Skip to comments.Civil Partnerships - CEEC Response to Bishops [CofE]
Posted on 08/10/2005 7:21:04 AM PDT by sionnsar
We are concerned at some of the implications of the recent Pastoral Statement issued by the House of Bishops in response to the Civil Partnerships Act. This recent Act presents the House of Bishops with an unenviable task in responding to morally flawed and societally confusing legislation. Clearly this Act confronts the Church with a challenge to its teaching, practice and discipline to do with matters of human sexuality.
In sexual matters, as in other areas, our culture is in moral decline. All Christians are called not to compromise in their behaviour but to counter-cultural living. In this, and in the current crisis affecting the Anglican Communion, it is essential that the Bishops give a clear lead in upholding traditional, orthodox and biblical teaching and its application to life.
With regard to the teaching of the church on matters of sexual morality, we are grateful that the House of Bishops Statement re-asserts the key statements of the General Synod motion (1987), Issues in Human Sexuality (1991) and the Lambeth Resolution 1.10 (1998), as expressing and upholding the Churchs historic teaching (¶ 2-6). Further, in observing the effect of the legislation, the Statement identifies the inconsistency within the Act which, while stating that a Civil Partnership is not a same-sex marriage, yet frames its provisions in terms directly comparable to marriage law (¶8,10).
We regret that the Statement does not support the teaching it affirms by the practice and discipline it recommends. This inconsistency gravely undermines the churchs historic biblical teaching held by the majority of Anglicans worldwide.
While individuals are free under civil law to register partnerships, to do so is incompatible with Christian discipleship, recognising that sexual expression of the relationship is implicitly acknowledged. Not to recognise this is naïve. The Church needs to give an unambiguous lead in strongly discouraging its members from registering Civil Partnerships and in disciplining those who disregard this. Merely to require of those clergy registering that they refrain from sexual expression encourages hypocrisy and is itself hypocritical. Furthermore, it is inconsistent to maintain that, while the same standards apply to all (¶23), a different approach to discipline be applied to those who come (or bring infants) to baptism, confirmation or communion when these services call for a public statement of repentance and commitment to live a new life.
We urge the House of Bishops to withdraw this compromised and unworkable Statement, while continuing to affirm the historic teaching of the Church. To speak of disciplining the Episcopal Church (USA) and Anglican Church of Canada while continuing along the lines expressed in their Statement quite understandably lays the House of Bishops open to the charge of hypocrisy. It will further exacerbate the division threatening the future of the Anglican Communion. In the meantime, we encourage bishops and clergy to disregard the controversial practical aspects of this Statement while maintaining sensitive pastoral care, and to call all Christians to uphold and practise biblical standards in their ministry and discipleship. Those who perceive themselves to have homosexual orientation and who endeavour to live according to biblical teaching are in particular need of our support in their resolve. In the current crisis facing the Anglican Communion, we invite all those concerned to maintain biblical faith and behaviour to pray with us that the churches of our Communion may be preserved from error and led in truth and holiness.
The Ven Dr Paul Gardner
The Revd Nick Wynne-Jones
Church of England Evangelical Council
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