To the Evangelical, it comes as a surprise to hear that the Church of England came out mostly in support of the Biblical view of sexuality. This included but was not limited to stating that sex was reserved between one an and one woman in a marriage. This drew the ire of the Twittersphere who assumed that the Church of England did not give in. Meanwhile, Christians were surprised by the announcement. However, after further review, this announcement is a mere fig leaf on the apostasy within the Church of England.
The Church of England released a statement in their civil partnership guidelines as a response to civil unions being for homosexual and heterosexual couples. This story was made big by the Guardian. And while their headline Sex is for married heterosexual couples only, says Church of England the pastoral guidelines themselves allow and promote further apostasy rendering the Church of England’s position on homosexuality all but irrelevant. Consider the following statement.
22. The House of Bishops does not regard entering into a civil partnership as intrinsically incompatible with holy orders, provided the person concerned is willing to give assurances to his or her bishop that the relationship – whether same sex or opposite sex – is consistent with the standards for the clergy set out in Issues in Human Sexuality. The wording of the Act means that civil partnerships will be likely to include some whose relationships are faithful to the declared position of the Church on sexual relationships.
23. The Church should not collude with the present assumptions of society that all close relationships necessarily include sexual activity. The House of Bishops considers it would be a matter of social injustice to exclude from ministry those who are faithful to the teaching of the Church, and who decide to register a civil partnership. There can be no grounds for terminating the ministry of those who are loyal to the discipline of the Church.
For starters, the Church of England will allow homosexuals in civil unions to be involved in pastoral ministries. Reminder, this is the current battle within the United Methodist Church (watch our video explaining that here.) Why would a church consider for ministry someone who is seeking a civil union as opposed to a marriage is already an open door into letting in a poor crop of recruits. The guidelines then go on to rationalize civil unions, as though there is a legitimate reason for a Christian to be in a civil union instead of married, let alone in a homosexual relationship.
In its approach to civil partnerships the Church seeks to uphold that standard [sexual ethics], to affirm the value of committed, sexually abstinent friendships and to minister sensitively and pastorally to those Christians who conscientiously decide to order their lives differently.
The guidelines beg a question, of mild importance, of how the church should navigate civil unions. The guidelines were correct in the need to point out the flaws in converting a marriage to a civil union. But I would disagree that the real church should treat civil unions with any legitimate capacity.
In pointing out what written in the pastoral guidelines on civil unions, it’s of greater importance to point out what is not in the guidelines. The following words do not appear:
- Biblical citation of any kind
- Repent (Repentance)
Compare this to the Nashville Statement which does ultimately present the Gospel while affirming biblical sexual ethic. There’s a lot missing from these pastoral guidelines, rendering them generic and ultimately less edifying for those who walk with Christ. Don’t let the Guardian headline fool you, the Church of England is far from credible on these matters.
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