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Priests and bishops launch scathing attack on Church of England rule that sex is only for straight, married couples

Lily Wakefield January 28, 2020
Church of England declares sex is only for married, heterosexual couples

The Church of England declared sex is only for married, heterosexual couples. (DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty)

Around 3,000 people, including 800 clergy members, have said that Church of England guidance declaring that sex is only for straight, married couples has made the church “a laughing stock”.

The Church of England’s House of Bishops last week released a pastoral statement claiming that sex outside of an opposite-sex marriage falls “short of God’s purposes for human beings”.

It also said that people in civil partnerships – whether same-sex or opposite-sex – can only be ordained if they commit to celibacy.

The church said it was creating a report, titled ‘Living in Love and Faith‘, that will be released this year.

Now thousands of people have signed an open letter to the church’s archbishops to “express… anger and disappointment regarding the recent House of Bishops’ pastoral statement concerning same-sex and opposite-sex civil partnerships.”

Signatories include one serving Anglican bishop, eight retired bishops and 75 members of General Synod (the governing body of the church).

They said: “The Church of England has this week become a laughing stock to a nation that believes it is obsessed with sex.

“More importantly this statement has significantly damaged the mission of the church and it has broken the trust of those it seeks to serve.”

In 2017, another report by the House of Bishops, titled ‘Marriage and Same Sex Relationships‘, reaffirming their opposition to same-sex marriage was rejected by the Church of England’s General Synod.

The letter added: “Since the public defeat of your ‘Marriage and Same Sex Relationships’ report to General Synod in 2017, we have waited for you to deliver on your promise of ‘a radical new Christian inclusion’.

“We have been patient believing that nothing further would be said regarding sexuality and relationships until after the publication of the ‘Living in Love and Faith‘ report.

“It seems our trust has been misplaced and we feel badly let down.

“The pastoral statement makes clear there has been no desire to listen or learn from those of us who spoke to explain how offensive we found the tone of the House of Bishops’ previous document.

“Indeed, this statement is anything but ‘pastoral’ – it is cold, defensive, and uncaring of its impact on the millions of people it affects.”

Reverend canon Simon Butler, who is gay and in a same-sex partnership, also published an open letter in the Metro.

He said: “Wake-up call bishops: people no longer listen to you for teaching on sexual ethics… My priority as a priest is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ.

“What on earth would a couple – be that same or opposite-sex – hear of the love of God if they approach us about blessing a relationship and we based our response on whether they are sexually active?”

He added: “We won’t be heard if we continue simply to say only married, heterosexual sex is good, and we ignore countless lived experiences.”

More: Church of England, heterosexual marriage, House of Bishops, pastoral statement, same sex marriage, sex outside marriage

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