Saturday, February 15, 2014

Bishops from Mother Church issue "pastoral guidance" on same sex "marriage"



Kevin Kallsen and George Conger give this document a qualified "thumbs up." Matt Kennedy and Cranmer, among others, do not sound so enthusiastic.

To the Clergy and People of the Church of England

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ

We write as fellow disciples of Jesus Christ who are called to love one another as Christ has loved us. Our vocation as disciples of Christ in God’s world is to hold out the offer of life in all its fullness. God delights always to give good gifts to his children.

The gospel of the love of God made known to us in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is the greatest of these gifts. The call of the gospel demands that we all listen, speak and act with integrity, self discipline and grace, acknowledging that as yet our knowledge and understanding are partial.

As members of the Body of Christ we are aware that there will be a range of responses across the Church of England to the introduction of same sex marriage. As bishops we have reflected and prayed together about these developments. As our statement of 27th January indicated, we are not all in agreement about every aspect of the Church’s response. However we are all in agreement that the Christian understanding and doctrine of marriage as a lifelong union between one man and one woman remains unchanged.

We are conscious that within both Church and society there are men and women seeking to live faithfully in covenanted same sex relationships. As we said in our response to the consultation prior to the same sex marriage legislation, “the proposition that same sex relationships can embody crucial social virtues is not in dispute. Same sex relationships often embody genuine mutuality and fidelity…., two of the virtues which the Book of Common Prayer uses to commend marriage. The Church of England seeks to see those virtues maximised in society”.

We have already committed ourselves to a process of facilitated conversations across the whole Church of England in the light of the Pilling Report. These conversations will involve ecumenical and interfaith partners and particularly the wider Anglican Communion to whom we rejoice to be bound by our inheritance of faith and mutual affection. They will include profound reflection on the meaning, interpretation and application of scripture to which we all seek to be faithful. They will involve particular attention to the lived experience of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. We believe that Christian understandings of sexuality have a vital contribution to make in our society’s conversation about human flourishing.

The introduction of same sex marriage in our country is a new reality and has consequences for the life and discipline of the Church of England. We seek to model a distinctive and generous witness to Jesus Christ in our pastoral guidance to the Church at this time which is set out in the Appendix to this letter.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news for all people in all times and situations. We continue to seek God’s grace and the prayers of the whole Church as we seek to proclaim that faith afresh in this generation.

+ Justin Cantuar + Sentamu Eboracensis

On behalf of the House of Bishops of the Church of England
Read the whole document at Anglican Ink.