has become rather personal (about people rather than issues) and in an unhelpful way tangential to the article topic, I’ll say nothing else.

          • Hello Mat,
            Felt the need to vent? 10 years afterwards? (See David Runcorn’s helpful comment below.)
            To me it seems as though it represent an activist’s trawl (Ozanne’s) to support a present day “safe church” ideology and localised, but widely pulicised, pressure group’s unbalanced bandwagonning “movement”.

          • It is carnal to say ‘The reason I am not at peace is because people have wounded me’ (it is always someone else’s fault) and then require that everyone must agree with that analysis.
            It is obvious that there will also be times, plenty of them, that the reason a person is not at peace is primarily because of sin, i.e. things that they have been mixed up in and got involved in. These cause gaping wounds hard to heal, about which they feel resentful.

            It is certain that Paul should be referred to the denominational safeguarding committee over his hate speech in Romans 1. Those who disagree are following another Way altogether.

    • James

      I heard a few clips of that sermon. Its vile, nasty, smug and, worst of all, repeatedly probably false. My only hope is that it is from 2003 and I hope that the church leadership has become better educated since then

      • Peter – if the sermon (or at least parts of it) are available on-line, then could you link to them? Whenever Simon Ponsonby has commented on this blog site, he has always been the voice of sanity and Christian love and decency – so I’d be very surprised if he said anything that could be described as ‘vile, nasty, smug’. That is just not how he comes across.

        • Jock

          The bit I remember were spreading the very damaging idea that distant/poor parenting causes children to become gay. That’s untrue, but people believe it if it comes from the pulpit. This is the sort of teaching that forever damages families. Imagine being an object of scorn and hate by society and the church and its all your mothers fault or your fathers fault.

          It really is wicked for these preachers to pretend they know what they are talking about when they do not. I do think some of them deserve prosecution. They will of course have to answer to the almighty for their dishonesty

          • Nothing ’causes children to become gay’, in so many words. It is multi factor, and some things are far more liable to do so, and correlated, than others.

          • Peter – OK – then I agree with you that this is absolutely not something that has been established. On the one hand, I’ve seen here PC1 who claims to be gay and who says that – yes – there were extreme problems within the family (the interaction between father and mother was horrible – and this spilled over into how they dealt with the children). On the other hand, I’ve known two gay people in ‘real life’ who claimed that their family background was good, kind and loving.

            From what I know of Simon Ponsonby, though, I can’t imagine that there was any vile intent behind the sermon – presumably he had read ‘information’ presented in a convincing way and published somewhere respectable – and believed it. He doesn’t have a malicious mind-set.

          • PJ,
            Do you, in fear and trembling, really believe, your last sentence? Who or what is your almighty, that is worshipped as first love?
            And there is a huge difference between, dishonesty, which you imply and error or lack of encyclopedic knowlelege

          • Jock

            He should not have been giving advice on gay people in the manner of an expert if he was just making it up. He could have at least talked to some gay people first and every preacher should consider the impact of their words.

            Yes some gay kids come from difficult families, but so do lots of straight kids. In some cases for the gay kids its their sexuality that has caused the rift – because the parents are scared that others will think they are to blame

          • Geoff

            Whereas I concede that he may have genuinely believed what he was preaching, he was still being dishonest in presenting himself as an expert when he clearly didn’t know what he was talking aboit .

            Yes I believe lying is a sin and a very serious one when it causes harm to others

          • Christopher Shell – as you well know, absolutely nothing about causality can be inferred from correlation. You could try finding some instrumental variables (Angrist Imbens and Card got their Nobel prize in economics in 2021 for inferring causality from observational data), but it’s difficult to see what appropriate instrumental variables there are here. Clearly, you can’t do a controlled experiment. You can’t randomly select some parents and tell them to create a nasty environment (by shouting at each other, hitting each other over the head with a frying pan, being vile towards their children, etc ….) – and randomly select other parents with newborn children and tell them to behave well. You simply can’t do this – so a controlled experiment is most definitely out of the question – and since there aren’t any obvious instrumental variables, any conjecture that some factors are more liable to cause children to become gay than others is pure speculation.

          • Peter Jermey – I agree with you entirely that the ‘research’ is basically rubbish. Some correlations may have been established – but very little to indicate that the possibility of hidden common causes was considered. Also, as you say, even if there is ’cause to effect’ it might have gone the other way.

            I think that, in general, I’m appalled at the way cause-to-effect gets inferred from observational studies even in respectable journals – and I was very happy to see the Economics Nobel prize back in 2021 go to people who had taken this issue very seriously, who understood that something more than simply correlation was needed to infer causality and who had done something serious about it.

            As far as Simon Ponsonby goes – the stuff that he brings up was all published in respectable journals, which should have been reliable – so I feel you should try to show a bit more Christian charity in his general direction.

          • Far from correlation being unimportant, study of correlation is the number one way of conducting an informed investigation of causation. This is because the real world is multidimensional and all dimensions contribute to a situation, so the thing to do is see which dimensions contribute the most. We do not live in an A causes B universe because that would involve a laughably small number of simultaneous factors.

            There are legion examples that can be given. For example, medical, You go to the doctor and the way s/he can accurately assess your situation is by getting a rounded overall profile of your state of health. Within that overall profile, certain factors will sgtand out as especially abnormal; and through the study of thousands of patients it is known that certain factors are especially prone to correlate with certain other factors, and that is how, holistically, the doctor understands what is going on causally.

          • Jock

            The idea that homosexuality is caused by poor parental relationships was debunked in the 1960s, which SP would have known in 2003 had he bothered to do any real research at all. Again, if you are genuinely trying to teach on homosexuality why not bring in someone who actually knows something about it rather than just repeating lies?

          • ‘The idea that homosexuality is caused by poor parental relationships was debunked in the 1960s’

            I am afraid it wasn’t. All sides agree that the parenting environment shapes our development in all sorts of ways, including the development of our psycho-sexual identity. How could it not?

          • Homosexuality isn’t ’caused’ by anything, we have moved on from the view held 100 years ago that it was some sort of disease to be cured by electric shock treatment etc. Indeed making such statements as to ’causes’ of homosexuality in the manner of suggesting it was some sort of disease could well be in breach of the Equality Act 2010

          • There is a genetic concept to homosexuality as well as a community and nurture one. However even by using the term ’caused’ suggesting homosexuality is some form of disease you are treading on dangerous ground in UK law now. Not only potentially in breach of the Equality Act if you are discriminating against homosexuals in the workplace but also soon if you attempt any form of ‘conversion’ of homosexuals to heterosexuality once gay conversion therapy is made a criminal offence as this government has promised to do and the likely next Labour government will certainly do

          • ‘There is a genetic concept to homosexuality’. Well, I never use that word, since it is unclear what it means.

            But there is a strong consensus that the genetic component to forming our psychosexual desires is of the region of 11%–15%, primarily based on twin studies.

            I don’t particularly use the word ’caused’ either; it is about development and formation. And recognising human development has nothing to do with ‘disease’; all this language is yours, so perhaps it is you that need to watch out more carefully.

          • Ian

            No they do not!

            Parents do not cause their children to be gay. There is no evidence of that. Its just damaging nonsense

          • Peter, are you ignorant of the research evidence, or claiming that it is wrong?

            ‘Children who experience parental divorce are less likely to marry heterosexually than those growing up in intact families; however, little is known about other childhood factors affecting marital choices. We studied childhood correlates of first marriages (heterosexual since 1970, homosexual since 1989) in a national cohort of 2 million 18–49 year-old Danes. In multivariate analyses, persons born in the capital area were significantly less likely to marry heterosexually, but more likely to marry homosexually, than their rural-born peers. Heterosexual marriage was significantly linked to having young parents, small age differences between parents, stable parental relationships, large sibships, and late birth order. For men, homosexual marriage was associated with having older mothers, divorced parents, absent fathers, and being the youngest child. For women, maternal death during adolescence and being the only or youngest child or the only girl in the family increased the likelihood of homosexual marriage. Our study provides population-based, prospective evidence that childhood family experiences are important determinants of heterosexual and homosexual marriage decisions in adulthood.’

            Or consider the research summary of gay rights campaigner Lisa Diamond:

            ‘Based on the evidence from twin studies, we believe that we can already provide a qualified answer to the question “Is sexual orientation genetic?” That answer is: “Probably somewhat genetic, but not mostly so.” On the one hand, that answer is not surprising, given the evolutionary pressure against genes that diminish reproduction, as genes for homosexuality likely do, especially in males (Vasey, Parker, & VanderLaan, 2014). On the other hand, we expect many people will find the conclusion surprising, mainly because they have misconstrued the meanings of “genetic” and “environmental.” There can be little doubt that sexual orientation is environmentally influenced.’ (p 76)

            By ‘environment’ here she is referring to the context of early years development ie upbringing and parental influence.

            Or listen to Peter Tatchell:

            ‘Many studies suggest social factors are also important influences in the formation of sexual orientation. These include the relationship between a child and its parents, formative childhood experiences, family expectations, cultural mores and peer pressure.’

          • Ian

            Saying that orientation is not determined solely by genetics is not the same thing as saying poor parenting causes homosexuality! Do I need to unpack that or is it clear enough?

          • Peter, again, I don’t understand why you find it so difficult to read what I have written. Where did I ever say ‘poor parenting’ was the problem? This is your own fiction.

            You tried to deny any connection between the development of psycho-sexual identity and environment, claiming that parenting had no influence, and I have demonstrated that your claim is false.

          • Ian

            So you are now agreeing with me that poor parenting does not cause homosexuality?

            Do you also agree that preachers who have told their flocks this lie may have caused familial relationship problems? Do you agree that preachers ought not to lie in their sermons?

          • Your model that one thing causes one thing is utterly wrong.
            And, secondly, per head, as has been repeated above, there is *more* likelihood that certain key types of poor role modelling will be present in the homes of future identified-homosexuals than in the population at large. This may be in the shape of, for example, absent fathers or parents who are not together.
            Thirdly, both homosexual phenomena and divorce increase with the sexual revolution, and insofar as the sexual revolution is a package (which it certainly looks to be) then it would be highly surprising if there were not an above-average correlation between these two things.
            It is the children that obviously one feels especially sorry for, among the victims of that revolution (worse: unnecessary victims, since the SR was scarcely a logical thing to adopt, more a following of animal instincts once the media and legislation and economics had sufficiently removed the taboos). Early family circumstances are all, psychologically. If not all, then a dreadful lot. So if one is born and brought up without proper fathering and mothering, it is natural that one will react or compensate. To fail to do so would be to say it did not matter. Not only does it matter, but it matters intensely, because of the awesome creatures that they/we are and their/our awesome value.

      • I’ve listened to the whole thing. It’s from some time ago – Simon Ponsonby approving quotes Martin Hallett of True Freedom Trust. Hallett retired years ago, and has since changed his mind about all of this:

        But it’s also an example of where Ponsonby goes to a very strange and wrong place – he thinks (at least in this sermon/lecture) that homosexuality is a curable thing. Hence, he’s at pains to suggest the APA only changed it’s view on curing homosexuality because of political pressure, spends so long going through his personal (and extremely partial) take on the psychological thinking (demolishing a few straw men along the way to bolster his credentials), and has to expound his own theory that sexual orientation comes from adolescent homosexual experiences which alter brain development and create a sort of homosexual addiction. I’m not sure he ever listened that much to Hallett who’s always been slightly wary of preaching change in orientation. Needless to say True Freedom Trust today is relatively clear in its own Basis of Belief that, “we do not aim to change anyone’s same-sex attractions or their gender incongruence, which we recognise are not chosen. We also do not practise any form of so-called ‘conversion’ or ‘reparative’ therapy”:

        But it does make you think. Ponsonby’s interpretation of the texts does actually hinge on this question of sexual orientation being (a) determined by your own actions and (b) something that can be changed. This allows his “love” for gay people to be as trite as it is, and for him to disengage from the reality of what we’re facing. The whole question is massively simplified because for Ponsonby you can just stop being gay.

        • You would think if your ministry for years, as in decades, was based on helping gay Christians, based on the view that God does not approve of same-sex sexual relations, as TFT was/is, you would have done some serious study of the Bible to make sure you really understood it. But it seems Martin Hallett didnt do much study, and even now says silly things like “Jesus doesn’t even mention homosexual sex, but does adultery” as if that has any meaning.

          TFT very much espoused the view of psychologist Elizabeth Moberly (it was recommended reading) that gay sexual feelings were symptomatic of trying to find the male bonding and emotional closeness that some men never had with their fathers, and for women their mothers, which they should have had as young children. Then, typically during puberty when sexual feelings begin to awaken, that unmet need becomes sexualised. I still think there is a lot of truth in that despite it being often rejected, particularly by those who want there to be a ‘gay gene’. Personally I think there are probably a number of factors, including genetic or other possible physical influences such as hormones during pregnancy, as well as psychological/emotional factors. I think Ponsonby makes a valid point re adolescent sexual experience. If Moberly is right, or at least that is part of the equation, pleasurable same-sex sexual experience in childhood could very well cement that longing which is there already, though I dont believe such experiences alone lead to you becoming gay.

          As for ‘change’, some people do seem to change over time. Even secularists, or some of them, have come to understand that sexual feelings/sexuality can be fluid to some extent. Perhaps for many it is effectively fixed but not for others. For me Ive seen no real change. C’est la vie.

          • It is precisely through study of correlation that we find the degree of truth of this theory. It goes without saying that causality does not mean one simple cause for everything; but degrees of correlation are very telling. As for the tendency to throw hands up in horror at what is called ‘pathology’, things which are and things which are not harmful both have causes. Anyone who wants to silence the study of either has something to hide.

        • AJ

          Yeah its difficult for someone to genuinely express love for someone and then use their pulpit to spread hateful lies about them!

          The Cofe needs to stop hand wringing about all kinds of abuse and actually repent from abuse.

  23. No time to look at it, but the date is not immediately obvious.
    If it is from 2003 as PJ states above. It seems to be part of Ozannes methodology in the campaign.
    Certainly, Simon Ps contributions on this blog from some years ago 2014?( Just a guess, when David Runcorn was starting to make his position clear and his responses to Susannah Clarke does not merit the pile-on sought by Ozanne and pressed by PCD and AG.

    • No one is suggesting a pile on. I am criticising a poor and inflammatory sermon. Doesn’t matter what date it was – it’s still inept.

        • Geoff

          Why is it OK for preachers to lie about gay people and spread these kind of nasty, relationship damaging myths, but it’s not OK for gay people to complain about being lied about?

    • Geoff

      I was told quite confidently by someone that it is from 2003. I have no more knowledge about it than that. I think if he no longer holds the views he made in that sermon then he should say so and apologize.

    • Not sure I’d consider your biblical theology, understanding of scripture, as being doctrinally sound (nor what passes as such in much of the CoE).
      It is suggested that queer theory has no place in Christianity.
      It is doubted that the alphabet additions to LGB were liberally bandied about in 2003, as they are today ( as as one cons cohesive and coherent group, that bears no weight of biological and scientific deconstuction).

      • Geoff

        The modern movement for LGBT rights started in the Stonewall riots in 1960s New York. Trans people were some of the main protagonists in the riots and subsequent marches.

        From memory there was a survey in the UK recently in which 93% of LGB people said they supported trans rights.

        My memory of 2003 is that trans people generally got better treatment than gay people as at the time they were more seen as a bit of a joke. Not very nice to be treated as a joke, but perhaps that’s better than being demonized

        • Neither the illogical and misleading LGBT initialism, nor any of its tiresome, seemingly never-ending and equally illogical extensions, had been concocted in the 1960s. And the part – if any – played by “trans” people in the Stonewall riots was nugatory. Furthermore, the Stonewall riots and subsequent marches are, at most, a mere footnote to the history of the campaign for gay equality outside America.

        • Peter:

          I certainly don’t claim to know anything at all about “LGBT [sic] history”. The very expression is claptrap.

      • Consider what you like Geoff. That’s the freedom we have in Christ. You can suggest that queer theory is incompatible with Christianity, whilst I, and others, know that it’s not. Though my objections to Ponsoby’s sermon have nothing to do with queer theory.
        As Pete says, 20 years ago LGBTQ people were generally less harassed (in the global North) than they are today.

        • Neither you nor PJ have been careful readers. My point was that there was no such (highly promoted and publicised grroup that was within widespread public conscience/ knowledge) that has today been assembled and mirepresented as being a coherent cohesive single group) constructed 20 years ago. LGB, yes, but not the additional alphabet identities TQ etc as is repeatedly banied about today. And even today it is not one cohesive group or constituent.

          • Geoff

            The point has never to pretend that everyone under the LGBT banner are the same. I went to a friend’s gathering last night. It was all gay men. I dont have much in common with lesbians or trans people. I’m not sure I even know any bisexuals (they tend to keep their heads down!) – it doesn’t matter because I want all of us to have the same rights as non LGBT people have!

            You may as well complain that we cant say BAME because Asians have nothing in common with Black people!

    • Hi Penny – why are you dwelling on the content of a 20 year old sermon? Something has changed significantly hasn’t it? We learn on Thinking Anglicans of Simon’s personal friendship (across differences) with Marcus Green, who worships at St Aldgate’s and is asked to offer pastoral support to gay Christians there. And Simon has been in extended discussions with Susannah Clark seeking to understand trans issues better – and she has been invited to teach on the subject at St Aldates. Respect to Simon and St Aldates for modelling a creative and respectful Christian response across real differences.

      • Thank you for this David. I did not know this background.
        However, from what I understand, Chrissie Chevasutt has been hurt greatly by St Aldate’s and does not, perhaps, see many signs of repentance.

        • I take her hurt very seriously. I know no more of her story,. But these are surely real signs of the movement she seeks? Also, in passing, via media is hosted by Helen King. Jayne Ozanne has not been involved with it for some time now.

          • I know. I’ve written for Helen.
            My response was to James above. I haven’t followed the discussion on TA.

  24. I think that the teachings in the Bible, in some cases, are clearly rooted in the customs of the time. People can, and have, argued about the role of women being very much constrained by Jewish society. I imagine Christianity might not have got very far if Jesus had made women his disciples. That said, he made the choices he did.
    Christianity adopted the Hebrew Bible as well as developing over time the New Testament. I can understand a lot of the cultural arguments people put forward – around matters of contraception, for example.
    However, we have over hundreds of years established a set of laws which seem to have worked for the vast majority of people. Unfortunately, today’s society insists that every minority view be incorporated in everything. I read in an earlier comment that if people didn’t want to accept same-sex blessings, they could move to a church they agreed with. Well, nobody is forcing anyone to be a member of the Church of England, are they? Why should the people supporting the long-standing views of the church have to move out to make way for the new views?
    I’m no theologian (and it’s the first time I’ve posted on here), so all I wish for is a clear set of moral guidelines from my church, which follow established Anglican doctrine. I happen to disagree with the decision to marry divorced people other than the permitted reason of adultery, as I think once one previously unthinkable change takes place, the next one becomes easier and so on.
    I’ll admit to being conflicted about a lot of these things. So much obsession around one small part of the Bible’s teaching: just goes to show what the obsession of the modern world is. I think people might do well to attend to some of the larger problems facing the modern world – it’s not much fun out there!
    On a final note, I really feel for the people who have done their very best to adhere to current teaching: those who didn’t sleep around, those who waited for marriage, those who are same-sex attracted who have never acted on it, those who do their utmost to remain celibate when single. Still, I guess their rewards will most certainly be in heaven.

    • Vanessa Hamshere

      The big problem for the CofE is that they have failed to give any meaningful teaching to the minority of people who are gay. This has led to abuse, some of it sexual abuse and some of it criminal.

      Allowing gay people to marry in church would be a huge step in repenting from this behavior, which I hope we can all agree is sinful.

  25. HJ thinks it might be helpful to post a short statement from the American Greek Orthodox Church on this issue. It is brief and to the point:

    The Orthodox Christian teaching on marriage and sexuality, firmly grounded in Holy Scripture, 2000 years of church tradition, and canon law, holds that marriage consists in the conjugal union of a man and a woman, and that authentic marriage is blessed by God as a sacrament of the Church. Neither Scripture nor Holy Tradition blesses or sanctions such a union between persons of the same sex.

    Holy Scripture attests that God creates man and woman in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:27-31), that those called to do so might enjoy a conjugal union that ideally leads to procreation. While not every marriage is blessed with the birth of children, every such union exists to create of a man and a woman a new reality of “one flesh.” This can only involve a relationship based on gender complementarity. “God made them male and female… So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mark 10:6-8).

    The union between a man and a woman in the Sacrament of Marriage reflects the union between Christ and His Church (Ephesians 5:21-33). As such, marriage is necessarily monogamous and heterosexual. Within this union, sexual relations between a husband and wife are to be cherished and protected as a sacred expression of their love that has been blessed by God. Such was God’s plan for His human creatures from the very beginning. Today, however, this divine purpose is increasingly questioned, challenged or denied, even within some faith communities, as social and political pressures work to normalize, legalize and even sanctify same-sex unions.

    The Orthodox Church cannot and will not bless same-sex unions. Whereas marriage between a man and a woman is a sacred institution ordained by God, homosexual union is not. Like adultery and fornication, homosexual acts are condemned by Scripture (Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:10; 1 Timothy 1:10). This being said, however, we must stress that persons with a homosexual orientation are to be cared for with the same mercy and love that is bestowed by our Lord Jesus Christ upon all of humanity. All persons are called by God to grow spiritually and morally toward holiness.

    It’s really not that complicated.

    • HJ – you miss the point that it *is* that complicated, because of the powerful delusion of the importance of having-it-off (by which I mean sex for purely recreational purposes, separated from creating children). You can’t have failed to notice how powerful this powerful delusion actually is. There is a whole industry of modern psychology which stipulates that you won’t have emotional stability and fulfillment unless you’re going at it hammer and tongs on a regular basis and are with a partner who causes your blood to drain from the brain to a lower organ in a satisfactory manner. Why is this industry so prevalent and why has it taken hold? Because of the power of the powerful delusion, because of the innate craving for the gratification.

      If ‘The Church’, instead of laying down those rules and regulations – which should be self-evident, actually tried to teach that such gratification of the sensual desires was transitory and illusory and invariably leads to greater problems, it might help. Censoriously laying down the rules and regulations without reference to the fact that they are a gracious provision from a merciful God, simply doesn’t work.

    • No actual advice or teaching for gay people of course. They’re just to be “cared for” in some vague, non-descript, non-commital way. What does it even mean? Is it anything more than just a “PS: remember we’re not supposed to actually kill them”.

      • Advice? Here-

        Romans 12:2
        “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

        2 Corinthians 10:5
        “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

        Psalm 1:2
        “Instead, they find happiness in the Teaching of the Lord, and they think about it day and night.”

        Proverbs 4:23
        “Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”

        Philippians 4:8
        “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

        Oh and my favourite. Somewhere or other Jesus said “Stop Sinning!”

          • AJ Bell – can I answer this one? In a nutshell, ask Pamela Stephenson for advice (even though she isn’t American Greek Orthodox) and then do the opposite of what she recommends.

          • Those who walk in the flesh need to be born again before they will be open to teaching about the application of these verses. When you are spiritually reborn then The Holy Spirit will show clearly the meaning and you will have understanding. Jesus made clear that you must be born again spiritually if you want to even see the Kingdom of God. It is not optional. One cannot live as a child of the flesh but knowing stuff (even a lot) about scripture and kid oneself and others that it will do. It will not. When you are born again and walking in the Spirit then Sin becomes abhorrent to you. You’ve renewed your mind so your thoughts start to become holy. You know what God wants and doesn’t want and you start wanting the same. Submit to God and renew your mind and seek to be holy. Live holy and be holy. If people would just cooperate with God and decide to trust him things would be easier sooner, for them.

          • AJ Bell – the obsession is the following: I first took note of this Guardian column shortly after Peter Jermey outline what all the initials in the alphabet soup meant; the word ‘asexual’ was in the title of one of the articles – and I discovered the true meaning of the word. It is the modern psychobabble way of saying ‘not now dear, I have a headache’ by someone who has bought into the having-it-off culture, but finds themselves with someone who can’t get enough of it – and is trying to come up with some sort of excuse.

            What stuck in my head, though – and what alarmed me – was that the advice (which invariably seems to place sex as something of extreme importance for a healthy relationship) was hideously similar to some of the ideas being spouted by the ‘liberal’ ‘Christians’ here.

            The ‘blood draining from the brain …’ was something I heard her husband say once.

      • I’m sure you will aware of the writings and life of ss attracted, but celibate, Sam Allberry, and what he considers Christianity to be , within the life of the Church, the Body of Christ, though, little doubt, you will reject it as being matter of choice and not for you.
        If you scroll upwards to a comment by Alan Thomson he links an article which has a number of quotations from Allberry.

          • AJB,
            You were seeking advice.
            And as you are aware Allberry is Orthodox, but orthodox CoE.
            Which, from your trying to be clever response, is not to your liking.

      • AJ Bell – well, I suppose if you want some advice you could always write to Pamela Stephenson at the Guardian. I’m sure she’d oblige …..

        Actually, the situation seems ripe for revival. There were earlier revivals when people were slaves to the bottle – along came the Salvation Army and showed them there was a better way. Nowadays, the culture seems to be all about sexual gratification – people enslaved by their sensual desires, with modern psychology doing everything to enhance the powerful delusion. At some stage it may fall like a pack of cards – and the church should be ready with the message when it does.

          • No – and as you rightly pointed out, the American Greek Orthodox Church probably isn’t a good place to go for advice.

            But you’ll probably find that large swathes of the C. of E. are in agreement with her.

  26. From the C of E FB page-

    Bishops agree to commend Prayers of Love and Faith.
    Read the full news at


Leave a comment