Church of England: accept the Pilling Report on human sexuality,
The decision by the Church of England to accept the Pilling Report recommendation for a two-year process of ‘facilitated conversations’ on human sexuality, has been challenged by Andrea Williams, CEO of Christian Concern, who is a member of Synod, reports Christian Concern for our Nation.
“The College of Bishops say they want to be faithful to the Scriptures and to the tradition of the Church. If this is the case then there shouldn’t be any need for a ‘process of reflection’. The Bible’s teaching on marriage is clear: it is the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others. The teaching of the Church of England – and churches across the world throughout history – has reflected this in its doctrine and practice,” says Andrea.
A statement this week by the College of Bishops emphasises that they “are united in seeking to be faithful to the Scriptures and the tradition of the Church, and in seeking to make a loving, compassionate and respectful response to gay men and women within Church and society”.
Andrea believes that to say the Church of England now needs “profound reflection” on this issue appears to disregard the reflection of the Church in previous generations. “Homosexual practice is not a new issue. Old and New Testament authors make reference to it. The early Church had to form a response to it in the days of the Roman Empire. And both the Scriptures and the Church maintained that the only proper context for sexual relations is marriage.”
She has submitted an oral question to the Synod challenging the need for a long period of discussion in the light of the statement by the College of Bishops.
“If the Bishops don’t envisage a change to the Church of England’s teaching on marriage, then what is the purpose of ‘facilitated conversations’? The Bishops need to say what outcome they hope to achieve. Conversations aren’t required for things to stay as they are. Either the conversations are pointless or they will begin a motion towards amending the Church’s teaching on marriage.”
In response to the Bishops’ reference to “human flourishing” she says, “It’s evident from Scripture and experience that God’s pattern for marriage and family is best. Men, women and children all flourish when we obey Jesus’ teaching on marriage. To think otherwise is arrogant and dangerous. Christians – particularly those who struggle with same-sex attraction – are not well-served by ambiguous messages about marriage.
“The Bishops have been called to lead the Church. The language used in their statement attempts to cover up delay, indecision and a lack of leadership. It provides no direction to God’s people and only serves to confuse and obfuscate an issue which is of vital importance to the health of the Church and wider society.”
While she welcomes the Bishops’ rejection of one of the most contentious proposals in the Pilling report – to allow church blessings of homosexual marriages to begin alongside the two-year consultation process – she emphasises: “God’s pattern for sex, relationships and family is good. There’s no need to be ashamed of it. The bishops should be re-stating it and promoting it rather than bowing to pressure from those who find Christian teaching offensive.”