The House of Bishops of the Church of England has issued a statement on sexuality – a conservative, biblical one – but there is concern it is not being followed.
Anyone who has followed the Church of England – known as the Anglican Communion around the globe, the Episcopal Church here in the U.S. – might be surprised to hear biblical orthodoxy from its House of Bishops, which says sex is only for a married man and woman.
"The Bishops’ Statement is clear about the Church’s understanding of marriage and the relationship of sexual expression to it. It is less clear about the consequences of such an understanding for clergy and their ordination vows and what should be required of lay people so that they too may order theirs and their families’ lives in ways that are consistent with the teaching of the Bible and of the Church. "
--Bishop Michael Nazi-Ali supporting the Church of England's statement but asking for more guidance
That represents an ironic statement from the liberal denomination that gave us Gene Robinson, the open homosexual whose consecration as a New Hampshire priest in 2003 helped fracture the denomination.
Jeff Walton of the Institute for Religion and Democracy tells OneNewsNow the denomination still uses the Book of Common Prayer, which can be traced back to the 1500s and therefore affirms traditional marriage.
The denomination's Pastoral Statement reads:
Sexual relationships outside heterosexual marriage are regarded as falling short of God's purposes for human beings.
The statement was written in response to the English government legalizing same-sex marriage.
“They are addressing,” Walton explains, “what is a difference between the civil law of the United Kingdom and what the church teaches.”
Yet the Church of England is not really having a change of heart when it comes to homosexuality, Walton says, because church leadership is not standing behind the denomination’s own teachings.
“This is a case where you don't really have a consistency between what the church is teaching,” Walton warns, “and what is actually being practiced by the church's clergy and bishop leaders.”
What was the response of the pro-homosexual forces within the denomination?
Taking a cue from LGBT activists, one angry archdeacon said the Church of England is "obsessed with sex" and called for a "radically unclusive Christian church."